I am writing a story from the perspective of a man telling his audience what happened to him. During his monologue, somebody walks into the room in real-time and tells him something. What is the best way to do this?

Perhaps a clean break in narrative?

I look around the room, wondering where they'll take me.
A woman walks into the room, looks at the man, says "come with me, sir", then leaves.

Or perhaps attempting to blend the two?

I look around the room, wondering where they'll take me.
A woman walks into the room, looks at me and says, "come with me, sir", then leaves. I guess I'll follow her.

Is there a "proper"/preferred way to write this? Does one have more of an impact over the other?

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    I'm not sure your example gives us a sense of what your question is. In the end, it depends on the message you want to send. The below there is an additional action included, so it gives the man more characterization. Also, it's not clear what you mean by "blend the two", so I can't really give you an answer. – Michal Burgunder Mar 24 at 16:09
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    Do you have a full immersion in your narrator's monologue, or it's always clear that he's speaking to a room of people? – Alexander Mar 24 at 18:06

I would say the second one, however different people have different taste. Pick the one that you like best and other people might like it too. People will reflect off of what you write. So pick which one is the best one to you.


I think the clearest way to show this is for his narrative to be told in the past tense, and anything happening to him while he tells it should be in present tense.

Also, forgive me if I misinterpreted your example, but I assume the man is speaking to an audience and gets interrupted by the woman entering.

I looked around the room, wondering where they would take me.

A woman walks in. I stop talking. She looks at me and says, “come with me, sir,” then leaves.

I pause. She had to cut me off just when I’m getting to the good part? Well, I’m sure it must be important. I get up to follow her.

(If I’m wrong and the man is writing his narrative, just swap out “I stop talking” for “I stop writing” or something similar.)

I added a few extra cues like “I stop talking” and “she cut me off” to help readers understand what’s going on as soon as possible. This is especially important if this is the first perspective switch in the story. You could even go so far as creating a chapter break any time this happens, if your story allows for it, or if it fits your style. Being confused by technical things like formatting pulls readers out of the story, so whatever you can do to make it easy to understand is a good decision.

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