Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Narrative Mode: #12 Personal prose narrative

When using this narrative style, it is important to understand the prose essay form first.  Once you have that clear, shifting it to a fiction story is fairly easy.  It is the first persona viewpoint taken to a new level. 

So first let's examine the prose essay.
  • In this essay type, you write about several related topics and how they intersect in a highly internal and personal way.  So for example, you might write about your first car, focusing on facts, qualities and use of this vehicle.  
  • But wound among those facts and features will also be islands of personal experience and connection to what it means to have a first car. You would include both the moments that gave you great personal satisfaction as well as those moments that may have been frightening, the results of less than perfect driving or the imperfect reliability of a used vehicle.
  • These islands would draw the reader in to such a point that he or she might forget entirely what the original focus was, but that is the magic of the personal prose essay, for ultimately you must bring the reader back to the original line of examination: the carburetor or those new bucket seat covers.  And you must slide her out again into another personal moment.
  • In the end, the entire work should create an understanding, a journey of epiphany that the reader has taken with the writer. 
So how does this style work in fiction?  This is not a plot directed story, for it is bound up in the personal process of growth in the character.   The narrative voice must be strong, it must be willing or ultimately able to share its greatest fears and triumphs in the course of the life events the character reveals, and it must feel authentic.  Examples:  Heinlein did it with Podkayne of Mars, and Kathryn Stockett did it with The Help.

The personal prose narrative is more than first person.  It is a close writing that pulls the reader into a sort of Siamese twin connection with the speaker.  The reader doesn't argue about how she would do things differently.  The reader understands every feature of it, the choices the character made, and sympathizes and laughs with her.  It is a very private way of writing where plot is less important than the scope of the experience shared.

 The Little Handbook of Narrative Frameworks available on Smashwords and Amazon.

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