Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wrapping up Narrative Modes

For the last thirteen weeks, I have been presenting the various modes one can design a story or novel around.
Using strong foundation stock.
Some are common traditional modes, such as the Heroic Journey, Faustian Legend, Cain & Abel, the Christ Figure, Coming of Age, the Dream Vision and the Frame Narrative.  There are others which are more directly related to authors' well-known works: Hemingway's Code Hero, Heinlein's Three-stage Character and Shakespeare's Hamlet.  Fairy tales had a few to offer, and several more than I mentioned:  Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast the most common.  The prose essay format is a new form, most notably first used by Virginia Wolf.

The purpose in bringing them up and outlining them as I have, is to remind any writer that our readers often enjoy a tale as much for the author's unique style and the genre as they do for the return to a format we love to read again and again in its traditional form or a modified version that surprises us with a new twist.  These narrative modes make great bones for our imagination to flesh out and clothe in fresh linen.

And mixing them up is not such a bad idea.  Throw together a Heroic Journey with Cinderella or write a Coming of Age novel in the form of a prose essay.  Those too are out there (take a close look at Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), and those mixes add increased complexity to the story and still maintain familiarity for the reader.

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