Friday, July 20, 2007

Narrative Distance

Last night my dreams were full of another concept we discussed at length in the workshop: narrative distance. Anthony Doerr's explanation of this made SO much sense to me: the writer is the lens through which the reader sees the story.

In film, a director makes a series of decisions about what the audience will see and from what angle they will see it. When we're writing, we do the same, except we build and dress both the situation and the story with words alone. If we tell a story from a constant position, as though we're always inside one character's head or as though we're always in the same corner of the room, say, we miss the opportunity to frame our stories, to bring life and rhythm to them. Now closer, now further, now detailed vision, now a broad view: we can lead readers through the intricate steps of the dance we're doing together.

Last night, my dreams were filled with a strange kind of tunnel vision that I've only just now realized were the view through the lens. I don't remember a thing about what happened in those dreams, only an odd kind of telescoping that kept happening as I saw them playing out.

Anthony brought these lessons to life so vividly they've taken root in my subconscious. Yikes! More later. Got to go try out this narrative distance thing right now. I seem to have learned this stuff, now I've got to get my butt in the chair and USE it.


A long shot from the top of Chimney Rock, Abiquiu, NM


A close up of a spider hole, taken from the same spot.

4 comments:

kario said...

Ooh, I love benefiting from your workshop. This is terrific stuff, Jerri! Thanks for sharing!

riversgrace said...

Thanks for walking me through this perspective. It's a great reminder about perception in general, moment to moment. Useful in confronting assumptions about 'the way things are'. So glad your journey was fruitful.

Deb said...

Welcome home dearest Jerri! I've just caught up with your traveling adventures and all that you've learned. I'll look forward to reading how the ripples of the last couple of weeks undo the still waters of your pond. I love that I not only get to enjoy great writing here, but that I also get to learn so much. Love you!

Great pictures here and of Monica!

Suzy said...

"If we tell a story from a constant position, as though we're always inside one character's head or as though we're always in the same corner of the room, say, we miss the opportunity to frame our stories, to bring life and rhythm to them. Now closer, now further, now detailed vision, now a broad view: we can lead readers through the intricate steps of the dance we're doing together."

LOVE THIS_ it's like zooming in and out- so glad you had a wonderful time!