About 2: Narrative Obsession Leads to Triplets

Just under a half decade shy of three decades ago, when I was studying Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Mandarin and Attic Greek at the University of Alberta, one of my roommates, a counselor in the bishopric of the student ward I attended, asked me to give a sacrament talk on the importance of studying languages and history. Later on the Sunday of the talk, in ward council, which I attended as ward activities chairman, the bishop, chairman of the Faculty of Education, admitted that was a pretty big topic for a ten- to fifteen-minute sermon. It was certainly far-ranging. One of the points I remember making was that language gives us names for things, and that having names for things helps us to think and understand.

Nearly thirty years later, I finally had the beginnings of a vocabulary with which to think deeply and purposefully about narrative. I had so many deep and purposeful thoughts about narrative that I started an FBP (Facebook page) called Facts about Fiction where I could express and collect them. Then I began milestoning the novels in my home library. I knew that the milestoning would evolve into broader analysis and I wanted to share my findings with my growing list of literary friends, so I ceated a second narrative-oriented page, The Technical Fiction Review.

Meanwhile, I regularly listened to podcasts such as Shelagh Rogers' The Next Chapter, the aforementioned Joanna Penn's The Creative Penn.com, and Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells and Mary Robinette Kowal's Writing Excuses. One of the best features of each program was the (sometimes occasional) author interviews that delved into theory. Authors talking about how their narratives work. Cool stuff. And I thought: What if I did that: interviewed other authors about their work? In fact, what if I interviewed people I'd reviewed based on my observations about narrative in general?

So  I messaged a couple of FBAFs (Facebook author friends), including a Hugo and Nebula nominee, to see how they'd feel about being grilled on the technicalities of their craft. They felt pretty good about it. Now I only needed to do four things: a) Develop my theory so that it could underpin discussions, b) build a website to properly house the three projects I'd conceived, c) properly analyse a sample of each author's work, and d) develop a set of questions to start interviews off with.

 

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