Narrative Space

by luciditewriting

I’ve been thinking a lot about narrative space this week. To me, this term takes on several meanings. Narrative space can be the actually space in which the story is set (i.e. the back seat of a car, Portugal, a classroom, etc.). In this sense, narrative space is intertwined with narrative time (chronology, flashbacks, etc.) It could also mean the mental or psychological space of the narrator — the frame of mind that allows one to express oneself. This is not just limited to POV (point of view), it has to do with both the author and the narrator’s mental structure (and elements therein that are perhaps out of one’s control– or part of one’s “genius”– as an author). One’s mental space informs the way words are put together or loaded with certain meanings. It also has to do with intentionality — where the narrative is going and why it is going there.

As a visual person, I’m also interested in narrative space in a more concrete sense— literally how the words look on the page. In general, I am a fan of creative formatting that is meaningful and adds another visual layer to the narrative. Poets and short story writers tend to be quite masterful at this (Appolinaire’s Calligrammes comes to mind immediately). Certain novelists as well (Danielewski’s House of Leaves, for example). I’m not there yet– in spatial terms, I’m miles away. As I play with spacing and narrative flow, I often feel like I’m over-thinking it. Sometimes my best ideas come out of sloppy drafts, where the spacing just happened “naturally.” I’m going to make this my “assignment” for the summer– to be aware of space– both the aspects I can control and those I can’t (or shouldn’t).