Thursday, February 24, 2011

N is for Narrative

This week I am very pleased to present guest blogger Fiona McGier who will tell us a bit about Narrative.

Narrative: the art or practice of narration
Narration: the act of narrating
Narrate: knowing, akin to Latin, recite the details of a story.
So a narrative is a story that is told. No judgment, no arguing about whether or not it is a fiction or non-fiction story...just a story. We are all narrators of narratives.

Mom: What did you do at school today?
Kid: Well, I didn't like the book we were reading in class so...
A narrative.

Two good friends having lunch:
So, what's been going on in your life?
Well let me tell you...
A narrative.

Since we are authors, the only difference is that our narratives are told via the written word, and not usually in person, unless we are lucky enough to be invited to do a reading and book-signing somewhere. But most will be told our narratives by the act of reading our words. And the only judgment that will matter is whether or not the reader enjoys the story that is being told. The onus is on us to tell a good narrative, one that will capture the reader's interest and make them shut the book saying, Damn, that was good! I wonder what else this author has written.

What are the elements of a good narrative? How do you engage your reader so that your story comes alive, the characters become real people, and what has existed only in your brain, now can take on life in someone else's imagination?

First of all, a narrative has to tell a story that engages the reader, and the way to do that is to reach into the heart and mind of the reader and make her care about your characters. One of the best ways to do that is to incorporate some kind of lesson about life into the story, so the reader will identify with what is being learned by the hero and heroine.

The characters themselves must be interesting people also. Enough background information needs to be presented gradually, so that the reader will enjoy reading about the changes that occur in the personalities of the protagonists as they face the various experiences in the narrative. The reader must be drawn to care about what happens to the characters, so the details of the narrative will be eagerly consumed.

Another factor to consider is that of wish-fulfillment, since what we write is fiction, and many readers are looking to experience vicariously something they might never actually have to, or want to face. I will probably never meet a shape-shifter or a vampire, but I like to read about them. I can't ever be a young career woman again, but I enjoy reading about someone else's adventures in life, especially their romances.


In Secret Love, the narrative is about a female government agent, a spy, who has long ago learned to play by the rules that state that no emotions are allowed to interfere with the job. She has taught herself to not feel anything, and it has kept her alive. What happens when she meets a man who insinuates himself into her core, reaching into her long-impervious emotions, to make her fall in love with him? If emotions are dangerous, love can be deadly.

Buy Secret Love at: Whiskey Creek Press

Fiona McGier is a very busy happily-married woman who works multiple jobs to help with the college costs for her 4 young adult children. In her "spare" time she tirelessly promotes her books, which include her Reyes Family Romances series about a large Hispanic family, and her paranormal short stories which have appeared on various sites. She had a new book come out in January, has finished the edits on one to come out in April, and has just signed a contract for another erotic romance. She stays up very late at night to write the stories that swirl around in her head until she writes them. She hopes you enjoy reading them as much as she enjoys writing them.

Find out more at:


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Really enjoyed your post, Fiona, and it's so true that we have to care about the characters to read the narrative.

Impressed by your output with such a busy life!

Carol McPhee said...

A great writeup and a reminder of how important it is to make the reader want to fall in love with our characters.

Nan D Arnold said...

Wow, I love your latin word lead in. No wonder Narrative is so scary (because it can be so boring-well, mine has that characterisic esp in first draft) but with your tips, we can improve (I can improve). And, as Rosemary said, boy, you cook, baby. Inspired by your output will get my pages for today done.
Merry Acres Widows Waltz 3/7/11 release by Whimsical Publications

Angela Verdenius said...

So very true, Fiona. We need to care about our characters and how they 'act' for our readers to follow them with interest!

Did that comment make sense? I blame this wretched heat Down Under if it didn't!


Fiona McGier said...

Thanks, Rosemary and Nan. My family may feel somewhat neglected, but then since I primarily stayed home and only took p/t jobs while they were young, that's all I can get now also. So their leaving me alone while I tap away at my laptop is their way of thanking me, I guess.

Carol, if I didn't fall in love with every hero I write, there wouldn't be any "zing" to the romance! I hope the reader does also.

And Angela, I know you are probably as fed up with the heat as I am with the extremely cold and snowy temps here in the midwest of the USA. I guess my excuse can be that my fingers are numb from the cold and my brain is frozen? Or the snow blinded me? Soon we will be able to trade complaints, eh?

And thanks for Linda for letting me be a part of her alphabet blogs. I've read the other ones with interest, and will continue to do so.

Anonymous said...

I liked what you said about how narrative relates to making your characters interesting to the reader to keep the reader interested in the story. It's a fine balancing act.

I developed the Character Interview 20-some years ago to transform my one-dimensional characters into 3D people. I got the idea from reading teen magazine interviews with Teen Idols. They filled out questionnaires and it made the Idol (Cassidy, Osmond) seem human to know he drank 7Up or put on one sock and one shoe before doing the other foot. Personality quirks!

Over the years I've honed the Interview with contributions by writers who have found it useful.

Check it out at Kept by Cats...Writer Interrupted:

Unknown said...

FIONA--I like narrative, while most editors/publishers like more dialogue. In my writing, I have to be careful about too much narrative--which can bore the reader. Thanks for the tips, and best wishes on your new release. Celia said...

Fiona, great blog! I so enjoyed and
learned from it. Always need a good
wake up when it comes to writing.

linda_rettstatt said...

Thanks to Fiona McGier for sharing her words of wisdom and to all of you who came by and commented.


Infogypsy said...

Very good article. I know understand when someone talks about the narrative. Now if only I could find the narrative that captures millions around the world as has Stieg Larsson. Lynn romaine