Thursday, April 2, 2015
Techniques in Appalachian Fiction: Narration in Gap Creek
This is a continuation of a previous post where I looked at some of the techniques used in Gap Creek. Click here to if you would like to check out the whole series: Techniques in Appalachian Fiction.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Setting in Gap Creek, Robert Morgan does some things that new writers are told to avoid at all costs.
Besides the way setting is handled, the narrator self-consciously tells the story to the reader: "I know about Masenier because I was there. I seen him die . . . I seen it all" (1). We are reminded again that the story is being told by the narrator with the lines, "Now the year I'm talking about was the year after Cold Friday, that day when the sun never did come out and it never warmed up" (2) and "The night I'm talking about was windy and late in March" (24).
If I had these lines in my manuscript, people doing a critique would no doubt tell me I can take that out. (I know this because I had similar lines and they told me to get it out - I did, but I'm not sure I should have.) The argument against the self-conscious narrator is that it doesn't need to be stated that the narrator is telling the story, definitely not three times. Instead of "The night I'm talking about was windy and late in March," it should be "The late March night was windy" to make it more concise and direct. Right? Would you argue the same thing?
But in this novel, perhaps in any Appalachian novel where the story is told from a first person point of view, this self-conscious narration is perfect. It's how my grandmother or great aunt or even my mother would tell the story. If the narrator isn't educated in the best practices of writing, shouldn't the story be told the way that narrator would realistically tell it?
I think I might put the self-conscious narration back into my manuscript. What do you think?