It’s all in the technique…

17 Jun

Today, as I laboured on a section of my work-in-progress, I employed a couple of new techniques that I believe will help to push it forward. As I’ve mentioned before, my last two projects have deployed a similar approach to narrative. They contain multiple narrative strands, superficially resembling the cut-up technique. There’s actually nothing random about their arrangement at all.

I shall call the first technique ‘sectional enjambment‘, because I’m pretentious like that. Previously, where there might have been some kind of preamble, linking a section to preceding ones in that strand, today’s section begins almost in mid-sentence. I think the effect is interesting and imagine that it immerses the reader right back into a particular narrative without drawing his or her attention to the fact I’ve done so. It might make him or her work harder but it should be more immediate and natural.

The second technique I shall call ‘narrative drift‘, because I’m pretentious like that and I like coining ersatz-academic terminology. Within a single section, the narrative changes tense and perspective so that the past and the present elide together. It’s the sort of glissando technique that one could overuse, but seems to work for occasional effect.

Since I’ve been suffering from sub-flu on my day off, it could just be that I’m delirious and delusional, of course!

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Days at the seaside…

On another note entirely, my friend here in East Anglia, known to the world as Badger, has just put three stories up on Amazon. I’ve no idea what they’re like as I haven’t read them, so this is in no way an endorsement but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Just click on the image below…

Anyway, here’s that section:

That and the sand, of course…  Fine, white, crystalline, it had a way of making sure that you never forgot it.  It got everywhere, in your eyes and mouth, in your picnic box and Thermos flask.  And once you returned home, you’d find kilos of it in your clothes and shoes, in your ears and hair and in the space between your toes.  When the tide retreated, it left behind hectare upon hectare of warm, damp sand, ideal for writing messages to the sky, for making sandcastles and sculptures and entombing your parents inside silica sarcophagi. You had to be careful, though.  The tide crept back in swiftly, washing everything away.  And then the writing and monuments were gone, as though they’d never existed.  

Sandriina Tarrinavskova, resident of Compartment 45J-1, swears that the sand she finds in her backpack must have come from that beach on the last occasion that she visitied, twenty and more years ago.  After all, how else could it have got there?  It makes her a little melancholy, thinking about how her daughters, Tiili-Ruusa and Tuuli-Anna, have missed out on those days at the seaside.

Silicon dioxide, tiny particles of rock, worn away by the ocean…  Sandriina recalls her science mistress at the Seminary in Tarrinstøy digressing during a lesson on organic chemistry.  She’d been explaining how carbon provided the building blocks of all life on earth.  And then she began talking about silicon and the possibility of its replacing carbon in this capacity.  A tetravalent metalloid, capable of bonding with oxygen and forming polymers, possessing a degree of handedness, it isn’t impossible.  Outside, a black cloud covers up the sun, casting them into darkness.  Imagine the lifeforms that might result, she whispers, gleaming, hewn from stone, pitiless – like our very own trolls, returned to life.  It grows cold inside and the girls shiver.  The sandman cometh…  ‘Stop it, mamma,’ Tuuli-Anna cries. 

All text and images © PSR 2015, except image of book cover © Ian Rowbotham 2015

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2 Responses to “It’s all in the technique…”

  1. Mari Biella June 18, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    Very interesting, Paul. I’ve been employing a little narrative drift myself recently, though I’ve no idea how effective it’s been! I love the extract from your work-in-progress.

  2. Paul Sutton Reeves June 18, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    Hi Mari and thanks for the encouragement. Good luck with your own narrative drift – as ever, it’s hard to get an objective view of how well things have worked in one’s own work…

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