THE SHORT STORY II: NARRATIVA
This is a continuation of an early post : The Short Story.
You will recall that in an earlier post I provided a heuristic formula for the short story, a necessary simplification that will, I hope, allow us to apprehend this wily and beautiful form.
I described the short story as: a short emplaced narrative in which a sympathetic character is forced by a disruptive conflict to make a consequential choice.
Or expressed algebraically: Narrative + Sympathetic Character + Place ÷ Conflict = Choice
In truth all of these components are deeply entangled and not easily disaggregated, but for the sake of learning we will pretend otherwise.
In this post I wish to focus on the Narrative component of our formula (which, to avoid confusion, we will call Narrativa).
By definition all stories have Narrativa because all stories are told by someone -- the writer, naturally.
No possible way I could review all of Narrativa’s features in one post but let’s at least attempt to lay out the primaries.
One must always remember that in fiction the person narrating / telling the story is never exactly the writer. The fictional form always stands in the way, always mediates between the writer and the reader. What readers encounter on the page is never the pure writer, but the writer’s mediated presence; their persona (which fittingly is Latin for mask). Therefore, just because a story voices an opinion about topic X does not necessarily mean that the writer holds that opinion.
Personas may be grouped into two broad types: persona apparent and persona implied.
A persona apparent is when the writer tells the tale through an emodied person, sometimes identified, sometimes not.
Sometimes, however, the persona is not personified or embodied at all — this is often the case in third person narratives. Nevertheless there is a persona, if one observes closely enough. An abstracted narrating presence that gives the writing a subtle (and occasionally not so subtle) sensibility—in other words, a persona implied.
Persona is not only a narrative strategy, it is also a limbic one, a way of imbuing what are a bunch of marks on a page with a human presence, a human personality. Personas can be chummy, personable, cool, distant, processual, methodical, minatory, dense, variable, distant, mysterious.
Some writers have many masks at their disposal. Some writers only a few.
Personas are tools and as the viejos say, you should always pick the right tool for the write job.