I don’t consider the narrative structure of my novel-in-progress, Larger than Life, to be experimental at all. But nor do I intend to constrain myself by a conventional narrative approach.
The first chapter, which is not yet written, will be able to stand on its own and make sense, but it will be different from most of the rest of the story. Until the third chapter, where I make the connection and shed some revealing light on it, I don’t think most readers will understand why the first chapter was even there. But it is crucial for understanding the protagonist and how he progresses through the story. After the connection to the incongruous first chapter is established, I’ll make use of that unconventional narrative a few more times in the story, and I expect to end the story going in a completely new, unconventional narrative direction. It’s fun to envision and write, and I think it will be a fine piece of story telling in the end.
It is hardly unique, though. A good deal of the fiction I read departs from a straight linear approach. I think most modern readers are quite capable of making sense of a story that is told out of sequence, from differing points of view, with different narrators, and so on. My telling won’t really be a shake up of the chronological order of the story; it’s more a matter of what seems to be two very different stories of two very different protagonists jammed against each other. As I said, I intend for this to all make a sudden sort of sense by the middle of the third chapter (which I recently completed in first draft). And once that is established — the sense of and need for it — I can put it to fruitful use throughout the rest of the novel. (Its “uses” through the rest of the novel are why I haven’t begun writing the first chapter. I need to see how I use it so I can now how to write it such that it supports the rest of the novel.)
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