Saturday, 11 February 2012

Narrative or Lyric

07:12:00 Posted by Ashley Lister 7 comments

By Ashley Lister

No. It can’t be narrative OR lyric – both elements are equally important. It has to be narrative AND lyric. They support each other.

Without the contextualisation of narrative structure, the poignancy of lyricism can be greatly diminished or lost. The finality of a setting sun might be beautiful in lyrical terms but without the context of some narrative cohesion it will only be as poignant as a Polaroid. However, if a setting sun is the closing scene at the end of a bildungsroman, its beauty is combined with the metaphorical relationship between the day’s end and the conclusion of a life/life cycle/dramatic period within the narrative.

I do think the lyrical quality is essential to help create a resonance of physicality between the reader and the text. Without a vivid lyrical quality the text can be perceived as hollow and the narrative structure can come across as contrived (or so unappealing it fails to grip the reader).

Therefore, for me, it needs to be a combination of narrative and lyric. Neither is superior to the other as each plays an equal measure for the entertainment of the reader and an equal measure in the writer’s intention of expressing himself or herself with the utmost appropriate clarity.

I’ve read that back five times now and – whilst it says exactly what I want it to say – it still reads like the most boring entry I’ve ever posted to this blog. If you’re still with me this far down the page, thank you for your persistence.

I think you and I should sneak away quietly now so as not to wake the others.



Lara Clayton said...

I think I'm also of the school that believes in a blend of the two; a neutral football supporter, if you will, rather than someone who has chosen either narrative or lyric as their team. I like to write poetry that has both elements of narrative and lyric, and I'm sure I'd be able to get rid of one without getting rid of the other...

Great post and not at all boring :)

Ashley R Lister said...

Thanks Lara,

I was worried it came across as being a bit didactic and, since we're getting a huge amount of readers nowadays, I didn't want to frighten followers away.


Lindsay said...

Great post Ash, not boring at all, very informative and well written.

Ashley R Lister said...

Thanks Lindsay,

I knew I couldn't best the witty slant you took on this theme yesterday so I decided to be uncharacteristically deadpan. :-)


vicky ellis said...


Thanks for that. I can't wait to throw it into a conversation the next time I'm feeling masochistic ;)

Ashley R Lister said...

If you describe a novel as either epistolatory or bildungsroman or picaresque, the muggles think you know what you're talking about :-)


Anonymous said...

I had to google picaresque. I am temporarily lifted from muggledom. By tomorrow I'll be back on Privet Drive.