Friday, 10 February 2012

You wanna fight?

10:30:00 Posted by Lindsay 6 comments

Narrative or Lyric. It’s a controversial subject. Canon or Nikon? PC or Mac? Spit or swallow? Each of these will have vehement preachers of the worth of each. One is called functional and the other pretentious and shallow. It causes arguments at dinner parties, between friends and enemies alike. It can turn best friends against each other. Each of them feel that they are right, and enduces an attitude of smuggery (Yes I made that up).

Narrative: it’s the spine of the writing. It has to be there otherwise what’s the point of reading it? Anything else is a case of the emperor’s new clothes. The writing has to carry the story along, not navel gaze throughout. I’d rather read a story where something HAPPENS, not the thought’s of a narcissistic self absorbed author who tries to be clever and just alienates people. Half of the people who claim to prefer literary fiction don’t have a clue anyway and are just pretentious sheep.

Lyric: It’s the abstract within the text. Why does there have to be a plot? People and situations can be artful and fascinating. We shouldn’t have to follow a formula in writing. Beautiful metaphor and use of language is as skilful as plot building, if not more. A vivid image can stay with you far longer than a plot which has been done over and over. They do say after all that there are only 7 different plots in writing.

Like each of these arguments, the answer is they are as good as each other. It depends on what you want out of your writing or what you read. Both have qualities the other doesn’t. You choose what you want out of it and choose what’s better for you. Or what the purpose of your writing is. The bonus of being a writer is that we don't have to invest huge amounts of cash and then justify our use of one or the other. We can play around with both, and use what we feel is right for our current work. We can pick up a piece of literary fiction or lyrical poem and if we have the inclination read that, or go for something which has a great story.

I personally prefer Canon, PC and Narrative. I like a bit of lyric too, when it’s vivid and appropriate, the perfect book for me is a balance between skilful imagery and writing and great plotting. Crap writing is just annoying no matter how great the story is and gives me rage. Likewise 400 pages of the thoughts of a man enduring a mid life crisis would have to have something to keep me reading other than how he 'finds' himself spiritually.  
 I'm not giving the answer to the other one.


Ste said...

I've really enjoyed reading everyone's posts this week. It's really got me thinking. For the record, I am also Canon PC and Narrative (Thanks Vicky for explaining yesterday - I am now firmly placed on Narrative side - oh, and Bumper Car)

I'm also now very worried that I'm that middle aged guy writing about finding himself spiritually : /

Great pic as well :)

Lindsay said...

I tried to read Paulo Coelho's 'Aleph' after enjoying 'Veronika decides to die and it nearly went out of the window, it was absolute bollocks about how he time travelled and was some sort of god and spiritual type. It was basically a mid-life crisis, and as much as I really want to love literary fiction, sometimes I just can't stomach it.

I just re-read Vicky's and realised I was writing about Lyric from a fiction perspective not a poetic one, and now feel like an arse.

I won't ask you to explain 'Bumper Car'.

vicky ellis said...

Lindsay, I think it's great that you tackled it from a fiction perspective. Your post highlights how narrative and lyric work in novels in a really clear way. I'm with you on the Coelho. After a while you can't help but feel alcohol, rather than a pen, is what the writer needed.

The most useful piece of information I've taken from today's post, however, is the startling news that I can both spit and swallow at the same time. It's going to take some practice. I'll let you know how I get on :P

Lindsay said...

Oh lordy is that what Bumper car means?

Ashley R Lister said...

I am going to stop googling phrases I don't understand from this blog.

Last week I found out more about Nicki Minaj than I would care to have taking up valuable space inside my head. This week I've found several definitions for bumper cars - two of which have brought me close to losing my lunch.

I'm glad Lindsay took this from a fiction perspective - that's the the POV I've used for my bit tomorrow.


Danielle Rose said...