Monday, April 22, 2013

Writing for Story

I found the two examples given during chapter II and III to become incredibly useful throughout this book. As directed, I focused particularly on chapter VI, but also want to draw note to some of the definitions of narrative described in chapter VII. Initially, I was a little thrown off by the authors snooty-ness in regards to my (the readers/authors) hatred for outlines, since I actually typically write outlines for almost every paper I write. However, this aside, the prescribed outline (complication-development 123-resolution) format was not one that I have ever used. I also typically outline a research paper, where the outline is not based on a story, rather an compilation of academic quotes and filling arguments in order to support a thesis. With that being said, I found it particularly helpful that Franklin gave us improving examples of this outline structure, including for the pieces we'd already read. Since this type of story (and outline) is new to me, I'm interested to see what sort of process goes into narrowing down a story to 5 short sentences. For me, this seems that it would be the most difficult. 

In chapter VII, several descriptions and definitions of narrative are also given. This interested me because we've posed the question as a class: "What is narrative writing and how does this narrative journalism class differ from some other classes in the English department (eg. other journalism classes, creative non-fiction)? Franklin writes: "Remember that narrative tells your story and that your story, like the people and events upon which it is based, is a living thing..." Perhaps this isn't quite the answer to the question posed above, but the into and sections about each type of narrative pointed out some great purposes for narrative writing: "good narrative will make the reader forget he's sitting in an easy chair" , "threats are maintained by cues embedded in the narrative" , "showing your story occur rather than telling how it occurs." 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Orlean/ LeBlanc

LeBlanc immersed herself in an overwhelming sense in this reportage, and immediately the questions of bias, safety, and closeness to Trina were brought to my mind. Her complete immersion in the life of Trina reminded me of the novel I read by Sudhir Venkatesh, “Gang Leader for a Day”, which was an anthropological look into the life of a gang leader in Chicago. The author Sudhir becomes friends with JT (said gang leader) during his research, and eventually explores the power struggles of a gang through his connection with JT, gaining access to previously hidden aspects of gang life. The similarity between the anthropological research Sudhir does and the journalistic research of LeBlanc was visible in the immersion into a dangerous or questionable situation: both involving drugs/ prostitution/ otherwise sketchy situations. Additionally, both authors allow their personal opinions and experiences to seep into the text, also LeBlanc used “I” significantly less than Sudhir. The comparison between these types of research would be interesting, due to the apparent similarities in immersion research in two different fields.
At certain points it seems that LeBlanc is connecting herself to Trina, and I wondered why that connection was initially made: “Our shared attributes would blind me, delude me into the sort of sturdy plan of action that seems possible when you are the person you are trying to help share common ground.” Throughout the essay LeBlanc makes continued connections between herself and Trina, however the idea of trying to help her is not explained. Why is she helping her? I am curious about this connection and if it influenced LeBlanc’s writing about Trina. This also opens the questions of what sort of relationship is appropriate between narrator and subject, and I would like to talk about this in class during story proposals.

In a similar fashion as in LeBlanc’s story, Orlean is barely present at all in the story about Colin. In LeBlanc’s, as previously mentioned, I craved slightly more attention to the narrator. Because of the references to actions, conversations, and experiences the subject and the narrator were having together, the LeBlanc story felt more open regarding the role of the narrator. In contrast, Orlean is barely present in the life of Colin, although prompting statements are made at several points.

One of the major differences I felt between the two stories was the urgency at which I read the piece. In LeBlanc’s, I felt that the dangerous story of Trina, a drug addict, drove me to feel the need to read the piece in one sitting. Reading Orlean’s story about Colin, I put the book down several times, not out of boredom, rather out of a desire to prolong and relax during the reading. Additionally, I was struck by how two very different stories captured me in a similar way. In both pieces, the authors painted a realistic picture of Colin and Trina, and for the time that it took me to read the pieces, I felt invested and involved in their lives.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Writing Process


First, I have only told this story to 1 person in this county. I debated if it was too personal, if the story would make you (my classmates) think less of me, if I could even tell it because I'm still kind of in it.

I want to figure out how to pin down one focus of the story (ideally being in a cheating relationship in Senegal), and have the stories lead into it. I'd ask for help structuring the story, because I'm telling it how I lived it and perhaps I could be more clear by telling the story another way. Organizational help would be wonderful.

Writing this wasn't as emotionally challenging as I thought it would, but in the few responses that I've already received, I think editing it and perfecting it will force me to share even more (which could be good) and I'm curious to see if it needs more detail or just some rewriting.

Also, the intended publication is Modern Love.