🧵Here's my summary of @LouiseHarnby's talk on Narrative Distance. I'm really excited about this one. Narrative Distance, to me, can be hard for writers and editors to grok, but it underpins so many key elements that make stories work. #CIEP2021 1/
@LouiseHarnby If you write or edit fiction, you should be following @LouiseHarnby wherever she is (and she's everywhere) #CIEP2021 2/
Narrative Distance (aka psychic distance) is a stylistic editing tool. It intersects with narrative style, POV, show vs tell, and more. Check out The Art of Fiction by John Gardner. #CIEP2021 3/
It's about the relationship between reader and character. How deep in their head or experience are you? Or are you standing back, looking with a bit more objectivity? Are you watching from afar, disconnected from the emotionality of the character? #CIEP2021 /4
We need to think about narrative styles, especially:
👁️First-person limited
😃Third-person limited
🧍Third-person objective
💭Third-person omniscient
#CIEP2021 /5
Choose wisely; how intimate do you want the effect to be? Second person is creepily intimate. 👀 Third-person objective has the widest ND, while third-person omniscient might have some intimacy with the narrator, if not the characters. #CIEP2021 /6
Think of ND as a continuum. John Gardner has a great example of how the shift of psychic or emotional distance looks in various sentences, in The Art of Fiction. #CIEP2021 /7
Now @LouiseHarnby is showing some examples in highly successful commercial fiction. The shifts along the ND continuum can help readers understand characters better and make the story more engaging. /8 #CIEP2021
Takeaway: Narrative distance isn't static, and zooming in and out of narrative distance can be really effective in terms of pace, emotional impact and characterization. The level of intimacy ebbs and flows. /9 #CIEP2021
Readers can see what's going on without being smothered by the character's gaze. /10 #CIEP2021
Editors need to look out for:
😱 Too much reliance on one point in the continuum
🐸 Jumping too far from one degree of ND to another
🤯 Head-hopping
/11 #CIEP2021
😱Too much reliance on large distance makes it static and boring, and can result in info-dumping and pace-murdering. /12 #CIEP2021
Too much reliance on intimate distance can be emotionally overwhelming and draining for the reader, feeling sentimental and overblown, putting emotion before description and action. /13 #CIEP2021
Side note: I love how @LouiseHarnby has made these shifts obvious by color-coding them on the text. This could be a good way to explain it in a key passage or report to clients in a developmental edit or line-edit. /14 #CIEP2021
Some absolutely tiny, almost invisible tweaks can have a huge impact, like changing a thought from italics to roman. /15 #CIEP2021
🐸When transitions jump too much, it's like shifting gears too fast. Writing can feel disjointed, confusing, contrived, or jarring.
🚗 Editors can help writers to find where they need to add or smooth transitions along the ND continuum. /16 #CIEP2021
Getting an over-the-shoulder peek at how @LouiseHarnby suggests her clients fix these problems is like watching an artist paint. 🤩/17 #CIEP2021
Head-hopping: jumping from one character's perspective to another to the point where readers get confused, can't invest in a character's experience, and feel dizzy. /18 #CIEP2021
It's important to separate characters' headspaces. If you have a viewpoint character, stay within their experience in that scene. Consider what they actually know or observe. /19 #CIEP2021
I see writers try to avoid this by littering the text with filter words like "she noticed," "watched," or "felt." No need for that! Don't watch her watch the thing happen. Just say that it happens. /20 #CIEP2021
When helping authors with ND, don't use prescriptive rules. Use your instinct, acknowledge subjectivity, introduce transitions or smooth them, and use the ND lens to see if head-hopping is happening. /21 #CIEP2021
Some Narrative Distance tools:
🪛 Free indirect speech/style
🪛 Filter word removal
🪛 Ditching suddenly/instantly
🪛 Using characters' full names
🪛 Reporting speech or thoughts
/22 #CIEP2021
Removing "suddenly" or "immediately" actually makes...the story...more immediate. /23 #CIEP2021
Widening ND can be done by using the character's full names, changing direct speech/thought to reported speech/thought, or using objective reporting of the action or mechanics of the scene. /24 #CIEP2021
Why bother?
It helps editors with
📘flow of prose
📘shifts of intimacy with a single narrative style
📘control shifts of viewpoint.

It helps authors know
📘how to fix it

It helps readers
📘enjoy and understand the story more
📘care more about characters. /25 #CIEP2021
I've gotten a bit tangled with the Q&As! Here are some gems: Consider context, clarify brief and expectations with clients, share resources with clients (especially ones you've created), frame your analysis and feedback from the reader's POV. /26 #CIEP2021 @LouiseHarnby
@LouiseHarnby Do listen to @EditingPodcast where @LouiseHarnby and @dinnydaethat talk about these concepts in more detail and also how they apply to nonfiction as well. #CIEP2021 /27
@LouiseHarnby @EditingPodcast @dinnydaethat Terminology might differ between fiction and nonfiction, but ultimately every text is telling some kind of story, so a lot of editing concepts can transfer across. @LouiseHarnby #CIEP2021 /28
@LouiseHarnby @EditingPodcast @dinnydaethat The most important thing many of us learned was what kind of dog @LouiseHarnby has (a labrador). #KeyInfo #CIEP2021 #StetPets #PetsOfCIEP
@LouiseHarnby @EditingPodcast @dinnydaethat In fact, she has two: Luke and Charlie.
If you enjoyed this wisdom from @LouiseHarnby, check out her massive library of resources, courses, podcasts and blog posts over at louiseharnbyproofreader.com /fin #CIEP2021

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