The evolution of a passive narrator & 'Half river, half sea: a novel'

McNally, D (2021) The evolution of a passive narrator & 'Half river, half sea: a novel'. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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Abstract

This thesis comprises a novel and a critical study. The novel is a first-person text which explores the narration of unrequited love. The critical study is a discussion of how a character narrating unrequited love can tend toward passivity. Its purpose is to find how my narrator evolved from one whose passivity was a weakness in the novel, to one in which it became a quality that merited attention. In the Introduction I offer some background about why unrequited love is a subject that interests me and how I have used the theme before. I describe how initially in this novel, my narrator’s response to unrequited love was problematic for me, and why. In this context, I look at and give a definition of narrative passivity. I outline what type of narrator I realised I did want, and my intentions for the study. I also introduce the texts that sustained and supported me on the way. Part One [Early Incarnations] looks back at the direction in which my originally unnamed and urban narrator was going. I explain why I felt the need to refigure him. I show how, during the process of developing him, I found he nevertheless retained some of his initial characteristics. I point to where the traces of these early iterations remain. In Part Two [The Makings of Will] I discuss the concepts of passivity and agency in relation to my narrator. I look at what it means to be a protagonist and what I did to make my narrator both narrator and protagonist of this novel. I examine his relationships, including those that pre-date the novel. I show how the connections he forges serve to mitigate – rather than eradicate – his passivity, thereby making this aspect of him interesting as opposed to frustrating for a reader. Part Three [The Division of Time] investigates how I organised the novel temporally. There are two timeframes. Initially, neither was organised in a linear way. I explain the changes I undertook – namely rearranging events chronologically – and why; that is, in order to better reinforce the arc of my narrator’s growth. Finally, I reveal why the river is a crucial site within the novel and how it influenced my narrator’s development. The Conclusion summarises my main discoveries during the creation of my narrator. In particular was the realisation that whilst his character need not be wholly determined by a narration of unrequited love, and indeed is not, the two are bound – and balanced – throughout.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: creative practice based, creative writing, fiction, narrative voice, narrative passivity, unrequited love
Divisions: School of Creative Industries
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2021 17:30
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2021 17:34
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