Bruce Ballenger. Boise State University. Situation and Story (. Gornick. ). Protaganist. and Narrator (. Lopate. ). Then-narrator and now-narrator (Pollack). Narrative and “reflection turn” (Newkirk). ID: 709397
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Overcoming Resistance to Reflection in Creative Nonfiction
Boise State UniversitySlide2
Situation and Story (Gornick
and Narrator (
Then-narrator and now-narrator (Pollack)
Narrative and “reflection turn” (Newkirk)
Dramatic narrative and narrative of thought
Narrative and ExpositionSlide3
Strategies for Encouraging Reflection
Sea of experience
Mountain of reflectionSlide4
Story is more important
Show don’t tell
“It’s up to reader”
Drag of exposition
“Ruins the suspense”Slide5
“Could it be, I wondered, that [my students] had a narcissistic attachment to that ignorant younger self, so fragile, so guileless, and wanted to protect it from the contamination of intellectual sophistication?”
Relfection and Introspection?Slide6
States the obvious
“Don’t know what I think”
“Value emotion over intellect”Slide7
Patterns of reflection in nonfictionSlide8
Block of expositionSlide11
It was about forty yards to the gallows. I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily,
bobbing gait of the Indian who never straightens his knees. At each step his muscles
into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet
printed themselves on the wet gravel. And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path.
It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a
man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery,
wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not
was alive just as we were alive.
Orwell, “A Hanging”Slide12
It was in the breakup that the affair ceased to be in the conventional mode and began to resemble instead the novels of James M. Cain, the movies of the late 30s, all the dreams in which violence and threats and blackmail are made to seem commonplaces of middle-class life
. What was most startling about the case the State of California was preparing against Lucille Miller was something that had nothing to do with law at all, something that never appeared in the eight-column afternoon headlines but was always there between them:
the revelation that the dream was teaching the dreamers how to live
. Here is Lucille Miller talking to her lover sometime in the early summer of 1964, after, he had indicated that, on the advice of his minister, he did not intend to see her any more: "First, I'm going to go to that dear pastor of yours and tell him a few things.... When I do tell him that, you won't be in the Redlands Church any more... Look, Sonny Boy, if you think your reputation is going to be ruined, your life won't be worth two cents." Here is
, to Lucille Miller: "I'll go to Sheriff Frank Bland and tell him some things that I know about you until you'll wish you'd never heard of
.' For an affair between a Seventh-Day Adventist dentist's wife and a Seventh-Day Adventist personal-injury lawyer, it seems a curious kind of dialogue.
, “Dreamers of the Golden Dream”Slide13
How beautiful a street is in the winter! It is at once revealed and obscured. Here vaguely one can trace the symmetrical straight avenue of doors and windows; here under the lamps are
floating islands of pale light
through which pass quickly bright
men and women, who, for all their poverty and shabbiness, wear a certain look of unreality, an air of triumph, as if they had given life the slip, so that life, deceived of her prey, blunders on without them
. But, after all, we are only gliding smoothly on the surface.
The eye is not a miner, not a diver, not a seeker after buried treasure. It floats us smoothly down a stream; resting, pausing, the brain sleeps perhaps as it looks.
Woolf, “Street Haunting”Slide14
The virtues of abstraction
“the injunction to use detail, be specific, be concrete…pushes the student writer towards a language that most nearly reproduces the immediate experience and away from a language that might be used to understand it, transform it, relate it to something else.”Slide20
What I understand about this now that I didn’t understand then is …
I once thought _____ but now I think _______.
Most people usually believe _____ about _____, but after the writing I can see _____.
My question when I began this story was ______ but now it is ________.
What we can’t often appreciate when it comes to _____ is ______.Slide21
Put yourself back there. Drawing on all senses, describe in the present tense.
Compose beginning with “As I look back on this now, I realize that…”
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