leaving

A Dual Narrative

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Radio stories usually aren’t very complicated. Generally speaking, you can probably place stories into two categories. The first is the argument story — these people say this, these other people disagree. The second is the narrative story — the piece is organized chronologically as a sequence of events. (To be sure, I’m painting with a broad brush.)

Whitney Jones produced a somewhat different story last fall while he was at the Transom Story Workshop where I teach. His story “Leaving” falls in the “narrative story” category but instead of one single sequence of events, “Leaving” follows two — a parallel narrative. That’s unusual.

The reason you don’t hear parallel narratives on the radio too often is because they’re complex. They require more attention from a listener who, typically, is doing something else while they listen. So, in recognition of that, producers and editors tend to simplify. That’s smart.

But, if the writer pays close attention to keeping the two separate narratives clear and simple then brings them together in the end in a satisfying manner, I think a parallel narrative can work on the radio and I’d like to hear more of them.

Definitely, Whitney’s parallel narrative works and works well. But you should weigh in. Have listen and post your thoughts.

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  • hh

    5.22.15

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    Regarding “A Dual Narrative”…Whitney you did a beautiful job in mingling the story of leaving your faith and the discovery and connection of finding your family’s home and how that connection has made you feel that you belong somewhere. I am not saying that in the same lovely way as was illustrated in your narrative, but I understand the feeling very well. I relate so much to the experience of leaving the Mormon church and I very much felt every single word in the note that you wrote to your family. It may be hard for some to understand the act of leaving this faith but there is a weight to the entire process that one can only know having been through this process. The process of shedding the beliefs that you have been immersed in all of your life and slowly seeing things in a very different way coupled with the careful and caring way in letting your family know that you no longer believe (while having a legitimate fear of losing them). I just wanted to tell you that I really appreciated your story and the lovely way that you shared it and most of all I wish you an enjoyable journey down the side streets.

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