Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Narrative Transport

Our dear Latayne is in limbo without internet at the moment, so we have reposted this excellent contribution.  She will be back soon!

Every once in a while I read something that so aptly describes something related to writing and reading that I want everyone to read it.

Such is the case in the following brief quote from the foreword to a collection of short stories of a rare genre: Christian science fiction. The book is Leaps of Faith, edited by Karina and Robert Fabian.

I was a teenager when I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time. Afterwards, I wanted to believe it was true: that somehow, somewhen, elves had walked the earth, men had lived heroic, tragic lives, and curious creatures called hobbits had once saved everyone from evil triumphant before sinking back into well-earned obscurity. . .
 I didn’t analyze it at the time, but allowed myself to be swept up and away by the power of mere words on a page.
 Three decades later, I can put a scientific name to that experience: narrative transport. It describes our capacity to be taken out of our mundane lives, immersed in another world and our feelings irresistibly tied to those of the story’s characters. Whether this capacity is hardwired by evolution, designed by God, or both, it appears there is part of us that can only be accessed by stories. Storytelling is as ubiquitous in human society as religion is, whether that culture is past, present, or future. We tell stories because we have to. We are made that way.

--Dr. Simon Morden
How about you? What book has effected such a "narrative transport" for you?

5 comments:

Sharon K. Souza said...

Narrative transport. What a perfect description of what a good novel accomplishes. For me, that's the key -- though I didn't realize it till now. If a novel doesn't "take me away" or draw me into its world, then it hasn't accomplished its purpose for me. That's the difference between a book I fall in love with and one I just tolerate because I will almost never not finish a novel if I start it.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

First may I say I write Christian science fiction and thanks to Marcher Lord Press it isn't as rare as it used to be.
Jeffery Overstreet's Aurelia's Thread series transported me to another world.

Patti Hill said...

In the genre of Science Fiction written from a Christian point-of-view, I LOVED the Restorer series by Sharon Hinck, also available at Marcher Lord. I've been in my attic since reading the second book, determined to find a portal.

I experience narrative transport through other genres as well. Like Sharon, any story that draws me into its story world leaves me looking for ways back into that world when I'm away from the pages. What a great term!

Marian said...

Lately I've been reading books to analyse how to write a good book. I'm pretty good at analysing the inferior books.

The excellent books with narrative transport are more difficult...I keep getting distracted by the story.

Sharon K. Souza said...

Marian, isn't that the truth? You made me laugh this morning. Thank you.