Today I’m flashing back to an old post I wrote, Letters on Literary Devices 6: Jumpy Writing, and providing an example of “literary fracking” for all of you who were confused by the term. I coined this term based off an actual term in literary criticism: “the fractured narrative.”
Basically, the fractured narrative is when a book travels from one perspective to another focusing on the same event. The perspectives can come from character who took part in the event or even characters who are commenting on the event days or months or years later.
In my novel Just After the Fall, I used this strategy throughout. The main event, the beginning of a religious cult, occurred in real time for the protagonist. Two separate commentaries are provided by a future historian and a future religious leader. There is also a separate narrative that occurs after the main event but during the life of the protagonist. This is important because it shows how the cult developed into a religion which inevitably benefitted its people through the creation of a shared, common culture. Despite the fact that it was just made up.
The excerpt below shows the commentary by the future religious leader and the separate narrative that occurs after the main event (I couldn’t use the chapters that showed the main event because those chapters are too long for an excerpt). Notice the change in narrative tone. The second chapter, the chapter that shows the beginning of the religious cult, maintains a simple, matter-of-fact voice, absent of the thinly veiled sarcasm found in the “Sermon”.
Hope you enjoy it! Literary Fracking, everyone!
from Just After the Fall
A Sermon on Suicides from the Year 2540: Part IV
…“Followers of Abraham,” the orator continued, his voice reaching the top of a crescendo. His hands were above his head. “On this day, as you depart, as you leave this holy service, look around yourselves. See that there are powers acting independent of you. See that none of these powers are greater than you. And know that you do not have control of those powers, nor do you need to have control of those powers, for you do control your individual self, for that, above all else, was the lesson Lawrence learned traversing the wilderness. For that was the lesson that brought our people out of the darkness of the mountains and into the white light of liberty. For myself and no-one else!”
“For myself and no-one else,” the flock repeated.
In his private chambers the orator de-robed. Underneath he wore black. Sitting across from him, on a thick mules-leather chair was another man in black.
“Well done,” said the man in black. “You are a tribute to our order.”
The orator nodded his head. He grinned. His teeth were perfect. His canines were sharp.
“Some of the boys at central ran numbers last week. Faith has increased almost six percent since you began here.”
The orator said nothing. He nodded his head.
The man in black reclined further into his chair. “We’ll see productivity numbers next week. The projection from central is showing a three percent increase.” He shifted his weight. “This looks good. You’re looking good. You’re making me look good.”
“Just wait till next week,” the orator replied. “I’m beginning my telling of the Abraham stories. Those, I do particularly well.” He chuckled. “I have a name for it. They’ll eat it up. I’m calling it, But the Angels Never Came.”
The man in black laughed. “They will,” he said. “I know they will. They’ll grow fat on your sermons, and we’ll grow fat on our bonus checks from central office.”
To the East of Eden: Part IV
The top of the mountain was white rock. There were no trees or vegetation. The old man, wearing the brown cloth unique to his tribe, walked across the space separating himself and Lawrence and embraced the younger man.
“It has been too long,” the old man said. There was no hair on his head, but his beard was still thick and long. The dark hairs of his youth had turned a healthy grey.
The old man turned towards Maria. He embraced her.
“How are the boys?” the old man asked.
Maria smiled. “It has been too long,” she answered. “George is a man now. He’s a leader in our tribe. There is talk of him running for the next election. We are proud. And Cain, he was such a smart boy. As a man he’s interested in farming. He has a lot of ideas. He’s been planting trees. He wants all the breadfruit, for all the people of Abraham, to come from the south. ‘Trade,’ he always says the word ‘trade.’ He thinks very big.”
The old man nodded his head.
“So,” Lawrence began. “How are your people Chet?”
“Well fed.” Chet answered. His hands were at his sides. He was old but his back was not curved. The muscles in his legs were thick. “And yours?”
“Well fed and growing. The lands to the south are filling up.”
Lawrence looked past Chet. Resting next to the old man’s bag was an automatic rifle.
“Come across any poachers?” Lawrence asked.
“No, I never do. They see my rifle and they stay away. Besides, I’m an old bag of bones. They go after young meat.”
Lawrence nodded his head.
“It must be nice,” Chet continued, “traveling through the south, traveling without one of those.” He pointed back towards his rifle.
“We stayed as one people.”
“I still remember our splitting off. You were crazy, I thought, staying down there, near the patrols.”
“The first year was tense. But the drones got packed up and shipped off. Never saw one myself. Not after the split. The shared fear. In the beginning, that’s what kept us together.”
“How is Abraham?” Lawrence asked.
“Oh,” Chet replied, “last I heard, he’s doing fine. Always on the move. For so long he lived for the people of the Village. Since the split, he has lived only for himself. You see. I knew him. I knew him well. He was always under so much strain. I could never look at him in the eyes before. But now, he is at peace.”
Lawrence nodded. “He was right. He had the right idea all along. He had all the power, but he walked away.”
“It’s his example that they follow,” Chet said in agreement. “They can longer follow the words from his mouth. They follow his beliefs. They follow his morals.”
Time passed. Maria spoke more of her sons. Chet and Lawrence reminisced sitting with backs against the white rocks of the mountain. The sun went up. The sun went down. Maria started a fire and the three ate. It was not until after the meal that Lawrence brought up the matter of official duties. The men talked of trade, new developments in breadfruit farming, and efforts on both sides to maintain the religion of Abraham in their peoples, for the yearly gathering at Church Peak was only a month away.
Thanks for checking out this excerpt! If you still have questions about the fractured narrative or literary fracking, feel free to put those in the comment section below!
AND WRITERS: IF YOU HAVE AN EXAMPLE OF LITERARY FRACKING, SEND MY AN E-MAIL SO I CAN FEATURE YOU ON MY BLOG! EJAMESOLSON1@GMAIL.COM
Oh, and one other thing. All four novels in the series are still on sale. They are priced between 2.99 and 3.99. Check out these links if you’re interested: