Constructing Time: Reading and writing time in short-short fiction



Publication Details

Cosgrove, S. "Constructing Time: Reading and writing time in short-short fiction." The Radiance of the Short Story: Fiction from Around the Globe: Selected Conference Papers. Ed. M. Lee & A. Penn. Lee and Penn Publishing, 2018. 92-102.


In his essay "Narrative Time" Paul Ricoeur states, "the humblest narra-tive is always more than a chronological series of events" (178), meaning that the passage of time in narrative does not just happen to be there-it is constructed. Even the shortest story, the micro-fiction, needs to demonstrate the author is in control of the way time is operating within the text. For a writer this means being clear on what time frames they are working in. Do they use analepsis or prolepsis (flashback and flashforward)? What tense(s) are they working in? How does their use of time affect the narratorial re-counting position? Or to put it another way: from what point is this story being told and where is the narrator placed for this telling? All of these are important questions for an author constructing a realist narrative that fol-lows a causal sequence of events because the very representation of those events assumes a temporality. Plot points cannot exist without the time and order of their taking place.

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