Constructing the Narrative with Balance of Bias

A key for any writer be they novelist, journalist, copywriter, screen writer, or blogger is to construct the narrative. What does it mean to construct the narrative? The narrative is a justification for the state of the world AND a personal explanation for choices made. It is the WHY and the articulated meaning. Depending on the perspective of the viewer, it is an unfounded excuse or a justified reason. Controlling the overarching narrative is to control what people perceive and understand about the world and the individual actors within it.

Let us begin with the vocabulary. Character profiles, theme, setting, and story arc. Each of these contributes something unique to narrative construction. Effective use of these shape both the point of view and the content toward specific understanding. Because of these, all writing has bias. The development of these elements is intentional.

Character profiles are at the core of narrative construction. Characters provide the first blush of the struggle. Through these, the reader identifies the villain and the hero. The reader also begins to identify with the characters, determining which characters most represent their views, aspirations, and backgrounds.

Balance in character profiles would seek to remove the emotion, especially fear or sympathy, from the profiles. Keep descriptive words out of the character profiles. Refrain from adding value judgments to actions.

Theme creates stories based on the characters centered in their communicated motives. Motives are derived naturally by the reader based on how the writer matches stories with current events. Readers see juxtaposition of events and stories as plausible reasons for actions. Readers perceive a tighter connection thematically if the motives and expression of events fits with their conception of the hero/villain structure.

Balance in the theme must begin with a multi-perspective expression of the events. Write from multiple systems levels, multiple points of view, and conflicting arguments. Focus on the fact of an event as central. Explain the theme from as many vantage points as is possible.

Setting is simply where the story takes place. Readers can be influenced by the setting of the story. More private and exclusive settings communicate more honest and trustworthy information. Readers rationalize that what was represented in these settings is free from a need to lie or deceive. Balance in the use of setting will give a character a chance to explain any discrepancies between private and more public comments or behaviors.

Story arc is a powerful tool of narrative construction. It is the way that multiple stories fit together to tell the larger story. It creates a history in the mind of the reader. This history is a natural confirmatory agent in the inferences of the reader.

Balance in the use of story arc would focus on a timeline of events that is free from value judgments. Problem is, that usually means less intrigue and potentially a less interesting read. If you want to determine the bias of a writer, discern the story arc. Determine what the storyline shapes in the mind of the reader over time.

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