Roundtable: Form and Language in Story

Although narrative storytelling can be seen as the dominant issue in fiction since the ‘80s, we can also see that form and technique are also important today. In recent years, away from the world of blockbuster bestsellers, writing has also emerged that is creating dynamic new approaches to the act of writing itself. The writer as, perhaps one of the most independent creative producers pushes at the boundaries allowing innovative, experimental and exploratory forms of writing to take place. Today, the dominant value of visual representation directs the writer towards image-rich forms. The writer uses letters (where the letter itself can be conceived as a picture) and that cannot be quickly consumed such as photographs or videos. Even the emergent technical possibilities of printing can question the visual forms of writing, grammar and punctuation, that can transform the alphabet, and can be seen as generating a new literary genre that asks to be “looked” at. The fate of the story; seen as a stepping-stone to the romance, can also make a kind of writing laboratory. As a result of the role of the author, we can also observe that stories have always been revolutionary. Nevertheless, the story-writer is often exposed to templates that praise simplicity, story integrity, a search for a net and tidy expression, in some ways imitating American storytelling in contemporary literary criticism.

How can a writer use formative requirements in such a sobering and often gender fixated world? Are men and women using different language/s? Although not a model for a ”gendered” voice or even for a novel, why do women writers not write works more like Sait Faik’s [i] “portrayal story”; uniform  with a flaneur/flaneuse narrator on spaces and characters? One could say that women writers even in literary  essay tend to be more “vertebrate”, dealing with form and wording itself, using a richer vocabulary in an “atmosphere of storytelling”. With the possibility of dissociation from her own sex, the woman writer, can find liberation in writing both through language and its formal possibilities. Free from gender-based victimization, a woman writer can find a wide range of possibilities to reflect her own testimony in narrative. The story, however, is not a hiding place where the writer woman, escapes from male-dominated poetry and romance. The fact that women have been writing  more stories lately is not because they are forced to be assigned to this genre, but because they can find a freedom of language and form that is more comfortable in a story. In this session, with the hypothesis that story is a centrifugal art, in which a woman or a man can establish a sexless language with formal innovations where they can explore the “naked” individual: Could one imagine a story without a story? Is the completed story the responsibility of story writing? Is it technically possible to put the story ahead of form, content, fiction, event or character? The only style that determines form and language is writing itself? Can the form of the story be an action a movement? How does vocabulary and narrative gain value in a story that seeks a place for itself? Do the definitions of the novel or poetic story prevent storytelling language from achieving new formal possibilities?In the story that chooses words, can the closure of expression be seen as a critical element; what is a closed story, what is an open story? How do the pieced or patched expressions sound in a story? Could story writing be the most flexible kind of literature that can go beyond the confines of genre?

[i] Sait Faik Abasıyanık (1906-1954), one of the best known male story writers in Turkey.

Moderator: Seval Şahin; Speakers: Amanda Svensson, Fatma Barbarosoğlu, Menekşe Toprak, Mukadder Gemici, Pelin Buzluk, Zeynep Direk
Women’s Library, Fener