This blog is boring today. I would like to explain the basic principal behind some of the narratological elements I’ll be examining. This ends up just being definitions and possibly justification, with very little application. It’s more about understanding what features we’re looking at in every article, an ever-present and easily analyzed aspect.


The relation between the time of the story (the event itself, for us will be stages of the TDF) and the time narration (when the story comes out) is called order. These two things never sync up; the presentation never aligns with the unfolding of the events recounted. In classic literature, the order is typically clear cut, but not every narrative can be reformulated into a chronological order. The out-of-orderedness is actually the rule and not the exception with stylistic elements such as foreshadowing. The flexibility of the chronology comes back to the amount of information known to and provided by the narrator (a matter to be addressed later).

When talking about TDF journalism, you think it obviously has to be in chronological order: kilometer 1 to the red kite; neutral zone, breakaway formed, crash, feed zone, crash, attack, re-grouping, attack, winner. We’ll see that this isn’t always true, and sometimes contradictory. Especially when the headline gives it away.


Genette calls the duration both vitesse and durée which is moderately inconsequential because the terms are equal and used interchangeably. Duration defines itself as the relationship between the duration and the length: a relation between the temporal and the spatial. It answers the question “how much time passes in the story in how much time it took to read?”

We can sum it up more specifically in the ratio of kilometers to word count, or hours on the bike to minutes it took you to speed-read the article between conference calls. This relation establishes the narrative tempo. There are four ways in which this tempo can be modified; the most common in journalism is the summary which represents a “null” in the story: it lacks both details and actions. There are certainly other tactics to modify the narrative tempo, but we will examine the specifics in practice.


Mood is going to be a bit more complicated, because not all of its elements apply to this study. Together, the mood is the regulation of information given by the narrator. It is composed of two parts, the distance and the perspective. In the realm of distance, it specifically deals with how involved the narrator is in the story itself. We see that the narrator is never present in cycling journalism. There is no “I” that is equivalent to “rider.” In short, distance concerns types of discourse, with quotes and he-said-she-said stuff. There are several degrees of distance but for now, it is important to only note that the distance is usually “farther” than it is “closer” in TDF journalism.

For perspective, there will probably be a whole entire blog devoted to it. But, in a nutshell, it is closely related to “point-of-view” of the narrator and how much information he knows. This is what we call focalization. It’s a confusing topic, because this doesn’t have anything to do with how much information he tells. This is also distinct from narrative voice (I have yet to encounter a need for discussing narrative voice specifically. Obligatory defining link so you don’t end up at Wikipedia.)

For my first endevour into narratology, I used this website. I made little cards out of the chart and I still tote them around in my copy ofDiscours du Recit for practicallity sake.


About ashlealebrisket

living and learning and teaching in france, exploring the narratology behind cycling journalism,
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