In the past, I have written pieces in which I tried to portray and convey a specific narrative. These failed. Either the audience is supposed to read the program notes before the piece and then recall it and recognize the ways I tried to represent it, or they are reading the programs during the piece and the music is really accompaniment to the program notes.
I have also written pieces that had more classical ideals if form as the main narrative. In other words, the narrative was that a first theme in this key is followed by a second theme in another key, or that this version of the material is followed by this manipulation of the material.
This leaves the idea of conveying a narrative theme, and allowing the audience to fill in the blanks. Metanarrative.
The Distillations set is really all about this. It is part of why I haven’t revealed what the piece “is about” in any other than a general way.