Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Narrative Structure theory

Narrative structures

  • Tvzetan Todorov – Suggests narrative is simply equilibrium, disequilibrium and then a new form of equilibrium
  • Vladmir Propp – Characters and actions (21 functions of character types)
  • Claude Levi-Strauss – Constant creation of conflict/opposition propels narrative. Narrative can only end on a resolution of conflict. Opposition can be visual (light/darkness) (movement/stillness) or conceptual (love/hate) (control/panic) and to do with sound track.

You must separate plot and story

  • Plot = The strict chronological order in which events occur
  • Story = The order in which each of the main characters finds out about these events.

Identifying the narrator who is telling the story is a vital question to be asked when analysing any media text. Stories may be related in the first or third person, POVs may change but the narrator will always stay the same.
-Reveal the events which make up the story
-Mediate those events for the audience
-Evaluate those events for the audience
The narrator also tends to position the audience into a particular relationship with the characters on the screen.

Comprehending time – Devices
* Typing the time/date info on each new scene
* Flashbacks
* Dream sequences
* Repetition
* Different characters’ POV
* Flash forwards
* Real time interludes
* Pre figuring of events that have not yet taken place.

Locating the narrative
Each story has a location. There are sets of conventions to do with that location, often associated with genre and form.
Narrative structure can be divided into 3 sections which is referred to as a three act structure: setup, conflict and resolution (fits in with Todorov)

  • Act One = Setup – where all the characters and their basic situation are introduced and exploring character background.
  • Act Two = Conflict – Bulk of the story and the inciting incident with character development.
  • Act Three = Characters have to confront the problem – leads to the end.

Linear and non-linear narrative structures
A non-linear narrative is one that does not proceed in a straight line, step by step fashion, such as where an author creates a story’s ending before the middle is finished. Linear is the opposite, when narrative runs smoothly in a straight line, and is not broken up.

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