Narrative structure

Narrative structure is generally described as the structural framework that underlies the order and manner in which a narrative is presented to a reader, listener, or viewer. The narrative text structures are the plot and the setting( also known as the shenter).

Generally, the narrative structure of any work (be it film, play, or novel) can be divided into three sections, which is referred to as the three-act structure: setup, conflict, resolution. The setup (act one) is where all of the main characters and their basic situation are introduced, and contains the primary level of characterization (exploring the character's backgrounds and personalities). A problem is also introduced, which is what drives the story forward.

The second act, the conflict, is the bulk of the story, and begins when the inciting incident (or catalyst) sets things into motion. This is the part of the story where the characters go through major changes in their lives as a result of what is happening; this can be referred to as the character arc, or character development.

The third act, or resolution, is when the problem in the story boils over, forcing the characters to confront it, allowing all elements of the story to come together and inevitably leading to the ending.

An example is the 1973 film The Exorcist: The first act of the film is when the main characters are introduced and their lives are explored: Father Karras (Jason Miller) is introduced as a Catholic priest who is losing his faith. In act two, a girl named Regan (Linda Blair) becomes possessed by a demonic entity (the problem), and Karras' character arc is being forced to accept that there is no rational or scientific explanation for the phenomenon except that she actually is possessed by a demon, which ties in directly with the theme of him losing his faith. The third act of the film is the actual exorcism, which is what the entire story has been leading to.

Theorists describing a text's narrative structure might refer to structural elements such as an introduction, in which the story's founding characters and circumstances are described; a chorus, which uses the voice of an onlooker to describe the events or indicate the proper emotional response to be happy or sad to what has just happened; or a coda, which falls at the end of a narrative and makes concluding remarks. First described in ancient times by Indian philosophers[1] and Greek philosophers (such as Aristotle and Plato), the notion of narrative structure saw renewed popularity as a critical concept in the mid- to late-twentieth century, when structuralist literary theorists including Roland Barthes, Vladimir Propp, Joseph Campbell and Northrop Frye attempted to argue that all human narratives have certain universal, deep structural elements in common. This argument fell out of fashion when advocates of poststructuralism such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida asserted that such universally shared deep structures were logically impossible.

Northrop Frye in his Anatomy of Criticism deals extensively with what he calls myths of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.

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, when it is not broken up.

An example of a non-linear narrative is the 1994 film Pulp Fiction. The film is ostensibly three short stories, which upon closer glance are actually three sections of one story with the chronology broken up.

See also

References

  1. ^ Stroud, Scott R. (2004), "Narrative as Argument in Indian Philosophy: The Astavakra Gita as Multivalent Narrative", Philosophy and Rhetoric 37 (1): 42–71, doi:10.1353/par.2004.0011 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • narrative structure — noun The structural framework that underlies the order and manner in which a narrative is presented to a reader, listener, or viewer …   Wiktionary

  • Narrative design — is a narratology craft focused on the structuralist creation of stories. Narremes, or story elements, are formulated into a cohesive narrative structure in such a way as to create a metanarrative or arcnarrative for the viewer/user/player. [… …   Wikipedia

  • Narrative Exegese — ist eine neuere Methode der biblischen Exegese, die besonders im englischsprachigen Raum verbreitet ist und seit etwa zwanzig Jahren zunehmend auch in der deutschen Bibelwissenschaft aufgenommen wird. Die narrative Exegese gründet sich auf die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Narrative — A narrative is a constructive format (as a work of speech, writing, song, film, television, video games, photography or theatre) that describes a sequence of non fictional or fictional events. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, to… …   Wikipedia

  • Narrative preaching — Over the last few decades in the United States, some homiletical theorists and preachers have questioned the hegemony of the traditional rhetorical approaches to preaching. Many alternative styles and approaches have been developed, many of which …   Wikipedia

  • Narrative mode — The narrative mode (also known as the mode of narration) is the set of methods the author of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical story uses to convey the plot to the audience. Narration, the process of presenting the narrative, occurs… …   Wikipedia

  • narrative — nar|ra|tive [ˈnærətıv] n formal 1.) a description of events in a story, especially in a ↑novel ▪ At several points in the narrative the two stories cross. 2.) [U] the process or skill of telling a story >narrative adj ▪ a narrative poem ▪ …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Narrative criticism — focuses on the stories a speaker or a writer tells to understand how they help us make meaning out of our daily human experiences. Narrative theory is a means by which we can comprehend how we impose order on our experiences and actions by giving …   Wikipedia

  • Narrative art — is art that tells a story, either as a moment in an ongoing story or as a sequence of events unfolding over time. Some of the earliest evidence of human art suggests that people told stories with pictures. However, without some knowledge of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Narrative theory — Narrative theory, or narratology, is the study of narrative or story, written or otherwise. The founder of narrative theory is often held to be Aristotle, whose study of plot in drama gave rise to the study of narrative as an art form, known as… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”