Friday, December 9, 2011

Story Structure & Transmedia Narratives

The structure of a story has a significant impact on how users extract meaning from it. By controlling the order in which information is presented to the reader, by providing or withholding pieces of information, the author is able to affect the extent of the reader’s involvement and how the reader perceives events and characters (Hodgins, 2001, p. 172). A narrative’s structure should serve to pull it together into a unified and coherent whole.
Narrative representations must be thematically unified and logically coherent. Their elements cannot be freely permuted, because they are held together in a sequence by relations of cause and effect, and because temporal order is meaningful. The propositions of a narrative representation must be about a common set of referents (= the characters). (Ryan, 2001)
While transmedia technologies provide tremendous opportunities to scatter elements of a story across multiple media, authors should use those opportunities judiciously.
The story should model itself in ways that readers consume stories – meaning that to simply fragment a story across multiple platforms won’t work…Dragging readers/audience from one platform to another simply “because you can” won’t work. There’s a danger of overkill and hosting ‘parties’ at venues where nobody will turn up. (Norrington, 2010)
Ryan noted that while there are differences between different types of media, there are “significant similarities in the processes of narrative communication” (Ryan, Introduction, 2004, p. 59). Abbott notes that there are elements that are common across narratives and media, but the things in stories that have always engaged people are (Abbott, 2005, p. 531):
  • Linked strings of cause and effect
  • Characterization and motivation
  • The dense interweaving of micro- and macro-plots

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