Narrative structures

After a lecture this week about the concept of narratives, it got me thinking about the different components that are strung together to make a story what it is. A traditional narrative structure is the classic narrative. This is built upon a three-act structure.

An example being:
Beginning – Middle – End

Another example:
Introduction – Development – Conclusion

The examples above underpin the structure, which many films are built upon. The beginning of the narrative often supports the introduction to the characters, showing a glimpse into their personalities and relationships. After this the middle of the narrative is reached where a certain problem arises, causing a disruption, which needs to be rectified or sorted out. This is the on-going development of the film and is often the phase which occupies the majority of the story. Following this comes the ending, where the problems that occurred are then put to bed and resolved in some way.

Further contributors to the narrative structure are the large array of character types. Each character type brings a new dimension of sub-stories, allowing the narrative to branch off into many different interesting possibilities.

An example of the different character types:

- The Hero
- The Villain
- The Dispatcher
- The Donor
- The Helper
- The False Hero
- The Princess
- The Princess’ Father

How do these structures and character types apply to the narrative? Take your typical sci-fi film, this often incorporates a villain trying to take over the world or galaxy, and perhaps captures the princess/ girl hostage and the hero then needs to tackle all the obstacles to get her back and retrieve peace in the world. The hero is often part of a small team, with at least one helper, who facilitates them through the journey. As the hero struggles against the villain he usually acquires some sort of special weapon or object from ‘The donor’, which prepares him to finally beat the villain and get the girl.

This is one example and the same sense of structure can be applied to your romance, comedy, action, mystery and thriller films. So when you are next planning the structure of a narrative try to include these elements to add some rhythm to your story.

  • home