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NARRATIVE STRUCTURES There are several theories about the way fictional narratives (stories) are constructed/told.

Narrative theory 1 - Toderov. Tzvetan Todorov identified the basis of all narrative as the development from one equilibrium to another via a series of external forces. equilibrium

disruptive force


oppositional force

new equilibrium

Narrative theory 2 – Propp Vladimir Propp (1968) looked at Russian folklore and identified a number of common narrative structures which are evident in many TV dramas. Hero




Narrative theory 3 – Levi-Strauss Levi-Strauss (1964) studied the myths of tribal cultures and discovered recurring binary themes such as good/evil, light/darkness. We even see these simplistic themes in news stories (e.g. North Korea bad, Iran bad, Australia good, France ?). Such simplistic approaches to complex issues reveal underling ideological attitudes.

Narrative devices A fictional narrative needs the following things: Normality (equilibrium)

a presentation of the stable ‘initial conditions’ of the narrative (or equilibrium)

A hero

one individual who the narrative revolves around and whose perspective dominates

An enigma (villain)

or agent of change, which deflects the hero from his (rarely her) normal everyday life (disequilibrium)

A quest

which the hero has to embark upon in order to overcome the effects of the enigma

A resolution (new equilibrium)

or return to normality which signals closure of the narrative (new equilibrium)


Narrative structures  
Narrative structures  

Narrative structures