Struggling to find a narrative

posted under by Philip Howlett
I'm having a hard time with this project because it relies so heavily on Narrative to be successful. The previous project was the same, but then I had a group to work with and discuss ideas with. Prior to starting the course I don't think I'd written or created a story in a few years, and I've never written a narrative which the user can have control over. I thought it would be a useful exercise to go back through the lecture notes I've made to concrete the idea of narratives in my head.

"A chain of events related by cause and effect occurring in space and time and involving some agency or intentionality" - Wilkens (2004)

When you explain narrative like that it seems rather simple. You need a series of occurrences which are interlinked with one another. Somewhere along the line you need a character or narrator to create the agency or intentionality. When I'm creating my story I need the story to be explained through the images alone, or my narration (through text or sound). This is providing me with some basic framework to work upon.

"Record and transmit information in order to explain" - Benford and Tallyn (2005)

The narrative I'm telling is basically an explanation of information. It doesn't always have to be clear, because some stories aren't always that obvious. Again it sounds easy enough, but I'm finding the media we're presenting the narrative within to be the difficult part. It's quite a therapeutic process to go through notes and dissect them though.

Narrative is also the point of view of the creator in my mind. If I'm making a film, animation etc the story is mine and mine alone being expressed. Any of my feelings or themes may be expressed as a result. The difference here is that the user is given some choice and control in the matter, so the story can go in different directions. This is quite worrying for me, because how do you guarantee a good experience for everyone? Or don't you? I'm still deciding on this. Using signs and symbols was also discussed. A piece of imagery can tell a story all of it own so at times no explanation is needed. I'll have to see how strong my pictures are.


Structure has been discussed many times in the lectures. What I'm looking at is the 'three-act structure'. You begin with an inciting event to spark off the rest of the story. This is what I need to think of first of all. If I can make a piece about something I'm passionate about then that's going to be something I can get involved in properly.

I just got an idea for what I can do! Brilliant, this stuff actually works.

After the inciting event, you're forced to react to it. Conflicts and obstacles are placed in the way. This is what creates the real meat of the story. Saying that though, if the initial event isn't interesting then no one will care about the obstacles. I want to make something which a lot of people can relate to and understand. In the end it all comes down to a resolution and the story is complete. Everything I've looked at is laying things out in terms everyone can understand, but putting them in to practice is the hard part. There's some more research I want to do, as I've spotted some articles in other peoples blogs which I found really useful. I also want to discuss the game Bioshock a little as I feel that relates to this project very well.


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