Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Narrative Arcology

Sustained, Structure, Sub-plots…

As a narrative is crafted its' creator strives to develop a self-contained world that feels believable and welcoming for an audience. Most often the piece is not a singular narrative but a comprehensive arrangement of narratives that are all self-contained yet influential and integral to forming the narrative.

Every narrative has a core element or theme that drives the story but each of these elements is also self-contained and complete. The primary components of this narrative arcology are the primary plot, each individual character's primary plot, the secondary sub-plots and the thematic components such as mystery, tension, anxiety and world building elements.

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Abstracting the perspective on a 'story' it is the point at which an audience begins viewing the lives of the individual characters. Something significant and contained has occurred in the lives of the characters that can be perceived as self-contained and complete story. It is this perspective that demonstrates one of the primary principals of the arcology concept, the self-contained and self-sustaining components to drive the primary element. As psychological profiling suggests, every individual experiences a form of narcissism that can be more dominant during early adulthood. This narcissism means that every individual believes that they are the star of their own story and in truth, they are. That means that every individual in a story is their own main character.

Many narratives address these separate sub-plots as a change in perspective to another character and ultimately reflect the complete impact of these self-contained narratives on the primary plot. Stories by Tolkien or Koontz demonstrate this separate but cohesive approach readily but the disadvantage of this approach is that often the reader can see the impact before it occurs. 

A secondary approach is to examine the full narrative for all of the individuals in-depth separately. The individuals reflect the events of their own narratives as they 'come into frame' in the primary plot but remain self-contained while contributing to the narrative arcology. Stories by Kelly Armstrong demonstrate this method quite clearly. One character may be distracted by a fight with a sibling when the main character asks for help with their problem. The main character may experience the fallout from that narrative but the actual narrative will remain self-contained.

A narrative is a bracket, a frame that is placed over any number of lives at a given point of time that can culminate in a decisive journey to conclusion. Each is a path that leads in one direction but has multiple paths that cross it to extend or add dimension to each path. The individual lives involved are each their own self-contained and self-sustaining narratives, sub-plots. Each individual is a component to the larger structure that makes the structure whole,  the narrative arcology.


Natalie C. Markey said...

I love the idea of each character being their own story and it's true to a degree. I know that I have outlines and motivation charts for all my main characters. Their stories all play off of each other and further the greater plot and rocket the protagonist to his goal.

Great post!


PW.Creighton said...

Thanks for the comment Natalie. I think it's imperative to think of the characters as individuals with full lives. As a story kicks in we're just jumping into their lives as an observer for a certain span. Everyone is their own star, just because their not the main character isn't cause for thinking less of their own stories we just see less of those stories.

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