Narrative Structure

Linear Narrative: A story that is told from the start to the end in chronological order. There are no side stories or diversions that break up the main timeline. An example is the movie “The Blues Brothers”

Non-Linear Narrative: Where the story can have any order it wants. This can include things such as spin offs, side stories, flashbacks and special episodes for a specific character. A good example of this are the “Star Wars” movies.

Flashbacks: Flashbacks are used within a story to show a characters back story or to remind the watcher of something that happened long ago within the series that is relevant to the current plot. The transitions into these flashbacks can be anything from a bright light to a dream sequence. Another common transition is when the camera zooms into the characters face and/or eyes. An example of this would be the television series “My Name is Earl” where the whole plot is followed by past events.

Single Strand Narrative Structure: This narrative is when the movie and/or television series is based on one story line. This can however be based on one or more main characters as long as it focuses on the same story line. This is the most common structure of filming. An example of a movie that does this is Harry Potter where the story follows him and his friends.

Multi Strand Narrative Structure: This is the narrative that has several story lines going on at the same time with several different characters. This is more commonly seen in soap operas such as Eastenders or television series that have a lot of characters such as Game of Thrones.

Close Endings: A closed narrative is when it reaches its conclusion with no possible sequel within that story line. Once the main story line is completed then that is the story over. The only way the story can continue is if it is a spin off with a different character that was introduced within the main story of the original series. A good example of this is “Breaking Bad” where the main character died closing the series, however had a spin off show called “Better Call Saul” that displayed events before the main story of Breaking Bad.

Open Narrative Structure: This is where a show has no start, middle or end; it is just a continuous story that often ends an episode with a cliffhanger to keep the watcher interested and curious. This is commonly found in soap operas such as HollyOaks.

Series Formats:

Breaking Bad is a television series that run from 2008 – 2013 lasting 5 seasons. The story follows Walter White, a chemistry teacher, who is working two jobs to maintain for his wife and disabled son. It is soon discovered that Walter has lung cancer and his medical treatment will put his family in serious debt when he inevitably dies. As Walter doesn’t want that, he bumps into his former student Jesse Pinkman who is a drug dealer. He decides to team up with Jesse and secretly cook meth to pay for his medical bills. However the road isn’t so easy as his brother in law works for the police force which cracks down on drug crime, plus all the power hungry drug dealers that conflict with Walters business.

Breaking Bad uses the linear narrative structure telling the story from start to finish. However there are a few cases of flashbacks within some episodes to get some detail and back story behind some characters and some scenes that start with the ending first, then goes back in time leading to the events of the ending. It finishes with main character dying with many others leaving the story by the end, causing it to have a closed ending.

Breaking Bad has the genres of crime, drama and thriller according to IMDb’s profile. This television series is rated 18+ meaning it is meant for a more mature adult audience as it had many scenes with drugs, violence, death, sex and a more mature language. According to YouGov, the most common audience within the UK that watches Breaking Bad are males aged between 25-39 and based mostly in central Scotland.

Breaking Bad Image: Anon, (2017). [image] Available at: http://images.amcnetworks.com/amc.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/breaking-bad-S5-400×600-compressedV1.jpg [Accessed 7 Jan. 2017].
IMDb’s Breaking Bad Profile Page: Gilligan, V., Cranston, B., Paul, A. and Gunn, A. (2017). Breaking Bad (TV Series 2008–2013). [online] IMDb. Available at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903747/ [Accessed 7 Jan. 2017].
YouGov Demographics Page: YouGov Profiles LITE. (2017). YouGov Profiles LITE. [online] Available at: https://yougov.co.uk/profileslite#/Breaking_Bad/demographics [Accessed 7 Jan. 2017].

Serial Format:

Eastenders is a British television soap that started airing in 1985 and is still airing on BBC 1 to this day. The show follows a small community of characters that live within the east end of London living their every day lives with added drama and conflicts between the characters with endless story lines, relationships and tales.

Eastenders uses the multi strand narrative structure, where there are several story lines happening at the same time within the show between several characters. Sometimes these stories can conflict with each other or blend into a bigger story line where they somehow link. Soaps don’t usually use flashbacks, however there are moments within these stories where a character can talk about something that happened within their past that was never shown on television. By doing this it can open up new stories, plot twists and even new characters that can get involved within the story line. The story is forever going as well as it is a serial, with no ending in sight. The way it keeps its viewers interested and keep coming back is by having most, if not all, episodes end on a cliff hanger with open stories where anything can happen.

The genre of Eastenders according to IMDb’s profile categorises it as a crime, drama and romance. It is for the audience of the ages 12 and up due to the adult styled stories and real life issues that get bought up within some of the stories. Eastenders shows violence, crime, passionate romance scenes as well as alcohol, drugs and smoking not making it ideal for a younger audience which could try and imitate characters they saw on television in real life. According to YouGov, the audience that watches Eastenders the most within the Uk are females aged between 25-39 mainly based within London.

Eastenders Cast 2016 Image: Anon, (2017). [image] Available at: http://www.contactmusic.com/pics/ln/20150121/210115_national_television_awards_board/cast-of-eastenders-national-television-awards_4546367.jpg [Accessed 7 Jan. 2017].
IMDb’s Eastenders Profile Page: Holland, T., Smith, J., McFadden, S., Woodyatt, A. and Brown, J. (2017). EastEnders (TV Series 1985– ). [online] IMDb. Available at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088512/ [Accessed 7 Jan. 2017].
YouGov Demographics Page: YouGov Profiles LITE. (2017). YouGov Profiles LITE. [online] Available at: https://yougov.co.uk/profileslite#/EastEnders/demographics [Accessed 7 Jan. 2017].

Single Drama Format:

Cyberbully (2015) is a one hour single drama based on a real life events as well as every day occurrence that can affect peoples lives when using the internet. This drama follows Casey, a teenage girl, who is living out any teenagers worst nightmare of having their privacy reviled to the world online. A hacker hacks her computer when she wants revenge on her ex-boyfriend for tweeting a personal mean tweet about her but then things start to get a bit strange when the hacker starts to threaten her. The hacker states that he hacks to help the victims of cyber-bullying. It is then shown that the hacker isn’t out to help Casey, but to show her that she is the bully. If Casey does not comply with the hacker, her personal photographs will be leaked and her life will be over.

The story is a single strand narrative structure as it has a beginning and an ending, in fact the whole drama is based in real time and is an hour long event making it a linear narrative as well. There are no flashbacks within the drama, however there are videos throughout the show that reflect on past events which are used against the main character as a blackmail. As this is one story, it does have an ending making it have the structure of a closed narrative, yet, the way it ended it could be continued from another persons perspective due to the openness of the topic.

The genre of this single drama according to IMDb’s profile, it is classified as a drama, mystery and thriller. The drama has the rating of 15+. Throughout the whole drama it uses mature language of cursing and teases provocative images of young adults but doesn’t show anything. There is also a showing of drugs being overdosed and an emotional suicide story that is emotionally damaging. The show is believed to be targeted at mid teens to young adults who are the most related to the topic of cyber-bullying in real life as it shows and sends a message of reality to the viewer. However this drama is also targeted towards older adults, especially parents, to send the same message to them to make them aware of the younger generation’s struggles with cyber-bullying and what happens behind closed doors. The drama made media saying how it shows the reality of bullying as well as how topical it really was.

Poster Image: Anon, (2017). [image] Available at: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ce4Hs5UWEAErBWn.jpg [Accessed 7 Jan. 2017].
IMDb’s Cyberbully Profile: Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4135218/ [Accessed 7 Jan. 2017].
Media Review of Cyberbully: Jodelka, F. (2017). Cyberbully: a Maisie Williams tour de force. The Guardian. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2015/jan/15/cyberbully-maisie-williams-filipa-jodelka [Accessed 7 Jan. 2017].
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Narrative Structure

One thought on “Narrative Structure

  1. Through this task, you have demonstrated an excellent understanding of different type of narrative structure with specific examples picked to illustrate your points. You analysis of chosen TV series and a program is excellent showing full command of subject terminology, an understanding of genre or sub genres for each example used and an understanding of target audience for each program.

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