What is Narrative ?
A story can be presented in several parts. Although this is often done for marketing purposes, it is also a literary device used to create specific narrative structures. Some common forms are:
Serial or Episodic Stories
Serial stories are divided into a number of smaller episodes that form a single plot. This structure is rather uncommon in literature but is often used in television and subscription publications.
Duology, Trilogy, Tetralogy, etc.
Several individual stories may be connected through common characters, geography and history and can be perceived as a single work composed of a set of stories.
Segmented stories can be knit together by a frame story, a main story that serves as a framework for a set of shorter stories.
An extradiegetic narrative is a story that frames the primary story.
A frame narrative is a story within a story. In stories such as Chaucer's Canterbury Tales different individuals narrate the events of a story in each frame. Unlike an omniscient narrative, the teller of the story is an actual character with particular traits, prejudices, and motives. This structure can also resemble the psychoanalytic process of uncovering the unconscious behind various obfuscating narratives put in place by the conscious mind.
The following terms are commonly used to identify different types of split stories:
Sequel: a story set in the same fictional universe but later in time. It usually continues the original storyline.
Prequel: a story that happens in the same universe as some previous story. It is provided to explain the original story context. Interquel: a story chronologically set during the interval between two previous stories.
Midquel: a story set in the same time and universe as a previous story. In episodic media such TV series and serialized publications stories are composed of episodes, short segments of a main story connected to a story arc, a frame narrative or a side story.
Filler: an episode that has no connection to the ongoing storylines. Fillers are used to give background information about the characters or present the back-story.
Fabula refers to the chronological sequence of events in a narrative. Simple narratives follow the chronology of history but this is not always the most effective manner to present events when the narrator wishes to provoke high emotional response through suspense. For example, anticipation can be created by presenting certain events in an inverted order.
A couple of ways for changing the fabula of a story are:
Analepsis (flashback) presents events previous to the current time frame.
Prolepsis (flash-forward) presents events that will occur in the future. A classic example of prolepsis is prophecy.
In medias res refers to a story that begins 'in the middle of things' rather than at the chronological origin of the story. This reordering of events engages the reader immediately in the action of the story.
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