Working Notes, by Zach Tomaszewski
for ICS 699, Spring 2005, directed by Dr. Kim Binsted
Aristotle. Poetics. Translated: S.H. Butcher. Introduction: Francis Fergusson. New York: Hill and Wang, 1961.
- Meta-narrative processing. Modern audiences seem especially well-versed in the formulas (tropes? genres?) of storytelling.
- Kim's idea for a horror strategy game based on the genre's formula: who gets picked off in which order. Based on the meta-narrative knowledge about how the narrative should work.
- Types of standup: observational (pointing out known humor) vs. personal (relating novel, humorous stories).
- The rules of narrative structure/formation provide a basis for critique and sets audience expectations. (Do we have more genres today? Romantic comedy, buddy movie, film noir, etc.)
- Other examples of judging based on a meta-narrative: stand-up vs. humorous dialog (originality of material, etc.); true improv vs. appearance of improv (such as Robin Williams' performances of many small pre-existing-yet-seemingly-spontaneous elements strung together in different orders.); wired performance (as from Chinese film).
- Plot twists: denying a previous audience assumption that was a foundation of the narrative. Yet many (most?) modern "plot"-twists seem to be meta-narrative twists--breaking the usual rules of the narrative.
- The Village--lacks appeal because at this point the audience is expecting a twist and is on the look-out for it. Twists are satisfying/enjoyable when they catch us off-guard but are still believable/acceptable in retrospect.
- Satisfaction seems to come partly from meeting our expectations, but also partly from surpising us.
- Are we so accomplished at story now that we can generate story on-the-fly (tropes?), rather than start with an outline?
- Offstage coincidences. We don't seem to like coincidences defining the action, but small coincidences seem to add satifaction. They can tie stories together (and only the audience knows the whole tale), and provides metaphor or parallels for greater action. Example: when it's a character we already know from a different story that prompts or redirects the action in this one.
More on possible elements of the plot/story/narrative tangle:
- Underlying reality: physics, rules of interation (gaming system), possible actions (ESP, world-jumping, time-travel, etc.)
- World (setting). Locations (imaginary/fictional and real) and history (actual and possible). SK's Derry, Forgotten Realms vs. Eberron. (May have tie-in's to other worlds, ala SK's Dark Tower references.)
- Character episodes. All the events happening to our selected characters. (Cameos by main characters in derivative works, spin-off tales, etc.) Full histories beyond the scope of a single story.
- All the events/actionsof our characters--mentioned and unmentioned--during the time of the story--restroom breaks, sleeping, eating, boring actions.
- Events described (narrated) or shown. Includes flashbacks and related stories/causes. (Plot?)
- Only those events shown or dramatized. (The telling of past action, but not the actual past action, since not seen directly by the audience.)