Story, Time and Place

This is the Prezi and below are my notes in preparation for a short presentation I gave to a Digital Humanities seminar group at University today. Hosted WordPress still can’t deal with embedded Prezi’s yet so click the link at the start to see the slides. And my notes below are just notes, so you’ll have to imagine me riffing off them to make an entertaining, compelling and coherent (I hope!)  presentation.

The Lindisfarne Gospels is an illuminated manuscript gospel book produced around the year 700 in a monastery off the coast of Northumberland at Lindisfarne and which is now on display in the British Library in London.


Very little structure to the text, no paragraphs etc

In the 10th century an Old English translation of the Gospels was made: a word-for-word gloss inserted between the lines of the Latin text by Aldred, Provost of Chester-le-Street.

This is the oldest extant translation of the Gospels into the English language, and a great example of a reader interacting with the text.

Laurence Stern created one of the first texts to be interacted with. Tristram shandy is epistolary novel, but it’s more than that, sampling other works of literature to bring new meanings.

He chose the format, paper, type and layout of the novel. It’s a book to be played with.

Last year’s Building Stories. Like Tristram Shandy, a story to be played with. Dan Clowes (author) suggest leave bits of it around your own building to chance upon.

Gorge Méliès, regarded as the first person to recognize the potential of narrative film. Goes beyond sequential time/movement and to imaginary places.

Voyage Dans La Lune , special effects, Jump cuts, locations etc started a century of narrative experimentation.

For example music

diegetic music (where musicians are playing in the story, or charcters are listening to the radio for example),
nondiegetic music (where as she says “an orchestra plays as coyboys chase indians upon the desert”) and
metadiegegtic music (where we hear a character “remember” a bit of music).
She also talk about themes, and what Wagner called “motifs or reminisence.”

But despite all this innovation, don’t you find some films “Same-y”?

Not every film has been a success of course. After some test screenings Walt Disney called in “script doctors” to fix The Lion King

Christopher Vogler – Joseph Cambell, Hero’s journey applied to Lion King, then book The Writer’s Journey.

Save the Cat! Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet – Almost an algorithm for scripting film. 110 pages

Opening Image – page 1 A visual that represents the struggle & tone of the story. Set-up – ten pages Expand on the “before” snapshot. Present the normal world. Including: Theme Stated page 5 – say it “with great power comes great responsibility. Catalyst page 12 – the world turns upside down. Emotional shock. Debate for thirteen pages – Dare our heroes actually explore the new world? Break Into Act Two page 25– The main character makes a choice and the journey begins. B Story begins on page 30— This is when there’s a discussion about the Theme – Timon and Pumba in the Lion King. Fun and games twenty five pages— the action, the roller coaster ride the caper. Midpoint p55 — Success!’ But Bad Guys Close In for twenty pages.bAll is Lost page75 – The opposite of Success. And emotional Nadir.
Dark Night of the Soul for ten pages – woe is me. Hit rock bottom. Break Into Three (page 85) – the B story provides the solution to the A-story. Finale twentyfive pages – This time around, the main character incorporates the Theme – the nugget of truth that now makes sense to them – into their fight for the goal because they have experience from the A Story and context from the B Story. Act Three is about Synthesis! Final Image page 110 – ride into the sunset, a changed character.

Of course the audience have to see each frame of the film in the order in which it is presented. Only the director gets to play with chronology.

Games give back the power to explore the narrative

Procedural narratives versus authored narratives.

Describe RDR, starts off interactive, but delivers fewer and fewer choices towards an inevitable end. Authored, nor procedural. Are procedural stories only in need to great endings?