Narration

Narrative and Story

  • Story, tale - accounts of happening, description of a scene or a character, including visuals;
  • Technique and process of narrating.
    (By the way, many paintings are performative: the brushstrokes and line quality matter).

A narrative is an account of a series of related events or experiences, fictional or not. Narratives can be presented verbally, via still or moving images, or through a sequenced combination of media. I obviously used it in filmmaking and story-writing, and more open to interpretation in fine art.

Narrative Modes

Almost all my visuals or text contain some forms of narrative presentation. To sort them efficiently, I have combined formal types of writing and narration, most Nichols' and a few De Bromhead’s documentary modes, and some other classifications - because no system was sufficient or universal enough for my needs.

I came up with five modes: expository, linear, observational, participatory, poetic.

Modes of presentation:

  • Exposition

    Observation and Exposition

    Narrative exposition is the insertion of background information within a story.

    Expository and observational presentation modes, both:

    1. attempt to show subjective or objective truth;
    2. use images to deepen understanding or to advance the argument;
    3. impressional: have effect on mind, feelings, thoughts;
    4. introductory: presentation with background and contextual information;

    Main differences:

    • Observation is about showing reality,
    • Exposition is more about a well-supported argument.

    A good observation should be expository, in my opinion. It is beneficial to critically process own impressions with reason and to separate facts and opinions. And a good exposition should be rooted in carefully observed reality.

    Expository Mode

    In the expository* mode: 

    • prioritize evidence and logic, ideas over aesthetics;
    • explainconcepts, convey knowledge;
    • apply evidentiary editing and conceptualism; use formal academic, business, technical, or scientific writing, as well as argumentative speech (essay, monologue, tutorial, news story, review).

    * I found that anexpository mode of writing or film editing can have almost opposite meanings under different approaches . For my purposes of classification, I went with "exposition" as a sort of evidence-based persuasion, also because it is almost impossible to produce a purely factual all-encompassing opinion-less non-bias creation.

     Sub-modes of exposition for expressing meaning or purpose:

  • Participation

     Participatory Mode

    Characteristics of the participatory mode of narration and presentation:

    • autobiographical, self-portraying, reporting on own deliberate acts;
    • reflexive and analytical towards depiction itself - skepticism toward representation of reality;
    • experience sharing - skills from direct participation in activities;
    • process of an investigation, presenting "the truth" of the action or encounter;
    • interaction - collaboration, confrontation, conversation, interview, etc.

    Reflective writing - personal reflection, experience, realization, plans, real recent and current scenes and events, situations, interactions, feelings.

    Experiences - accumulation of skills from direct observation of events or participation in activities.

These modes are not entirely mutually exclusive, but I attempt to order my material by most prominent features, and tend to assign only one mode-label to each piece.

Other Modes of Narration

Sets of methods authors or artists often use in verbal works:

  1. By point of view: first-person view, second-person, third, and alternating.
  2. By voice: stream-of-consciousness, voice of a character (both could be unreliable or not credible), epistolary (from writing), and third-person voices.
  3. By time: past, present, and future tense.

Documentary mode is a conceptual scheme developed by Bill Nichols that distinguishes particular traits and conventions of various documentary film styles.

Documentaries - nonfictional stories about some aspect of reality - emphasizing or expressing things as perceived, possibly without distortion or insertion of fictional matter: documentary films, novels, books, comics, animations, etc.

 

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