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:

  • Expository

    1. Expository* mode of presentation: 

    • prioritizing evidence and logic, separating facts and opinions;
    • attempt to show subjective or even objective truth, explaining a concept, discourse to convey knowledge;
    • using images to advance the argument, evidentiary editing, conceptualism, ideas over aesthetics;
    • formal academic, business, technical, or scientific writing, argumentative speech or essay, monologue, tutorial, news story, review.
      Exposition (setting forth of the meaning or purpose) sub-modes:
      1. Rhetoric: persuasion, reasoning, justification, warrant, strong argument and point of view;
      2. Analysis: relationships of ideas or parts, possible situations, alternative responses, systemic analysis, comparison, gaining insight;
      3. Critique: evaluation of  worth or significance, questioning, methodical doubt with recognition of merit, judgement according to a set of standards, commentary, formal criticism, identifying possible desirable changes, implications and solutions, conclusions, and recommendations.

    * Expository mode can mean almost the opposite under different approaches, I found. I went with a sort of evidence-based persuasion, also because it is almost impossible to produce a purely factual all-encompassing opinion-less non-bias creation.

  • Linear

    2. Linear (classic) mode of presentation:

    • follows standard three-act structure, based on conflict and resolution as a storytelling arc;
    • tale, novel, saga, anecdote, drama and episode, play and scriptwriting.
      Story elements:
      1. Character: active, impacted, observed or observing person.
      2. Setting: the place and the time.
      3. Story, plot, the sequence of events - timeline, scene, episode.
      4. Resolution of a conflict, change, solutions, problems that are being solved.
      5. Moralof the story, ethical essence, fundamental principles, teaching or practical lesson, intention, theme.
  • Observational

    3. Observational (descriptive) mode of presentation:

    • observing life spontaneously with minimal intervention (no scene arrangement), perceiving via senses;
    • description, first-hand accounts of events, stating the obvious, memoir and journal;
    • internal reflection: emotions and realizations, attention and wishes;
    • outline of the way things are: lists, collections, notifications, preliminary account of a project, summary.
      1. Impressional: effect on mind, perceptions, feelings, thoughts, meaning, image retained as a consequence of experience;
      2. Introductory: presentation with background and contextual information;
      3. Environmental.
  • Participatory

    4. Participatory mode of presentation:

    • includes the artist or author, reporting on own deliberate acts, self-portrait, autobiographical;
    • 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;
      Participation forms:
      1. Self: autoportrait, autobiography, self reflection.
      2. Action: accounts, reports, plans;
      3. Interaction: collaboration, confrontation, conversation, interview.
  • Poetic

    5. Poetic mode of presentation:

    • aesthetic and subjective interpretation of a subject, poetic associations, metaphor, avant-garde, inventive;
    • montage theory, photogenie, the art of organizing the necessary movements of objects in space as a rhythmical artistic whole, in harmony with the properties of the material and internal rhythm of each object (Dziga Vertov);
    • juxtaposes scenes with no causation, associations and patterns that involve temporal rhythms and spatial juxtapositions (Bill Nichols).
      Poetic moods:
      1. Emotional;
      2. Erotic;
      3. Spontaneous.

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.