Narrative Structure (Discussion)

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Classical Hollywood cinema

Choose a classical film that everyone in your group has seen. Explain how it fits the classical implementation of:

  1. Single protagonist
  2. Exposition
  3. Motivation
  4. Narrative enigma
  5. Cause-effect chain
    • Story time versus screen time--in terms of duration and order
  6. Climax
  7. Resolution

Group examples

  • G1: LotR: Fellowship...
  • G2: Shrek
  • G3: Wall-E
  • G4: The Lion King
  • G5: Finding Nemo
  • G6: Shrek

The television series

Break down the "The Vartabedian Conundrum" episode from The Big Bang Theory (December 8, 2008).

How many scenes does it have?

Explain how it does or does not exemplify conventional television-series narrative structure:

  1. G2: Multiple protagonists
  2. G3: Exposition
  3. G4: Motivation
  4. G4: Narrative problematic
  5. G5: Cause-effect chain
  6. G6 and G1: Climax
  7. G6 and G1: Resolution

The television serial

  • Select a serial that most of your group watches.
    • Contrast the serial with the series. Aside from the obvious lack of resolution in the serial, name (and be prepared to explain) three differences between the two in terms of narrative elements.
      • The Office
      • Breaking Bad
      • Lost
      • Scandal
      • Stranger Things


  1. Jeremy G. Butler, Television: Visual Storytelling and Screen Culture (New York: Routledge, 2018).
  2. TV Tropes: listing of numerous narrative conventions.

External links