A narrative is a story that includes plot, characters, setting, climax and resolution. There are many different types of narrative which help to tell a story, each in a different way. These include:

Linear Narrative

Linear narratives present stories in a logical manner by telling what happens from one point in time to the next. This is the most simple narrative so the storyline has a beginning, middle and end.

Film example – Batman (1966)

Non – Linear Narrative

This narrative structure is more disjointed and the events in the film will not be in chronological order. A non- linear structure may use flashbacks, rewinds, re-plays or be left on a cliff hanger.

Film example – 500 Days of Summer (2009)

Open Narrative

An open narrative film or TV programme will usually have many characters and no one main ending so that the show or film can carry on. One of the main examples of an open narrative are soap operas. An open narrative will usually be multi-stranded and in chronological order and the open narrative structure will keep the audience coming back.

TV example – Hollyoaks (1995)

Closed Narrative

A closed narrative will usually have an ending that will complete the story that has been told. Time can often be compressed in this narrative fitting years into a few hours and the structure will be linear.

Film example – About Time (2013)

Single Stranded Narrative

This narrative style will only include one main story line throughout the whole film, although it may have some sub plots to further the character development however one plot will be prominent. This may mean there being only one central character acting in the single plot.

Film example – 127 Hours (2010)

Multi-Strand narrative

A multi-stranded narrative is the opposite to a single – stranded narrative in the sense that is will have many different main story lines, meaning there is always a lot going on. A main example is soap operas or films such as Love Actually that have many different story strands for the audience to follow.

Film example – Valentines Day (2010)

Realistic Narrative

A realistic narrative is when the story is not being told in a conventional way. This will usually show real life events that the audience can connect to and may create a sense of normality.

Film example – La Haine (1996)

Non-realistic Narrative

Non-realistic Narrative is when the story is told in an unconventional way and the audience is not getting all the information at once. The story  usually doesn’t portray real life events. Film example -`

Film example – The Lord of the Rings (2001)

Techniques used to further the narrative:

Voice over

This is when a piece of narration is placed in a Film or TV show, not accompanied by an image of the character speaking it. The voice can be an unseen narrator speaking, the voice of a visible character expressing unspoken thoughts or a recording of a voice-over. The film Taxi Driver (1976) cleverly uses voice over narration to throughout the film to show Travis’ underlying thoughts and real emotions, something that with out the voice over we would not know as he doesn’t express this though dialogue.

‘Taxi Driver – Thank God for the rain’ Tokyfriz (2011)


This when a film or TV show uses on-screen text to convey a certain message without having to use sound or dialogue. For example in this shot from the TV show Pretty Little Liars (2010) a text message that one of the characters has received comes up beside the character on screen so the audience can find out what it says while seeing her reaction at the same time

Image result for on screen text pll

‘Pretty Little Liars Who Texted’ Chainani. K (2016)

Diegetic and non-diegetic sounds

Diegetic sound is any sound that has originated from the source and is visible or implied in a film or TV show such actors speaking to each other or sounds coming from objects such as footsteps or a door opening. Non- diegetic sound is when the sounds come from outside the source and is not visible on screen or hasn’t been implied in an on-screen action. The famous clip below from the film Psycho (1960) shows both diegetic and non-diegetic sounds to help create the tense atmosphere. Diegetic sounds include the flushing of the toilet, the running water of the shower and the sound of the knife stabbing the woman. While the n d sounds include the slow and unsettling music played at the start which builds up to fast paced and intense shrieking music, helping to cause tension and shock.

‘The Famous Shower Scene From Psycho’ KrisSilver (2009)

Technology used to establish narrative:

  • Lighting
  • Sound
  • Camera
  • Editing

Narrative Flow – Todorov

Image result for todorov equilibrium MMU Graphics (2013)

Theory of Equilibrium

Tzvetan Todorov simplified the idea of narrative theory while also allowing a more complex interpretation of film texts with his theory of Equilibrium and Disequilibrium. According to Todorov, narrative is not seen as a linear structure but a circular one. The narrative is driven by attempts to restore the equilibrium but the equilibrium attained at the end of the story is not always identical to the initial equilibrium.

His equilibrium theory can be split into five stages:

1. A state of equilibrium, when everything is as it should be in a state of equal balance.

2. Disequilibrium, a disruption of that order by an event which will move the story forward.

3. A recognition that the disorder has occurred

4. An attempt to repair the damage of the disruption.

5. Resolution – A return or restoration of a new equilibrium at the end of the narrative.

Story writing task

One of our tasks for this unit was being asked to come up with our own story that followed the narrative flow by each step. Below is my story which although is simple, follows each of Todorov’s steps:


Two girls get on a train together, both are talking to each other, moaning about small things in their life such as the weather being cold and not wanting to get the train. It creates a sense of normally which the audience can relate to.


The train suddenly crashes leaving most of the passengers badly hurt and nearly everyone is taken to hospital while the awful crash is making top news all around the country.


It turns out that the two girls were the only people on the train that actually left the accident alive and completely uninjured. the doctors tell tem it was miraculous that they didn’t get hurt considering the severity of the crash.

New Equilibrium

Knowing how lucky they were to survive, the girls are left with a new appreciation for life and realise how quickly life can be taken away and decide not to moan and concentrate on the small annoyances in life and go back to their normal lives, this time being grateful.

Harvard Reference:

‘Narratives’ White. H (2013) – Last accessed 19/10/16

‘Narrative Strands’ Shore. J (2016) – Last accessed 19/10/16

‘Theory of equilibruim’ Wilkins. A( 2012) – Last accessed 19/10/16

‘The Famous Shower Scene From Psycho’ KrisSilver (2009) – Last accessed 19/10/16

‘Taxi Driver – Thank God for the rain’ Tokyfriz (2011) – Last accessed 19/10/16

‘Pretty Little Liars Who Texted’ Chainani. K (2016) – Last accessed 19/10/16