Screenplay and Narrative Theory
The Screenplectics Model of Complex Narrative Systems
By (author) George Varotsis
Publication date:01 October 2015
Length of book:150 pages
Screenplay and Narrative Theory draws attention to the notion that in order to comprehend complex narrative dynamics, which are encountered in a great variety of narrative genres, forms, and formats, a more comprehensive theory of narrative is required. George Varotsis explains how a work of narrative functions synergistically and systemically, as well as elucidates the heuristic problem-solving mechanisms that are employed in various structural levels of thought processes, which allow the coherent accumulative derivative we call a story to emerge. The transition from an empirical to theoretical perspective is achieved by introducing characteristics of complex narrative systems: a network of narrative components, i.e. characters, structure, goals, motivations, theme, plot and subplots, narrative action, etc., which are arranged hierarchically over three fundamental levels of structure, i.e. deep, intermediate, and surface structure, that interact parallel to one another in non-linear ways. Varotsis tackles questions about how stories semantically emerge in the underlying dynamics that allow a work of narrative to function as a unified whole.
Varotsis is himself a screenwriter, and he addresses some of narratology’s traditional questions from that perspective—problem solving through the process of writing and analyzing complex narratives. One of his concerns is moving beyond a 'story grammar' perspective toward a 'plot-algorithm' perspective. Plot algorithms allow the screenwriter, or creators of narrative, to analyze and account for more complex narratives. The volume includes numerous figures, story sequences, and graphs that map out visually—and elucidate—the aspects of narrative or plot algorithms the author describes. Varotsis's focus on character as a key element of narrative study is useful. . . .[T]he author engage[s] productively with the works of a number of important narrative and film theorists, placing the work here in clear dialogue with others. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, practitioners.