The narrative for a film or TV show is essentially the story. It is what decides the characters that are involved and how they might effect the final outcome of the plot. As film and TV rely on the story to entertain the audience it has evolved over time and has changed to adapt to the high amount of films and TV shows that are shown in the current day, making them more original and suitable for the target audience. As time has passed, Directors and Writers have developed new ways and techniques to tell a story which allows for new opportunities and plots when in the production process for making a film or TV show.

Examples of narrative

One of the most basic storytelling techniques is the linear narrative. Linear narrative is a plot that is very easy to follow and happens in chronological order. This means it starts with a beginning, and then moves onto a middle and end. Linear narrative is often used for children’s films and TV shows as it is easy to consume and is a simple way of telling an important message which is often one of the main objectives for a children’s TV show or film.

Opposite to linear, the non linear narrative is a technique that is used in films and TV shows that allows the Director to work with a more complex story line. The non linear narrative is not in chronological order, and most commonly starts in the middle or at the end of a story. This means that it is common to see things such as flashbacks and/or other strange occurrences that allows the situation in the story to significantly change without any confusion.  For example, the Director Gus Van Sant is well known for using this kind of technique and has a variety of films that all follow the non linear narrative such as My Own Private Idaho, To Die For, and Drugstore Cowboy.

A single stranded narrative is similar to the above, although it also contains a sub plot. This can be done a for a variety of different reasons, such as making the story more interesting, or to add some character development allowing the audience to get to know the characters in a different way, than what they would if they didn’t have the second plot. In films, the second plot is sometimes used to create some backstory, allowing for more plot in another film.An example of this could be from the film, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. Although the main plot is about the apes escaping and becoming smarter, there is also a backstory of two Astronauts who have been lost in space. This is mentioned several times in the film and has many references. The second plot would have most likely been added to create more story and allow the Writers to have more information to work with in future films.

Similar to the the single stranded narrative, the multi stranded narrative uses more than one plot to develop a story. Although with the multi stranded narrative the story has many different plots to entertain the audience, making it more complex to consume, therefore is usually used for TV series and films with a higher aged target audience. This kind of narrative is famously used in soap operas such as Eastenders and Coronation Street. It is used for many reasons such as, it allows the writers to have more freedom with the plot, the entire cast isn’t needed all at one time, and the audience can be entertained by a story that doesn’t end without it becoming tedious or repetitive.

All films and TV shows use either a closed or open narrative. A closed narrative is a story that has an ending and can’t be carried on in any way. This is used in a huge variety of films and TV shows. A good example of a closed narrative would be a war film based on a true event as it would have to come to an end in one way or another. Opposite of the closed narrative, open narratives always leave the story open so that it can be continued at another point in time. In some cases, a film will leave enough story so that a whole franchise can be done, other times only enough story is left for one more film. This normally depends on how much the film or TV show costs to make and what its revenue is. Again soap operas are a great example of open narratives as they have an almost unlimited story as it is based on everyday life.

Narrative Techniques and Technology

The techniques and technology used in today’s film and TV industry has had a big impact on the way a story can be told and presented to an audience. As time has past, the equipment has become more advanced, allowing production teams to further the quality of their work. Lighting, sound, cameras, and even editing equipment have all evolved into highly professional industry grade tools that all contribute the quality seen in today’s film and TV shows. As the equipment as increased in quality so much, storytelling has benefited greatly as new techniques and skills have been uncovered and developed. Techniques such as voice overs, idents and even digetic/non digetic music have all been able to progress due to the way that technology has evolved. Again this has had a huge benefit as to how a story is told.

Narrative Example – Short Story

It is 1990, and Russia has just entered its lowest point in its economic history. Suffering from the financial drought, Robert, a young teenager situated in South Moscow, lives on the streets hoping for a better life. Amongst the hundreds of other young people, Robert hopes for a better life without being in fear everyday. Over time, Robert turns to a life of crime and soon finds himself in trouble trying to escape from his wrong doings. His only way to escape is by leaving the country, and so he began on his journey to the border with the hope he could start a new life in a different country. Estonia was the closest escape route. Though still a poor country, he could easily cover up his past upon arrival. As he travelled to Estonia, with his stolen supplies, Robert had many close calls and quickly became very conscious of his past and how careful he would have to be to not get caught.

Upon arrival into Estonia, Robert found a job at a local car scrap yard. He worked there for a year until the owner passed away. In this time he had saved up a small amount, enough to open a small car refurbishment business with the experience and skills he had learnt in his previous job. After years of work and effort, Robert slowly became financially stable and was finally able to have a comfortable life, without fear or the need to escape from his wrong doings.