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In media terms, narrative is the coherence/organisation given to a series of facts.
The human mind needs narrative to make sense of things. We connect events and
make interpretations based on those connections. In everything we seek a
beginning, a middle and an end. We understand and construct meaning using our
experience of reality and of previous texts. Each text becomes part of the previous
and the next through its relationship with the audience.

When unpacking a narrative in order to find its meaning, there are a series of
codes and conventions that need to be considered. When we look at a narrative
we examine the conventions of:

and use knowledge of these conventions to help us interpret the text.
What is narrative ?
What narrative theorists are
Roland Barthes describes a text as
"a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signified; it has no beginning; it
is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can
be authoritatively declared to be the main one; the codes it mobilizes
extend as far as the eye can read, they are indeterminable...the systems
of meaning can take over this absolutely plural text, but their number is
never closed, based as it is on the infinity of language..."
So what he basically means is once we start to unravel a text, we
encounter lots of meaning s. We can start by looking at a narrative in
one way, from one viewpoint, bringing to bear one set of previous
experience, and create one meaning for that text. You can continue by
unravelling the narrative from a different angle, and create an entirely
different meaning. And so on.

Tvzetan Todorov - suggests narrative is simply equilibrium,
disequilibrium, new equilibrium
Vladimir Propp - characters and actions (31 functions of character types)
Claude Levi-Strauss - constant creation of conflict/opposition propels
narrative. Narrative can only end on a resolution of conflict. Opposition
can be visual (light/darkness, movement/stillness) or conceptual
(love/hate, control/panic), and to do with soundtrack. Binary
How does the theories link to
the horror genre?
Noel Carroll's theory links to the horror genre well as in
this essay philosophy of horror he maps out three
traditional narrative structures:
Firstly there is the onset phase where a disorder is created
such as a monster etc.
Secondly there is the discovery phase where the
characters of the story discover that the disorder has
Lastly there is the third phase which he calls the
disruption phase where the characters destroy the source
of disorder and restore to normality
This is slightly familiar to Todorovs theory where he agued
that the basic narrative structure consists of an initial
situation, situation one whereby a problem disrupts this
situation; a resolution of the problem which allows the
reinstatement of the initial situation, perhaps with slight
changes (situation 2)