Reading Response to Mieke Bal and Seth Gitner

The introduction section of Mieke Bal’s Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative informs the reader on what the theory of narratology is, the controversy and solution to the application of the theory — its corpus.

One good thing about the text is that Bal defines and disambiguates terms of the corpus of the theory of narratology so that the reader understands what words mean, having previously discussed the importance of disambiguating terms. The basic formulation of the theory of narratology, as stated by Bal is that it is a “theory of narratives, narrative texts, images, spectacles, events; cultural artifacts that ‘tell a story”, whereby “a text is a finite, structured whole composed of language signs”, “[a] narrative text is a text in which an agent relates (‘tells’) a story in a particular medium, such as language, imagery, sound, buildings, or a combination thereof. A story is a fabula that is presented in a certain manner. A fabula is a series of logically and chronologically related events that are caused or experienced by actors. An event is the transition from one state to another state. Actors are agents that perform actions. They are not necessarily human. To act is defined here as to cause or to experience an event”. Bal also separates ‘text’ and ‘story’ as she uses ‘text’ with a focus on the structure and not the linguistic nature of it as well as using it interchangeably with the word ‘artifact’. Bal continues further with disambiguating the reader’s role, be it the reader or actor and the creation of a narrator once the narrating begins. The driving force behind the theory is Bal’s recognizing the importance of starting from first principles, disambiguating terms so that they can be operational for users and readers.

With Bal’s definition of narratology and terms defined, it shows why it is important to disambiguate terms, even in regards to digital storytelling. Bal uses the ‘Tom Thumb’ story to disambiguate between ‘story’ and ‘fabula’ showing that there are things going on that are not language related. Bal states that first, “events are arranged in a sequence which can differ from the chronological sequence”, [then] “[t]he amount of time which is allotted in the story to the various elements of the fabula is determined with respect to the amount of time which these elements take up in the fabula”, then “[t]he actors are provided with distinct traits. In this manner, they are individualized and transformed into characters”, “[t]he locations where events occur are also given distinct characteristics and are thus transformed into specific places”. “In addition to the necessary relationships among actors, events, locations, and time, all of which were already describable in the layer of the fabula, other relationships (symbolic, allusive, traditional, etc.) may exist among the various elements” and finally, “[a] choice is made from among the various ‘points of view’ from which the elements can be presented. The resulting focalization, the relation between ‘who perceives’ and what is perceived, ‘colours’ the story with subjectivity” creating a unique story. These assumptions are tenable because they come from the first principles of narratology and have been operationalized, which serves as an example of the main contribution of this text and the interesting ideas behind Bal’s thought process — starting from first principles, disambiguating terms and operationalizing them.

One improvement to Bal’s text could be for her to explain examples she references, instead of just making the reference and not proving her argument. Since Bal defines and disambiguates her terms and performing a full accounting of the process of the theory, I do believe her arguments. In order for Bal’s theory to be convincing (correct) it must be internally and externally consistent and with her disambiguated terms, her argument is convincing.

Chapter 2 of Seth Gitner’s Multimedia Storytelling for Digital Communicators in a Multiplatform World called Story Structure’s main idea is that stories have basic requirements and it shows different types of stories and, the parts of stories and how they are mapped out and organized, as well as differentiating reporting from storytelling.

This text is good because it shows how a story and characters are written and how to build a cohesive events that fleshed-out characters can exist within an how to flesh-out those characters. The assumptions made in this text are that the writers will follow the outline as given in the text on how to make characters, the story structure and the effects that would have on the audience. These assumptions are tenable as they are what some real movies use to tell stories. The main contribution of this text is that it gives writers the ability to create the plot for the film and create characters easily. The text could have additionally used a nonconventional story arch as well. I do believe the arguments given by Gitner as his information was presented very clearly, and is very easy to use as a tool.