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Screenplay and Narrative Theory

The Screenplectics Model of Complex Narrative Systems

George Varotsis

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. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 142Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4985-0441-6 • Hardback • October 2015 • $75.00 • (£49.95)
978-1-4985-0443-0 • Paperback • June 2017 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
978-1-4985-0442-3 • eBook • October 2015 • $37.99 • (£24.95)
George Varotsis is screenwriter and was visiting lecturer at the University of Birmingham and the Central Film School London.
: Internal Narrative Complexity
: Story-world Configuration and Architectural Differentiation
: Goal-orientation: A Key Component of Narrative Parameterization
: The Three Levels of Structure
Why do some films soar to new creative heights and others spiral vertiginously downward? It’s all in the screenplay, as film practitioner George Varotsis so expertly and exquisitely explains. In this premier and pioneering study, Varotsis deftly weaves through the great thinkers of film and narrative theory—while grabbing insights from cognitive science—to unzip screenplay writing and examine the brains of those masterful homo fabers that take us into new transformative spaces. Take a leap with this one—you’ll take flight!
Frederick Aldama, Ohio State University, author of Mex-Cine and The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez

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.