Glossary

  • Narrative Engineering: the science of story structure, both from an authorial standpoint, and from a dramaturgical or theoretical point of view.
  • Ambivalent: Feeling pulled strongly in two seemingly opposite directions. (E.g. “I am ambivalent about using computers to discern narrative technique because also I believe in the mystery of the muse.”)
  • On-Stage Manifestation: an object used in a plot-line, sometimes negotiated over by characters in conflict, that represents an idea. The underlying idea of an OSM is that of a manifestation of the meanings or ideas proposed by the narrative. All objects chosen by an artist to appear in any kind of story can carry a gestalt, but not all objects necessarily do; when any object in a narrative (a hammer? a skull? a ball-point pen?) becomes more than the sum of its parts, and the audience’s understanding of the object changes as the plot progresses, it can be called an on-stage manifestation of the greater themes or ideas in the narrative. An OSM differs from the broader idea of a “symbol” in that symbols need not be manifest (physical, three-dimensional objects). An example is Yorick’s skull in Hamlet: Hamlet speaks to the skull and we know he is literally talking to the face of death. Death is a complex, conceptual idea; the ingenuity behind a good OSM is that complex, conceptual ideas can be negotiated over without a lot of philosophical talk required. If Laertes had stolen Yorick’s skull from Hamlet’s hand, and the two had dueled with swords at this point in the play, the audience would know that on the surface, the two men were fighting over an object, but that the bigger picture would be that of two men fighting over the very definition of death.