Monday, 28 September 2009

Time & literary technique: Glossary of select key terms

Cliffhanger, is common in serials. A narrative line is deliberately left unresolved, with the intention that the audience returns to the see the resolution.
Flashback (or analeptic reference), general term for altering time sequences, taking characters back to the beginning of the tale, for instance.
A Flashforward, also called prolepsis, is an interjected scene that takes the narrative forward in time from the current point of the story. Flashforwards are often used to represent events expected, projected, or imagined to occur in the future. They may also reveal significant parts of the story that has not yet occurred, but soon will in greater detail. This can be seen in the television series Lost.
Foreshadowing, hinting at events to occur later. Giving an idea to what's going to happen in the upcoming events. See also formal patterning, repetitive designation and Chekhov's gun.
Formal patterning, "the organization of the events, actions and gestures which constitute a narrative and give shape to a story; when done well, formal patterning allows the audience the pleasure of discerning and anticipating the structure of the plot as it unfolds". This technique dates back to the Arabian Nights.,[1] and is also used in Romeo and Juliet. See also foreshadowing.
Frame story, or a story within a story, where a main story is used to organize a series of shorter stories. Early examples include Panchatantra, Arabian Nights and The Decameron. A more modern example is Brian Jacques The Legend of Luke.
Framing device, the usage of a single action, scene, event, setting, or any element of significance at the beginning and end of a work.
Incluing, gradually exposing the reader to background information about the world in which a story is set. The idea is to clue the readers into the world the author is building, without them being aware of it such as Brave New World. Opposite of Infodumping.
Infodumping (also, plot dump), where a concentrated amount of background material is given all at once in the story, often in the form of a conversation between two characters, both of whom should already know the material under discussion. (The so-called "As you know, Bob" conversation) Opposite of Incluing.
In medias res, when the story begins in the middle of an intense action sequence.
Juxtaposition, when the author places two themes, characters, phrases, words, or situations together for the purpose of comparison, contrast, or rhetoric.
Leitwortstil, the 'the purposeful repetition of words' in a given literary piece that "usually expresses a motif or theme important to the given story". This dates back to the Arabian Nights.[1]
Narrative hook, opening of a story that "hooks" the reader's attention so he or she will keep reading.
Plot twist, a change ("twist") in the direction or expected outcome of the plot of a film or novel. See also twist ending.
Repetitive designation, "repeated references to some character or object which appears insignificant when first mentioned but which reappears later to intrude suddenly in the narrative", a technique which dates back to the Arabian Nights.[2] See also foreshadowing and Chekhov's gun.
Self-fulfilling prophecy, a prediction that, in being made, actually causes itself to become true. Early examples include the legend of Oedipus, and the story of Krishna in the Mahabharata. There is also an example of this in Harry Potter.
Side story, a form of narrative that occurs alongside established stories set within a fictional universe. Examples include Mahabharata, Ramayana, Gundam, Doctor Who and The Matrix.
Story within a story, where a story is told within another story. An early famous example of this is the Arabian Nights. See also frame story.
Stream of consciousness, a special form of interior monologue characterized by leaps in syntax and punctuation that traces a character's fragmentary thoughts and sensory feelings.
Thematic patterning, "the distribution of recurrent thematic concepts and moralistic motifs among the various incidents and frames of a story. In a skillfully crafted tale, thematic patterning may be arranged so as to emphasize the unifying argument or salient idea which disparate events and disparate frames have in common". This technique dates back to the Arabian Nights.[1]
Ticking Clock, the threat of impending disaster. Often used in thrillers where salvation and escape are essential elements.

Adapted from this source.