Features and Structure of Narratives
DOI link for Features and Structure of Narratives
Features and Structure of Narratives book
What is a narrative? In its most simple definition, dating back to Aristotle (Eco, 1979, p. 30), a text may be defined as a narrative when it tells a story; that is, when it deals with one or more actors and describes a process of transformation from an initial stage x to a final stage y. This minimal definition contains the fundamental feature of narrations: one or more actors and their actions are described in a temporal sequence. Thus a narrative, and that is its essential feature, has to do with changes in time. Indeed, the reference to action is, from Aristotle on, the characterizing element of narration, since it may be configured as a specific form of imitation (mimesis) of reality, e.g. the imitation of an action (Dowling, 2011, p. 1). Adopting a minimal definition of narrative is one of the possible options a scholar may take when confronted with the ubiquitousness and variety of narrations. This minimal definition is inclusive, so that the description of any process whatsoever may be intended as a narrative.1 The alternative attitude is to carefully define which features a story should possess in order to be defined as a narrative (Labov, 1997), thus excluding all those texts that, although describing processes, are not to be intended as narrations.