Terms in this set (...)

The term action is used in a variety of ways.
1. An event caused by an agent. A synonym for act. Also sometimes called incident.
2. The sequence of events in a story or narrative
An entity or existent that performs actions. Synonym for agent and character
Concerned with beauty or art or the appreciation
The capacity of an entity/existent to cause
events, specifically to perform acts/actions.
Agency is the capacity to act with intent
A human or human-like entity or existent characterized by a quality of agency. Can include
animals, robots, extraterrestrials, or animate objects. Agents perform actions. Synonym for
actor/actant and character.
In narrative, the character who opposes the protagonist. The principal opponent.
The action of causing; production of effect. The relationship between cause and effect.
A human or human-like entity or existent that
exhibits agency. Characters perform actions.
Synonym for agent and actor/actant.
The one (or more) turning point(s) in the
narrative when the action reaches a peak of
intensity, things change for better or for worse,
and the conflict is resolved
When a narrative resolves conflict, it achieves
Closure typically comes at the end of a narrative,
but it should not be confused with the end or the
denouement. When a narrative ends in such a
way as to satisfy the expectations and answer
the questions it has raised, it is said to have
achieved closure.
A process whereby an initial state of equilibrium
in a storyworld is upset by a more or less
disruptive event or chain of events.
A clash between the beliefs, desires, and
intentions of two or more characters in a
narrative, or between dissonant aspects of a
single character. Greek synonym: agon.
Constituent events/Kernels
Events that are essential to the forward movement of the story. Constituent
events/kernels are essential to the chain of
events that make up the story. To remove one
would be to break this chain.
Creates something else or forms an essential
element of something else. (e.g., "Language is
constitutive of thought.")
The part of a narrative, following the climax,
during which equilibrium is attained and some
(possibly new) state of normality is reached.
A set of communications, typically written or
spoken; a verbal interchange of ideas; a
Embedded narrative
A story-within-a-story; a narrative nestled in a
framing narrative.
Something that exists in a story. Synonym for
existent. An entity can be either an agent or a
Essentially contested concept
A concept for which dispute over its meaning
seems to be part of its nature.
The fundamental unit of action in a story.
A change of state that creates an alteration in the
world of the story. Sometimes called incident. An
event can either be a happening or an act
Objects contained in the world of a story.
Synonym for entity. An existent can be either an
agent or a setting
The kinds of actions or events that the narrative
has led us to expect.
The degree to which these expectations are
satisfied helps to determine the level of closure.
The presentation of the circumstances,
characters, events, and other information that is
necessary for understanding the action of the
"The set of events tied together which are
communicated to us in the course of the
[narrative discourse]."
A story.
Framing narrative
A narrative that contains another narrative
A type of event that is not caused by an agent.
Example: a rainstorm
In medias res
Latin (literally "into the middle of things").
In the middle (or conclusion) of a story.
Inciting incident
The event that introduces the main conflict or
In Chatman: The material substance through
which the story is expressed. Synonym for media
or medium. Examples include drawing, painting,
written or spoken language, theatre, film, etc.
Recurrent skeletal stories, belonging to cultures
and individuals that play a powerful role in
questions of identity, values, and the
understanding of life. Masterplots can also exert
an influence on the way we may take in new
information, causing us to (often unconsciously)
interpret this new information in way that
conforms with a masterplot.
(plural: media) The means by which something is
communicated or expressed. Synonym for
Chatman's manifestation.
The study of the form and structure of things.
(e.g. animals, plants, words, language, etc.)
The representation of an event or series of
Narrative (according to the
rhetorical approach)
Narrative is a purposive communicative act.
Narrative is an event in which someone is doing
something with a representation of an event or
series of events
Narrative discourse
(sometimes simply discourse): The means by
which a story is communicated; the story as
The narrator is the one who produces the
narrative or tells the story. The narrator is not the
same as the author. The narrator is a kind of
imaginary character or tool created by the author
to narrate the story.
The power of narrative form, and particularly of
masterplots, to convey a sense of reality or truth.
Concerning elements and conditions outside an
aesthetic object or event (the artwork, the film,
the performance, etc.) that frame it and serve to
shape and influence the audience's response.
The term plot is used in several distinct ways.
1. In common usage: a synonym for story.
2. The combination and sequencing of events of
events in a narrative discourse. Often, this
usage is meant to emphasize the way in which the
discourse departs from the chronological order of events in the story. This aspect emphasizes
the artful construction of the story.
3. A type of story framework that can be repeated
and retold in seemingly endless variety (revenge
plot, marriage plot, etc.).
Point of attack
The point in the story at which the narrative
discourse begins
The leading or principal character in a narrative.
Sometimes called the hero.
The questions raised over the course of the
narrative. The degree to which the narrative
provides answers to these questions helps to
determine the level of closure
Something (especially signs—e.g. written or
spoken language, images, etc.) that stands in for
or takes the place of something else.
The art of using language or other modes of
communication and representation so as to
persuade or influence others.
Rising action
Refers to the series of events that increase the
intensity of the conflict. The protagonist(s)
(main character) attempts to realize her or his
main goal(s) in the face of complications and
An existent in the story that does not possess
agency. Those elements that serve as the
background for the story. Chatman sometimes
calls this "items of setting" to indicate that
setting is not merely a location, but all the
elements contained in the world of the story that
are not agents.
"How the reader becomes aware of what has
happened," or "the order of the appearance [of
the events] in the work itself." Similar to plot
Social Reality
Distinct from "physical reality" or "brute facts"
(like the height of Mt. Everest), social reality is
the reality that is established and maintained by
the consensus of a group
A type character created with little to no
imagination; the stereotype adheres too closely to
the abstract type, thus seeming lifeless and
A chronological sequence of events involving
entities. (Abbott)
Structure of narrative transmission
A synonym for narrative discourse minus the manifestation or medium of expression.
Events that are not necessary to the story. They
are extra and are not necessary for moving the
story forward.
Transcending cultural boundaries. True, existing,
or present in all cultures.
Transcending historical boundaries. Eternal.
Always true, existing, or present during all points
in history
A kind of character that recurs across a range of
Present, appearing, or found everywhere.
Unreliable narrator
A narrator who cannot be taken at her or his
word, thus compelling the reader or audience to
"read between the lines" in order to discern the
"truth" about events, characters, and/or the
world of the story.