Exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and the denouement . . . oh, that word . . . form to complete the dramatic arc, Freytag’s pyramid. Synonymous with fictive story and epic adventure, this narrative structure comprises most of all written prose. But is this concrete set of immovable measures a tad bit antiquated? Can this approach be applied towards new narrative structures; ones melded and mixed with the digital and the hyper-textual? Is Freytag’s pyramid just that, a pyramid, an old structural relic of the past?
I wonder, with some of my cohorts against Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, is there any go-to narrative structure. The problem, I believe, lies with the stringent linear mandate of the pyramid. Non-linear and incomplete narratives bring about them inconsistent form if placed within the pyramid. Stories told with changing narratives, swinging point of views, and multi-linear branching plots tend not to follow conventional narrative structures. Films like ‘Momento,’ ‘Before the Devil Knows Your Dead,’ ‘The Fountain,’ tell most – if not all of their stories in reverse chronological order. Can the conclusion also be the exposition? What if the rising and falling actions inter-converge? What if there is no denouement? I may not have the all the answers, but can the answers be justified within Freytag’s structure? Narrative is a fascinating topic, and it is undoubtedly an ever-evolving component of story. If only mapping it and modeling it into a perfect paradigm were so easy.