The expansive growth of the narrative can easily make one lost in all of its complexities. Stephen Mamber’s proposal on taking the narrative into a visual form in “Narrative Mapping” follows our studies of “the whale hunt” last week. By alternating the narrative development process from a traditional written form to something more visual and guided, it can transform into a different kind of piece that expands the notion of story, time, and focus.
At first glance I believed the maps to only be used as blueprints for how a narrative should be told, the plot, the timeline, and what the progression of events. This came from a high-school understanding of Gustav Freytag’s plot model traditional literary models (introduction, escalating action, climax, falling action, and resolution). After delving more into the article, seeing how maps worked in other works such as the Baron and The Birds made me realize that a map didn’t nearly dictate how a plot is supposed to be viewed. It acts as a tool to help analyze connections in the literature. The maps can be used to connect character relationships, locales, similarities in sections (chapters, pages, etc), dialogue; the list of things that can be depicted in visual diagrams goes on and on. What immediately came to my head is the mapping of storyline and time. As some texts can get complex, especially any dealing with time travel, plot lines and key events can be easily displayed on a diagram. I know the recent movie release, Looper, and the famous novella Chronicle of a Death Foretold, could both benefit from the implementation of a diagram to closely follow what is happening in the narrative. The mapping of a timeline, or multiple timelines, can help make sense of convoluted stories that requires multiple readings.
What I think Mamber pushes in the article in the emphasis on presenting literature and new media in a format that gives us new ways of challenging works. Does the story expand far and wide to present a greater story? What does a story do within the confines of the map? Does the diagram benefit of hamper the story? What isn’t the diagram showing?
I was also thinking about Alex Glass’s blog post and agree that the mapping that gives away too much takes the satisfaction and enjoyment out of finding out what makes the narrative unique. I do think, however, that authors can manipulate diagrams to deceive viewers and present a perspective that would put the audience on a more difficult path towards fully comprehending a piece of work.