Narrative Structure Assignment Description

DUE DATE: March 1 before class!

This blog assignment will allow you to think about and explain how your television show tells its stories. The requirements of this blog entry are described below.


The blog entry should be written as a coherent whole with an introduction, a conclusion and several paragraphs in between, each of which has a topic sentence. The best blog entries contain links to other sites, embedded naturally in the text. The best blog entries also contain a variety of media to help hold the interest of the reader. Be sure you review my guidelines for writing blog posts.

You will write a 1000 word blog post that answers the question “How is the story told?” Below are the steps you should use as you develop your understanding of the narrative structure of your chosen show. To create this assignment, I combined the Story and Genre section on pp. 182-184 of our textbook with the Organization section on pp. 184-188.


  1. Watch one or more episodes of your show. Identify its genre.
  2. The most important question to be trying to answer at this point is “How is the story told?” Most television narratives use “deferred gratification and viewer anticipation.” You should be asking how these factors occur in episodes of your show and finding examples of them.
  3. Determine the organization and structure of the episodes of your show—the opening segment, the credits, the acts, the scenes, and the ending.
  4. Here are some questions that you should be thinking about as you try to understand the narrative structure of your show:
    • What are some of the conventions of the genre in which your show falls?
    • If the show is a hybrid genre, what are the conventions of genres that have been combined to make it a hybrid?
    • What are the audience expectations of that particular genre?
    • Using one episode of your show, answer the following questions:
      • What is the narrative progression of your show? Describe the actual events of the episode.
      • How is time presented? Are the events successive? Do they go back and forth in time or do events occur simultaneously?
      • Describe the lack or disequilibrium? How is the lack removed to restore equilibrium?
      • Is there a hero and a villain? How are they represented? What are their actions? How are their personalities displayed via their actions?
      • How does conflict play out? Are there oppositions (good/evil, legal/illegal, work/home, masculine/feminine, etc.)?
      • Is there closure or delay until the next episode? How is this presented?
      • Identify the stages of the hermeneutic code—enigma, delay, and resolution—that move the narrative forward in this episode. Are there several of them in the show?
      • Does the episode show scenes from previous episodes? If so, do they make you want to see what happens in this episode? Why or why not?
      • What happens in the lead-in, the beginning of the narrative that sets the stage for the rest of the show? How does it entice the viewer to stay with the show?
      • Watch and listen to the opening credits. What mood does the music create? Are there other sounds? Are the characters introduced in some context? Are the titles symbolic in their appearance, color or placement?
      • How do the scenes build on one another?
      • Does the show have a beginning, middle and an end?
      • Are there connectives between the scenes? Between the acts?
      • When the show comes to an end, is there closure or is the plot left open until next time?
      • What happens during the closing credits?
  5. Write your post on one episode of the television show. Try to choose an episode that is typical of the season of the show that you are analyzing.

Rubric for the post:

  • _____ 10 pts      Contains no spelling/grammatical errors or typos
  • _____ 10 pts      Is at least 1000 words and demonstrates considerable thought with regard to the questions posed in the assignment
  • _____ 10 pts      Contains an introduction and a conclusion, written for an audience that doesn’t understand what this assignment is about
  • _____ 10 pts      Contains appropriate visual media and links to other sources of information about the show
  • _____ 5 pts        Identifies the genre of the chosen show and explains the conventions and audience expectations of that genre
  • _____ 5 pts        Contains an arguable thesis statement about how the story is told and how that relates to the genre of the show
  • _____ 10 pts      Describes the stages of the hermeneutic code for the chosen episode
  • _____ 20 pts      Describes the narrative structure of the program (lead-in, opening credits, etc.) and what happens in each of those segments in a way that someone who hasn’t watched it can understand it
  • _____ 20 pts      Makes an argument about the way the story in this episode is told and how it relates to the conventions and audience expectations for the genre
  • _____ 100 pts   TOTAL

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