Aristotle portrayed the story as a straight line; Freytag described it as a triangle, with Tension on the X Axis and Time on the Y Axis; Campbell portrayed stories instead as repeating circles, or cycles; and in interactive narratives, the story is shown as a network of interconnected arrows (a directional tree graph), with plot points determined by user input. In examining these and other portrayals of story formats and functions, I argue for the continued universality of a three-act structure—a beginning (rising action), middle (conflict), and end (resolution)—but with the additional dimension of user input.
Return to the Changed World: Once the hero returns to the changed world, he must then come to terms with the ways in which it has changed, which are not always those ways that he had first anticipated or sought out when he had first journeyed from comfort to embark on his heroic adventure. Often, this means that the hero must come to terms with past choices that they never considered to have the impact that they did. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is ripe with these sorts of occurrences, as are many other mystery or crime dramas today, in which criminals—or those who performed criminal acts, often for reason with which audiences can at least partially empathize—must realize their mistakes in order to accept their guilt and more forward with their own lives.
Narrative visualizations allow us to see a narrative’s structure—its skeleton, composed of bones that each serve a role in the organism itself, performing unique actions that deliver unique results. The skeleton of a story, in a way, is the layout of its mechanical parts, or the parts that move and act. But our understanding of stories today the same as it was when our most popular narrative visualizations first came about? Perhaps the most famous and talked-about structuring of the narrative comes to us from Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. Here, I redraft the hero’s journey with several key changes. First, rather than going from known to unknown and then back to known, I show the hero going from the unknown to the known, back to the unknown, to the known, and finally the unknown.