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The plot-algorithm for problem-solving in narrative and dramatic writing

Varotsis, G. (2018) The plot-algorithm for problem-solving in narrative and dramatic writing. New Writing, 15 (3). pp. 333-347. ISSN 1943-3107

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/14790726.2017.1374414


An algorithm presents a solution to a problem in a finite number of steps. For example, in our lives, we plan by what means we are going to travel to work and calculate alternative scenarios if something goes wrong. After several hours at work, we find ourselves once again planning our way back home, or whether and how to socialise. A plot-algorithm is a recursive and sequential logical procedure for solving a wide array of narrative problems pertaining to narrative logic and causality. As a probabilistic problem-solving process, the plot-algorithm assists the authors in the mapping of the story alternatives and forking path possibilities and creates relations between the various narrative units by providing approximate, instead of rigid, solutions to encountered issues. In other words, the plot-algorithm is not an automation for the generation of stories through the push of a button but a mapping of a cognitive process which attempts to explain schematically the nature of decision making during narrative writing. The plot-algorithm is suited in the analysis of goal-oriented structured narrative (TV writing, screenwriting, stage writing, video-game writing, radio writing, prose fiction writing), even in stories where a character pursues a psychological need instead of a tangible goal.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > Business Informatics, Systems and Accounting
ID Code:73159
Uncontrolled Keywords:Literature and Literary Theory
Publisher:Informa UK Limited

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