Fall 2011 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Brackin, Adam
Discipline and Number
ATEC 6351 Section 501
M Time 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title
Mechanics of Story

Description of Course:

When you consider the millennia of storytelling that comprise our literary tradition, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the shadow of so many works. But there are common threads that link all stories--from Beowulf and Hamlet to Gone With the Wind and The Godfather to the story you are drafting right now in your head. These threads form the foundation that supports story whether you are writing a novel, a memoir, screenplay, video game, or other "Alternate Reality" world.

This class explores both historically traditional storytelling models and new models which require recognition of the balance of aesthetic story and mechanics within new media storytelling. Topics include linear and non-linear storytelling methods across multimedia and trans-media methods of delivery with a focus on 1) reading/viewing/playing stories, 2) critical analysis of storytelling mechanics in various works, 3) creating and publishing original student works using the most modern and appropriate new-media methods such as social networking tools.

We will examine a range of topics, including storytelling in a multiplayer environment; narrative techniques for a 3,000,000-page novel; continuity (or the impossibility of it) in pervasive fictional worlds; managing multiple intertwined narratives; the spatial experience of virtual worlds; Emergent adventure texts created by designers and fans; and the serial storytelling, among many other essential insights into how fictions are constructed and maintained in very different forms of media through to the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Students will also:
-Recognize stereotypes and traditional character models such as the "hero" and what it means.
- Craft stories for the media of their choosing in various formats.
- Understand the anatomy of plot to create a successful beginning, middle, and end while moving smoothly from one stage to the next.
- Understand the use of story elements, choosing the best characters, point of view, and constructing authentic, compelling dialogue for your worlds.
- Integrate and navigate the more subtle elements of story, such as voice, tone, premise, and theme.
- Understand genres and subgenres and how they apply to your story and world.
- Structure plots that "transform a ho-hum story into a page-turning read."

Required Texts:

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (Hardcover), New World Library, (July 28, 2008) 1577315936

The Art And Craft Of Storytelling: A Comprehensive Guide to Classic Writing Techniques by Nancy Lamb (Paperback) F&W Media, Inc., (December 15, 2008) 1582975590

The Hero’s Journey by Harold Bloom (Hardcover), Facts On File, Inc. (January 30, 2009) 0791098036

Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives by Pat Harrigan (Hardcover) MIT Press (May 29, 2009) 0262232634

Quests: Design, Theory, and History in Games and Narratives by Jeff Howard (Paperback), A K Peters Ltd (February 26, 2008) 1568813473

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Instructor Permission.
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