Interactive Storytelling – Notes

3 Act Structure & Linear Narrative

Higgs, S. (2017). Finding Nemo in the Three-act Structure. Screen Education, (85), 90-97.

Linear Narrative


The 3 act structure is basically a linear narrative with more elements to it.

I did not have time to watch 2 hour long movies to study the story-lines and I know that we watched “I’m Here” in class. But I wanted to study something that we did not go through in class as an exercise. so I went to look back at some short animated films that caught my interest. One of them was Patchwork which really surprised me with its plot twist.

Act I

In Act I (Set up), they introduced the characters, background and aim of the story. We know that the characters is this man and this lady; presumably his wife or girlfriend. We also know that he is a sculptor and he is trying to create a realistic sculpture of the lady; who seems to have left him. (I think she is dead.) He is a perfectionist as he made many sculptures and still was not happy with any one of them although they all look beautiful to the audience. His frustration and anger also revealed that he is of violent nature.(probably why the lady left him, but that’s not the point) He sits down and looks at a flyer about speed dating which tells us that he might move one from the previous relationship which leads us to Act II. So basically, the man’s aim is to find a new significant other.


Act II part 1
Act II part 2
Act II part 3
Act II part 4

Act II is the longest. It shows the man meeting women after women during his speed date, unable to find one the he likes. According to the three act structure, this would possibly be the ‘obstacles’ where he is unable to find the one. The rising action also starts here where we see him circle certain body parts of the many women he meets during the speed dating sessions in a montage. It raises curiosity within the audience as to what the man is up to.

Act II part 5

At first I thought this is in act III but after some thought about it being a turning point ( a tragedy is about to happen) of the narrative, I decided it was the midpoint instead of the previous scene where he and the woman fell in love in the bar. A new aim is also established here.

Act III part 2

The rising action continues as the man invites the woman into his home, they dance and had a great time. Until he kills her which meets his aim and is the climax of act II. The descending action starts from here.

Act III part 3

Next we jump right into the climax of act III where we find out the one killed was the man and not the woman. (conflict unravels) The resolution was that she too was a serial killer and murdered him before he could murder her.

E.g. Memento (2000)

Non-linear Narrative

From what I understand, a non-linear narrative is told by going back and forth the story line; meaning the use of flashbacks. It is usually used to in detective/investigative genres to slowly reveal the case and have the audience piece the pieces together themselves.

Plot VS Story

“The plot goes beyond the story world by presenting non-digetic images and sounds which may affect our understanding of the story.”

“the story; the exterior; sum total of all the events in the narrative and events that are not presented (inferred events or character’s interior world”

Because a non-linear narrative does not necessarily starts from the start and jumps around the timeline of events the plot and story needs to be established clearly to create  a proper narrative in the minds of the audience.

E.g. Joint Security Area (JSA)
E.g. Citizen Kane

This short animation from Overwatch had a short flashback where the good robot now taps into the memory of a fallen comrade and learns his origins and purpose. Despite that short scene it actually feels like a linear narrative because the robot initiated the flashback??? Because usually, like memento, the flashbacks are skillfully cut and transited…  This is non-linear.

Multi-linear Narrative

“A multiple narrative describes a type of story that follows several protagonists rather than focusing on one main character. ” These multiple narratives came from traditional theater for example… (they happened to both be musicals)

Les Misérables
Into the Woods

This type of narrative is very interesting. Its quite similar to non-linear narrative as the audience has to piece multiple stories together on their own. However, there is a lot of planning involve in creating the characters for a more dynamic story with no stereotypes.

Story Ideation (Rejected)

There are many topics that I am interested in – Placebo effect, Butterfly effect, Schizophrenia etc. But they weren’t giving me any inspiration. I thought of dyslexia which was also one of the things that I had wondered about. My cousin has dyslexia and he is actually really smart and has a great memory yet he does so poorly in school. Why does it happen? What does he see when he reads? This topic is much closer to home, I could ask him some questions and the results would be more realistic.

However, after discussing with the group the idea was dismissed as we favored the lockers as our location. The story that I proposed was not revolving around the locker so it was rejected; sadly.

Author: Ying Hui

Hello :)

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