Flash 500: Todorov's Equilibrium
|Apr 22, 2012
You may not have heard of Bulgarian structuralist critic Tzvetan Todorov by name, but there's a chance you've heard his theory of narrative structure before.
In short, as explained by this brief blog post by Abigail Odum, Todorov's theory defines each narrative--each story--as essentially about progression through a series of stages.
Each narrative starts out with equilibrium. That is to say, at the start of each story, everything is at peace. The protagonist is happy, comfortable, healthy, and hale. The whole nine yards. This, of course, doesn't last, or we'd have no real story. Who wants to read 600 pages of someone's uneventful life?
So comes the next stage: disruption. Something screws the equilibrium, and the protagonist realizes this (the third stage) spends the rest of her time in the narrative trying to get back to that point (the fourth).
At the end of every narrative, according to Todorov, equilibrium is achieved again. This is what we might call closure. It's worth noting, however, that the equilibrium at the end of a story isn't the same as the equilibrium at its beginning: in the interim, everything has changed.
And, of course, since equilibrium always gets disrupted sooner or later...
Well, everything's cyclical.
For this week's Flash 500, you're going to put Todorov's theory into practice. In 500 words or fewer, write a story that goes through his five stages, or an essay examining some aspect of them.
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Entries must be received before 23:59:59 on Sunday, April 22nd (UTC time), and winners will be announced within one week of that date.
Entrants should understand Todorov's narrative stages, as explained by Abigail Odum, before participating.
Part of our mini-contests is sharing what you've learned: although it's not required, we'd appreciate it if you come weigh in on the group discussion thread here
Only one entry per member, please. Multiple entries will all be disqualified.
Work must have Public visibility on Scribophile until winners are announced.
Winners must have a valid Paypal account, or we won't be able to send the prize money!
To enter the contest, post your work on Scribophile and check the box that says "Enter this work into the F5 Todorov's Equilibrium contest". Your work will automatically be considered. The checkbox will be visible until the contest deadline, which is in UTC time.
Entry is free, but you'll need karma points to post your work. You can earn karma points by writing critiques of work by other members.