The screenplay and the spectator: Exploring audience identification in narrative structure

Finnegan, John ORCID logoORCID: (2016) The screenplay and the spectator: Exploring audience identification in narrative structure. Journal of Screenwriting, 7 (3). pp. 319-331. ISSN 17597137

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Abstract / Summary

In ‘The protagonist’s dramatic goals, wants and needs’, published in Journal of Screenwriting in 2010, screenwriting analyst Patrick Cattrysse offers a revision of character ‘want’ and ‘need’, a common trope in screenwriting guides and manuals, to develop a protagonist’s arc throughout a story. His revision expands on this theory to include the audience and their subconscious connection with a character. This connection can generate feelings of sympathy and empathy, which can lead to identification. It can also create feelings of fear or anxiety in the audience based on their knowledge of the character. In ‘Her body, himself: Gender in the Slasher’ (1987), film analyst Carol Clover identifies the ‘Final Girl’ theory, a trope found in the horror ‘slasher’ subgenre. The Final Girl is easily identifiable for both screenplay readers and film spectators and is an ideal theoretical model to explore the revision that Cattrysse speaks of, in a practical setting. This article investigates how the screenplay and screenwriter can play a leading role in better understanding the implied reader or spectator in film studies. It concludes that scholarly research into screenwriting can benefit the writer in a practical setting.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: 10.1386/josc.7.3.319_1
ISSN: 17597137
Subjects: Film & TV > Film > Hollywood Film
Film & TV > Film > International Film
Writing & Journalism > Creative Writing > Professional Writing
Writing & Journalism > Creative Writing > Storytelling
Courses by Department: The School of Writing & Journalism > English & Writing
Depositing User: John Finnegan
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2017 11:59
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2023 16:42


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