More on one-dimensional characters:
In counting one-dimensional characters, count the NUMBER OF SCENES in which one-dimensional characters appear, not the number of characters. An instance of use of one-dimensional characters occurs when the narrative notices one or more characters ("the crowd roared," "a man opened his umbrella") but doesn't develop that character. A scene is defined as a UNIT OF STORY (as opposed to plot), that is, a unit in the chronological sequence of events that may be separated from other such units by, say, time, location, emotion, or function in the plot. A happy wedding could be narrated as one scene. A drive-by shooting that erupts at that happy wedding would be a separate scene even though the time and place of the shooting and the wedding are the same. The shooting is considered a second UNIT OF STORY because the tone and function have changed dramatically. However, if a scene is interrupted in a minor way and then resumed (a guy in a bar is telling a tale, the scene shifts to the tale he is telling, the scene returns to the bar), the two parts of the interrupted scene often may still be considered one scene. Thus, in the hypothetical bar plot, there could two scenes: the bar (although it appears twice) and the scene in tale being told by the guy. Each of these two scenes might have one or more one-dimensional characters, yet the maximum number of instances of one-dimensional characters, would be two, even if the bar were crowded before and after the guy tells his tale. However, if the bar is jovial and crowded before the telling and sparsely populated with a single sad-sack (plus the guy, his listener, and the bartender) after the telling, we have three scenes and hence three possible instances of one-dimensional characters. If the sad-sack were mentioned in the first half of the telling of the scene but now enters the conversation, he may become a two-dimensional character. In that instance, if the guy, the listener, and the bartender were already two-dimensional, then the third scene (bar part two, now depressed) would have only two-dimensional characters and this hypothetical narrative would have three scenes, two instances of one-dimensional characters (bar part one and scene the guy tells), and four two-dimensional characters (bartender, listener, sad-sack, and the main character who tells the inner tale).
More on the nature of character in narrative:
In general, a character is an abstraction we make from a text about which we infer two features: (a) the abstraction is capable of significant but inessential change (like a river flooding or a dog growing) and (b) it is capable of the exercise of free will (like the Delphic oracle); however, while neither feature is sufficient, both are necessary. Human beings typically are taken to have both these features, so human beings represented in narratives are typically characters, but dead or comatose human beings are not taken to have these features (cannot change and cannot exercise free will respectively). When a human character is killed, it ceases to be a character. Conversely, when the setting is seen as capable not only of change but of free will, as with Bradbury’s city, it, like an active human, is a character.
More on setting mode:
Hal Clement's Mission of Gravity is "realistic." In this novel, the viewpoint characters travel across a disc-shaped planet that has an enormous gravity gradient from the pole to the equator. The fact that we know of no material that would make such a planet possible does not undercut the realism, and the stable rules of physics, that characterize the narration of the journey across this internally consistent landscape. In fact, this novel is actually Hard SF, the rules of gravity here being completely consistent with those in our shared reality. A tale like the Grimms' version of "Sleeping Beauty" is a fairy tale. It, too, presents a stable narrative world but that world has arbitrary relations with our shared reality. For example, "although [the last old woman guest] could not undo the curse [of the party-crashing witch], she could soften it." Why not undo? Why merely soften? Just because. This is an arbitrary rule in the narrative world; however, within that narrative world, the rule is stable. According to J.R.R. Tolkien in "On Fairy Stories," in a fairy story (tale), the fundamental nature of the setting (as "enchanted" in his terms) must never be called into question; that is, fairy tale worlds, although including arbitrary rules, should be stable in the reader's mind. That "just because" is never questioned. But a tale like Donald Barthelme's Snow White, in which we turn the page to suddenly find a quiz about our reading experience (Example: "Are the seven men, in your view, adequately characterized as individuals? Yes ( ) No ( )") does call the rules of the narrative world into question and makes the tale more fantastic than a fairy tale.
More on how to count scenes:
In counting scenes in a short story, it is best to look for the scene boundaries dividing one scene from another. A scene boundary typically can be recognized, as in a play, by one or more of three features. One: there is a significant change of locale. Two: there is a significant change of cast. Three: there is a significant change of action. If in one paragraph we see two characters arguing at home and in the next we see one of those characters engaged in pleasant water-cooler conversation with coworkers at a downtown office, we’ve crossed a scene boundary; we’ve had significant change of locale, cast, and action.
What do we do, however, if we do not have so clear-cut a change in locale, cast, and action? Here the criterion of significance is crucial; that is, the change must feel to the reader to signify something comparatively important and different from what came before. This yardstick of significance is an inexact measure, but one that should be discussable and then applicable with a high degree of intercoder reliability. It may clarify this definition to consider each of these types of changelocale, cast, and actionseparately.
Change of locale. If we have first two characters arguing at home and then the same two characters arguing in an airplane as they leave for what was supposed to be a happy vacation, we may well have crossed a scene boundary. The change of locale may show something significantly new about how persistent and destructive the disagreement is; it certainly changes the potential audience of characters who can overhear or interrupt the argument; it may even provide ironic commentary on where the characters’ relationship is going. Thus, the change of locale alone may indicate that a scene boundary has been crossed. On the other hand, if two characters are arguing at the rail of a cruise ship and during their argument the visual background first contains an island and then only open sea, that change, while indicating the duration of the argument and perhaps providing a metaphor (they are now “all at sea”), probably does not indicate a scene boundary because the significant locale is not the ship in the water but the cruise ship deck itself. Thus, there has been no significant change of locale just as there has been no significant change of cast or action. In other words, a change in locale alone may or may not signal a scene boundary depending on the felt significance of the change.
Change of cast. If in one paragraph we see two characters arguing at home and in the next we see them interrupted by a child who bursts crying into the room, we may well have crossed a scene boundary. Suppose we now we see the first two characters continue their argument in double-entendre so as to hide their disagreement from the child. We have shifted from a private scene to a more public one, one engaging an additional aspects of the characters’ lives. The entrance not only changes the cast but one might consider that it also changes the action by making it significantly different and/or more complex. This would be crossing a scene boundary. However, suppose the two originally arguing characters are interrupted by a phone call that they do not answer but which stops their talking while an answering machine picks up a message that they and we hear. Another character has now entered the scene. But if that message merely provides grist for the argumentative mill of the first two characters who resume their argument once the message ends, that entrance and exit of another character would not signal any scene shift. In the same way, a waiter interrupting a couple arguing in a restaurant might well be insignificant from this standpoint of noticing scene boundaries. In other words, a change in cast alone may or may not signal a scene boundary depending on the felt significance of the change.
Change of action. If in one paragraph we see two characters arguing at home and in the next they are interrupted by a phone call that they do not answer but which stops their talking while an answering machine picks up a message, we may well have crossed a scene boundary if that overheard message suddenly motivates the originally arguing characters to significant new action. For example, the message may be news of a sibling’s having been arrested, which impels the original two characters instantly to lay aside their argument and begin deciding together how to respond to this new, more pressing need.. Another character has now entered and left the scene, and the scene has changed significantly, as shown by the significant change of action, even without change of locale or cast. But if the new information merely provides another subject about which the original two characters continue their combative dialogue, no scene boundary has been crossed. In other words, a change in action alone may or may not signal a scene boundary depending on the felt significance of the change.
More on paradigm shift:
(a) The field of Paradigm Shift was created to replace a Story Birth Order field. (Please see definition below.) It was found that while it was often easy to agree that a given narrative presented what the implied reader was to view as a unique type of story, it was not always clear whether that uniqueness arose from initiating a new story type or culminating and thus obviating an existing story type. What was clear, however, was that uniqueness was involved. Hence the replacement of fields.
"Story Birth Order: Some works announce themselves as being the first of their kind (whether or not they actually are). Wells's The Time Machine, for example, opens with a chapter explaining what a time machine is. Other works, the vast majority, seem to be from the middle of a lineage (whether or not they actually are); they might simply assume time machines (or any other feature of content or style) and use them. Neuromancer, although it struck its first readers as the first of its kind, is written as if it were the middle of a lineage. And some works, a very few, seem to be the last of their kind (whether or not they actually are); they might show how time machines are finally impossible. The third (and initially last) volume of Asimov's Foundation Trilogy reads as if with its publication the trilogy's design had been fulfilled, even though in fact years later Asimov wrote further books set in the universe of that trilogy. It is possible to propose a work for which Story Birth Order is simply not available as a category, but it is hard to imagine such a work existing in fact, so "n.a." is not a likely choice."
(b) If a narrative seems at one level to present a fundamentally new narrative possibility but an expectably knowledgeable reader would know that this possibility already exists, that narrative move is not a paradigm shift but an example of irony.