Episodic Nature

There are a few things stories like Inanimate Alice and Flight Paths achieve using episodes that it might be difficult to illustrate in a written work.  One is contrast and the other is to skip the awkward time gaps/changes of scenery.

Contrast is incredibly important, especially in Inanimate Alice.  In Inanimate Alice, her age changes, her skill changes, and her location changes.  Each episode fully illustrates itself in its own environment and with a different level of skill and character.  While this could possibly be achieved by writing, it is easy for the reader to visualize and immerse themselves in the changes–actually noticing and really feeling them.  It is natural to make comparisons, and the authors play on this.  Alice’s player, Brad, the way her home looks is presented in every episode.  Each time they look different, revealing more about her while not advancing at a pace that’s unrealistic.

The episodes are each years apart which allows  the author to gloss over breaks that might be awkward, especially when they start a whole new chapter in Alice’s life.  (In saying this, it’s easy to realize that the episodes are chapters and that they reflect the “chapters” of her life.)  The thread connecting everything together is Alice herself, and each of the episode’s story only vaguely has anything to do with the prior episode.  Inanimate Alice is more like a dramatic sitcom–the characters are the same but the themes are different.

However, the episodic nature does not lead to suspense as it often does in book chapters or television dramas.  Each episode serves as an individual story with a beginning problem and an end (in Inanimate Alice in particular).  While each of the episodes is threaded together by a theme, they can be, and should be, looked at as their own individual work.

– Aly Ferguson


~ by notsinthetix on February 7, 2011.

One Response to “Episodic Nature”

  1. I completely agree when it comes to the the structure’s overall contribution to the story. It doesn’t seem to add much, but as I stated in my post, it is necessary to any story using an episodic structure, and while I did enjoy the stories, my enjoyment didn’t have much to do with the way the author decided to break apart the novels.

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