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Interrupted Routine

 

Disciplines > StorytellingStory devices > Interrupted Routine

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Start a familiar pattern of activity and then break the pattern with something unusual.

The pattern may then continue, coping with the unusual interruption, the interruption may take the story off in a completely new direction or there may be a delay whilst the interruption is handled, after which the original pattern continues.

Example

A couple are having an argument at home when there is a car crash outside. They go out to help and confuse the passengers by arguing in between directing traffic and helping out.

A detective is chasing a criminal when they are stopped by a tourist. The detective enlists the tourist's help in catching the criminal.

Discussion

When we see a familiar pattern we are able to predict what will happen and so feel a comfortable sense of control. Stories provide this through the routines of common plots, characters and devices.

However, we also have a need for arousal, which is not served well by familiar things. Stories which interrupt provide the stimulation of curiosity and surprise and make us pay attention as we seek to create variations on our existing patterns or develop completely new ones.

See also

Interruption principle

 

Johnson, K. (1979). Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre. New York: Theatre Arts Books

 

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