Nancy Drew’s Moral Universe

From the “Series Bible” for Nancy Drew, a syndicated television program based on the Nancy Drew mystery novels. The show, which premiered this fall, is being produced by New Line Cinema, Nelvana Limited, and Marathon. The guide, which is used by the Nancy Drew staff, describes the show’s characters, themes, and tone; the section excerpted below is titled “Style.”

Nancy has a unique ability to make clear choices. She lives in a moral universe that is simple and straightforward. When we are in her world, those values will be reflected. It is something she cannot escape from, nor would she want to-it is her quintessential “Drewness.” This quality is expressed in her wardrobe. She chooses clear, saturated colors that reflect her moral certainty. When Nancy wears green, it’s not olive or sea foam or celadon. It’s green. And the design is always deceptively simple, regardless of how au courant the particular outfit may be.

Even at her young age, Nancy brings order to chaos. The objects in her apartment radiate a feeling of security; they have a timeless quality that is impossible to date. This creates a sense of heightened reality: a sofa is a sofa, not art deco or faux country or Seventies chrome and leather. It has a pure design that reflects a sofa’s essence, its truth. Visually, Nancy’s world will make sense.

The world outside her apartment will have a very different look. It is the world’ of unsolved mysteries, a place filled with cold, glaring light and turbulent disorder, where colors are always garish or muddy. It is a world expressed in harsh angles and exaggerated perspectives, because it is totally lacking in moral certainty. Basically, it can best be described as a world without Drewness.

HARPER’S MAGAZINE/NOVEMBER 1995, page 28

Fabula and Syuzhet

Fabula  and Syuzhet are terms originating in  Russian Formalism and employed in narratology that describe narrative construction. Syuzhet is an employment of narrative and Fabula is the chronological order of the events contained in the story. They were first used in this sense by Vladimir Propp and Viktor Shklovsky.

The fabula is “the raw material of a story”, and syuzhet is “the way a story is organized”. Since Aristotle’s Poetics, narrative plots are supposed to have a beginning, middle and end. This is often achieved in film and novels via flashbacks or flashforwards. For example, the film Citizen Kane starts with the death of the main character, and then tells his life through flashbacks interspersed with a journalist’s present-time investigation of Kane’s life. The FABULA of the film is the actual story of Kane’s life the way it happened in chronological order, while the SYUZHET is the way the story is told throughout the movie, including flashbacks.Memento_Timeline

via Wikipedia