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A Few Words About Communication

By Melanie Anne Phillips

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~ Four ~

The Four Stages of Communication

The process of communication between author and audience passes through four distinct stages of communication. When an author is developing a narrative or looking for ways in which to improve it, it is advisable to evaluate how the narrative is working at each of these stages individually. Problems can exist in any single stage or extend through others. Seeing where the problem lies is half the work of fixing it.

The Four Stages are:

Stage 1: Storyforming — at which point the message is conceived. This is also where the meaning of the narrative is fixed in structure.

Stage 2: Storyencoding — where the symbols with which the author will work are chosen.

Fictional narratives are presented through characters, setting, and other particulars which are meant to symbolize the meaning of the story. No symbols are inherently part of any Storyform Narrative, so the choices of how a particular Storyform will be Storyencoded must be considered carefully.

Stage 3: Storyweaving — where the author selects sequential orders and expressive emphasis to use in presenting his encoded narrative to his audience in the final work.

The way in which an author delivers a story to an audience, piece by piece, involves decisions about what to present first, second, and last.

While a given narrative structure is fixed, the potential strategies for how to present it are countless. What you most want the audience to be thinking about will guide your decisions in this stage, because choices made here have the most effect on the experience of receiving the narrative as an audience member.

Stage 4: Reception — where the audience takes over, interpreting the symbols they’ve received and making meaning of the narrative.

The audience is a very active participant in its relationship with a narrative. It has preconceptions which affect how it will see anything you put in front of it.

The audience is presented with a finished, narrative and hopes to be able to interpret the work’s symbols and decipher the Storyforming intent of the author behind the work. The accuracy with which this is accomplished has a lot to do with how the story was developed in the other three stages of communication.