Vladimir Propp extended the Russian Formalist approach to the study of narrative structure. In the Formalist approach, sentence structures were broken down into analyzable elements, or morphemes, and Propp used this method by analogy to analyze Russian fairy tales. By breaking down a large number of Russian folk tales into their smallest narrative units, or narratemes, Propp was able to arrive at a typology of narrative structures
After the initial situation is depicted, the tale takes the following sequence of 31 functions:
1. ABSENTATION: A member of a family leaves the security of the home environment for some reason. This may be the hero or perhaps it’s some other member of the family that the hero will later need to rescue. This division of the cohesive family injects initial tension into the storyline. The hero may also be introduced here, often being shown as an ordinary person. This allows the reader of the story to associate with the hero as being 'like me'.
2. INTERDICTION: An interdiction is addressed to the hero ('don't go there', 'don't do this')The hero is warned against some action (given an 'interdiction'). A warning to the hero is also a warning to the reader about the dangers of life. Will the hero heed the warning? Would the reader? Perhaps the reader hopes the hero will ignore the warning, giving a vicarious adventure without the danger.
3. VIOLATION of INTERDICTION. The interdiction is violated (villain enters the tale). The hero ignores the interdiction (warning not to do something) and goes ahead. This generally proves to be a bad move and the villain enters the story, although not necessarily confronting the hero. Perhaps they are just a lurking presence or perhaps they attack the family whilst the hero is away. This acts to further increase tension. We may want to shout at the hero 'don't do it!' But the hero cannot hear us and does it anyway.
4. RECONNAISSANCE: The villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance (either...