What Is Narrative Writing?

Narrative writing is essentially a way to tell a story. It can be fictional or non-fictional or perhaps somewhere in the middle as a semi-autobiographical tale, historical fiction or a dramatic retelling of history. The bottom line is that as long as the story being told has a narrative structure, it is narrative writing.

Types of Narrative Writing

There are thousands upon thousands of stories to tell and an equal number of ways to tell them. There are multiple ways a narrative can be crafted, and different writers prefer one style over another and sometimes even mix them up.  The exact type of narrative writing that you choose is dependent on the goals and objectives of your essay or story.

Linear Narrative

A linear narrative is a story that is told in chronological order. The best examples of linear narratives in our everyday world are TV shows, movies and books. It is one of the most common narrative writing styles. The sequence of events always makes sense logically in this kind of narrative. However, there can be time lapses in these narratives while telling a story. For example, chapter three of a book or act two of a movie can occur two years later from the events depicted in the previous chapter or act.

Quest narrative is a very specific kind of narrative example that you might have heard about. The word "quest" highlights the main essence of this narrative, where the character has a quest or thirst to achieve his goal in any way. The quest is the plot device that moves the narrative towards each subsequent step in the story. One of the prominent examples of quest narrative is the animated movie Shrek.

Linear narrative is also present whenever a historical retelling occurs as the style lends itself well to stories formed by a series of interlinked events.

Nonlinear Narrative

Where linear narrative tells a story in chronological order, the nonlinear narrative does exactly the opposite. It tells the story our of order. The best example, in this case, is the House of Leaves. It is a novel told through first-person accounts, recovered documents, and footnotes throughout the book.

The benefit of choosing this kind of narrative is that you can highlight your character's sentiments and thoughts on different events while writing the story. You can also focus on the events and scenes, providing important details about the story or characters and can add up the key events. However, this kind of narrative structure is quite difficult to master as if not done right, it can leave the reader or viewer confused and prone to losing interest in the story being told.  

 Narrative Viewpoint

Narrative viewpoints dictate from whose perspective we are viewing the events unfolding in a story. This writing style in both fiction and non-fiction ebooks allow authors to shift perspectives and change the way the story affects the reader or viewer. A familiar example of narrative viewpoint is The Catcher in the Rye. In this story, the writer manages to put the reader into the mind and head of the story's protagonist, Holden Caulfield. The purpose behind it is to let the reader feel firsthand what the protagonist faces in the NewYork city.

The narrative viewpoint gives the author a chance to explore and highlight different facets of the story's protagonist and let readers know about their thoughts. This writing style is mostly seen for writing services or essays written in personal style or stories with themes of personal growth.

Descriptive Narrative

The descriptive narrative focuses on the settings, objects, and characters of a story and how they feel. The writer's goal in this kind of story is to immerse the reader in their story's world fully. It's completely different from narrative viewpoints where the writer wants their reader to be immersed in only the character's mind, which in comparison can be limiting.

The best example of the descriptive narrative is The Tell-Tale Heart story, written by Edgar Allan Poe. In this story, the murderer hides the dead man's heart beneath the floor after killing him. The climax comes when he confesses his crime after listening to the throbs and beats of the deadman's heart for a long time. These heartthrobs are quite loud but only for the murderer. Poe's technique of addressing his reader, his sentence structure, and his word choice is like a discussion between the narrator and the reader. He highlights the strong sentiments and ill state of mind of the murderer through this technique and makes the reader feel it as well.

To write using a descriptive narrative style, you will use several techniques like similes, personifications, and vivid imagery to introduce specific ideas and objects.

 Characteristics of Narrative Writing

Whether you’re doing blog writing, or constructing a novel, every type of content writing possesses specific attributes, qualities, and characteristics. The same is in the case for narrative writing. In most forms of narrative writings, you will find these characteristics:

  1.   Descriptive language: Feelings are evoked directly through descriptive language rather than a statement of facts. The techniques of descriptive language include personifications, similes, metaphors, and onomatopoeia

  2.   Characters: The characters in the story can range from one to many. There are a few stories where the only character present is the narrator. The figure of the narrator is important because he is the person whose viewpoint we see in the story. Narrative writing techniques are, therefore, also quite popular when it comes to autobiography writing.
  3.   Protagonist: The protagonist is the central character in every narrative. It is a person whose story is being told

  4.   Antagonist: The antagonist is the character present in a narrative as a foil to the protagonist. An antagonist doesn't need to be the villain. He can be a person who creates obstacles and challenges for the protagonist so that their journey can move forward. A lot of narratives show the antagonist as an element of change. Or even a mirror to the protagonist's personality

  5.   Plot: The plot is the series of events in the narrative story. Plots can be based on only one or two events or complex structures build upon multiple events

  6.   Structure: Structure describes the organization of a narrative. The structure tells the reader how the protagonist chases his goal and overcomes hurdles on his journey. The structure when telling a narrative is made of three parts:
  1. The beginning: Beginning is the hook that captures and evokes emotions. It is where the reader or viewer generally knows if they'll stick till the end or lose interest.

  2. The middle: It is the place where the majority of the story takes place. It is where the narrative builds up the story for the payoff in the end.
  3. The end: This is where the reader or viewer must be awarded a proper conclusion that ties up loose threads and resolves all the plot points

How to do Awesome Narrative Writing?

·  Build Characters Using Your Narrative

When creative writing is done with a first person viewpoint, the story's narrator is one of the characters. You can use this opportunity by shaping this character powerfully by effective word choice, reaction to every event, and other perspectives. Your narrator doesn't need to be hidden. So, keep experimenting with different types of things, including multiple narratives, not-reliable, and of limited viewpoint. It will give your reader a different perspective on every character.

·  Know The Way People Tell Stories

Try to pay attention to the storytelling of your friends, acquaintances, or other people around you. Your attention must be on HOW, i.e., how they describe the simple and complex things in their daily lives. Do focus on the shifting tones of your storyteller (your friend). Observe how they shift their tone across different parts of the story, along with the jumps, tangents, forwards, and backward shifts in it. You will analyze how some events can be described as fast-forwarded, and some do not follow a linear narrative, along with the usage of descriptive and abstract language. Stories are just mirrors of our realities.

·  Mix And Match Different Styles of Narrative Writing

It's not a cardinal rule that different narrative styles cannot be mixed together. It all depends on what works for your story. Not every story will need mixing of narrative writing styles. For example, a story of six awesome summers of your life can be written in several different narrative styles.

·  Play!

Play with the words and styles and build up your onomatopoeia. For example, choose two characters, put yourself in their heads, and write the same event from two different perspectives. Then, make both characters converse on that topic. Follow your flow of thoughts, as it makes you predict where and how you can take the story. It is fun and also called freewriting.

·  Polish Your Writing

You can make your writing shine by eliminating common errors and blunders. It will make you show or tell your story, or any story, to the next person very confidently. In addition, it signals to others that you are presenting an error-free thing, having the exact quality and tone you wished for. There are several softwares and tools available that can help polish your writing and ensure that any writing services you provide meet certain quality standards.

FAQs About Narrative Writing

What is the purpose of the narrative text or narrative content writing?

Similar to article writing, the basic purpose behind a narrative text is to craft a story that is coherent and easy to follow in a way that is captivating. Fairy tales, for instance, are written in a narrative structure. The text of the narrative has a very simple structure to follow, i.e., a beginning, the middle, and the end.

What tense is used in the narrative text?

The narrative text usually uses the past tense or simple past tense. Again, it is because of the way stories are generally crafted. They tell tales of things that have happened.

 What can be included in a narrative text?

Narrative text or narrative writing is any writing that recounts a series of events. It can include both fiction and non-fiction. Irrespective of the kind of story being told, the language used is imaginative and expressive through the usage of imagery, metaphors and symbolism.

Closing Remarks

The narrative writing style is an excellent way to craft an engaging story, irrespective of the form the story takes. The techniques and tools of narrative writing are all there to help move the story along, but its quality is entirely dependent on the author. So, experiment, play around and see how you can use the different styles to craft stories that are engaging and captivating.