The main purpose of narrative writing is to tell a story. Its goal is to answer the question: “What happened then?” Novels, short stories, novellas, poetry, and biographies can all fall in the narrative writing style. The author creates different characters, and then tells the reader what happens to them. Narrative writing has definite and logical beginnings, intervals, and endings. They often have such situations as disputes, conflicts, motivational events, and problems and their solutions. In a lot of narrative writing, dialogue is an essential tool used to drive the story forward.

Usually, narrative writing is categorized as fiction, which is writing based on made-up characters and events that never actually happened. The other category of writing is known as nonfiction – writing is based on real characters and events. However, some nonfiction can in fact tell a story. These classify as narrative writing. Autobiographies and biographies are examples of nonfiction narrative writing, as they tell the real story of a person’s life.

Characteristics of Narrative Writing

There are specific traits every piece of narrative writing should have:

  1. All stories must havesubjects, known as characters. Every story needs characters to either push forward the plot, or react to the events in the plot. There are also specific types of characters that are necessary in order to create a developed story. Stories will often have a protagonist, who is the central character of the story. Often, there is also an antagonist – a character who opposes the protagonist.
  2. In addition to characters, every story must also have a plot – events that occur. Think of your favourite book, what if none of the events in that book had happened? Take away the plot, and characters would just be sitting around doing nothing. Would it still be your favourite book? Every story needs a plot or events that give the characters something to react to. Usually, the plot consists of five components: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
  3. One of the most important components of a story is the conflict. A conflict is any struggle between opposing forces. Imagine a story where there were no problems; the characters simply lived their happy lives with no troubles and nothing difficult to deal with. Would that story interest you? Probably not. Conflict is very important to creating interest in stories. Usually, the main conflict is between the protagonist and the antagonist, but that is not always the case. The struggles can exist between society, within a character, or even with acts of nature. There are two basic types of conflict: internal and external. Internal conflicts are the struggles that occur within a character, and external conflicts are the struggles outside of a character. These can occur between two characters, between characters and society, or between characters and natural events.
  4. Setting is another important component of narrative writing. The setting is the time and location in which the story takes place. These facts set the scene for the story and can determine what kind of conflict occurs. For example, if a story is set in the 1800s, can the protagonist have a conflict that involves losing his cell phone? Unless the story is about time travel, the answer is no. The setting can also be important to plot twists if the reader makes assumptions about the time or place that turn out to be false. Overall, the setting has an important impact on every story.
  5. One last component of narrative writing:point of view. Point of view is the perspective in which the story is told. The two main points of view are first-person and third-person. If a story is told in first-person point of view, the narrator, or person who is telling the story, is a character in the story. In this case, the narrator is telling his personal thoughts and opinions within the story, using the personal pronouns me, my, and I. If the story is told in third person, the narrative is told from the point of view of all the major characters and uses the pronouns he, she, it, they etc.

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