Understanding Narrative Conventions: A Simple Guide For Beginners

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Unsure about narrative conventions? Looking to improve your knowledge on narrative techniques? If so, this article is for you! We’ll explore narrative conventions, their different types, and why they matter in storytelling.

What Are Narrative Conventions?

Narrative conventions are like a toolbox for storytelling. They’re methods used to tell stories and link events. These conventions are found in various narrative styles, such as folk tales, dramas, novels, fables, poetry, and short stories, and even in art like music and film.

In your writing, it’s key to be clear about time, events, and places. Characters should be lively and have clear goals. Narrative conventions focus on the words used and how people are shown, making characters and plot development super important.

These conventions are useful for all writers, whether you’re a pro, a beginner, or a teacher inspiring your students. They help you write stories that are clear, creative, and full of imagination. The main goal? To tell engaging stories that entertain, teach, and inspire readers.

The Two Categories Of Narrative Conventions

Narrative conventions fall into two main categories:
  • Primary narrative conventions
  • Secondary narrative conventions

Primary Narrative Conventions: The Essentials

Primary narrative conventions are the backbone of the story. They include:

  • Conflict: A struggle faced by a character. This could be against society, themselves, another person, or the environment.
  • Setting: Where and when the story takes place.
  • Theme: The underlying message or idea of the story.
  • Plot Development: The structure of the story, from beginning to end.
  • Descriptive Language: Using words and phrases to create vivid pictures.
  • Characters: The main figures in the story.
  • Characterization: How characters are shown through their relationships, looks, thoughts, actions, and words.
  • Point of View: The perspective from which the story is told.

Secondary Narrative Conventions: Adding Depth

Secondary narrative conventions add depth to the story. They include:

  • Tone: The overall feeling or attitude of the story.
  • Character development: How characters change and grow throughout the story.
  • Voice: The unique style of the narrator.
  • Mood: The emotional atmosphere of the story.

Exploring Narrative Techniques

Writers use various narrative techniques to make their stories more engaging. Some common ones are:

  • Self-narratives: The story is told by the writer or a character in their own voice.
  • Third-person omniscient: The story is told by an all-knowing third-person narrator.
  • Historical narratives: These stories provide historical facts with fictional elements added in.
  • Autobiographical narratives: These stories are based on the personal life of the narrator, often with characters inspired by real-life people

Key Elements Of Narrative Techniques

These elements are crucial to storytelling:

  • Character Development
  • Plot Structure
  • Scene Creation
  • Setting
  • Point of View
  • Theme
  • Conflict

Stylistic Techniques: Making The Story Pop

  • Imagery: Creates vivid images in the reader’s mind.
  • Hyperbole: Exaggeration for emphasis.
  • Personification: When inanimate things or ideas are given human traits.


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