menu

Advantages & Disadvantages of Narrative Text


A narrative text is a story told from one character's point of view. Narrative text allows the reader to experience the tale from a single perspective, but it limits the story line in terms of subjectivity and scope of information. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of narrative text can help you better comprehend the story or book you are reading.

Limited Perspective

Because narrative texts are written from a first-person perspective, the reader is limited to the interpretation of the narrator. While other texts, written from an omniscient perspective, may provide additional information or multiple story lines that coincide with the main plot, the reader discovers information only as the narrator does.

For example, in The Great Gatsby, the reader discovers the history between Gatsby and Daisy only as Nick Carroway does. The reader also discovers Tom's affair only as Nick does. Narrative texts provide only one view of the story.

Increased Insight

Narrative texts provide a more rich and detailed glimpse into the narrator's experiences through inner dialogue and explanation. While an outside perspective would only allow the reader to assume or interpret a character's emotions, a first-person account allows the reader to emotionally connect to the character.

For example, in The Hunger Games trilogy, the reader fully experiences the emotional turmoil, familial love and physical pain that Katniss endures. The reader gains insight into how events affect different characters as the narrator expresses personal reactions and provides a more insightful glimpse into other characters' reactions.

Opinion Over Fact

If the narrative text is nonfiction, the information communicated may not always be verified, since it is related from one person's perspective. Because the reader only learns what the narrator communicates, the information reported may not always be accurate within context. If the narrator interprets an event or a circumstance based on personal experience, that interpretation would be different from another narrator with different life experiences.

For example, a narrative essay on equal pay for women that was written by a well-paid executive would not contain the same facts as an essay written by an underpaid, blue-collar employee who had just learned her male counterparts make more money.

Distinctive Voice

The language of narrative texts is descriptive and evocative. It paints pictures and sets the scene, allowing the reader to experience the story from a specific and personal point of view. Narrative texts contain vivid observations and emotional experiences, such as sounds, smells, tastes and inner feelings that would otherwise go unnoticed by a third party. Narrative texts are written in the specific voice of one of the characters, fully showcasing such traits as:

  • personality
  • culture
  • physicality
  • emotional responses

A character's language and thoughts can come through in a distinct way, allowing the reader to connect with the character and events on a personal level, rather than as a passive observer. For example, in To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout's distinctive voice comes through when she describes how she, Dill and Jem feel about Boo Radley and their childish games based on their fascination with him.

About the Author

Hannah Richardson has a Master's degree in Special Education from Vanderbilt University and a Bacheor of Arts in English. She has been a writer since 2004 and wrote regularly for the sports and features sections of "The Technician" newspaper, as well as "Coastwach" magazine. Richardson also served as the co-editor-in-chief of "Windhover," an award-winning literary and arts magazine. She is currently teaching at a middle school.

Photo Credits
  • HUNG KUO CHUN/iStock/Getty Images