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How to Explain Narrative Structures in Writing


Narrative structure is the way an author tells a story. This includes plot, how the facts are organized, how the story is told, and how the author uses these elements to portray a story. Several types of narrative structure are common, such as: linear, multi-narrative and fragmented narrative. All enhance the story in a different way, and each must complement the story itself. The three basics of narrative structure are: stasis (the point of equilibrium before the first disruption), conflict and resolution.

Explain narrative structure with examples that help readers determine the three basics of narrative structure. Explore the period of stasis, the initial conflict, subsequent conflicts and the story's resolution.

Explore the different types of narratives as shown in different works. Linear structures tell the story from beginning to end, moving through events in chronological order. Multi-narratives tell the story through several points of view to give the reader a wide scope of opinions. Fragmented narratives tell only part of the story, leaving the reader to work out unspoken details. Flashbacks, though a narrative structure in their own right, are rarely used to tell an entire story. Instead, this structure is usually found within another structure to add depth and fuller understanding.

Separate the plot from the story and examine each within the narrative structure. The story's elements include the setting, characters, the characters' personal battles and the impact of the characters' actions. Plot describes elements such as how the first conflict is introduced, how the story leads the characters to face their challenges, and how conflicts are resolved in the denouement.

Identify the story's narrative style. This includes voice, such as first-person narrator, various point-of-view characters or an omniscient narrator. Describe how voice adds to the structure, such as how an omniscient narrator unveils thematic elements through indirect discourse.

Determine the success of the author's narrative structure. Did she leave the story finished or was the reader left hanging? Were conflicts resolved? Did the story feel well-rounded, organized and emotionally satisfying? Was the narrative style effective or would the story have been better presented in a different way?

About the Author

Andrea Hamilton has enjoyed being a writer since 1996. She has been published as a poet in "Fine Lines Magazine." Hamilton holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from Iowa State University and is pursuing a Master of Arts in creative writing from London South Bank University.

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