What Are the Characteristics of Narrative Writing?

Narrative writing is best described as an account of a sequence of fictional or nonfictional events, usually in chronological order. It is a story created in constructive format. The main characteristics of narrative writing are the plot, the characters, the setting, the structure and the theme.


Plot in narrative is defined by the events that take place within a story. When writing a narrative piece, the writer is primarily concerned with the main events that are central to the story, how these events lead from one to another, how they influence one another and how they effect one another. The conflict that makes up the plot sparks interest when it is able to produce an artistic effect and provoke emotion in the reader.


Characters are central to any piece of narrative writing. It is the writer's job to use these characters by presenting them through the narrative. This is done by means of describing them, through their actions, speech and thoughts. A good character is one who has been developed in great detail, using the narrative.


The setting is the place and the time that the events that make up your narrative story occur. Setting is generally considered essential to any narrative writing because it allows the readers to establish familiar ground with the characters in the story and everything that surrounds them.


The structure is the general order and shape of the narrative. In the beginning of a traditional narrative it is common for the writer to introduce the reader to the setting, characters, situation and the main character's goal. In the middle of a narrative piece the story will develop through a series of (problematic) events and find itself in the middle of a crisis that must be resolved. In the end of the piece the climax is resolved, and the tension is dissipated during what is called the denouement.


The theme allows any narrative writing to do more than purely entertain. Good narratives also suggest a truth about, or a meaning to, life. A theme in a story can really move the reader and make a piece of writing much more memorable, as well as help illuminate it as a work of art. A good example of a narrative theme might be "the price of conformity.”

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