Guide to Literary Terms

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What is narrative?

Narrative is the set of methods by which an author tells a story and encompasses considerations of plot and narration.


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Last Updated May 26, 2023.

A narrative refers to a story or an account of events or experiences, whether real or fictional. It is a fundamental concept in literature and other forms of storytelling. A narrative typically has a structure that includes characters, setting, plot, and a point of view through which the story is told.


In literature, narratives can take various forms, such as novels, short stories, poems, plays, or non-fiction. They serve to convey ideas, emotions, and perspectives to the readers. Narratives can be written in first-person or third-person, offering different levels of intimacy and access to the thoughts and experiences of the characters.


The plot of a narrative often unfolds through a series of events or actions driven by conflict, tension, or the pursuit of goals. It may involve elements like rising action, climax, and resolution. Narratives can also explore themes, provide social commentary, or offer insights into the human condition.


Narratives can be linear, follow a chronological sequence, or employ non-linear structures, such as flashbacks or multiple perspectives. They can be simple, straightforward, or complex and layered, with subplots and intertwining storylines.


Narrative comes from the Late Latin word narrativus, meaning "suitable for narration," from the Latin narrare, "to tell," from gnarus, "knowing."


see: storyshort storylegendfablemythdramanovelplot

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