Guide to Literary Terms

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Narrative

Narrative - a form of discourse which relates an event or series of events. Narratives need a narrator to communicate with the reader or hearer. The term is usually applied to anecdotes, exemplums, fables, fabliaux, fairy tales, incidents, legends, novels, novelettes, short stories, and tales. The primary and basic appeal of narration is to the emotions of the reader or hearer.

The term is from the Latin gnarus, which means “knowing.”

A novel/autobiography such as Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is considered a narrative.

see: fiction, plot