Stories, Tales and Fables have existed since mankind developed the ability to communicate. In order to create a successful story that engages the audience, a lot of thought and efforts must go in. Through the effective use of narrative writing, an author can create captivating storylines to bring together the different components of a story.
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What is Narrative Writing?
There can be different ways of telling a story. Narrative writing is a style of storytelling which utilizes the power of narration to give strength to the story. In theory, narrative writing is synonymous to a story. Any piece of writing that tells a story, through the eyes of a character of a narrator, can be described as narrative writing.
Let’s take this further in order to understand it better. To visualize the key differences between narrative writing and any other forms of writing, all you need to do is think of a story which you can remember, all most instantly. It can be a novel, a movie, a TV Show plot, or even an essay. For example: if you compare Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings with any newspaper article, you will instantly realize the fundamental differences. The primary motive of a newspaper article is to simply convey the most important information to the reader without using any flowery language. A novel aims to provide an immersive experience to the reader, through the use of narrative writing either in fiction or non-fiction forms.
Academy award-nominated film The Shawshank Redemption is the best example of a well put together narrative writing. The events of the movie portray the lives of prisoners who have spent most of their lives in captivity. The narration of the film is done through the perspective of one of the prisoners. This type of storytelling is one of the best practical examples of narrative writing.
6 Components of Narrative Writing
The primary motive of any piece of narrative writing is to entice and captivate the audience. For that purpose, a writer may use different techniques and components to keep the readers engaged. In cinema, narrative screenwriting is used quite extensively as the whole purpose of any movie or theatre play is to tell the story effectively. From William Shakespeare to Stephen King, from Alfred Hitchcock to Christopher Nolan, every known person in the world of storytelling has used the skill of narrative writing, to put forward brilliant pieces of art which stayed with us forever.
Throughout history, a lot of research and study has gone into mastering the art of storytelling. The study has highlighted 6 key components of narrative writing, which are:
Theme: Theme of the main thematic concept is the subject which the main storyline talks about. The theme is embedded in the story, and it somewhat dictates how the events should unfold. In narrative writing, the theme of the story helps the author to present their views and ideas in a way which suits the audience. The theme of any piece of literature can be identified through its main topic, which it talks about.
Setting: The setting is the main backdrop of the story. The setting describes how the storyline is going to proceed further even before they have occurred. The setting can comprise of everything in the environment of the scene, such as the time, location, weather, culture, etc. with any narrative. With the help of the setting, the author can present a stronger narrative by describing the world inside their head.
Plot: The plot is the fundamental requirement of any narrative writing. The plot dictates the nature of all other elements. The requirement of the plot with affect its, setting, theme, characters etc. the plot is the main storyline which the author is describing. It should answer all the questions that come into the audiences’ mind, such as ‘What is happening?’, ‘Where is this going?’ ‘Why was this important?’ and all others. It is the responsibility of the author to create an engaging plot that doesn’t leave the readers blank addresses their curiosity.
Character: Characters are those key elements around which the whole storyline of the narrative writing revolves. The plot describes the number of characters involved and how their nature should be. However, it depends on the writer’s skill to make the characters intriguing. Creating a character for narrative writing is very important, as it is through his eye; the story is going to be told. They are the key components that drive the whole story. A good character can many times overpower the whole storyline, irrespective of the role it plays.
Conflict: This is where it gets exciting, in any story. Conflicts are the incidents in a story where the tension rises and the audience is forced to come to the edge of their seats. Conflict is that part of any story which either lays the foundation for further events to happens or provides resolution to some past events. In narrative writing, conflicts are important to engage the audience. IT can be formed between, the setting, the main plot, the characters, of the event the themes.
Narrative Arc: Narrative arc is the structure of the story used by the author in their narrative writing. The narrative arc is one of the most key aspects of narrative writing and therefore requires special focus. The narrative arc can be described as the order in which the most important events and incidents of the story or scene, unfolds. It is different from the main plot, as there can be multiple narrative story arcs which are comprised into the main plot of the narrative writing.
Structuring a Good Narrative
The structure of good narrative writing can be broken up into the following elements:
Beginning: It is the beginning of the storyline; therefore, it should provide an introduction to the story with the use of different components of narrative writing at the disposal of the author. This section serves as the orientation phase and presents all the key information required by the readers to make sense of the events that are about to follow in the next parts of the narrative.
Complication and Rising Tension: This is the next section, where the tension rises in the story, using different elements such as conflicts, incidents and actions which intrigue the audience and evoke questions in their mind. It is a very important stage as this creates curiosity and makes the narrative writing more interesting.
Climax or Resolution: The next step in any narrative writing is to provide a resolution to the arguments and conflicts created in the previous stages. This step involves the climax of the story where the author, brings together the whole storyline and answers the main questions which were raised during the middle parts of the storyline. Since the climax is such a key aspect of the story, it needs to be captivating and engaging enough to provide value to the audiences.
Moral: And lastly, the moral of the story. This is where the author answers all the secondary questions which are left in the story and tie up all loose ends to complete the story. This section highlights the main topic of the story and describes how the narrative has come to an end.
Tips to improve Narrative Writing Skills
Storytelling and narrative writing is a skill which takes a lot of time, and efforts to perfect. It is very important for all individuals to learn narrative writing and storytelling, be it their own, fictional, non-fiction, anything! Having the ability to tell a captivating story enables a person to convey their thought, ideas and experiences that much more effectively. Below are some tips, using which you can improve your narrative writing skills and start your journey in becoming a great storyteller.
The first thing you need to do, to learn narrative writing, is to learn from the greats! Do some research and make a list of great authors and look at their background, research methodologies, writing styles.
Try to explore different genres in writing to understand how narrative writing differs in each one of them. Look for fictions, non-fiction, fantasy, horror and even biographies.
The most important thing you need to do, to improve narrative writing skills, is read! Read as much as you can, whenever you can. Reading fuels the creativity in the brains and helps you identify the different components, and writing styles adopted by authors.
Once you understand the basics of narrative writing, which you probably have if you have reached this part of this article, you can now go on and start writing your own stories. Start small and begin with something easy. Don’t make your stories too complicated in the beginning. Focus on writing regularly and making it a habit. Regular practice will improve your writing skills immensely.
Inspiration is everywhere, which is why you shouldn’t conform yourself to only writing form of storytelling. Go to the theatre and watch popular plays, skits, movies, TV shows and even podcasts. Any form of storytelling will help you in identifying how different mediums affect the nature of the narration. It might even strike your interest in screenwriting. Magazines are also a great way of finding short stories which are interesting enough for a person to read within minutes.
And lastly, you must always try to build your own style of writing. All the great writers and storytellers have their own way of telling a captivating story. Read different authors, and try to incorporate their mannerisms in writing, into your practice and add your own flair to it. It develops your creative and critical thinking skills and helps you write great narrative writing articles.
Hope this article helped you in understanding what narrative writings are, its various types, components, and how you can improve your narrative writing skills!
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