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Narrative Conventions & Why Are They Important for Literature

Narrative Conventions

Most people, at some point, connected with a story that they have read. Whether it's Harry Potter or Hercule Poirot, or Atticus Finch, all of us have characters that we have admired or identified with. And what drives these stories and characters is a narrative. The narrative is at the crux of how a piece of literature is presented to the readers.

Now, most literature students are required to learn all about narrative conventions and techniques. But many of these literary conventions are complex, which leads to a lot of confusion among students. But these English narrative conventions and techniques can be simplified once you get a clear picture. On that note, we have broken down all the significant aspects associated with the narrative to help you develop complete clarity.

What are the narrative conventions?

Narrative conventions are the devices and methods writers use to tell stories, whether in works of literature. Many techniques emphasize the specific application of phrases, punctuation, or exaggerations of description. But nearly every storyteller, regardless of genre or style, adopts several foundational techniques.

Elements of narrative writing techniques often used in literature


The plot is considered as the sequence of events in your narrative. The plot involves background details, conflict, the climax, and lastly, the conclusion.

Many writers utilize the plot to outline their stories before starting with the writing process. In fact, poets can also use the concept of plot to plan the flow of their poems.


Most narratives revolve around one or more characters. These characters are shaped by what the readers see them do. So, the narrative techniques connected with the characters are associated with the plot, point of view, and style.

Characters define your story. Characters are the reason readers admire a narrative.


Conflict motivates the characters, influences the plot, and essentially dictates the theme of a narrative.

Presenting a well-defined conflict lets the readers to understand a literary piece, sympathize with the characters, and admire the complexity of the plot.


When you read a story and feel like you've been transported to another place- that's commonly known as the setting. This element of the narrative is extremely crucial. Setting establishes the place, time, and environment in which the characters operate.

Presenting an appropriate setting is the difference between a believable story and one that falls flat.  


The theme of the literary work needs to be clear. The theme helps keep the focus in a narrative. The theme is a statement about a topic.

It's the main idea the writer of the story wants the reader to remember and understand.

Types of narrative structures

Linear or chronological narrative

This one is the most traditional and common type of narrative that students need to be acquainted with. Such narratives are developed around a series of events and key moments that have often been labelled and arranged as follows: the rising action or precipitating incident, the conflict, the climax, the resolution, and the falling action.

Most children's literature and many of the classics and movies go through this archetypal, predictable structure.

Fractured or non-linear narrative

Some storytellers and authors prefer to structure their narratives in a non-linear fashion, so they are able to go back and forth in time. You may have watched scenes in films where there is a flashback. The same rule applies to literature for how time can be bent or fractured to alter or intensify a story.

For instance, Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse follows a family's visit to the Isle of Skye over a ten-year period. The novel features no dialogue and almost no action, and it unfolds in thoughts, observations, and childhood memories reflected against the present moment.

Framed narrative

This form of narrative is a story within a story. This type of narrative uses one story to frame the other. It has to be one of the characters in the framing narrative who tells the story. When employing this technique in fiction writing, the author may include a single built-in story or may narrate multiple narratives.

Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales follows a framed narrative. In the story, different characters come together for a pilgrimage to Canterbury, and along the way, all of them take turns to share different stories. So, the overall story of the pilgrim's journey is a frame for the multiple narratives that are described within the story.

Epic or circular narrative

Circular narratives move through literature, describing one event at a time to end back where the story actually began. Instead of offering a clear conclusion bringing together the remaining pieces of a story, a circular narrative will provide closure through a return to the opening scene.

Some tales conclude where they begin, with the protagonist or hero returning home after his epic journey. Homer's "Odyssey" is a perfect example of this. Odysseus must leave his native place Ithaca and his soul mate Penelope to take a journey that continues for 30 years. But ultimately, the journey comes to an end with his return home.

The importance of narratives in literature

  • Narratives allow for more creativity

Narratives provide more creative liberties. Instead of attempting to blankly explain some process or some issues, it encourages writers to come up with a set of characters and imagine what they do and how they do it.

This is impactful because it gives you more liberty to experiment with your narrative essays.

  • Narratives are memorable and immersive

Narratives are also a pertinent way to immerse the readers into a story rather than feeding them information. When you elaborate on a setting or add a conflict for your main characters to solve, you give them a frame of reference.

This makes the readers more likely to read your story from beginning to end. And they're more likely to remember what they read after they've finished reading it.

Wrapping it up,

Narrative conventions are an integral part of English literature and language that every literature students need to be acquainted with. Once you understand how they're presented in different literature, it'll be easier for you to carry on with your tasks.

Let the experts from simplify narrative conventions

It's not unusual for literature students to have confusion over narrative conventions and techniques. This confusion often results in students submitting mediocre quality tasks. But you can prevent such issues from happening when you avail the services of Our skilled writers will ensure such issues never get in the way of your academic performance.

These writers will maintain the quality of your papers, no matter how complex the topic of your paper is. They are familiar with a list of narrative conventions that are crucial in literature. So, you can trust them to define those conventions accurately while writing your tasks. Whether it's short story conventions or novel conventions, every detail they present will be perfect.

Our writers follow all the steps to ensure the quality of your tasks. These steps include-

  • Carrying out proper research
  • Preparing a proper outline
  • Presenting the details in a coherent manner
  • Adding appropriate citations and referencing

You'll also get to access various narrative convention examples and samples from our website. You will never notice any errors or inconsistencies when our writers work on your papers. So, approach us for assistance, witness our writers work their magic on your papers.

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