A Complete Guide to Understanding Narrative Text

Narrative texts are versatile and permeate almost all mainstream media. They were designed for two purposes: to transport the reader to a different world or to follow the story of the narrator.

A person reading a book while sitting on the floor.
Photo by Blaz Photo on Unsplash

If you want to write a more compelling narrative, you’ll first need to understand what it exactly is and its different types. Read our complete guide on what a narrative text is. And also, get to know the most common narrative devices and how to use them in your writing. 

What Is a Narrative Text?

A narrative text is basically a piece of writing that tells a story. It can pertain to a true story or a fictional one. For example, a piece of writing about a teenage girl growing up in a small town could be a narrative.

Narratives are usually told from a first-person perspective. It describes events in succession that leads to an outcome.

The writer can reveal information to the reader through dialogue or description. There are five main types of narratives:

  • Descriptive narratives
  • Viewpoint narratives
  • Historical narratives
  • Linear narratives
  • Non-linear narratives

Types of Narrative Text

1. Descriptive Narratives

These narratives create detailed settings and provide a sense of the tone and mood of the story. A vital element of this narrative is capturing the reader’s attention in a detailed way.

This helps readers visualize the story’s setting and characters more accurately. Word choice is essential in a descriptive narrative.

2. Viewpoint Narratives

Viewpoint narratives are told in the reference point of the narrator. In other words, it is written from the first-person perspective.

In a viewpoint narrative, you talk about an experience that you’ve had. It allows you to reflect on an impactful experience and explain it to the reader on a certain level of personal understanding.

3. Historical Narratives

In a historical narrative, historical events need to be told in order from start to finish. It describes the catalysts that caused an event and how they affected the people involved. A historical narrative concentrates on a specific period and tries to describe that period with as much accuracy as possible.

4. Linear Narratives

A linear narrative tells the story in the order in which events exactly happened. An author may describe someone’s life from start to finish and show how events in their life helped them become the person they became. Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl is a great example of a linear narrative.

The Diary of Anne Frank talks about Anne’s life before and during the depths of World War II. It documents what she ate, what she wore and even how she thought. It walks the reader through the events and experiences she has daily.

5. Non-Linear Narratives

Unlike linear narratives, a non-linear narrative is told in a non-chronological order. It uses creative story elements like flashbacks, foreshadowing, and fast forwards. The story unfolds as the reader reads, making it difficult to predict the plot. 

5 Main Elements of a Narrative

1. Characters

The narrative’s characters are the main element for which the narrative’s plot will revolve. There are lead characters referred to as the protagonist, while the antagonist is the bad guy, and the others are the supporting characters.

2. Plot

Your narrative’s plot is essentially the body of your story. It is what is taking place; the events that the characters go through. The plot should start at the beginning and go through to the end. Your narrative should have an explanation as to why it exists and what it is about.

3. Setting

The story’s setting is where the story takes place. There can be several settings throughout a story. The setting of a story also includes the time the story happens.

4. Conflict

Conflicts are the driving force behind a narrative. They can be external, internal, or both. External conflicts can arise from within the environment, like nature, or from someone or something else within the environment. Internal conflicts are issues within the character’s own psyche.

5. Theme

The theme of a narrative is that which the author wants to get across to the audience. A story’s central theme is generally found in the overall tone or atmosphere that is created in the story. Some common themes used in narratives are:

  • Love
  • War
  • Revenge
  • Betrayal
  • Patriotism

To Wrap Up

The key to understanding a narrative text is to know its different types and primary elements. You need to understand how each of these elements works with each other. As a writer, you should also be able to interweave them together in a cohesive narrative.

Now you know everything there is to know about a narrative text. Try writing one yourself using everything you’ve just learned. Don’t forget to include the five main elements!

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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