Narrative Writing: Types and Techniques

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The narrative is one of the forms of storytelling. An essay, a biography, or a novel, brings together several incidents on the basis of an ideal plot. A typical narrative has a beginning, middle, and end. The narrative genre of writing dates back to the art of storytelling, from folk tales to ancient poetry.

It is important to understand the types of narratives, in order to master the skill.



  1. Linear Narrative. A narrative that presents the story in the actual order in which its incidents actually took place. This type of narrative is meant to help the reader relate to the daily life of the protagonist, by watching the events of the character’s life unfold in chronological order. Example: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
  2. Non-linear Narrative. A non-linear narrative presents the events of the story not in any particular order. Techniques like*flashback*are used in this genre of writing. This helps in building suspense, thus keeping the reader engrossed. Example: Portrait of an Artist by James Joyce.
  3. Quest Narrative. In a quest narrative, the protagonist strives towards a goal. The pursuit of the goal and almost insurmountable obstacles along the way, help to keep the reader involved. Example: Odyssey and J.R.R. Tolkein’sThe Hobbit.
  4. Viewpoint Narrative. This narrative style often takes the form of first-person narration. Viewpoint narrative presents the subjective points of view or personal experience of the main character(s), in a way, reflecting the narrator’s own life and subjective point of view. Example: Lolita by Vladamir Nabokov.



Consider the topic. The topic should be something that the writer believes in.

Start with the draft. A draft or an outline will ensure a better narrative.

Storyline elements. The elements of a narrative should be wisely chosen, only as and when required.

The point of view. The writer should be clear about his point of view before presenting it to the reader.

Avoid unnecessary details. The narrative should not be overloaded with extra details.

Clear writing. The use of simple words and easy language makes it easier for the readers to connect to the writer’s viewpoint.

Elements of Narrative Writing

Characters: people in the story.

Protagonist: the hero or heroine.

Antagonist: the character who opposes the protagonist.

Plot: the story idea and sequence of events.

Conflict: Internal conflicts that occur within a character and/or external conflicts that occur between two characters, between characters and society, or between characters and natural events.

Setting: the time and location in which the story takes place, have an important impact on every story.

Narrative writing as a genre is one of the best forms of writing in terms of the writer-reader bond/connect.

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