The Language of Narration


In the language of narration, or narrative writing, the writer is telling a story. Narrative writing is to be found in novels and short stories, play, poems, histories, letters and reviews. Non-fictional narrative includes biography, autobiography and travel literature.

Language can be used in the telling of stories, the description and explanation of human actions and behaviours. This use of language attempts to give meaning to our experiences, to explore and make sense of what we do. It concerns itself with what happened, why it happened, how it happened. It involves character, motivation, situation, conflict.

The purpose of using the language of narration is to give a connected account of events, real or imagined.

Features of narrative writing:

  • A narrative has a setting, i.e. a place and a time.
  • It tells what happens or happened in a coherent and logical way, usually chronologically, with a definite beginning, middle and end.
  • It contains some comment or reflection. The writer adopts an angle or demonstrates a point of view towards what he or she is saying, even if this is not always stated directly, i.e. the language of narration usually has a definable tone [as in, tone of voice].
  • Narrative uses a broad range of styles. It can be very informal, even ‘stream of consciousness’, or extremely formal. Very often this depends on who is telling the story, and the subject matter. You should look out for the following techniques:

–          First-person, third-person, or omniscient narration

–          Careful creation of setting

–          Engaging characters

–          Descriptive language

–          Plot structure: opening -> complications -> tension -> atmosphere -> climax -> resolution

  • It makes use of the following techniques of descriptive writing:

–          Creating vivid images.

–          Appealing to our senses.

–          Using similes and metaphors.

–          Using contrast.

–          Using symbols.

–          Using adjectives and adverbs.

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