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2023-09-27 14:33:15

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Narrative Conventions

Hey! Are you a vivid reader? A writer? Or a student of literature? If yes, then this blog is for you. Okay, well, not just for you but you need it the most. Don't you? And you alone tend to appreciate this. Has it so happened with you that while reading a book you wondered that there is something about this book or article that sets it apart from others of the same genre? No, we are not talking about stories here. The peculiar aspects which we as laymen are not able to discern but very much can feel and appreciate. Yeah, that thing about writings which touches your heart straight away and creates different emotions is called a narrative convention. Want to know more? Read along.

Writing is an art and a skill, just like every other art and skill, it has certain peculiarities and intricacies which are imbibed in it irrespective of the writer being aware of it. The narrative conventions are those attributes of the literary works which are noticed and identified by literature enthusiasts to know how to critically analyse a piece of writing. So let's see what all comes within the ambit of narrative convention.

What Is The Narrative Convention?

The narrative is a very fundamental aspect of thinking. When we think we think in terms of a narrative. When we read or write we do it in a narrative form. The background in which our thinking, writing or reading is set, the plot around which it revolves, the main characters of the plot and so on. These are all the elements of narration and are quintessential to the art of writing and also called the narrative convention.

Why Is Narrative Important?

Humans love to be entertained and pass on the information and what is the oldest way of doing so? The grandma's loved to tell stories. We tell stories orally or in writing or even the drama series or movies are adaptations of stories only. Everything that we convey, be that the ideas, information or values, we do it through narration. Narration, however, is not one-way communication. Narration instils the emotions of awe, fear, wonder, love etc. in its audience through different narrative conventions.

But hey! It is not a technical literary device which only high profile writers or filmmakers use. It is wider and more common than that. See, a teacher explaining something to the class is also narration and her communication knowingly or unknowingly has certain narrative conventions in it. We create conventions of a narrative to make things interesting and enter in and out of contexts.

So What Are The Types Of The Narrative Convention?

In this blog, you will understand the types of narrative convention, its components with examples and how to distinguish one component from the other. The literary works use primary narration and secondary narration. The primary narration is the narration that impacts the literary text directly and significantly. The secondary narration on the other hand does not affect the literary work directly and does not have an impact throughout the text.

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primary and secondary narration

List of narrative conventions

Primary and secondary narration have different narrative conventions

  1. Plot
  2. Conflict
  3. Setting
  4. Point of view
  5. Characters
  6. Themes, motifs etc.
  7. Characterisation

The secondary ones are-

  1. Mood
  2. Tone
  3. Voice
  4. Character development

So how do you define the plot? The plot is the backdrop in which the whole story or narration is set. In simple words, the plot is a sequence of events that unfolds and has a cause and effect relationship. E.g., in the book, 'Pride and prejudice', the whole story revolved around the plot of these sisters. Their life stories combined was the plot of the story.

Next important attribute of narration is conflict. Conflict is that aspect of the story that keeps the audience hooked. You must have come across such revelation while reading a book or short story which signified some twist in the plot, it may be by way of introduction of the antagonist or by way of some event that disrupts the plot a bit. E.g., in the book, 'Pride and prejudice', the twist or conflict was the marriage proposals and rejections etc.

The setting is another fascinating component of narration. It takes you to the world in which that novel is set in. E.g., the 'Pride and Prejudice' novel takes you to the world of 1860s and times of civil war in America. The setting helps you transcend the time barrier by providing you with an insight into the period in which the novel is set in.

Characters are the people who set the novel in motion. They are the subjects of the novel. The novel captures whatever happens to them and with them. They are the centre of the universe around which the novel rotates.

The theme is the central idea of narration. It can either be left to the readers to discern by themselves or the novel can mention the theme itself. The theme can generally be love, betrayal, politics etc. The pride and prejudice for example are revolving around the theme of love with family, amongst sisters and with the protagonist.

The characterisation is another important component of narration which brings the characters to life. The portrayal of a character is done through actions, appearances, words they speak, the role they play in certain situations etc. The characterisation is what differentiates characters from one another.

The Sub-Aspects Of Narration

Haven't you at times while reading felt certain emotions? Like while reading about the love story of the protagonists you feel joy and love? When they are apart you can feel sadness, anxiousness etc. That is the mood of the story that makes you feel these emotions.


The mood is one of the sub aspects of narration which invokes certain feelings in the reader. The mood of the novel may create many emotions like anger, joy, love, affection etc. The mood is the result of all the above mentioned primary components of narration. E.g. Jane Eyre will put you in a pensive mood while The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin will put you in a joyous mood.


The tone is yet something that is closely related to the mood. Mood, however, is the general atmosphere created by the author and is left up to the readers while tone signifies the personal viewpoint of the author himself which is conveyed by way of sentence structure, choice of words etc. Tone and mood are interconnected but not synonyms. E.g. in a horror novel, the novel may be describing a scene of the party and the characters may be talking in a joyous tone but given the circumstances and atmosphere and the broader picture of the novel, the reader may pick up a sinister vibe instead of a joyous one.


Voice is the style of narration used by the author. The voice of an author however is different from the voice of a character. While reading different stories you feel like someone is guiding you about the characters and their lives. This guiding factor is the voice of the author. This runs throughout the story like a thread. Mark Twain's novels are known for sarcasm while Bronte sisters' novels have a gloom surrounding the novel.

Character Development

Character development and characterisation are quite similar with the only difference that character development is the progression of a character in a story while characterisation is the actual scenes and actions of the character that contribute to character development.

E.g. in Jane Eyre novel, the protagonists; character develops from a meek, confused and sad girl into a strong and confident woman. This is character development. But the particular scenes in the story that show the transformation is the characterisation.


Let us see what we have taken away from this blog post. Let us recall and point out for the readers.

  1. Narratives are everywhere. It is a synthesis of characters, plots and places.
  2. The reader must have been able to understand every story is intertwined by certain smaller segments and literary devices that together make up the bigger picture.
  3. The bigger aspects like the plot, the conflict, the characters etc. set the story in motion while the secondary aspects like mood, tone, voice etc. allow the readers to feel and get absorbed.
  4. Together both of the primary and secondary aspects help us to appreciate a story.

Hmmm. So it seems reading a story isn't as easy and simple as we had thought. If you want to know more interesting stuff like these from our experts then take our essay help online. We provide help in writing assignments or our experts may themselves write for you for future reference to create a masterpiece of an essay.

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About Author

Nick is a multi-faceted individual with diverse interests. I love teaching young students through coaching or writing who always gathered praise for a sharp calculative mind. I own a positive outlook towards life and also give motivational speeches for young kids and college students.

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