Hello guys how are you? I hope you guys are doing great in your academics and prospering towards your goals. In today’s article you will be going to read about the narrative conventions and why are they important. Narrative conventions are the techniques used by the writers to create meaning in a story. There are various things that come under narrative writing such as Characters, plot development, settings, a point of view, plot devices, etc. Let’s look below to understand narrative conventions in detail.
Narrative conventions are of various types, and they have sub parts also. In this blog, you will be going to read about primary narrative conventions and secondary narrative conventions. Primary narrative conventions are those who make a direct impact over the literary text. Whereas, the secondary narrative conventions are also impactful but not throughout the text.
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Primary narrative conventions in a work of literature
There are two types of settings.
- Time setting is a time period in which the story takes place. Time setting could be any time of the day, season, or time period in history — for example, time period of industrial revolution, or world war II.
- A place setting is a place where the story is set. Writers when writing a story use locations to portray the complete story. A place could be as big as any country, planet or as small as a room, school or Kitchen.
Settings are of vital importance and have a crucial influence over the story, characters, themes and in over all narrative of the story. The setting affects all other narrative conventions of a specific story. Settings are like the backbone of a story; it holds all the elements together and portrays in a manner which could be overwhelming for the readers. A setting of a story binds the reader with the story.
Plot development of a story has various stages:
Exposition or Orientation
This is the first stage in the narrative. This stage comes in the opening of the story. Here the reader gets introduced with various characters, different settings and hint about the events that are about to come.
This is the second stage in the narrative structure. In this stage of the narrative, tension rises. This is the stage when a conflict occurs in a smooth running story. Complication results in the disturbance of the status quo.
The third stage of any narrative line is the climax. The climax is the turning point which brings a change or new element in the story. The climax can bring good or bad for the protagonist.
This stage comes right after the climax of the story. This stage leads the narrative structure towards the conclusion. Falling tension discloses and loosens the conflict between protagonist and antagonist.
This is the last stage and also called as conclusion of the narrative. In this part of the story, everything gets sums up. All questions in the story are answered in this stage, and it takes the reader to the satisfactory ending. Sometimes the author doesn’t resolve the issues as he wants the reader to think over them even after completing the narrative.
It is the struggle or fight between two or more than two characters in a narrative work. Conflicts are of different types; let’s see the different types of conflicts below.
Man against man conflict
In this type of conflict two characters in the story are having a feeling of hatred for each other. This type of conflict can be direct or subtle in nature. Direct conflict can be portrayed through fights and duels, where as indirect conflict is described through characters intentions for other characters.
Man against society
This type of conflict arises in the text when the protagonist stands against the man made wrong practices. For example fight against slavery, white dominance over blacks and many more. In literary text, one can find various examples of man against the society conflicts. These conflicts occur when characters are forced to adhere to moral choices or are not happy with societal norms.
Man against nature
Such conflict occurs when a man is not able to achieve his/her wishes due to natural obstructions. For example, Odysseus journey from Troy to Ithaca was obstructed by natural forces.
Man against himself
This conflict comes in the category of internal conflict. Here, a character has to fight with his own weaknesses or has to choose between good or bad. Such conflicts create a more dramatic plot in the story along with the action.
One can find the themes of the novel easily by understanding the types of conflicts.
Point of view
There are three types of point of views of a narrative structure, namely first person, second person, and third person. Let’s read about them in a detailed manner.
In this type of narrative, the story is through the eyes of the protagonist of the story. This helps the reader in a better understanding of the protagonist’s experiences, feelings, and inner desires. But in this reader only get the information about those things which the only protagonist know and see. In this type of narration, writers usually use ‘I’ or ‘me’ and ‘we’ or ‘us.’
In second person narration story is told by a narrator. The narrator addresses the reader in this type of narration. Here writer often uses ‘You’ as the main pronoun.
Here in this narrator is not playing any character in the story but a completely different entity. Here the narrator is an omniscient personality who is everywhere and knows everything. He has a complete understanding of each character and time, places and events which are happening and going to happen in the future in the story. You can see third person narration with the use of ‘they,’ ‘he,’ ‘she,’ and them.
A character in a story can be defined and described with various terms. But you will often find two most common terms that are: The protagonist and the Antagonist. Let’s read about these two in an elaborative manner.
Protagonist is the hero of the story; he is a central character around whom the whole story revolves. Protagonists make various decisions throughout the plot and later face the consequences of those decisions. You often found protagonist in difficult situations. One can relate himself/herself with the protagonist in many situations.
Antagonist is a villain in the story. He always opposes the protagonist. One can say antagonist is completely the opposite personality of Protagonist and he always engaged in bringing the evil in the plot.
Imagery is the use of vivid or metaphorical language to describe a scene, action or person. The use of imagery is to create an image in the reader’s mind when he/she is reading.
Sensory imagery provoke the senses of a reader : Sight, smell, taste, hearing, and the touch.
In figurative language phrase or sentence has a different meaning from the literal sense. A writer uses such language for showing comparison or for putting emphasis on something. Figurative language uses poetic devices such as simile, metaphor, personification, and hyperbole. In simile, two things are compared with the use of ‘Like’ or ‘as.’ In Metaphor, two things are compared in a direct way. Personification writer gives a non human thing a human characteristic. Hyperbole is the over exaggeration to make a point in the text.
Descriptive writing is one of the best things to increase audience engagement in the text. Such writing invokes audiences’ emotions. It also provides various meaning to the text which is open to interpretation. Such text results in the creation of a perception of the reader.
Themes, symbols, and motifs
A theme is the main subject on which the whole story revolves around. A theme could be summed up in a short like relationship theme, cultural difference theme the loss of innocence, nature of humans, etc.
Symbol is a representation of place, person or any object which has a meaning but also represents another meaning also. Symbols allow the reader to think about the story with a different perception. They also help in showing the themes of the literary text.
A recurring element in the story that has symbolic significance.
Characterization is a way through which the writer create a bond between the reader and the characters.
Two types of characterization are:
- Direct Characterization: This is when the writer openly tells about the character’s personality to the readers.
- Indirect characterization: here what a writer does is, he provides character information to the reader and then the reader has to make his/her own perception about the personality of the character.
There are ways through which characters in a plot are constructed for. Those ways are:
Character’s looks tell a lot of things about him/her. One can judge the personality, attitude, ad preferences of the character with the way his/her looks are described in a literary text. Clothing, hairstyle, walking style and posture can be interpreted as symbols which may have hidden meanings.
Character’s behavior help in knowing his true identity in a story. His reaction in different situation tells a lot about personality.
Character’s dialogues portray the society in which the story was written. What the character says also portray their values and attitudes, emotions, culture, race, and level of education.
Accounts of a character’s thoughts and feelings are particularly useful in determining their private beliefs, insecurities, and fears.
Relationships & interactions
A character’s personality is often brought out through the connections that they have with other characters.
Above mentioned narrative conventions are the primary narrative conventions. They are important to understanding to get a better idea about the author’s mindset and literary text. Now there are few more Narrative conventions which come under the secondary category. Let’s have a look at them to learn more about them.
Secondary narrative conventions of a literary text
Let’s have a look at secondary narrative conventions which are also present in a literary text and may have an impact over reader’s psyche.
The mood is the atmosphere or feeling in a story, which is often created through the use of descriptive language and imagery. For example, a story might create a somber, serious, exhilarating or menacing mood/atmosphere.
Tone represents the manner in which voice is delivered in a story. Tone defines whether the mood is angry, friendly or persuasive of the characters. A tone of a specific story is also related to how the narrator presented the story. Point of view has a lot to do with tone. If the story is from the third person point of view, then you will find neutral narration. Whereas in first person narration, you will find what the character is feeling without understanding the perceptions of other characters. Therefore one can understand how much the tone has a role in any form of literary text.
Just like the voice of the author, a literary text also contains various voices. These voices are the positions, ideas, perspectives, and views of all or individual characters. Understanding and recognizing various voices in a story is very much important. This will certainly help the reader to understand the mindset of the writer. This will shape the reader’s response to the text. Voices of characters promote different values, attitudes, perspectives.
Character development is very important if a writer wants the reader’s connectivity. Character development put life in the story. If you are writing action packed story, but characters do not have spark, then a story will become dull, and the reader will lose interest. To develop your character, there should be Hamartia, which will lead to the downfall of the hero. This will create a story more enticing and appeals the reader
Coming to the conclusion of this blog I would like to have a recall of things which we have discussed in this blog the first section of this blog is all about primary narrative conventions. In which you can see that these conventions can be found throughout the story and they take the story forward towards the climax. Secondary narrative conventions do make an impact on the story but come at a few points in the story.
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