CONSIDER YOUR NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE IN TELLING YOUR STORY

NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE

A narrative technique is any of several methods the creator of a narrative uses to convey his message to his readers. It is a strategy used in making a narrative to relay information to the audience and, particularly, to ‘develop’ the narrative, usually in order to make it more complete, complicated, or interesting. Narrative techniques provide deeper meaning for the reader and help the reader use imagination to visualize situations. Narrative techniques are the methods that authors use to tell their stories. When analyzing a novel, it is important to identify these techniques in order to shed light on the ways in which they function in the story.  They are the methods that writers use to give certain artistic and emotional effects to a story. Narrative point of view or narrative perspective describes the position of the narrator, that is, the character of the story teller, in relation to the story being told.  It can be thought of as a camera mounted on the narrator’s shoulder that can look back inside the narrator’s mind.

In a first-person narrative, the story is revealed through a narrator who is also a character within the story, so that the narrator reveals the plot by referring to this viewpoint character with forms of “I” or when plural, “we”. Often, the first-person narrative is used in a way to directly convey the deeply internal, otherwise unspoken thoughts of the narrator. Frequently, the narrator is the protagonist whose inner thoughts are expressed to the readers, even if not to any of the other characters.  This viewpoint character takes action, makes judgments and expresses opinions, thereby not allowing the reader to comprehend the other characters’ thoughts, feelings or perceptions as much as the narrator’s own. The reader becomes aware of events and characters of the story through the narrator’s views and knowledge. In some cases, the narrator gives and withholds information based on their experience. In autobiographical fiction, the first person narrator is the character of the author (with varying degree of historical accuracy). The narrator is still distinct from the author and must behave like any other character and any other first person narrator.

According to Paul Ricoeur (1990), third-person narration provides the greatest flexibility to the author and thus is the most commonly used narrative mode in literature. In third-person narrative mode, each and every character is referred to by the narrator as “he”, “she”, ‘it”, or “they”. In third-person narrative, it is clear that the narrator is an unspecified entity or uninvolved person who conveys the story and is not a character of any kind within the story. The third-person modes are usually categorized along two axes. The first is the subjectivity/objectivity axes, with the third person subjective narration describing one or more character’s feelings and thoughts, and the third-person objective narration not describing feelings or thoughts of any character. The second axis is the omniscient/limited axis, a distinction that refers to the knowledge available to the narrator. A third person omniscient narrator has knowledge of all times, people, places and events, including all characters’ thoughts; a limited narrator, in contrast, may know absolutely everything about a single character and every piece of knowledge in that character’s mind, but the narrator’s knowledge is “limited” to that character –that is, the narrator cannot describe things unknown to the focal character.

Dialogue is another technique that authors use to tell their stories. Dialogue is direct speech between two characters. Authors often signify dialogue with quotation marks and dialogue tag like “he said” or “she whispered”. Through dialogue, authors create scenes in which characters speak to one another and voice their thoughts and feelings.

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