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Why Narrative Convention Is Important In Literary And Narrative Works

UserMark time28 December,2020

Generally, when a writer develops a story, he/she follows specific techniques to present interest to the write-up. Narrative conventions are those techniques used to impart sense to a story. Keeping in mind the need for narrative convention and their importance, today in this write-up, we are going to dive deep into the techniques of it.

Narrative Conventions

1. What are narrative conventions?

To answer the fundamental question, "What are narrative conventions?" one can't expect a straightforward answer. As mentioned earlier, these are techniques used to impart meaning to a story. So, various aspects come under the narrative convention, such as characters, plot development, settings, point of view, plot devices, etc.

2. List of narrative conventions.

If one talks about the list of narrative conventions, then there are two broad categories under which it is divided.

a) Primary narrative conventions: -Primary narrative conventions are those that make a direct impact throughout the literary work.

b) Secondary narrative conventions: -On the contrary, secondary narrative convention techniques do not impact the work directly. They are subtle but are equally important.

3. Narrative conventions examples

For Primary narrative conventions, Setting, Plot Development, Conflict, Themes, Characters, Point of view, Characterisation can be considered as narrative convention examples.

While for secondary narrative conventions, Character Development, Mood, Tone and Voice are considered as examples of narrative conventions.

4. Narrative techniques and conventions

Narrative techniques and conventions are an essential aspect of all literary and narrative work. In this section, we will discuss and cover all the elements of both primary and secondary narrative conventions.

Primary Narrative Convention

Under this section of primary narrative convention techniques, we will discuss the various aspects of primary narrative convention and its importance.


The primary technique under the primary convention is setting. The setting is further classified under two groups; Time and place.

Time setting by the name suggests the period in which the story takes place, and place setting is the place where the story has been set. These come under the aspects of a writer's props as both time and place are essential aspects of story-telling.

Plot Development

Another crucial technique under the primary convention is plot development. It is the backbone of a story. The various stages under plot development include-

  • Exposition: This is the beginning stage of the narrative. The exposition part comes at the very beginning of the story as it sets up the protagonist, antagonist, along with various other characters.
  • Complication: The second or the middle stage is called difficulty. In this stage, a conflict occurs in a smooth running story.
  • Climax: The third stage is the climax which brings a change or a new element into the story.
  • Tension: The stage following the climax is called tension. It leads the narrative towards the conclusion. This stage discloses the conflict between the protagonist and antagonist.
  • Conclusion: The last stage is known as a conclusion or denouement; it sumps up the story in its entirety. Although most of the times, the writer answers all the questions of the reader, sometimes the writer may want to have an open ending to leave the readers guessing.


Conflict is the struggle or feud between two or more characters in a narrative work. Conflicts are of various types, some of them are;

  • Man against man conflict: In this kind of conflict, two or more characters have a feeling of hatred and disgust for each other. This conflict can be direct or subtle. Direct conflict can be portrayed through fights and subtle ones through character intentions.
  • Man against society: This kind of conflict is mainly portrayed when a man rises against the human-made malpractices. Some examples are, fight against slavery and dowry.
  • Man against nature: Conflict against nature arises when a man is unable to achieve their wishes due to natural obstructions.
  • Man against himself: This is a case of internal conflict as the character has to fight with his weaknesses.

Point of view

Point of view is divided into three categories, namely first, second and third-person point of views.

  • First Person: The first person of the narrative tells the story from the perspective of the protagonist of the story. This, in turn, helps the reader understand the experience, feeling and nature of the protagonist in a better manner.
  • Second Person: In the second-person point of view, the story is shared from the narrator's point of view.
  • Third Person: Third person point of view is cited as the most complicated point of view. Here the narrator is not playing any character but knows everything.


A story has a lot of characters present in it. Some tend to portray good qualities inside them, while others portray some bad ones.

  • The protagonist: In layman's term, the hero of the story is termed as the protagonist. The protagonist is the central character of any story.
  • The antagonist: Otherwise known as the villain, the antagonist always opposes the protagonist.

Theme and symbols

A theme is considered as the main subject on what the whole story revolves around. Symbols are generally used to imply some hidden meanings or subtle character traits indirectly.

Secondary Narrative Convention

The secondary narrative convention techniques include;

  • Mood

The mood or the atmosphere sets the kind of story the writer wants to tell. For example, an adventurous tale will have a bright setting, while a dark one will have a gloomy mood.

  • Tone

The tone represents how the voice is delivered in a story. The tone of the story defines whether the mood is angry or friendly.

  • Voice

Voice of a character represents the perspectives, ideas, positions and views of all individual characters. Understanding the voice of a story helps the reader to understand the mindset of the writer.

  • Character Development

Character development is a focal point if a writer wants the reader's full attention and connectivity with the story.

Character development puts life into the story, and without it, no story is complete. A tale with low character development will never grab the eyeballs of the readers.

As discussed in this blog, narrative convention and techniques play a vital role in shaping a story from scratch. Each aspect of story-telling involves different elements of narrative designs and patterns.

So, for a writer, it is indispensable to take note of all the aspects in detail, and for readers, they must have an idea or a brief overview of all the elements of narrative conventions. It is as essential a secret to do well in the class, along with comprehension tests and exams for the student-writers.

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