Narrative

A narrative is some kind of retelling, often in words (though it is possible to mime a story), of something that happened (a story). The narrative is not the story itself but rather the telling of the story -- which is why it is so often used in phrases such as "written narrative," "oral narrative," etc. While a story just is a sequence of events, a narrative recounts those events, perhaps leaving some occurrences out because they are from some perspective insignificant, and perhaps emphasizing others. In a series of events, a car crash takes a split second. A narrative account, however, might be almost entirely about the crash itself and the few seconds leading up to it. Narratives thus shape history (the series of events, the story of what happened).


NARRATION, NARRATIVE: Narration is the act of telling a sequence of events, often in chronological order. Alternatively, the term refers to any story, whether in prose or verse, involving events, characters, and what the characters say and do. A narrative is likewise the story or account itself. Some narrations are reportorial and historical, such as biographies, autobiographies, news stories, and historical accounts. In narrative fiction common to literature, the narrative is usually creative and imaginative rather than strictly factual, as evidenced in fairy tales, legends, novels, novelettes, short stories, and so on. However, the fact that a fictional narrative is an imaginary construct does not necessarily mean it isn't concerned with imparting some sort of truth to the reader, as evidenced in exemplafablesanecdotes, and other sorts of narrative. The narrative can begin ab ovo (from the start and work its way to the conclusion), or it can begin in medias res (in the middle of the action, then recount earlier events by the character's dialogue, memories, or flashbacks). 

 

NARRATOR: The "voice" that speaks or tells a story. Some stories are written in a first-person point of view, in which the narrator's voice is that of the point-of-view character. For instance, in The Adventures of Huck Finn, the narrator's voice is the voice of the main character, Huck Finn. It is clear that the historical author, Mark Twain, is creating a fictional voice to be the narrator and tell the story--complete with incorrect grammar, colloquialisms, and youthful perspective. In other stories, such as those told in the third-person point of view, scholars use the term narrator to describe the authorial voice set forth, the voice "telling the story to us." For instance, Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist presents a narrative in which the storyteller stands outside the action described. He is not a character who interacts with other characters in terms of plot. However, this fictionalized storyteller occasionally intrudes upon the story to offer commentary to the reader, make suggestions, or render a judgment about what takes place in the tale. It is tempting to equate the words and sentiments of such a narrator with the opinions of the historical author himself. However, it is often more useful to separate this authorial voice from the voice of the historical author.


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