What’s Narrative Writing? Why is it Important?

The purpose of our site is to raise awareness of non-novel narrative literature. How can we do that without putting a box around the idea of narrative?

Simply put, narrative writing is literature that tells a story. It is not a list of facts or a set of disparate, unrelated actions; narrative writing should loosely follow a plot, incorporating characters and conflict throughout the story. As we’ve mentioned, narrative writing is often categorized as fiction. However, nonfiction writing can—and should—incorporate elements of narrative writing; the genre can have characters (including protagonists and antagonists), tell a story, include conflict, and rely on setting.

Now, think about all the media you consume. Television, film, news, books—anything. Think of a specific example. Did it tell a story?

If you’re anything like us, the first example you generated did, in fact, have a story. This is because narrative makes the content memorable. If you can trace characters or objects through a plot, you can imagine and put them in different situations. This provides a stronger memory hook than, for example, a list of numbers and statistics. Which would you rather read: A list of statistics on unemployment and homelessness or an article detailing a day in the life of a homeless individual?

This ability to force a memory is part of the reason why narrative writing is so powerful. By introducing a variety of situations, the observer can better understand the subject content. Narrative can catalyze empathy and foster cultural literacy, providing an essential teaching tool for readers around the world. Whether you’re reading a novel or a New Yorker article, the inclusion of a narrative seeks to humanize the subject and introduce complexities indescribably by non-narrative writing.

On-board with this whole “narrative writing” thing yet? We thought so.


Categories: General