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Creating Narratives (4/5): Style

This entry focuses on narrative style. It is the fourth entry of a five-part series.

Narrative style considers the form of the writing itself, whether this be a witness statement, a religious scripture or an instruction-based gamebook.


Narrative style should not be confused with narrative voice, narrative perspective or narrative structure. For definitions of these, see part one by clicking here.


 

Narrative style is an important aspect of any given text for writers to consider, affecting the text's mood, tone and ultimate reception.


There are various styles to choose from, and the selection is forever expanding with new forms of writing emerging with every time period.


Below is a list of common narrative styles.

Autobiographical


Writer recounts their own life story — or the ‘main aspects’ of it.


An autobiographical narrative can also be written by two or more people — e.g. two lovers recounting how they met, or several businesspeople recounting how they founded their own charity, etc.


See Also: Biographical and Memoir.

Biographical


Writer intends to recount the life story of another individual (usually a celebrity, icon or important historical figure) or the origin story of a particular group of people, notably a company, political party or religious group.


See Also: Autobiographical and Memoir.

Epic

A lengthy, action-filled text focusing on the deeds, exploits and ultimate flaws of a legendary figure, such as a hero/-ine, or on the past histories of a nation.


These are often Ancient texts and enriched with legend, drama, con-/quests and battles, deaths, and exceptional reward for great effort (such as deification or investiture). They also usually feature many fundamental sociocultural beliefs.

Epistolary


Story is communicated through documents — mostly letters, but this can also be diary entries, newspaper clippings, witness statements, testimonials, written advertisements, emails, etc.


There are three classifications of epistolary narrative:

Monologic: presents the letters of one person.

Dialogic presents the letters of two people.

Polylogic: presents the letters of several people.


NB: The letters presented in dialogic and polylogic epistolary narratives can be related correspondences or separate texts altogether.



Fairy Tale


Fairy tales are specifically oral stories passed down through generations, cultures and communities. They are often characterised by speaking, anthropomorphised animals and stock characters –– such as witches, peasants and the monarchy –– and contain some sort of moral teaching. They also usually begin with a signature opening, such as ‘There once was/were…’ or ‘Once upon a time…’.


Traditionally, they have no assigned author, or their author has been forgotten over time, and the tales can be spoken by anyone; however, since the compilation of German fairy tales by Brothers Grimm and the film adaptations of popular fairy tales by Walt Disney, authored fairytales are now not uncommon.


See Also: Myth and Legend.



Flash Fiction


An exceptionally short text that still provides the reader with a sufficient amount of character, action and plot. Usually 500 words or less.



Gamebook


A gamebook uses a mixture of description and instruction to guide the reader through a narrative over which they have almost complete control.


Gamebooks present readers with two or more choices which can drastically alter the direction of the narrative, facilitating the reader's active participation in the story.


Usually, readers are required to turn to a specific page to follow through with their decisions, and to endure some kind of quest or a journey.

Historical Fiction


A text focusing on the real or imagined people of a specific time period of the near or distant past. A period drama, for instance.



Legend


An old and long story of an important figure or nation, one which often shapes its culture of origin in a fundamental way.


Legends, like fairytales, rarely have authors, and they are assumed to be a mixture of fiction and fact, with emphasis on the latter.


See Also: Fairy Tale and Myth.


Memoir

Similar to the autobiographical narrative, the memoir writer intends to recount a limited amount of their own personal history, the serial events of which are often united by certain similarities or by overarching themes — e.g. a doctor writing personal diary entries about her patients, a father-to-be recording details of his partner’s pregnancy.


See Also: Autobiographical and Biographical.



Myth


A story about the distant past, often shaping its culture of origin in a fundamental way, assumed to be heavily fiction and usually including mystical, fantastical or supernatural elements, such as gods, hybrid creatures and monsters. Much like fairytales and legends, myths traditionally have no author.


See Also: Fairy Tale and Legend.



News


Writer reports on real – chiefly recent – events, often including a strong humanisation of the individuals involved and a dramatisation of events. Narrators are usually completely removed from the text.


See Also: Realistic Fiction.


Novel


A long piece of fictional work of any kind.


See also: Novella and Short Story.



Novella


A lengthy piece of fictional work of any kind, longer than a short story but exceptionally shorter than a novel.


See also: Novel and Short Story.


Play


A text of any length with a focus on dialogue and character action, intended for the stage. Characters and events presented may be completely fictional or based upon real or historical figures/happenings.


See also: Screenplay and Teleplay.



Poetic


The writer uses poetic verse as opposed to prose, meaning that the text retains its structure and form however it is printed or resized. This usually involves rhyming schemes but does not have to.



Realistic Fiction


A text comprising one or several stories that seem feasible and realisable, based upon scientific fact or nature and twisting these into a fictional story.


See also: News.



Screenplay


A text of any length, but usually between 95-125 pages long, with a focus on dialogue and character action, intended to be produced as a motion picture and exhibited on screen. Characters and events presented may be completely fictional or based upon real or historical figures/happenings.


See also: Play and Teleplay.

Short Story


A rather short text with detailed descriptions of character, action and event, ranging from 1,000–10,000 words. Can be completely fictional or based upon fact.


See also: Novel and Novella.

Teleplay


A compilation of episodic texts intended to be produced as a teleseries. Characters and events presented may be completely fictional or based upon real or historical figures/happenings.


See also: Play and Screenplay.


 

Recommended Research: Surrealist Automatic Writing, and Futurist Literature.


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