This entry focuses on narrative structure. It is the fifth entry of a five-part series.
Narrative structure considers the order in which information is presented –– whether or not this be in chronological order, for example.
Narrative structure should not be confused with narrative voice, narrative perspective or narrative style. For definitions of these, see part one by clicking here.
Below is a list of various common narrative structures.
Information is presented in chronological order, from the beginning to the middle to the end.
Reverse Chronology Narrative
Information is presented backwards; we start at the end and are presented information in reverse order until we arrive at the beginning.
Information is presented in a fragmented, achronological order. For example, we may start at the end of a story, then go to the beginning, then finish in the middle.
Interactive narratives require decisions from the readers in order to progress, perhaps drastically altering the direction of the narrative and leading to different consequences/outcomes for the reader. This narrative, then, can have several alternate endings and alternate plots.
This is mostly in gamebooks, which use 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.
Similar to the interactive narrative, interactive narration requires the reader to make decisions in order to advance the narrative. However, the difference here is that there is only one set narrative and a more limited pre-determined set of choices that a reader can make in order to advance the narrative.
A good example of this is in certain videogames wherein there are a set number of levels to complete to advance the story of the game, but the advancement of the game depends on the player's ability to complete set missions, reach set objectives and complete set tasks; otherwise, the player is stuck on that level forever until such goals are met.
This concludes this five-part series on creating narratives.
The following are links to look back over the entries in this series:
For part one of this series, an introduction, click here.
For part two, on narrative voice, click here.
For part three, on narrative perspective, click here.
For part four, on narrative style, click here.