The ever-expanding network of written material is breathtaking. Throughout history, humans used writing to communicate with each other, exchange ideas and of course, tell stories. Whether it comes in the form of poetry, legends, myths or fiction, storytelling has deep roots in human culture.

The most well-known style of storytelling is called narrative writing, which has its unique narrative style and narrative structure to tell powerful stories.

But, what is narrative writing? How is it used? Why is it important?

Below, we’ll unpack the abundant world of narrative writing. In addition to showing some narrative examples, there will also be resources to show you how can use it in your work.

Narrative writing structure and style

As mentioned before, narrative writing is a form of written storytelling. However, it contains essential storytelling elements to make it complete. While fundamental, these elements ensure the author writes a compelling, memorable story that is rich in symbolism and depth.

Typically, narrative stories have characters, conflict, plot, setting, theme and an arc. First, let’s go over some of these elements:

Characters

Honestly, it is quite difficult to tell a story without characters.

For example, one of the best components of narrative writing is character development. Readers enjoy growing with and learning with characters as the story progresses. Often, characters drive the storytelling narrative.

Conflict

Of course, no good story would be complete without some type of conflict. Whether it be an internal conflict, such as a decision, or an external conflict, like a war, conflict builds tension. This element comes in many different forms but is an essential aspect of a great narrative.

Plot

Without a plot, your story would quite literally never end.

The plot is the whole point of your story. Within a story, there can be several subplots, which are more concise storylines. A great story should have a driving narrative that brings readers from point A to point B.

Setting

While setting is familiar for most, it is still an important storytelling element to bring readers into the story. Setting refers to the physical place in which the story takes place. While there can be multiple throughout the story, a great narrative has dense worlds that immerse the reader.

Theme

Conversely, the theme of a story conveys a deeper meaning or lesson. Often, there are many themes sprinkled throughout stories. Whether you mean to or not, your narrative writing brings out ideas and opinions about the world.

Narrative writing arc

Like the plot, the arc drives the direction of your story. However, it’s more of an outline for your story. Your arc lays out significant events in the story, such as plot twists or the climax of the story.

Ultimately, it gives you a clear image of the direction of your story.

The importance of narrative writing

The importance of narrative writing for developing writings is impossible to overstate, much like the importance of writing in general.

If you are a writer, sometimes work feels bogged down by repetitive writing tasks. Whether you specialize in blog writing or SEO writing, narrative writing unlocks your creative potential in a new way.

Moreover, it presents your thoughts about the world in a unique way. Regardless of the realism in the story, there are always relatable themes readers resonate with. 

Some of the most powerful pieces of art in human history are narrative writing examples. For example, 1984 by George Orwell brilliantly displays the danger of perversions of truth and authoritarian politics.

Of course, there are hundreds of narrative writing examples worth mentioning.

The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, Ulysses and others are feats of literature. Ultimately, narrative writing offers readers and writers alike an escape. A narrative style allows readers to envelop themselves in a rich world filled with significance.

How to use narrative writing

Now that you have the basic elements and examples of narrative writing, how about you put your skills to the test?

Narrative writing offers writers the chance to be creative, try out new writing techniques and get their work published.

However, you may want to start with some classes first. Every great writer benefits from the pursuit of knowledge and excellence, so there are some great online writing courses to get you there. 

But, there is a chance you are just getting into writing yourself. Narrative writing is a great start, but it’s important to get the basics down too. To get started, check out our guide on how to become a writer.