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Narrative is the telling of a story or communication of a chain of events, fictive or real. Aspects of narrative include how the story is told, the context in which it is presented, and the construction of the story.



Narrative, though most commonly associated with literature, has a place in law, science, medicine, psychology, art, and a variety of other fields. Concerned with the method by which events are communicated, narrative is applicable to the practices of writing, stylistic characteristics, and communication models at work in these different disciplines. While H. Porter Abbott adheres to a more strictly literary sense of the term, writing that narrative is the "representation of a story," the OED prefers a wider definition, "the practice...of narrating," which can apply to nearly any field. In addition, narrative encompasses semiotics and semantics and their involvement in and construction of a communication system.


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Critical Debates

The following is a selection of definitions from various texts that define "narrative"; these exhibit some differing and divergent opinions as far as what, exactly, constitutes "narrative."

"The representation (as product and process, object and act, structure and structuration) of one or more real or fictive events communicated by one, two, or several (more or less overt) narrators to one, two, or several (more or less overt) narratees" (Prince 58) - Gerald Prince, Dictionary of Narratology

"Commonly, the telling of a story. I prefer to call it the representation of a story" (Abbott 193) - H. Porter Abbott, The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative'

"A construct related in a suitable format (written, spoken, poetry, prose, images, song, theater, or dance) that describes a sequence of fictional or non-fictional events" - Wikipedia

"the practice or act of narrating; something to narrate" - The Oxford English Dictionary

Related Terms

Diegesis, Mimesis


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