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Aspects of Narrative | Guide to Narrative: Narrative Concepts

Steve Campsall | Monday October 10, 2011



Guide Navigation

  1. Introduction
  2. A Critical Vocabulary
  3. Tips for Improving Exam Grades
  4. Guide to Narrative: Narrative Frameworks
  5. Guide to Narrative: Narrative Concepts
  6. Focalisation and Diegesis
  7. Mimesis
  8. Narrative Forms and Structures
  9. Help with Exam Revision
  10. Analysis of Cousin Kate, poem by Christina Rossetti

The ‘Storyworld’


A very useful idea to grasp is that of the ‘storyworld’. It’s an idea taken from the field of ‘narratology’ – the academic study of narrative.

It will help to think about it this way: when you tell a friend a personal story based on an incident from your own life, you will tell it using the forms and structures of narrative. This kind of narrative will be an anecdote, that is, a ‘personal account’ of an incident that actually happened – from real life, from the ‘real world’.

In the case of an anecdote or any non-fictional story such as found in a news report, the ‘storyworld’ will be a real place; and the storyteller will choose, order and decide how to tell the events.

In a fictional story, the ‘storyworld’ has to be imagined and constructed because, of course, it doesn’t exist. The easiest way for a writer do this is set his or her story in a ‘real’ place, London, for example. But the idea of a ‘storyworld’ is much more than just a sense of place: the storyworld includes the life that goes on in that place. The storyworld is from where the narrator will seem to be ‘selecting’ and ‘ordering’ what events to tell - a story that involves characters and action. When you tell a friend what happened to you at a weekend party, similarly, you will be selecting what events to ‘narrate’, but here from a ‘real’ storyworld.

The writer, via their constructed ‘narrator’, will have to create believable and interesting people (called, technically, characters and created by methods of characterisation) and places (‘setting’ or your teacher might refer to this as ‘scenes and places’) to build up the sense of a...

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