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Aspects of Narrative | Narrative Forms and Structures

Steve Campsall | Sunday October 09, 2011

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Guide Navigation

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

  • Stories have been told since time immemorial and have, over that time, developed in very conventional ways, that is, they have a particular and describable set of narrative conventions. A ‘convention’ is no more than a common way of doing something – but, importantly, because it is the way something is always done, it’s often ‘transparent’ to the person doing it. It just seems ‘normal’ or ‘common sense’ to do it that way. But a convention is never ‘normal’, or ‘common sense’.
    • The conventions that have developed for story-telling affect two main aspects: their form and their structure.
  • These conventions arose because storytellers found that listeners or readers find certain forms and structures more engaging and thus more entertaining: the forms and structures of narrative are those that readers want to read about or hear. Why? All that probably can be said is that readers, for some psychological reason, enjoy ‘knowing about’ (certain) other people and events – even when the people and events are imaginary yet made to seem real and relatable to. We must find this kind of thing entertaining – a distraction from the cares of the day. Narrative has, in fact, as a listen to any news bulletin will reveal, become the preferred way of learning about the real world and its peoples – almost the only effective way that will hold the attention of a large range of listeners or readers for long enough for the facts and details to be communicated. Thus even the so-called non-fictional world of TV...

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