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  • 16 Dec 2019

This article will talk about the importance of narrative conventions. The conventions are the techniques used by the writers to impart meaning to a story. Characters, plot development, settings, a point of view, plot devices, etc. together form a narrative.

Narrative conventions also have subparts. Primary narrative conventions are responsible for making a direct impact on the literary text. Whereas, the secondary narrative conventions also impact strongly but not throughout the text.

Primary narrative conventions


These are of 2 types-

  • Time setting- It is an era in which the story takes place. It could be any time of the day, season, or period in history.
  • A place setting- It is a landscape in which the story is set. A place could be a country, planet, a room, school or Kitchen.

Settings hold vital importance and have a crucial influence over the story, characters, and themes and in the overall narrative of the story. The backbone of the narrative, the setting affects all other narrative conventions by holding all the elements together. 

Plot development

Exposition/ Orientation

This primary stage of the narrative opens the story. It introduces the reader with various characters, different settings, etc.


In the second stage of the narrative, tension rises. Here conflict occurs in a smooth running story. Complications cause the disturbance of the status quo.


It is the turning point that brings a new element in the story. The climax can be positive or negative for the protagonist.

Point of view

First Person

In this, the story is seen through the spectacle of the protagonist of the story. This helps the reader gain insights into the protagonist’s experiences, feelings, and inner desires. 

Second Person

The narrator becomes the speaker here. The narrator directly addresses the reader in this story by referring to them as ‘You’.

Third Person

Here the narrator is not playing any character in the story but a completely different & omniscient entity. They can be seen with the use of ‘they,’ ‘he,’ ‘she,’ and them.

Main characters

The protagonist

Hero of the story, the central character around whom the whole story revolves. You often find the protagonist in conflicts. He is the most relatable character in many situations.


The villain in the story, he always opposes the protagonist. He is always engaged in bringing the evil in the plot.

Descriptive Language


Imagery creates an image in the reader’s mind when he/she is reading. It is the use of vivid or metaphorical language to describe a scene, action or person.

Sensory Imagery

Sensory imagery heightens the senses of a reader: Sight, taste, smell, hearing, and touch.

Figurative language

Here phrases or sentences do not have a similar meaning to the literal sense. A writer uses it for showing comparison or for emphasizing something. It uses poetic devices such as simile, personification, metaphor, and hyperbole. In a simile, the comparison is done with the use of ‘Like’ or ‘as.’ In Metaphor, two things are compared directly. Personification writer imparts a non-human thing a human characteristic. Hyperbole over exaggerates to make a point in the text. 

Descriptive writing

It is a writing that invokes audiences’ emotions. It also opens the text to interpretation. It creates the perception of the reader.

Themes, motifs & symbols


A theme is the main subject tying the whole story. A theme could anything like relationship theme, cultural difference theme the loss of innocence, nature of humans, etc.


It is a recurring element in the story with a symbolic significance.


A representation of place, person or any object which has a meaning. Symbols help in showing the themes of the literary text and creating readers’ perceptions.


It creates a bond between the reader and the characters.

  1. Direct Characterization: In this, the writer openly and factually tells about the character’s personality to the readers.
  1. Indirect characterization: The writer provides character information to the reader and then allows him to make his/her perception of the personality of the character.

It can be done by-


Character’s looks described in literary texts help in judging his personality, attitude, ad preferences. Clothing, hairstyle, walking style, posture, etc. can be interpreted as symbols with hidden meanings.


It helps in knowing his true identity in a story. The protagonist’s reaction in different situation tells a lot about his/her personality.


Character’s dialogues exhibit the society in which the story was written. It also portrays a person’s values and attitudes, emotions, culture, race, and level of education. 

Relationships & interactions

Connections that a person has with other characters determine their personalities.

Secondary narrative conventions of a literary text


The mood is the atmosphere or feeling in a story, which is often created through the use of descriptive language and imagery. For example, a story might create a sombre, serious, exhilarating or menacing mood/atmosphere.


Tone represents how voice is delivered in a story. Tone defines whether the mood is angry, friendly or persuasive of the characters. A tone of a specific story is also related to how the narrator presented the story. The point of view has a lot to do with tone. If the story is from the third person point of view, then you will find neutral narration. Whereas in first-person narration, you will find what the character is feeling without understanding the perceptions of other characters.


A literary text contains various voices. These voices are the positions, ideas, perspectives, and views of all or individual characters. Understanding and recognizing various voices in a story is very much important. This will certainly help the reader to understand the mindset of the writer. This will shape the reader’s response to the text. Voices of characters promote different values, attitudes, perspectives.

Character development

Character development is the key if a writer wants the reader’s connectivity as it puts life in the story. For an action-packed story, characters need to have a spark. To develop your character, there should be Hamartia, which will lead to the downfall of the hero. This will create a story more enticing and appeals the reader

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