Narrative Elements

There are five main narrative elements:

• setting
• plot
• character
• theme
• style

One of the starting points for interpreting and writing about imaginative works is to analyse the elements of narration. Here are some brief definitions. Attached to each are some questions that may lead you to consider how the various elements work in texts.

Setting is the time and place of the narrative. It includes the cultural, social, physical context of story’s action.

Plot is basically the storyline or what happens in a story - the sequence of actions or events. The plot usually contains a conflict, or problem, and a resolution, or the sequence of events in a narrative.

Characters are the people, animals or creatures in a story. Sometimes, the main part of a setting (such as a building or landscape can also be a character).

Theme is often defined as a main idea or matter, or the central meaning of a text. A theme is not a subject. Drugs are a subject; that drugs can ruin your life if you don’t learn to use them responsibly is a theme.

Style is how story is written. Writers have their own style, their own way of writing, that is unique to them. A writer’s style is made up of a number of elements including: use of genre, narrative point of view, sentence structure, paragraph structure, dialogue, form, language and literary techniques, tone, and symbolism.

Symbols are the way that writers use language to express complex ideas via imagery. A symbol something which is used to suggest or represent something else.

The Quiet American : An English website unit developed by George Marootus with additional material by VATE and contributions by Bianca de Vos and Sam Bryant. Website designed and constructed by George Marotous.
Contact.© English Faculty, Melbourne High School. 12 July 2010