7 Common Narrative Techniques and How to Use Them

What are some common narrative techniques and how they are used? In this article, we will show you 7 examples of narrative techniques you should know.

1. Cliffhanger
Everyone wants an end, most especially, when reading a story because if there is no end, it is totally frustrating. In spite of this, one of the narrative techniques suggests that authors might want to leave their readers hanging to keep them hooked on the story for the next part of their book. This is Cliffhanger, and to do this, you can simply consume the readers' attention on the problem or conflict to be solved without stating the resolution of the story.

2. Flashback
In order to be understood, authors usually apply Flashback in narrating the story. It is a technique that takes the readers to the events of the past of a certain character in order to understand why and how did the character came up with a decision or an action. You can apply the same in writing by reserving the character's profile in the exposition part and gradually brings the character to the point in which it will unveil its true identity.

3. Foreshadowing
Opposite of Flashback, Foreshadowing is a technique that brings the readers to the events in the future. Authors do this to arouse excitement as well as questions in the minds of the readers about how the story goes that way. Applying this technique, it is best to insert a series of perceived events in between the present events related to the current situation to build the mystery in your story.

4. Frame Story
It might be absurd to think about reading a literary piece with one, but it that technique really exists. It is called Frame Story, or a story within the story. Nowadays, it is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher that is the best example. Simply, you can use this technique by building a story in each character you have and connecting their stories into one to create the main story.

5. In Medias Res
To create a different introduction to your story, you can start in the middle of the story. It might seem confusing but the famous Iliad and Odyssey are examples. You can use this technique by beginning the narration in the middle of the plot like in the rising action then going back to the exposition to build the blocks of the story.

6. Multiperspectivity
One of the unique techniques that are being utilized by some authors is multiperspectivity. It is a technique that engages the readers in the story by knowing the characters by reading their own point of views. Told from the viewpoints of multiple characters that incorporate various perspectives, emotions, and views, the readers can be more hooked. It might be complex to apply in your own writing, but one great way to start is through the writing of the stories of each character separately and soon, connecting them.

7. Third-person Narration
Aside from the third person, we also have the first and second point of views, but among the three, it is the third person point of view that is different because the narration comes from someone a bit far from the characters. You can apply this kind of narration either omniscient, who knows all the thoughts and emotions of the characters or limited, who only know the surface of the story by just describing the events he or she sees.

- LaPlante, Alice. The making of a story: a Norton guide to creative writing. New York: WW Norton, 2007.

- Hamand, Maggie. Creative writing for dummies. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.

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Last review and update: August 30, 2021
About the Editor
Ben Benjabutr is the editor of BookWorm4Life. He holds a Master's Degree in business with 10+ years of work experience and 8+ years of experience in blogging and online content production. He enjoys reading books about business, lifestyle and literature and he loves to share what he learns from books. You can drop him a line via e-mail.