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Writing Narratives, Plots, Conflicts, and Characterizations
Writing Narratives, Plots, Conflicts, and Characterizations

Writing Narratives   

A narrative is a telling of a story. In a fictional story, the narrator, or the author, would be the one telling the story. A narrative tells about a sequence of events and, as you read through a story, reveals the plot. It tells what's going on in a story, it describes scenes and characters, and creates the overall mood for the story. Your narrative will not only tell the story; it will also define the way the story is told.    

Below is an example of a narrative: 

A Hanging by George Orwell

It was in Burma, a sodden morning of the rains. A sickly light, like yellow tinfoil, was slanting over the high walls into the jail yard. We were waiting outside the condemned cells, a row of sheds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages. Each cell measured about 10 feet by 10 and was quite bare within, except for a plank bed and a pot of drinking water. In some of them, brown silent men were squatting at the inner bars, with their blankets draped round them. These were the condemned men, due to be hanged within the next week or two. 

One prisoner had been brought out of his cell. He was a Hindu, a puny wisp of a man, with a shaven head and vague liquid eyes. He had a thick, sprouting mustache, absurdly too big for his body, rather like the mustache of a comic man on the films. Six tall Indian warders were guarding him and getting him ready for the gallows. Two of them stood by with rifles and fixed bayonets, while the others handcuffed him, passed a chain through his handcuffs and fixed it to their belts, and lashed his arms tight to his sides. They crowded very close about him, with their hands always on him in a careful, caressing grip, as though all the while feeling him to make sure he was there. It was like men handling a fish which is still alive and may jump back into the water. But he stood quite unresisting, yielding his arms limply to the ropes, as though he hardly noticed what was happening.

Creating a Plot
The first step in writing a narrative is creating your plot.The plot will be the map that will guide your narrative along. The plot is your storyline. That said, all plots contain the same elements. While your plot may be different from every other writer's out there, if it is well constructed, it will contain the same elements.
1.    The Exposition , or the introduction. This is usually a narrative that sets the background, setting, and characters for the story.
2.    Conflicts.The conflicts arise from the telling of the narrative and the dialogue of the characters. The conflicts form the Rising Action . These conflicts can be good or bad for your character. Your conflicts should make the reader wonder what's going to happen next.
3.    The conflicts come to a head at the climax of the story. At this point, the reader is dying to know how things will turn out. The climax is the top of the mountain. Conflicts build and build until you reach the climax. The climax comes right before you start to tie up the loose ends and let the reader know how things are resolved. 
4.    The Falling Action comes after the climax. It's where you start to tie up all the loose ends in your story and work toward the resolution.
5.    The Resolution or Denouement is after all conflicts are resolved, all loose ends are tied up, and the story comes to a close.  

There aren't any rules for how lengthy your exposition has to be, or your Rising Action. Just be sure to tell the story completely. If you have to, write an outline that contains details for the introduction, a list of the conflicts, where the climax will be, how you'll tie up loose ends, and how you ultimately want the story to end.  It will give you a guide to follow that will make writing your narratives easier.  

Creating Conflict
Creating conflict isn't as hard as it sounds. As a writer, it's normal to question if your story that's in your head is strong enough to be interesting to readers. However, this self-questioning is also the reason many writers don't finish the story or novels that they start to write. They don't think the conflict is good enough. They think the story will bore the readers. Sometimes that may be true. Not all ideas are winning ideas.That said, though, we're going to give you tips to create conflict in your stories that is strong and interesting to readers. 

The first step is in considering the genre you are writing.  If it's a crime mystery, then the conflict will be between your main character, usually a detective, and the criminal, as the main character tries to solve the crime. The detective might not know who the criminal is, but the conflict becomes him trying to find the criminal (which solves the crime).  

For a romance book, the conflict is usually between two main characters. The conflict may be internal. One or both may have commitment issues. It can also be external, such as their families coming between them. Just think Romeo and Juliet.  

Once you take the genre into consideration, you'll get an idea of what type of conflict you need to create. At this point, it's stereotypical content, but that's okay. We're just starting. 

Next, get to know your characters better. What kind of people are they?  What relationships do they have?   What's their social status? Are they outgoing, or hermits? Are the comical, or serious? These things will all shed light on what kind of conflict you can create. When you do it this way (by getting to know your characters) the conflict also seems natural. The personalities of your characters match the conflicts they're facing. We'll learn about characterization in this article too, so that will help you. 

Finally, create a reason for the conflict. You can't have a conflict without having a reason. Each conflict must drive the story forward. You can't just insert a conflict that has nothing to do with the story line. That said, the conflict must show the reader how the character experiences the conflict, and how it changes him/her. For example, in a romance novel, the heroine might have to address her parents' divorce from 20 years ago before she's able to commit to the hero. The main conflict might be her fear of commitment, but this can be another conflict that has to be resolved before they can finally be together.  


Characterization is a method that writers use to create characters that seem like real people to their readers. However, creating characters isn't as easy as it may sound. You want to create believable characters that fit into your story line. In doing that, you must make sure to provide the reader with information and insight into the character, but you don't want to include too much, either.

That said, when creating characters, it's a good idea to start out with a list that's separate from your story. This is otherwise known as a character profile. Write the character's name at the top of the page, and jot down things about that character as the thoughts come to you, or as you write. Most writers start out with a story idea in their head. If that's you, start out with this list before you write a word.The result will be better developed characters. List details about the character's past, their personality, their appearance, their clothing style, their job, and anything else that comes to mind about the character.  

When you start to write your story, you'll have these things to incorporate as you write. However, only incorporate things into the story that are relevant to telling the story. For example, if you're writing a romance, the relationship she has with her father might be relevant to the story, but her education level might not be. However, if you were writing a mystery, the fact that she is a writer who majored in forensic science would be relevant, whereas her relationship with her father might not be.   

You reveal your characters to your readers in several ways. The first is through narratives. In narratives, you can describe the character's appearance, the way they walk, what they're doing, etc.  All these descriptions of your character will help your readers get to know the characters, but they will also add to the story line. You also reveal your character through dialogue and through the way that other characters relate to him/her. 

Having the list that we just talked about is helpful when creating the characters in your stories and revealing their appearance, actions, thoughts, speech, and interactions with other characters. It gives you consistency, because as you write, you know for a fact that your character, Marla, is a country girl who always wears jeans and flannel.  You'll keep that in mind as you write about something she does for enjoyment (you won't have her in an evening gown unless she's extremely uncomfortable), and you will have her dialogue reflect her country style. This means when the reader meets Marla on page one, she'll be the exact same Marla they're still reading about on page 200. Characterization and the consistency of your characters are just as important to your writing as the plot itself.

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