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Term Definition

In truth, any story at all, whether fictional or non-fictional, can be identified as a narrative. This universality of the concept of narrative is likely related to the fact that narrative interpretation is built into the very structure of the human experience of life itself. On the other hand, if modern artists attempt to break with the concept of narrative, then this is often because of the perception that life itself is becoming increasingly fragmented. 

Introduction to the term

If you want to know more about the meaning of the literary term narrative, then you have definitely arrived at the right webpage. A narrative is essentially just a "story", in the popular sense of the word. When someone tells a narrative, they tell you what happened; the story usually has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is a very basic unit of storytelling and is found in almost all literary works.

Using narrative in a sentence

Here are some examples of the literary term narrative being used within the context of real sentences. 

"Due to the girl's drunkenness, her narrative of what she did over the summer was completely incoherent, and her friends decided that they would just need to ask her about that subject some other time."

"The man was a very good storyteller: his narrative kept the listeners spellbound for almost a whole hour, and no one dared to interrupt him with any questions."

"Although the narrative was convoluted and the reader occasionally suspected the writer of having no idea what he was doing, it all came together in the end in a remarkably coherent way."

Now, just in case you would like some further clarification about the meaning of the term narrative, here are a couple rules you can follow when using it. 

1. A narrative is just a story—an account of what happened. This is true whether the story is something that really happened in someone's life (like in a biography), or whether the story is completely fictional and made up by a writer. A story can also be called a narrative whether it is professional prepared by an artist, or whether it is just spontaneously spoken by some random person. Essentially, story and narrative are completely synonymous terms. 

2. Sometimes, it is possible to metaphorically think of works of arts that are not stories as still nevertheless having a narrative arc. For example, a symphony has a beginning, a middle, and an end; and it makes the listener feel certain emotions in a certain order. In this way, the symphony seems to be telling a story, or communicating a specific narrative to the listener. Again, this is more of a metaphorical than a literal use of the term narrative.

The human connection

People are obviously storytelling creatures, and the centrality of the concept of narrative to human experience can be traced back to this basic fact. For example, the earliest known works of literature are generally epic poems that tell the story of the accomplishments of a given heroic character. Moreover, narrative is built into the very nature of the human lifecycle itself: people are born, they grow older, and then they die; there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is almost impossible to not think of one's own life in narrative terms. 

The concept of narrative is also closely connected to the concept of heroism. In order for human actions to have meaning, they must have a frame of reference; and only narrative can provide such a frame of reference. For example, if a man says that he goes to work "because" he wants to make money for his family, this cause-and-effect sequence itself implies a kind of narrative. Without the narrative frame, all that would be left is random and thus meaningless action. 

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