Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 17, 2015

Narration and Narrative Voice

ElizabethRawlsTubular Turtle
I bet this turtle riding little girl illustrated by Elizabeth Rawl could give us a good narrative. Elizabeth has blended counseling and fine art degrees, she writes and illustrates children’s picture books that encourage emotional intelligence and resilience through humor and imagination. She lives in Boone, North Carolina with her husband Terry and a newly adopted 4-year-old german shepherd named Greta, who keeps her company in my studio.


NARRATION: Elizabeth Lyon in Writing Subtext says, “NARRATION, simply put, include all forms of “Telling,” not to be confused with the word “narrative,” which mean “the story.”

Narration is a huge category that includes information, description of characters and setting, flashback summaries, thought, and the “sad, mad, glad” emotions as well as the “fight, flight, excite” reactions.”

You may have heard the writer’s mantra “show don’t tell.” Show means plot action and tell means narration. All together, you have produced the narrative of your story, told by narrators – the protagonist, other viewpoint character, and sometime the author. When used well, narration adds depth, but when overused, telling tempts the reader to skip portions of your book.”


Mark Nichol says, “Narrative is the structure of events — the architecture of the story, comparable to the design of a building. Story is the sequence of events, the order in which the narrative occurs — the tour through the building. Plot is the sum of the events, told not necessarily in sequential order, but generally consistent with the story and often considered synonymous with the narrative — the building itself.”

But these similar and even overlapping components of composition are further affected by the narrative mode — the techniques the author employs to tell the story. Among these strategies are narrative point of view and narrative voice.”


Mark Nichol talks about narrative voice and says, “it is the style in which the narrative is presented — for example, a character’s recounting of events, or a privileged window into the character’s thoughts and feelings.

A narrator may be a participant, a character in the story who describes events, or a nonparticipant, an objective (but not necessarily accurate) observer who is not integrated into the story. Another technique is to feature an unreliable narrator, one whose narrative is initially or ultimately suspect because it contradicts what the reader learns from nonnarrated exposition or other points of view.”

For instance, in the Japanese film Rashomon, based on two short stories, four characters give conflicting accounts of an event. In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the title character’s naiveté, a plot device enabling author Mark Twain to demonstrate his gift for social satire, makes him an unreliable narrator.”

Note that narrative applies to nonfiction as well as fiction, and even plot and story have a place in nonfiction, as reporters and authors often manipulate an account by constructing a narrative more sophisticated than the who, what, when, where, and why formula of traditional journalism. There’s even a term for this approach: creative nonfiction.”

You can read about Narrative Point of View over at Daily Writing Tips

Talk tomorrow,


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