Storytelling guide

Narrative form is the garden bed where your story flowers

Ever wonder why some stories stick with you, long after you’ve turned the last page or watched the credits roll? It’s all in the magic of narrative form. Simply put, it’s the way a story is structured and told. And if you want to captivate your readers or viewers, mastering this form is your golden ticket.

1. Understanding Narrative Form: A Quick Overview

Before diving in, let’s remember what narrative form is. It’s not just the story itself, but how it’s told. Think of a story as a series of events and a narrative as the special lens through which we see these events.

1.1. Key Elements of a Gripping Narrative Form

  1. Characters: Every good story needs a hero or two. But it’s not enough for them to just exist – they need to be relatable, and they need to be memorable. Example: Think about Harry from the “Harry Potter” series. Even though he’s a wizard (and most of us sadly aren’t), his feelings, challenges, and growth make him feel real to us.
  2. Setting: This is where your story takes place. Whether it’s a fantastical realm or a high school in a small town, it has to pull readers in. Example: “The Lord of the Rings” gave us the Shire – a place so vividly described, you could almost feel the grass beneath your feet.
  3. Plot: This is the meat of the story, the sequence of events that keeps us hooked. Example: Ever binge-watched “Stranger Things”? That’s because every episode has a plot that grabs you and doesn’t let go.
  4. Conflict: Stories thrive on challenges. Whether it’s a villain, a personal struggle, or a massive storm, conflict drives the story forward. Example: Think of the endless struggles between Batman and Joker. Their battles aren’t just physical – they challenge morals and ideologies.
  5. Resolution: Whether it’s a happy ending or a cliffhanger, this is where all the loose ends of the story come together. Example: After all the ups and downs in “Finding Nemo”, the reunion of Marlin and Nemo gave most of us a good dose of happy tears.

2. Techniques to Master Narrative Form

  1. Tone and Mood: Like setting the ambiance in a room, the tone sets the mood of your story. Example: “The Haunting of Hill House” isn’t just scary because of ghosts. Its eerie tone, set through descriptions and events, makes it spine-chilling.
  2. Pacing: No one likes a draggy story. Mixing fast, heart-pounding scenes with slower, reflective moments keeps readers engaged. Example: In “Jurassic Park”, there are moments of intense dino-chases and quiet scenes of wonder and awe.
  3. Point of View: Who’s telling the story? A character? An all-knowing narrator? This decision can change the entire feel of your narrative. Example: Katniss telling her own story in “The Hunger Games” lets us dive deep into her thoughts and emotions.
  4. Imagery & Description: These are the colors of your story-painting. Well-chosen descriptions make your world come alive. Example: “The Chronicles of Narnia” is so rich in imagery that you can almost taste the Turkish Delight and feel the cold of the White Witch’s winter.
  5. Dialogue: It’s not just about what characters say but how they say it. It should be purposeful and reflective of their personalities. Example: The quick, overlapping chatter in “Gilmore Girls” isn’t just fun – it tells us about the characters’ relationships and their world.

3. Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Keep an eye out for these rookie mistakes:

  • Overloading with Information: Avoid tossing in every detail. Only include what’s relevant.
  • Flat Characters: Every character should have a purpose and depth.
  • Predictability: Surprise your readers now and then. Predictable stories lose their charm.

3.1. Practice Makes Perfect

Like with any skill, the more you write, the better you’ll get. Seek feedback, revise, and remember: every writer, from J.K. Rowling to Stan Lee, started somewhere.


The world of storytelling is vast and full of potential. By mastering narrative form, you can craft tales that resonate, entertain, and stick with audiences for a lifetime.

Questions and Comments

If you have a question let me know in the comments.

If you feel like you have a good grasp on these basics of narrative form but still find it difficult to craft a story, you might want to check out my guide on how to start a story.