What is Narrative ?
There are five grammatical stances or voices that a narrator can adopt: first-person, second-person, third-person limited, third-person omniscient and third-person objective. First-person and third-person points-of-view are most common. The second-person points-of-view is very rarely used.
A first-person narrator tells a story in the grammatical first-person referring to himself as 'I' or 'We'. He must witness and experience events with his senses, or be told about events. This voice brings greater focus on the feelings, opinions, and perceptions of a particular character in a story, and on how that character views the world and other characters. This technique constitutes diegesis.
First-person - As if spoken
There are several variations of first-person narrative. The first is expressed as 'listen while I tell you '. This stance is favoured for short stories. Although the narrator can be a character who is a mere observer, usually a main character tells the story. Interest can be sustained for a long period by a narrator's colourful and colloquial language as in Huckleberry Finn.
In film this form of narration can be achieved through use of voice-over narration and judicious use of point-of-view and over-the-shoulder shots.
First-person - As if written
The second form of first-person narrative is presented as written personal memoir or report such as in Robinson Crusoe. The narrator can interject reflections and comments on the action and characters with an appreciation matured by time. This form also allows the author to move smoothly from place to place and period to period with little confusion.
An epistolary narrative is presented as a series of lettres. It can reveal a great deal about the characters, the correspondents, but the action may be somewhat distant and it may take some time for audience to connect with a story.
Yet another form of 'as if written' narrative is a diary that records, over a long period, the variegation of events in the diarist's life. A diary may also introduce fiction of a personal nature as the individual speculates on the denouement of events.
Stream of Consciousness
An even more intimate first-person narrative is a stream of consciousness or an 'interior monologue'. This form of narration presents a story through thoughts, impressions and sensations that flow through the mind of the narrator-character. The audience is made to feel that their thoughts are flowing directly through the characters brain, that the character's senses are those of the audience.
First-person Multiple Narration
First-person multiple narration uses several first-person narrators, alternating among them with each new phase of the story. This allows the diversity of presentation of an omniscient narrator with the advantage of varied voices. Different characters can present the same story elements from their particular bias providing a rich explanation of the events.
Second-person narration is a stance in which the narrator is telling the story to another character through that character's point-of -view. The listener is referred as 'You'. This technique also constitutes diegesis.
Second-person narrative is common in interactive fiction and role-playing computer games. The reader can associate with the listener and imagine being within the action of the story.
Third-person narration is a story told in the grammatical third-person; the voice of the narrator describes what 'He' or 'They' did. The voice of the narrator appears as that of the author. This is perhaps the most common sort of narration.
Third-person Limited Narration
In third-person limited narration, the narrator is disembodied. The narrator does nothing, expresses no opinions and has no physical form in or out of the story. There is no implied fictional intermediary between the reader and the story. Events are observed from the outside through the senses and thoughts of a single character. The narrative is limited to the thoughts, feelings, and memories of the single character, but of no other characters.
Third-person Omniscient Narration
An omniscient (all-knowing) narrator is also disembodied and takes no actions, casts no judgments, expresses no opinions and has no physical form in or out of the story. The narrator dissolves and ceases to exist as a detectable entity (mimesis). The omniscient narrator speaks with the voice of the author who is a witness to all events.
Any element, secret, hidden, past or present as well as any thoughts of all characters can be told by the omniscient narrator. The chronological of the story can be re-ordered in any manner and important elements of a story can be withheld until the moment of greatest effect.
The third-person omniscient narrator is usually considered to be the most reliable narrator.
Third-person Objective Narration
In a third-person objective narration, the author records what can be seen and heard. There is not presentation of the thoughts, feelings, memories or reflections of characters. This type of narration is like the view of 'a fly on the wall'.
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