Narration and description, along with dialogue, are the basic elements of fiction, and narration and description are frequently key elements of nonfiction writing. Either narration or description can take the place of a traditional introduction or conclusion in a more formal nonfiction piece of writing. Writing good narration and description requires keen observation, not just of the objective reality around us and our subjective reactions to that reality, but also to the experience that we go through when we read narration and description.
Good narration and description interplay to create what]non Gardner calls he “fictive dream,” a dreamlike State where the description and narration interplay to create a vivid dream in the reader’s mind, making a shift from passive readers to active participants, engaged beyond the surface in a rich and vivid play that takes place in the reader’s mind. The “fictive dream” comes about through the integrity of the piece, which is formed when the piece is vivid (using specific descriptions, details, and examples) and continuous (constructing a clear and logical sequence of events).
Vividness is important because without it, the reader’s emotions and judgments will be confused, spitted, or blocked, or may diverge from the intentions of the text. Continuity is important because interrupted flow has less power than action moving smoothly and dynamically from a clear and logical start to a meaningful and satisfactory resolution. Narration is description in time; description is narration in space. Narration Narration is simply telling a story or relating a sequence of events, and is one of the oldest ways of transferring knowledge.
Much of the myths is made up of “pointed” narration, or stories that have a specific point, and the myths (mythologies, sacred texts, early literature) form the basis for our modern ideas of logic and how we view reality. Sometimes the point of a narrative is the story itself (strictly to entertain), but most serious writing that involves narrative will also involve loftier goals: to instruct, to inform, or to persuade as well as to delight.
This “pointed” narration usually relates a specific series of events with the larger purpose of leading the reader to a new perspective or some other notable outcome, such as new knowledge or insight. There are a number of suitable approaches to narrative, all of which depend on the specific purpose Of the piece, the intended or implied audience, and the context. Straight chronology Final event presented first, followed by an explanation of events leading up to it. Summary of the event in question presented first and then examined in detail.
Non-sequential presentation, starting from a secondary climactic point then using flashbacks and flash-forwards to shift backwards and forwards through time before building to a more significant climax or resolution. Most narrative will be structured around the model 2-3-1 or 1-3-2, which may necessitate deviating from strict chronology as the first thing to happen chi ornithological (background information, etc. ) might not be important enough to the story to warrant placement in the secondary climactic position.
Regardless of the choices made regarding techniques of presentation, most good narratives maintain consistent point of view and verb tense. First person POP is more subjective and personal, usually emphasizing appeal to pathos Third-person POP is more objective and usually emphasizes appeal to logos Past tense is more traditional and logical in most cases as the events being related by necessity took place in the past. Present tense presents the illusion of immediacy and can engage the reader by making the reader feel like they re experiencing the events simultaneously with the narrative voice of the piece.
In getting started, the writer must have a worthwhile point and should find a sequence of events that are significant and that an audience will find significant. The writer should develop an explicit statement of purpose that addresses the appropriate audience, even if that statement of purpose is omitted from the final draft (as many narratives will reveal the purpose implicitly as the sequence of events is revealed). The writer should explore early in the writing process why the incident or experience was significant and hat the audience can learn or have revealed to them by reading it.
The author will need to determine their attitude towards the events being related as this will determine the tone of the piece. The author will need to determine which specific details about the people, places, and events involved to emphasize in order to make the events real and vivid for the audience. Tone and attitude will help dictate word choice and details are included, as well as which point of view and verb tense will be most effective for the overall purpose, audience, and context.
The writer should explore the topic by listing events in the sequence in which hey occurred, whether or not that is the sequence that they will be related in the piece of writing and by asking the journalist questions: Who was involved? What happened? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Why did it happen? How did it happen? Depending on the purpose, audience, and context, the writer will need to determine which details need to be emphasized, expanded, compressed, or omitted. Not every single detail the author can recall is going to be significant or necessary to make the point.
Peripheral participants can be compressed or eliminated. The event needs to have a clear and logical beginning and ending and make ere that the timeshare only encompasses events essential to the larger purpose. The writer should establish enough significant details for the audience to orient themselves in time and space but include details pertaining to the setting that don’t serve some larger purpose. Some events will need to be expanded in order to give the audience a vivid and continuous reading experience, but some will need to be contracted or omitted so as not to bury the audience in minutia and risk obscuring the larger point.
The writer should just give enough how and why about the event to offer the reader enough illumination to infer-?most good narratives will not tell all but will allow the audience to draw their own conclusions. The overall organization of the piece should have a purpose that is both apparent and obvious to the audience, but will probably adhere to the model 2-3-1 or 1-3-2. The beginning should capture the audience’s attention honestly and precisely and move quickly to introduce the topic in a meaningful way.
The sequence should be logical and reflect the purpose of the piece in a way that is logical and clear. The ending should be designed depending on the specific effect the author wants to leave with the audience. Composition and revision should begin as specifically as possible and then refined through subsequent drafts as what is necessary and important to the purpose and audience becomes clearer to the writer. The writer should make sure the point (whether explicitly stated or left for the audience to infer) is clear and that every included detail and event contributes to the overall purpose.
Regardless of how the writer decides to structure the piece, the organization should be clear, obvious, and logical to the audience. Every single included detail and event should be absolutely necessary and relevant. Description Description is narration in space and is the use of language to depict or recreate a scene, object, person, feeling, or state of mind. When used in conjunction with narrative, description is usually reserved for the inanimate, as feelings and other dynamic acts are often best revealed through narration (showing rather than telling) Description is best when constructed out of the specific and concrete.
Description should use images that appeal to the senses; as a large percentage of most sensory images are visual, many writers rely primarily on the visual but other senses often have stronger links to memory triggers. Use of specific and concrete nouns and verbs rather than over-reliance on adjectives and adverbs usually enhances the audience’s sensory perceptions. Objective description strives for precision and objectivity, conveying the subject impersonally and with distance.
Objective description usually simply explains or clarifies an image Subjective description draws explicitly on the emotions and subjective reactions of the writer, attempting to give an impression of the subject as filtered through the observers experience of it. Subjective description usually takes the place of narration to make the subject yeoman and inject an element of self-expression or contribute specifically to mood or tone. Most description will use elements of both the subjective and the objective, but when used in conjunction with narrative, narration usually replaces any subjective description.
Writing vivid description usually relies on constructing or re-creating a dominant impression, a central theme or idea or image of the subject to which the audience can relate all of the specific included details. Dominant impression may be something sensory taken from a subject or it may derive from the observer’s response to the subject. Descriptive writing should maintain consistent narrative point of view and verb tense, as well as physical and psychological point of view to convey a specific, vivid, and continuous dominant impression.
Subject for descriptive writing can be anything: any object, person, place, thing, idea, state of mind, or feeling that the author has experienced or observed closely and sharply enough to invest with significance through the writing process. In getting started, the writer should visualize the subject as clearly as possible. The dominant impression of the subject being described should have a point pacific to the overall purpose of the piece that is significant and that an audience will find significant.
The writer should develop an explicit statement of purpose that includes the dominant impression and addresses the appropriate audience, even if that statement of purpose is omitted from the final draft (as many descriptions will reveal the purpose implicitly as the dominant impression is revealed). The writer should observe as closely or recall as completely as possible the subject being described, recording as many sensory details as possible All included details must be relevant to the nominate impression the writer is attempting to create or re-create.
The writer needs to consider the needs and expectations of the audience and make sure there enough details are included to create a complete picture in the audience’s mind. The details should be arranged in an order that will clarify the image for the reader and maintain the integrity (through vividness and continuity) of the dominant impression. Spatially (left to right, top to bottom, outside to inside, etc. ) Chronological (order of perception) Overall significance (most important to least important or vice versa) Clarity (general to specific or specific to general)
Sensory or group significance (arranged by sizes, shapes, colors, smells, sounds, tastes, etc. ) Organization usually depends on the point of view and dominant impression. If the subject is static, spatial organization usually works well If the subject is dynamic, sensory or group organization usually works well If the subject is concrete, spatial or organization by overall significance usually works well If the subject is abstract, chronological organization usually works well Description should vividly and continuously bring the subject to life in the mind of the audience.
Specific, concrete words create a vivid image Each specific detail should contribute specifically to one aspect of the dominant impression The quality and strength of the impression created in the audience’s mind matters more than the quantity of details given Point of view and organization should be consistent, clear, and logical, and any shifts in pronoun usage, attitude, or tone can distort the dominant impression in Narration and description usually work together to create the vivid and continuous fictive dream in the audience’s mind, but a fickle audience can easily be jarred out of that fictive dream.
Even small mistakes, inconsistencies, r breaks in logic awake the audience from their fictive dream. Any breaks in the continuity of the narrative or the vividness of the description force the audience to think about the writer or the writing rather than the subject of the description or the purpose of the narration.
Insufficient use of specifics, vague, imprecise, or impressionistic language, or any breaks from the specific and concrete call attention away from the writing and towards the writer Intercourse terms like “l saw,” “I noticed,” or “l felt” should be omitted in favor of direct presentation of the thing without evasion or click The writer would omit every word that doesn’t absolutely contribute to the overall design should be used The writer should strive for fidelity to the rhythms of natural speech The natural object is always the adequate symbol The writer should avoid inappropriate or excessive use of the passive voice and inappropriate use of overlong introductory phrases that include verb infinitives The writer should avoid shifts in diction level or the use of unnecessary words or phrases The author should vary sentences and keep the sentences focused and concise The author should avoid unintentional alliteration or rhyme that may work against the mood or tone The writer should omit all unnecessary explanation and avoid explicitly telling the audience anything that they can easily infer The writer should avoid inconsistent verb tense and narrative point of view, shifts in physical and psychological point of view, and careless shifts in psychic distance. The writer should avoid sentimentality, or striving for effect without due cause and attaching false significance or emotions through cheating or exaggerating.
Sentimentality is the narrowing of emotions down to personal experience and usually comes across as trite and untrue The writer should avoid frigidity, where the writer reveals through some flaw in the narrative or descriptive construct less concern about the topic than the audience has endowed the topic with The writer should avoid mannerisms, or intrusions by the author that disrupt the fictive dream through stylistic tics that call attention away from the writing and towards the writer Honest narrative and description usually is built around direct treatment of the subject without affectation or breaks in the integrity of the logic of the construct.