Narrative Versus Descriptive Writing

Table of Contents


Narrative element of an essay appeals to a person’s basic instincts and the impact for his/her shared stories. The main focus of the writer could be just to entertain the listeners allowing them to divert from the main business of the story. However, a storyteller could also be aiming to help the listeners understand a certain concept and therefore he/she has to dwell much of the descriptive part of the story. Nevertheless, even when this is the case, the writer or the narrator has to incorporate the narrative element of the story because people are known to be naturally resistant to listening to the words of other people. (Hebel, 1991)

Descriptive element

This element shows the power of the storyteller in convincing the listeners or the readers of something. His/her major function is to show the situation as it is but not to tell about the situation. If the narrator says for example that a certain house is nice, the listeners or the readers are put on the defensive. The readers prefer judging the situation by seeing the real house for them to believe. The writer should therefore avoid using words such as lovely, interesting, or even exciting which are normally used during a casual speech. Instead, the work of describing something should be done by verbs and nouns. This type of writing therefore mainly focuses on portraying a place, person, or something in a manner that a reader can visualize a topic of discussion where he or she can enter into the experience of the writer. The writer must therefore capitalize on sensory language and language that is figurative such as metaphor, symbolism as well as personification. (Hebel, 1991)

The narrative element of writing

The purpose of this element is to tell a story where the writing of the author may focus on an experience from the past as well as recent and ongoing events. The narrative element ensures that a story has a point whereby, the final paragraph is characterized by an important conclusive statement regarding the experience which the author has described as a narrative story and should therefore begin with a general statement such as “being introduced to a new working environment may be a scary experience”. The purpose of such a statement is to introduce the main subject of the story which in this case refers to a new working experience the author may have come across. The author must provide sufficient details regarding a place, or an event for the reader to receive a clear idea of the author’s feelings about the reader. The narrative element of any story should therefore focus on making the story as lively and interesting as possible. This is for the reader to be engaged and this is done through the addition of details and other personal observations. The author should therefore try to share his/her thoughts and invite all readers into his/her world of thinking. Part of the story should therefore be made personal to be interesting. (Hebel, 1991)


From the research, for any story to be successful, it must therefore include both narrative and descriptive elements of essay writing for the reader to understand the concept being communicated and at the same time not to be bored by the words of an author. The narrative part of any story should therefore be included as a break and should be made to appear occasionally. (Hebel, 1991)


Hebel U. (1991): Towards a Descriptive Poetics of Allusion: W. de Gruyter

Herman D. (2008): Description, Narrative, and Explanation: Duke University Press

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