Definition of Narrative

A narrative is some kind of retelling, often in words (though it is possible to mime a story), of something that happened (a story). The narrative is not the story itself but rather the telling of the story -- which is why it is so often used in phrases such as "written narrative," "oral narrative," etc. While a story just is a sequence of events, a narrative recounts those events, perhaps leaving some occurrences out because they are from some perspective insignificant, and perhaps emphasizing others. In a series of events, a car crash takes a split second. A narrative account, however, might be almost entirely about the crash itself and the few seconds leading up to it. Narratives thus shape history (the series of events, the story of what happened).