In an ideal world, truth prevails, and facts will always beat opinions and biases. Unfortunately, our world is far from ideal, and hard facts and knowledge often don’t win arguments or help you through life.
Instead, we must dictate the outcome of most encounters and social challenges in our lives, not by challenging what people know but by how they know it. That is the power of narrative.
What Is Narrative Copywriting?
Put simply, a narrative is how writers tell a story. Depending on the circumstances or the intended effect, a narrative can be slow, winding, and purposefully drawn out to prolong the conclusion to something or to keep readers in suspense.
Or it can be short and straight to the point.
Narrative is often most associated with storytelling, be they in novels, films or theatre productions. The narrative is the backbone of a story and is designed to control how viewers perceive the events that unfold.
For example, in James Cameron’s recent hit movie Avatar: The Way of Water, the narrative focuses on the native inhabitants of an alien world and their struggle to defend their home from the invading humans looking to exploit their land for its natural resources. This movie, along with the one before it, follows the stories of both the humans and aliens fighting for control of the jungle moon of Pandora and, while initially drawn in through the perspective of the humans, their motives and why they need to harvest the resources of the world, the more the audience learns about the alien inhabitants, the more the audience sympathises with them. This is because the narrative shifts throughout the film the more the audience learns.
Why Is Narrative Important?
The strength of a narrative is its ability to play off the human ability to empathise. By being able to relate to a character or story, people are more likely to sympathise with the ideals and morals the story is trying to convey, which then influences how the audience views their own life.
This can be used to (let’s be blunt here) manipulate your target audience on social media to see your perspective of things. This sounds bad, but controlling a narrative to fit your agenda has many real-world applications. These include telling a compelling story, selling the idea of a good or service, or persuading people to your side of an argument. A strong enough narrative even has the power to override people’s sense of logic, with beats and perspectives from the narrative replacing hard facts in people’s minds.
This is a useful skill when it comes to content writing for marketing. One of the best ways to sell a product or service is to lay out all its selling points in a narrative flow. This makes it easier for an audience to absorb and, if the narrative is compelling enough, remains in a person’s mind long after exposure.
You don’t even have to look far to see this in action. A particular 45th President of The United States made great use of narrative and skewed truth to persuade people and gain their loyalty, despite the numerous attempts to contradict him. This was largely due to Donald Trump’s ability to craft a convincing narrative around his established persona, portraying himself as not just a businessman but a hero of the American people.
By this point, it’s clear that a narrative is an invaluable tool with limitless application. A tool that, when mishandled, can have disastrous consequences – to others and the truth at large.
How To Create A Good Narrative
There is no surefire way to create a winning narrative, as the shape a narrative takes depends on its material. The more details and information a narrative has to play around with, the more convincing and compelling it can be. That being said, a narrative must always have several key points and follow a set of established rules. A tightly-knit narrative with minimal information can be more convincing than a poorly-written narrative filled with pointless detail.
A story-driven narrative is made up of 7 key elements:
- Point of View
All these elements must be considered and thought out when creating your narrative to tell a complete story that will draw readers in. The key elements give your narrative structure and purpose, ensuring you convey your message.
This also applies to narrative marketing on platforms like Meta, as choosing what to emphasise in your key elements can determine how your audience will perceive your product. In this case, identifying with your audience is essential to addressing their needs and how you can present your product to meet those needs. This helps you identify your selling points and understand which ones you must put forward to attract the right attention.
By understanding these elements and how they connect to one another, you can develop a convincing and complete narrative that conveys the message you want it to.
When creating a narrative, it is important that your audience can follow the thought process you are creating and that all your facts make sense. If your narrative is not rational, you can’t expect your audience to buy into it, let alone understand what you are trying to tell them.
Continuity, or consistency, is the concept of consistent information that is present and relevant throughout your narrative. This can include themes and icons brought up multiple times and portrayed consistently in your narrative.
An example of this in Malaysian advertising is Digi’s ‘Yellow Man’, an iconic mascot associated with the telecommunications company. The Yellow Man is featured in the company’s “Digi will follow you” commercials and is always portrayed following people throughout their daily life. The consistency of the Yellow Man and his behaviour help emphasise the point Digi is trying to make; that their service, like the Yellow Man, provides coverage no matter where people go.
Even if your narrative is complete on paper, in practice, it loses much of its effect if it lacks emotional weight. Emotional weight refers to the feeling the narrative carries with it and the feelings it can evoke from its audience.
While a narrative is effective at laying out an arrangement of facts and information for audiences to follow and digest, it is most effective when it can evoke an emotional response. Studies show that emotionally-charged memories remain longer in people’s minds years after the event. Details of the event itself may fade or be forgotten, but the feeling it caused will remain. As such, if you want your narrative to stick with people, you need to (put simply) give them a reason to care. Make them feel something when they read it; anger, joy, sadness or excitement are all great forms of emotional weight.
How you go about this depends heavily on the content you are writing, as it can be easier to capitalise on one emotion more than another. In these cases, it is often easiest to look inwards and ask what would evoke strong feelings about the content you are writing, or what about it presents an emotional draw.
How To Apply This Skill In:
Everyone knows that narrative is essential to storytelling, whether in novels, scriptwriting or screenplay. Understanding the necessary elements of narrative are required even to get a start in the fiction writing industry. As an art form, many ‘storytelling styles’ play with the rules of narrative and bend the rules instead of breaking them.
If you want to tell or create an original story, the key elements of narrative must be observed and applied to succeed. By understanding these elements inside and out, you can ensure your narrative is airtight and root out any ‘plot holes’ yourself.
The role of narrative in business is often greatly overlooked. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, narrative plays an essential role in marketing and the effectiveness of a marketing campaign or advertisement. When you break it down, marketing a product is like telling a story. Both are means by which to convey a message to a particular audience. As such, all the key points discussed previously come together to create a persuasive and detailed marketing direction.
To see this in practice, look no further than the concept of ‘narrative marketing’, which uses a narrative to tell a story through a series of advertisements and promotions. A sort of Marketing Cinematic Universe (or MCU) that makes people care about the story being told and, by extension, the product or service being marketed. This helps create a consistent series of advertisements that build upon each other and provides a clear marketing direction for marketers.
Of course, this all depends on the effect you want your marketing strategy to have. Visit this page to see what digital marketing trends are relevant today.
Sometimes, the best solution to a problem is to talk your way out. That is where telling a convincing narrative can come into play.
It is no secret that most (if not all) of us have lied once or twice. We believe that lying itself is not bad and instead depends on what the lie is used for in cases where you may have to lie to get your way or to save yourself, knowing how a narrative works can help you create more convincing lies.
The secret to telling a lie (with the foresight of narrative) is not to create new facts or information but to only reveal one side of the story. Skew the facts in your favour and play off the intended party’s sympathy. In this manner, the goal of the lie is not to convince others that you are telling the truth but that you are in the right.
Take Control of Your Story
One thing you come to understand when you tell enough stories is that narration is a perspective that permeates every aspect of life. History, the news, and even your favourite music video are all subject to the constructive frame of a narrative. With a firm understanding of narrative, you can better chart the course of your writing and your life.
As a content writer, narrative plays a major role in my everyday life. Crafting feature-complete marketing is only possible with a good sense of narrative. In that regard, there is no digital marketing like that produced by Kode Digital. Learn more about what makes Kode one of the most reliable digital creative agencies by visiting our website.
Kode Digital is more than just a creative digital agency, we are also a Meta Business Partner. As a Meta Business Partner, Kode Digital has access to exclusive tools and resources that can help our clients get the most out of Meta’s platforms. Our team stays up-to-date on the latest marketing trends and best practices, including popular marketing formats like Blog Content. Our goal is to elevate your brand and help to grow your business.