Narrative Structure and Copywriting

by | Nov 18, 2021

Whether detailing service offerings, or submitting a proposal; every reader wants to be told a story. Even in a technical document, there is a narrative flow to how we as writers must communicate to the reader ‘why they should care’. When using a narrative arc, we have the traditional flow of events in order as: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution; but how would this model work in something as mechanical as a proposal or as short as a piece of marketing material? 

Exposition can be used to relay to your audience both the before and the immediate. When starting a piece of writing, it is important to know the exact message you are trying to send, and why you are trying to send it, and the reader will want to know this as soon as possible. Starting with an expository introduction that details who you are as an individual or organization should be the first thing presented to your audience. Presenting your background, current standings, and what makes you stand out from the competition, is necessary to establish credibility in the message you’re delivering. Exposition should also cover the reason you are writing this text in the first place. Let the reader know your mission or thesis statement upfront, and detail what you are going to discuss throughout the rest of the document.

The rising action of your document should then go into the defense of your mission/thesis, detailing your acumen in the specific field(s) being discussed. The order in which you list these attributes will either be determined by the requirements of the document, or in the absence of an established order be determined by what you as the author(s) find is your climax. The climax in a technical sense will be either the accolade, statement, or service you find as the key to selling your services or organization to a potential or current client. This statement should be succinct, powerful, and without the usage of superlatives. When you state that you do the best or most, it has the potential to come off as try-hard or disingenuous. Try using language that establishes your expertise without trying to purport that your organization is the premier or the industry leading in your service area.

After establishing your climactic mission statement, now it is time to defend this position. In the ‘falling action’ you want to present how you plan to use your mission statement to seal the deal. Through data, past performance, and experience in the given request, you as the writer(s) can bolster your mission statement and make way to the resolution. This resolution should be a summation of what you have established is the reasoning behind this submission, reiterating your thesis/climax, and giving a condensed version of your acumen presented in the document thus far; similar to the conclusion of an argumentative essay.

Using this concept of narrative arc in your technical writing allows you to map out what your objectives are with the document, and can lead to a more human translation of what your organization is trying to achieve. Narrative voice is critical in writing, as solely relating data points and experience in list order easily becomes droll and repetitious. Through recontextualizing your approach to writing, you will be able to convey your organization’s prowess in a new light, and allow the reader to see the real people behind the project.