All designers make use of “narrative” in their work. Whether it is a corporate strategy, a branding communication, a product experience or an issue of inclusivity, designers are constantly defining “personas”, “scenarios”, “customer journeys” or other such concepts which revolve around a narrative structure of some form.

Despite the enormous implications of the possible logical or chronological inconsistencies, few designers delve into the structure and requirements of “narrative” to any depth. This is a surprising circumstance given the great wealth of relevant information from psychology, sociology, linguistics, semiotics and other disciplines.

One introductory resource is the well known text by H. Porter Abbott of the University of California Santa Barbara. While not written specifically for designers, the text is enjoyable and contains a helpful introduction to the main definitions and issues involved in describing “narrative”. Concepts which designers will find extremely helpful are narrative’s role in structuring time, expectation and suspense. Designers will surely also find the concepts of “underreading” and “overreading” immensely helpful when designing personas or scenarios. Finally, the text’s treatment of “characters” and of “mediation” will prove invaluable.