Narrative Writing: Register

Narrative Writing: Register

Understanding Register

  • Register refers to the level of formality in language chosen by the writer or speaker in any situation.
  • Language style isn’t universally fixed; it varies based on context. The register you use when texting friends will differ from the register used in a job interview.
  • The register is a combination of vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, and pronunciation. Each can be manipulated to create different levels of formality.
  • Being able to identify and use the appropriate register is a key skill within narrative writing.

Types of Register

  • There are five common levels of register: frozen, formal, consultative, casual, and intimate.
  • Frozen register is often scripted, learned by heart, or used in formal settings, like at legal proceedings or in religious texts.
  • Formal register reflects typical ‘academic’ language. It is not used casually or personally and lacks colloquialism. In written form, it is grammatically strict.
  • Consultative register is a standard form of communications. Characters might use this in a professional conversation or meeting.
  • Casual or informal register is used among friends and peers. It may contain informal language and slang.
  • Intimate register is used for close family and significant others. It’s often full of shared references and may be harder for outsiders to understand.

Choosing the Right Register

  • The choice of register depends on your target audience, the purpose, and the context of your writing.
  • When writing a narrative, your register should reflect the character’s voice, the environment, and the current situation.
  • You should also consider how the register can impact the tone and mood of your narrative.
  • Change in register may depict character development or a change in mood in your narrative.

Reviewing Register

  • Proofread your work to ensure the register remains consistent. Changes in register should be deliberate and serve a purpose.
  • Is the register in line with the character’s personality and the setting of the narrative?
  • Get external feedback. See if readers are picking up on the nuances in register, and if it’s enhancing or deterring from the overall narrative.