I can't find the name for this online and I am an engineer, so don't socialise with people that would know.

Consider the Aeneid, which begins:

Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc'd by fate,
And haughty Juno's unrelenting hate,
Expell'd and exil'd, left the Trojan shore.
Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore,
And in the doubtful war, before he won
The Latian realm, and built the destin'd town;
His banish'd gods restor'd to rites divine,
And settled sure succession in his line,
From whence the race of Alban fathers come,
And the long glories of majestic Rome.

Which is then followed by the events of the Aeneid where all of those things transpire (or, if you want to nitpick, the rest of Book 1 which further exposits some of the themes and character development before the events transpire).

In my case, I'm looking at Psalm 73, which begins:

1 God is indeed good to Israel, to the pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my steps nearly went astray. 3 For I envied the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Before flashing back to how the narrator was almost completely consumed with his anger at the wicked, and the eventual resolution.

I've run across fabula and syuzhet, which if I have understood them correctly are useful conceptual concepts for discussing what the starting exposition does, but are not actually a term for an particular arrangement of story and plot events.

I would be most grateful for any help.

What is the name for a narrative structure where the story starts with an exposition or summary before recounting the plot in more detail?

1 Answer 1


Narrative exposition introduces the audience to the basic mood, initial situation, conflicts, time, place and characters of the narrative and prepares important prerequisites for understanding.

There isn't one narrative structure that begins with an exposition and that is distinct from narrative structures that don't begin with an exposition. An exposition is an essential part of all conventional long form narration, like the drama, the novel or the feature film.

Narrative theory distinguishes the initial exposition, which is presented before the beginning of the narrative, from the successive or indirecxt exposition that is given alongside the narration, piece by piece.


What you are seeking a name for doesn't exist.

As you don't explain what the aim of your question is, I cannot offer further help for the actual problem that underlies it.

  • I'm surprised. The linguistics and grammar crowd have precise jargon for every feature of the language, but we don't have names or even numbers for some of the most common narrative techniques. My purpose was to know it for its own sake, and maybe as an entrance to a world of names of other such narrative structures. Upvoted for the confirmation that there is no such thing, which is a useful answer. Jul 30, 2023 at 7:25
  • In science fiction, where the problem of backgrounding can get severe, the generic term for this is "As you know, Bob".
    – jlawler
    Aug 4, 2023 at 0:44

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