Toolan looks at a whole range of narrative types - written and spoken, literary and non-literary - and shows what systematic attention to the language can reveal about the narratives themselves, their tellers and their audience. The book begins with an examination of such standard topics as plot structure, temporal manipulation, and point of view. Toolan then moves on to consider oral narratives such as stories told to and by children, and in a final chapter explores how narratives in newspapers, law-courts and elsewhere carry ideological assumptions with political consequences. Descriptive linguistic methods are clearly presented and applied at various stages. Also included are thought-provoking exercises in which linguistics illuminates the study of literature in general and narrative in particular.