In this lesson, you will learn how to write a narrative paragraph. Five-minute freewrite:
Brainstorm or list things that you have done, things that have happened to you, or things that you have seen happen to someone else. Try to accumulate 15-20 ideas.
Begin writing here:
What you have just done in your five-minute freewrite is tell a story or write a narrative. Telling stories is a pastime that has been around as long as there have been people to tell them. Cavemen probably sat around their fires after dark watching fireflies flitting about and relating the day's ventures, adventures, and misadventures. All segments of society like to tell stories. Fishermen love to swap exaggerated truths about "the big one that got away." Have you ever rushed in the house, let the back door slam, and yelled, "Hey, Mom! Guess what happened?" What follows is a recounting of one of your adventures, a narrative story.
Novelists invent stories (fiction) that will entertain. However, you will probably find it easier (at least in the beginning) to recount stories about things you have experienced. Even published, professional writers will tell you, "Write what you know." That is good advice. However, do not be satisfied with just what you now know. Read. Research. Learn more.
Then, as you know more about more things, you will have more subjects to write about.
Determining Your Purpose
What are some reasons you might want to tell a story? You might want to tell about an experience you had that changed your outlook on some issue. You might want to tell a story simply because it is an exciting, incredible, or entertaining series of events. For example, you could tell a story about the funny fishing trip you and your dad took on which a leak developed in the boat.
Maybe you want to tell a story about something that happened to you so that it can serve as an inspiration to others. For example, you may have discovered that healthy, well-balanced meals really are better for you than pop and chips, and you want to write a story that is both an inspiration and a warning to others. You could call it, "How I Survive Without Junk Food."
Another good reason to write a story from personal experience is to help yourself sort through events. The process of writing about the things that are troubling you is a healing process.
Before You Begin
In order to have a well written narrative paragraph that is interesting and effective, follow these guidelines:
1. Your narrative should prove a point. (This point is stated in your topic sentence.)
2. Your narrative should be written in chronological order.
3. Your narrative should have a purpose. It should show your audience how goals can be achieved, problems solved, or situations avoided.
4. Your narrative should be written in first or third person. If you are telling one of your own experiences, the narrator will be the person telling the story and using the pronoun I. If you are telling about an experience of someone else, you will write in the third person; he/she said or did. If you are writing from history, literature, or current events, you may want to write your narrative like a news reporter covering the scene.
5. Narrative paragraphs are short, so they require specific, concrete word choices. Do not bore your audience by throwing in a lot of unimportant information. People who are involved in the action of the story or narrative can be characterized by their speech, actions, appearance, and dialogue. Any necessary background information such as time and place can be presented briefly with a few good descriptive words.
As is the case with most students, your first question is probably, "How long does my story have to be?" A good answer to this question is, "It should be long enough to be complete, yet short enough to be interesting."
An Assignment for Your Student Writing Portfolio:
Your assignment is to write three narrative paragraphs. Your topics can be from your five-minute freewrite or one of the topics listed below. Remember, each paragraph must have a topic sentence, supporting details, and a conclusion. Here are some suggestions for a narrative: