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Narrative writing

Narrative writing is storytelling – either fictional or factual. It’s

chief ingredients are characters, plots, setting, theme (or
significance), and style. One or more human beings (or
occasionally animals or robots) move through a sequence of events
in time in a certain environment.
Personal Narrative

A personal narrative is a little story from one’s own life. Without

realizing that they are writing narrative, countless people tell
countless little stories about themselves in their Friendly letters.
Organize your story on the basis
of a flow of events in time

Narration is the easiest kind of writing to organize because a story

has a natural flow of events with a beginning, middle, and end.
TOPIC: How I escaped a dishonorable discharge from the army.
TITLE: The case of the Innocent Barracks Bags
1. The approaching end of my stay in an army hospital and in the army.
2. My accumulation of stolen articles that I intended to take with me
3. My proceeding with stuffed barracks bags to the point of discharge
4. My witnessing to my horror that the contents of each man’s barracks bags
were thoroughly inspected
5. My wildly rushing to an upstairs wing and finding an empty room
6. My piling all my stolen goods in the room
7. My passing the barracks-bag inspection with complete innocence
Paragraphing in a personal narrative is simple. You need to plan a
separate paragraph for each item in your list of main events.
Instead, you should plan to have paragraphs of between 50 and
150 words and should plan to start a new paragraph where there is
a perceptible shift in the flow of events.
For example, in the above plan for a personal narrative the student
writer merged the first two main points into one paragraph and
then started a new paragraph where there was a shift of events to
his starting to his point of discharge.
Two rules of paragraphing in your
personal narrative

1. Do not have very short paragraphs.

2. Begin a new paragraph only where there is some shift in events.
Make your opening sentence arouse interest and promise a
story to come In your opening sentence you need tell what your
whole story will be, but you should catch your readers’ interest and
promise them a story.
Stealing is an offense in the army that can lead to a
dishonorable discharge, and at the time of my discharge I was very
nearly caught stealing a considerable amount of goods.
This is strong, gripping opening and makes the reader want to
know the whole story. Just enough of the story is alluded to whet
the reader’s appetite. Such an opening sentence should NOT be a
separate paragraph by itself but should be a part of the first
“I had been in an Army hospital for some weeks and had the
opportunity to pick up various valuables.”
A story usually has a natural ending, but you should compose your
concluding sentence so that it sounds a note of finality.
My relief at being to present honest barracks bags for inspection
must have been similar to that of any sinner that Saint Peter
ushers through the pearly gates.
Use a first-person style that
suits your own personality

Because the little story is about you, you should write in the first
person (using the pronoun I) and should make the style of the story
suit your own personality. For example, compare these sentences:
1. The policeman caught me easily, pretended to be taking me
to jail, and laughed at my screams of fear.
2. The law officer apprehended me with dispatch, made a
pretense of escorting me to the town’s institution of incarceration,
and expressed mirth at my outcries of consternation.
Use a bit of dialogue if it will
sound natural

A short personal narrative need to necessarily have any dialogue,

but a patch or two of it can strengthen the reality of storytelling,
for people are in the story and people do talk. If you use dialogue,
try to make it sound natural.
Tell a story that has some

There should be a point of purpose to your story; an aimless

recounting of a trivial and meaningless experience will interest no
one. For example, the personal narrative discussed above has the
significance that it is dangerous to try to steal from the army. Or a
theme might have, say, the significance that trying to enter a
social circle of rich people leads to disappointment. Then point of
your story does not, of course, have to be moralistic, for an event
in one’s life can be significant without telling a Sunday school
The experience of a young boy trying to sell soap door-to-door
could make an excellent personal narrative.
Thank you for
listening 