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How Can a Student Plan to Write a Narrative?


Essentially, a narrative is a personal story that explains an experience and makes a point. Readers connect with narrative writing in a personal way and the stories are often used to teach a lesson. Personal narratives can also be used on applications for jobs, scholarships or colleges as a way for the committee to get to know the candidate. Careful planning is essential to success in writing a narrative essay.

Brainstorm a Topic

The student must determine the personal story to explore, such as a life-changing event, the student's relationship with an important person or an ongoing situation that is either positive or negative. Students should seek topics that will make an impact on the reader or explain something particular about the student and his life. Students can create a list of important life moments or people, either chronologically or by theme, or create a web, with the topic in the middle and spokes, or specific ideas, coming out from it.

Choose a Topic

A good topic to choose is the most noteworthy personal event the student has brainstormed. If answering an application, the story must relate to the prompt and be specifically acceptable to the audience and their needs. For example, if the student is applying for a service-oriented scholarship, writing a narrative about her mission trip to El Salvdor would make a strong essay. Choosing an emotional topic that resonates in a student's memory will create stronger writing.

Find Concrete Evidence

Personal narratives demand imagery. The student can list as many sensory details as possible to describe the event or person. These details should encompass each of the five senses so that the reader feels like he is there and experiencing the story firsthand. Describing elements such as the sights created by extreme weather, the smells of ethnic foods being cooked or the sounds of people sobbing or chuckling in a scene makes the writing more powerful. Imagery gives writing a universal quality that links the audience to the writing.

Organize Ideas

The student can organize ideas effectively using a spider map, outline, or Venn diagram. A personal narrative will usually feature a chronological timeline, but a flashback technique or descriptively based piece can also work. To create a flashback, the student can start in the present and then explain an important event from the past that has affected the present. In descriptive writing, the writer concentrates more on explaining one person or event rather than a list of several events. Maintaining a steady focus throughout the outline or map will ultimately create an organized piece of writing.

About the Author

Kathryne Bradesca has been a writing teacher for more than 15 years. She has also contributed to newspapers and magazines such as "The Morning Journal" and "The Ignatius Quarterly." Bradesca received a master's degree in teaching from Kent State University.

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