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How to Format a Narrative


A narrative, more commonly known as a story, is a written or spoken account of past, present or future events. A narrative has many forms, such as song, writing, a television series or a feature film, and the subject of a narrative can be fictitious or real. All narratives have a beginning, middle and end and are traditionally told in chronological order. Almost every narrative, in the end, contains a point or lesson. Narratives are used by people every day, from writing a reflective essay in school to telling the recent events of your life to your best friend. While there are countless ways to tell a story, all narratives can be formatted a similar way.

Think about the narrative you want to tell. Consider who the characters are, where the story takes place and when the events occur, such as the past, present or future. Ask yourself what the point of the story is, what people can learn from hearing or reading it and why you want to tell it. Decide the medium in which you want to present the narrative, whether to tell the story in first person or third and whether you want to present the events in chronological order. The decisions you make depend on the medium and your own personal preferences.

Create an outline for your narrative. List the events in the order you want to present them to your audience. Divide the narrative into sections if the story is lengthy, such as stanzas for a poem, chapters for a book or episodes for a TV series. Give the narrative a clear beginning, middle and end. In one sentence, write what the narrative is ultimately about to help guide your outline and the way you want your narrative to unfold.

Tell your narrative following your outline. Recount the story using the conventions of the medium in which you are working: writing a script and filming with actors for a movie, following a certain form of poetry or writing a formal essay with paragraphs. Use vivid details and descriptions in your narrative to engage your audience and help them envision what you are telling them about.

About the Author

Dan Richter began freelance writing in 2006. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the "Wausau Daily Herald," "Stevens Point Journal," "Central Wisconsin Business Magazine" and the "Iowa City Press-Citizen." Richter graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and media studies.

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