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What Kind of Details Can Help Strengthen a Narrative Essay?


The point of a narrative essay is to use storytelling to convey an experience that taught you a lesson. Because it is a personal piece of writing, your narrative essay will be stronger if it includes emotional detail and evokes sympathy or even empathy in the reader. Descriptions of people, locations and events will help strengthen your essay's authenticity and ensure that you successfully convey the message or moral.

Viewpoint

The best way to strengthen a narrative essay is to build it around yourself and tell the story from your point of view. Seeing events through your eyes makes the tale more authentic and believable. The first-person narrative form -- using "I" rather than "he" or "she" -- engages the reader directly with your emotions and allows her to understand your perspective. In this way, she is drawn straight into the heart of the story and your message.

Tension

Using events to create dramatic tension gives the narrative its pace and flow. Plotting key points of interest on a graph, with peaks to show events of high drama and troughs to indicate pedestrian parts of the story, shows you how the narrative will unfold. Your essay needs a balance between fast-paced, exciting events and the more routine narrative elements of character development and scene-setting. Planning a dramatic arc of events allows you to strengthen the narrative tension within your essay.

Characters

Carefully chosen language makes characters jump off the page. Strong character portraits require a precise use of adjectives and adverbs, enhanced by layers of figurative language, such as similes and metaphors. A simple sentence such as, "I saw the thin, pale girl walk carefully across the beach," creates a much more vivid impression if you use imagery: "Like a stick insect, the pasty-faced girl picked her way precariously between the rocks in the sand." The detail within this sentence strengthens the picture of the girl.

Dialogue

Although the core of a narrative essay lies with its message, this is often conveyed through the interaction between characters. Authentic dialogue gives the reader insight into relationships and motives. Personalities are revealed as characters expose their personal views on events in the story through conversational details. Well-written dialogue enhances the style of the essay and contributes to its tone by including incidental details that move the plot forward and create atmosphere.

About the Author

Catherine Ketley was a teacher in London for 20 years, later authoring online materials for the British government and National College. She moved into print media in 2001. Ketley holds a bachelor's degree in education and English. In 2002, she also earned a distinction for postgraduate research.

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