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What Kind of Ordering Is Best for Narrative Essays?


A narrative essay aims to tell a story, often a personal event that means something to the writer. The overall structure of a narration may differ in some ways from description, argument and expository models such as comparison/contrast essays. Establishing a logical order to your ideas can help create a narrative that is easy for your reader to follow.

General

The overall order of your narrative essay should follow the structure of all essays. You should create an introduction, at least several body paragraphs and a conclusion. The introduction draws in the reader and establishes the purpose for your story, giving the reader a reason to care about your story. It begins with a hook, like a question or statistic, that makes the reader want to read. The body paragraphs tell the events in the narrative, and the conclusion summarizes the events and emphasizes your point. A good conclusion makes a larger point about the story, explaining what you learned from the event and how it might apply to others.

Thesis

It is important to establish a purpose for your narrative by including a thesis statement. The thesis should appear at the end of the introductory paragraph and explain why you are writing your story. It might express the idea you learned from the experience, such as, "I learned a valuable lesson about time management that day;" a more general moral your reader can see, such as, "The saying that you don't know what it's like to have children until you have two is really true;" or otherwise set up your narration, such as, "I thought I knew what to expect, but I would soon learn otherwise."

Chronological

The most common and easiest method of organization in the body of a narrative is chronological, or time order. Because telling a story typically involves talking about a series of occurrences, time order often seems most logical. In the body paragraphs, chronological order begins with the earliest events and then moves forward in time, connecting ideas with transitions such as "then," "next" and "second." This kind of structure makes it easy for your reader to understand what happened when and how the events tie together.

Other

You may choose a different type of organization if your topic does not clearly fit in a chronology. For instance, spatial order, which discusses objects as they appear in a location, may be more appropriate if you want to narrate the memories that are connected with various objects in your family home. If you write about several different events and how they tie together, you may elect to write in order of importance, beginning with the least important event and ending with the most significant. Choose whatever type of organization best fits the purpose of your narrative.

About the Author

Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.

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