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How to Write Narrative


A narrative is a story written about a personal experience. When it is well written, the narrative essay enlightens the reader about something the writer has experienced and explains its relevance. The writer's job is to draw in the reader so that the reader cares about the topic being discussed and can see its relation to his own life. To write an effective narrative you need to determine a point of view, grab the reader at the outset, use details to make the story vivid and show the reader why the story matters.

Select a Point of View

Virtually any experience can be the focus for a narrative essay, and as a story it needs to be told from someone's point of view. The story may be about something that happened to you that you'll want to tell in the first person. First person provides an immediacy to the narrative. If the story is about someone else you'll want to use third person.

Start Strong

An important goal of the introduction is to grab the readers' attention and make them want to continue reading. Using a dramatic statement at the outset is a good way to do this. Something like "I'd never been so humiliated in my life" works better than "an embarrassing thing happened to me one Sunday afternoon in middle school." The journalist's technique of beginning with a striking fact can also work, such as "In my short life, I've driven over 60,000 miles on road trips around the United States and Canada."

Make Use of Details

Make your story more vivid by including the senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Rather than simply saying a room was pleasant, tell the reader details of what it looked and sounded like. The goal is to involve readers in the scene as a way of enhancing their interest in your story. You might also include actual dialogue as another way of making the story more immediate to the reader. In the end, every detail of how you tell your story helps the reader understand what happened and, more importantly, why it matters.

Wrap It Up With Relevance

In the conclusion, make the point of your story clear. Your reason for wanting to tell the story will give you clues about why it may be relevant for others. Your story may be an example of how to learn from experience. You might write a narrative essay about your road trip experiences because you enjoyed them greatly and hope to encourage others similarly expand their horizons. There may be a moral to the story that readers can apply to their lives.

About the Author

Charlie Rossiter is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications such as Milwaukee Journal, Science Digest" and the Robb Report as well as online. He received an NEA Fellowship for creative writing and is profiled in "Contemporary Authors." His advanced degree is in communication and he's been writing professionally for more than 30 years.

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