How to Write a Strong Narrative

A strong narrative captures the attention of an audience with an inspiring story, descriptive language and a meaningful thesis. Narratives use first-person or third-person voice to illustrate a significant event or series of events, which shaped a person's life. A strong narrative shows readers the importance of the event or experience as seen through the eyes of the writer. A strong narrative is a piece of writing that profoundly impacts the reader in some way.

Prewriting Activity

Decide on a personal experience or event in your life that will have meaning for other people. Jot down as many details about the experience as possible, which is referred to as "brainstorming." Write down how and why the experience or event changed your life or changed the life of someone else.

Create a map or use a concept map to begin to organize information. If necessary, print out a concept map from the resource section. Divide the main topic into three subtopics. Provide two or three examples for each subtopic. Use the information to compose free-writes about each subtopic.

Write a paragraph about each of the subtopics and each example. Provide as many details as possible about each subtopic. Use descriptive language and include important details, such as the setting and people involved. Do not stress over punctuation or correct wording, as this is a prewriting activity.

Writing the Narrative

Decide on the voice in which to write the essay. Use the first person to tell the narrative from the "I" perspective. Use the third person to tell the narrative from the "he" or "she" point of view. Make sure you pick the voice that is best suited to help tell the story.

Write an introduction that informs the reader of the overall purpose. Hook the reader or audience with a shocking fact or something very interesting. Inform the reader of the setting of the narrative in the introduction and introduce important people or characters. Write the thesis statement or overall purpose as the last sentence of the introduction.

Write the body of your essay, which should be at least three paragraphs. Tell the readers of the event or sequence of events, using descriptive language. Recreate the event, so that readers experience it along with the writer. Describe emotions and thoughts of the writer and other characters with expressive dialogue. Inform readers of any pertinent information, such as specific reasons for a person's behavior.

Make sure to include a climax or a significant turning point in the narrative. Place the climatic action in the body of the narrative. Place the climax in the narrative, so that room exists for the falling actions and the conclusion or resolution of the story. Include at least one action after the climax in the body of the narrative, as this guides the readers toward the resolution or end of the narrative.

Summarize briefly the main events of the narrative and restate the thesis in a different way. Resolve the narrative, so that readers have some conclusion for themselves. If the narrative needs to have an unresolved ending, show how the ending changed the life or situation of the writer. Leave the reader thinking by the conclusion of the narrative.


Ask several people to read your narrative and make suggestions. Although you do not have to use these suggestions, having others review your narrative gives you the opportunity to look at your narrative from other points of view. Rewrite the narrative, using any suggestions that you feel are appropriate for the content.

Instruct someone to read the narrative to you, so that you can hear it from a different voice. Make any necessary changes to the narrative's content.

Use a spell check feature to eliminate spelling errors. As it is acceptable for narratives to have incorrect grammatical structure, either refrain from using a grammar checker or use a professional editor to double-check the structure of your narrative.

About the Author

Based in Bryn Athyn, Penn., Sarah Bostock has been writing since 2006. Her articles on education have been featured in "The Virginia English Bulletin." Bostock holds a Master of Science in English with a concentration in British literature from Radford University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in photography from Virginia Intermont College.

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