Narrative Writing


    Narrative writing is story writing.  Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.  Narrative may be personal stories about significant events in your life.  Narrative may also be made up creative stories.  All stories are organized into three parts:


    BEGINNING - In the beginning of a narrative, the characters and setting are revealed.  The stage is set for introducing the specific situation or problem in the story.  It is important to grab the reader’s attention with a good beginning.


    MIDDLE - In the middle of a narrative, the sequence of events builds up to a climax, or high point of the story, and then descends into a solution.  The main character(s) may make several attempts at solving the problem before they are successful.


    END - At the end of the story a solution is reached.  The overall message or moral of the story becomes clear.  The reader should understand what the main character(s) learned.  Personal narratives should end with a feeling or a reflection about why the story is important.




    CHARACTERS - Characters can be people, animals, or things.  Characters are revealed by what they say and do, how they look, and what they think.


    SETTING - The setting is where the story takes place.  The setting is revealed as the author shows the reader what the setting looks, sounds, and feels like.  The setting tells when the story takes place.  The time, season, and weather may be an important part of the setting.


    PLOT - The plot of a story is the action.  The plot tells what happens as the character tries to solve the problem.  It is the set of events in a story.  Often there is some sort of struggle or something that needs to be fixed or solved.  Usually the events build up to the high point, or climax, of the story.  The problem is resolved in some way.


    THEME - The theme of a story is the subject or main idea.  The theme is the message of the story.


    MOOD - The mood is how the writer feels about the character(s).  It is the feeling(s) that the story gives.  Some stories are humorous, while others are serious.




    Step 1 Working Title

    1.        The working title helps you stay focused on your topic and purpose. 

    2.        Use this title while you write the draft.  Improve or change it later.


    Step 2 Quick Sketch

    1.         A quick sketch lets you practice your story.

    2.        Sketch the beginning, middle, and end of your story.

    3.        Sketch the events as quickly as you can with the details that will help you when you write.

    4.        Use the sketch to help you pick a setting, create characters, present a conflict, and plan for an ending.


    Step 3 Quick Notes

    1.        Jot words and phrases (descriptions, action verbs, details, places, names, feelings, time, weather, and so on beneath your quick sketches.

    2.        The notes will be helpful when you write.  They will help you write the story quickly.


    Step 4 Interesting Beginning

    1.        Use a strategy for beginning your story - try beginning with a where, a when, an action, a character, a startling comment, or some dialogue.

    2.        Try several beginnings and pick the best beginning sentence.


    Step 5 Story Transitions

    1.        Transitions let your reader know that the scene or the action is changing; they are tools for developing your story.

    2.        Transitions often show the start of a new paragraph--anew time or a new place.  They are sometimes called signal words.

    3.        Make your transitions smooth and interesting; use them to bring events and characters to life.


    Step 6 Memorable Ending

    1.        Make sure the reader knows the purpose or point of your story.

    2.        Don’t use “The End” or “...and then he woke up and it was just a dream.”

    3.         Give your readers a reason to think about the story or a reason to remember a character.

    4.        Let the ending share a feeling with your reader.




    1.  Use quotation marks to show a character’s exact words.

            “Where is the dog?” asked Jacob.

    2.  Use a comma, an exclamation point, or a question mark at the end of the character’s words.  Notice that the punctuation mark is inside the quotation marks.

            “I will look for the dog,” promised Stan.

            “Let’s look for him right now!” Carly pleaded.

            “Where should we look first?” asked Nick.

    3.  Begin the character’s statement or question with a capital letter.

            Nick sighed, “The dog ran away.”

    4.  If the character’s statement is divided, use a small letter to start the second part of the quotation.

            “The dog dashed out the door,” explained Nick, “and he raced across the yard.”

    5.  If the character makes two or more statements, use a capital letter to begin each sentence.  More than one sentence can be quoted.

            “I don’t want anything to happen to him.  We’ve got to find him,” said Carly.  “I have an idea where he may have gone.”

    6.  Whenever the speaker changes, begin a new paragraph.

            “I’m ready to go,” agreed Sam.

            “Just let me get the leash,” said Carly, “and then follow me.”




    Transitions often start paragraphs, but are not needed for every paragraph.  They are only used to move the story along.  Transitions often indicate a change of time or place and show the sequence of events.  Story transitions, often called connectors, are different than expository transitions.


        In the meantime                    The following day                        Some time later

        By (four o’clock)                    In (the late afternoon)                  As soon as

        Almost as quickly                 An hour later                                Meanwhile

        Immediately                          Afterward                                      Hours went by

        Right away                             After that                                       Just then

        Later                                        Before (I could)                             Just before (dawn)

        While (we studied)               When (we arrived)                       After (our visit)

        At (dinnertime)                     Moments later                               In (the spring)

        By the time                             Before (sunrise)                            On (Wednesday)

        During (dinner)                     While (visiting)                            As (it rained)

        A short while later                That evening                                At the same time

        Quickly                                   Suddenly                                       That night

        At dusk                                   The next thing I knew                  Finally




    There are several good ways to end a story. 

    1.  You could note a feeling.  Ex.  That evening, the mother and her children danced and celebrated with a feast of blackberries and wild honey.

    2. Remember a character.  Ex.  The green eyes of the children still haunt our memories and the mystery of where they came from was never solved.

    3. Think about the story.  Ex.  Sometimes you don’t have to come in first place to feel like a winner.

    4.  Get the point.  Ex.  I was never late for Mrs. Chou’s piano lessons again.




    Titles are important and should give a hint about the character(s), setting, problem, or theme.  Good titles grab the reader’s attention.  Titles should be more than one word, typically.  Remember to capitalize the first and last words in titles and all the important words.  Capitalize all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions  (“as”, “because”, “although). Use lowercase for all articles (“a”, “an”, “the”) and coordinate conjunctions (“and”, “or”, “nor”), and prepositions that are four letters or less in length (words like “to”, “by”, “near”, “from”, “for”, “on”) unless they are the first or last word in the title.