Your assignment for this module is to write a narrative essay. In other words, you are tasked with telling a compelling story. You may base this story on an experience you have had or create a completely fictional story; regardless, make sure your narrative centers on a compelling conflict that propels the action forward. Use description to effectively flesh out the characters that appear in the story and to make the settings in which it takes place come alive. Use chronological order to present your experience in a logical manner; you may also use flashbacks (or perhaps even flash forwards) to jump around in time, but make sure the reader can easily follow the action of the story. Transitions such as first, next, after that, later, before, during, meanwhile, upon, soon, now, finally, while, as soon as, and when can effectively tie events together and connect your ideas. Your final paper should be 2- 4 typed, double spaced pages (approximately 500 to 1000 words).
Step 1: Pre-Writing (Questioning and Freewriting)
As we discussed in the module, the most natural kind of prewriting for storytelling is asking the classic “reporter’s questions:”who, what, when, where, why, and how.
- Who is the main character in the story?
- What is the story’s conflict?
- When does the story take place?
- Where does the action happen?
- Why are you telling the story (what is its main purpose)?
- How does the story end?The module also mentions freewriting as a prewriting option; this is the process of writing freely without worrying about grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. When you are trying to write a narrative and are looking for ideas, you might imagine a scenario or think about an important moment in your own life and then just write whatever comes to mind for about ten minutes. Then you should step away from your writing for a break to clear and refresh your mind. When returning, read what you wrote and identify the possibilities for the paper topic.
Step 2: Focusing, Outlining, and Drafting
In order to make all the moments fit together well, you need to create a basic outline before you start drafting that sets up the order of events in your story. As we discussed in the module itself, a narrative is usually organized using chronological
order and proceeds from the beginning of the story, the earliest important event, to its end, the final moment of the tale. As you organize your story’s moments, remember that a good story starts as close to the climactic moment of the conflict as possible; if you start too far back in time, you will lose your focus by including a lot of events that don’t have any connection to the conflict at the heart of your tale. In essence, you will be wasting valuable space with events that don’t matter.
There are no absolute rules for putting a narrative together since you might use flashbacks and flash forwards along the way. However, keep these basic points from the module in mind as you go:
- In a narrative, one event follows the next.
- An effective narrative is centered on a conflict and builds up to a climax, themoment when the conflict reaches its most intense point and is somehow
- An interesting narrative starts with a hook, a moment that inspires thereader to keep reading. This means you want to start with a great description
or an exciting incident, all of which is tied to the first event of the story.
- After the climax of the story, there is usually some sort of resolution or finalevent that ties everything together and may help emphasize the story’s purpose.
Here’s a very basic outline to get you started; the idea is to write out a quick summation of the different sections on the lines provided. Remember that this outline is just a suggestion, for you can include as many events as you want as long as you stay within the assignment’s length requirements:
I. Event #1 (use description to make it lively and to hook the reader):_________________________________________________
II. Event #2 (rising action):_________________________________________________
III. Event #3 (rising action):_________________________________________________
IV. Climactic Event (conflict explodes):_________________________________________________ V. Final Event (story resolves):_________________________________________________
Once you’ve figured out your outline, you are encouraged to post it in the Module 2 “Narrative Outline” discussion board in the Discussions area of Blackboard so that your instructor can give you some feedback before you begin drafting. You can either attach it to a thread as a Word file or just type it into the thread itself.
After you’ve finished outlining and hopefully gotten some feedback, you are ready to draft the actual paper.
Step 3: Revising, Editing, and Proofreading
Once your draft is finished, step away from it for at least a few hours so you can approach it with fresh eyes. It is also a very good idea to email it to a friend or fellow classmate or otherwise present it to a tutor or trusted family member to get feedback. Remember, writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it is meant to be read by an audience, and a writer can’t anticipate all of the potential issues an outside reader might have with an essay’s structure or language.
Whatever the case, after getting some feedback from others, read your essay over and consider what you might alter to make it clearer or more exciting.
Consider the following questions:
- Does the essay have a central conflict that is resolved by the end?
- Does it have enough description in it so that main characters and importantplaces come to life in the reader’s mind?
- Are there any awkward sentences or spelling errors that need correction?
- Are the sentences complete?
- Are there any run-on sentences or comma splices?
- Does the essay follow the formatting requirements?Step 4: Evaluation
After completing these steps, submit the essay to the instructor, who will evaluate it according to the grading criteria. (1)