How to write a narrative
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  • 1. HOW TO WRITE A NARRATIVE EOI REUS 2010-2011 HOW TO WRITE A NARRATIVEHOW TO REPORT EVENTSWe often write stories in order to inform the readers, sometimes to amuse them,sometimes to make an account of personal experiences o feelings. Any subject can besuitable, so the events we write about may be public or rather personal. Events can bereported in many different ways: as a newspaper report, as a composition, as a letteror even as a short story or novel. This centres on the last option: narratives.A narrative can include different writing styles such as descriptions, dialogues andspeeches. Narratives are written either in the first person (I/we) or the third person(he/she/it).They may be accounts of real events that happened to somebody or imaginary stories(spy stories, humour stories, detective or crime stories, fairy tales, etc.) Before youstart writing, you should decide on the plot line – that is, the events which make upthe story. You should also bear in mind the reader, as you should be using anadequate vocabulary and level of language.Referring to narrating, whenever you tell a story, you usually answer the following WH-questions: Who was involved? What happened? Where did it happen? When did it happen? Why and how did it happen?Narratives are usually organised in chronological order (by arranging the facts in theorder they occurred), like telling a story. The tenses most commonly used are relatedto past events and should have a past reference (Past Simple, Past Continuous, PastPerfect Simple or Continuous, Second Conditional – for hypothesis). You can also starta story in the past and recall a flashback, where past perfect will be necessary for thetext to be coherent.Your story or narrative should contain the following parts: 1. A TITLE: A suitable, catchy title which appeals the reader and gives some hints to the topic of the story. THE STRANGE STORY OF MR. ROBINSON 1
  • 2. HOW TO WRITE A NARRATIVE EOI REUS 2010-2011 2. AN OPENING/INTRODUCTION: The first paragraphs, which set the scene of the story and answer as many of the WH-questions as possible. Mr. Robinson had lived in the same little house in a suburb of Leeds for nearly 45 years. Now that the time was coming for him to leave, he knew it would not be easy. 3. A MAIN BODY: It describes the various stages that take place, one after the other, picturing an idea of how events develop. One of the events should be the climax event - that is, the event where interest, suspense and feelings reach their peak. Once they reached the main bedroom, the burglars soon noticed one picture big enough to hide the safe they had been looking for around the house. They took the picture down, opened the safe quite effortlessly and put all the money and jewellery into their bags as fast as they could. 4. A CONCLUSION: One or more paragraphs summing up the event, saying how it ended. It may also say how the event might affect the future or state your personal opinion. A twist –such as a surprising ending – will make a long-lasting impression on the reader. After they had checked in and the porter had taken their luggage up to the marvellous suite overlooking the pool, they both breathed a sight of relief. Finally their holiday was about to begin.THE LANGUAGE OF NARRATINGREGISTER ASPECTSThe language you use depends on your subject and your audience. If you arereporting a serious event, the language, register and tone of your report will be seriousand objective. However, if you are writing about something amusing or exciting, thelanguage, register and tone ought to be informal and friendly.USEFUL TIME EXPRESSIONS AND LINKING WORDSSequencers are especially useful when organising a narrative, especially if actionshappened in chronological order. They guide the reader through your story, showinghow events happen and making your ideas easy to follow.These are the most common connectors of sequence:first second finallyfirstly secondly lastfirst of all then lastlyat first next last of allin the beginning (some time) later at last after + (that/noun phrase) in the end afterwards later onDaniel had a really busy afternoon. First, he had a guitar lesson with some friends from school.Then, he went to football practice because he was bound to play in the final match of theseason. After that, he did his homework with one of his friends, Susanne. Finally, he watchedhis favourite TV programme, before having a shower and going to straight to bed. God, he wasexhausted! 2
  • 3. HOW TO WRITE A NARRATIVE EOI REUS 2010-2011There are other expressions that show chronological order too – prepositional phrasesused to indicate time.Deborahs parents took a two-week holiday. For the first few days, she enjoyed the frozen foodthey had left for her. After eating frozen pizzas for a week, however, she was thoroughly sick ofthem. By the time her parents returned home, she was longing for a home-cooked meal.You may also want to use some of the following linkers:as soon as when while at that momentby the time soon eventually meanwhileafter a while suddenly as/sinceREPORTING WHAT SOMEONE SAIDWhen we are writing a narrative, we often need to report what someone said. We cando so by using either direct or indirect speech. Direct Speech - write the speakers words in quotation marks (" ") - start the quotation with a capital letter - use a comma (,) before the quotation - end the quotation: a) with a stop, question mark or exclamation mark if it comes at the end of the sentence. The reporter said, "A lot of damage has been done." The officer asked, "Has anyone been injured?" The man cried, "Come quickly!" b) with a comma, question mark or exclamation mark if it comes at the beginning of the sentence. "A lot of damage has been done", the reporter said. "Has anyone been injured?" the officer asked. "Come quickly!" the man cried. Indirect Speech No special punctuation is necessary in Indirect Speech, just the necessary changes in verb tense. The reporter said that a lot of damage had been done. The officer asked if/whether anyone had been injured.ADJECTIVES, ADVERBS AND VERBSTo make a narrative more interesting to the reader, we should relate the charactersmoods and feelings. We can do so by:- using a variety of adjectives and adverbs such as wonderful, fascinating, horrible,depressed, etc. instead of basic/general ones such as good, nice, bad.- using a variety of verbs such as whisper, stare, scream, sigh, exclaim, etc. 3
  • 4. HOW TO WRITE A NARRATIVE EOI REUS 2010-2011TECHNIQUES TO BEGIN AND/OR END YOUR STORYWhen writing a narrative we want to engage the reader. An interesting beginning isimportant in order to catch his/her attention and make them want to continue reading.An interesting ending will make them feel satisfied. We can start our story by: - using the senses to set the scene and describe the weather, atmosphere, surroundings or peoples actions to create mystery and suspense. A strange sensation came over me as I walked along the cold, dim corridor. Suddenly, a delicate glow appeared at the end and my heart began pounding quickly. We can start or end our story by: - using direct speech. "Watch out! That branch is about to fall!" shouted Greg urgently. - asking rhetorical questions (a question that does not expect an answer). Have you ever had the feeling that you were being watched? -referring to feelings/moods. Vivian was so nervous that, just as she was about to deliver her speech, she froze and stared blankly at the audience. -addressing the reader directly. Im sure you would have done the same thing in my place. We can end our story by: - describing peoples reactions to or feelings about the events developed in the main body. It had definitely been a horrifying experience and I was lucky to be alive in the end. 4