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Comp I June 20, 2011

Narrative Patterns

Point of View

Narratives are usually written from the writer,
or narrator’s, point of view

Since this essay is essentially a story, it should include the
conventions used in any good story: a plot, with explanation
of the setting and the characters; conflict, tension, and a
narrative arc.

Should follow a simple time line. Chronological is best, but
flashbacks and foreshadowing can be useful.

These types of essays depend upon concrete, specific details to
support their theses. These details need to create a unified,
dominant impression.

Narrative Patterns


Most narratives
contain both internal and
external dialogue.

A Point

Narrative writing can be considered a reflection or
an exploration of the author's values told as a story. The
author may remember his or her past, or a memorable
person or event from that past, or even observe the present.
Whatever you choose to write about though, you must make
a point. What is the reason you are writing about this? Why
are you different because of this?

Principles of a NARRATIVE

Telling a story and writing a narrative essay are not the same thing at all!

“Build your essay around a central point, a main idea that
your story then supports and explains. This is crucial, and
perhaps the defining characteristic between a narrative
story and a narrative
essay. This main idea will be the
thesis of your essay, will say something that the story itself
then illuminates and shows to be true. This generalization
can be quite personal; it does not have to capture a truth
about humanity as a whole or about the essence of the
human condition. It simply needs to capture a truth about
your life and use the story, the narrative experience, to
illustrate its importance to you. In this way, it then has
meaning to the readers as well.”

Thesis of a Narrative Essay

Figuring out the thesis of a Narrative Essay is more
difficult because it is a story and it is written
chronologically instead of structurally. The best way to
figure out your thesis is to start writing. Somewhere in
that freewriting stage you will begin to find the
significance in your story. When you get to your
revisions you can rewrite it making the significance
more obvious. In a Narrative the thesis or thesis
statement can be implied. The author does not “spell it
out” for the reader.

Principles of a NARRATIVE

Remember: ultimately you are writing an essay, not simply telling a story

“Remember to incorporate details of your story that
not only illuminate your thesis, but also engage your
readers' imaginations and make the story "real" for
them as well.

Use words that have more literal meaning. When we
use language at a lower level of abstraction, in more
concrete and specific vocabulary

each word carries
more information.

Principles of a Narrative

Compare for example the verbs
went, walked, and
staggered in the following sentences.


to the store Saturday night.


to the store on Saturday night.


to the store on Saturday night.

Each sentence gives much more information to the
reader, even though no more words are added. The
difference is the use of

a special set of
synonyms, in which the meaning of the more specific
word includes the meaning of the more general words.

Narrative Arc

Narrative Progression (ARC)


Introduces the characters, setting, and

Inciting Incident (Narrative hook)

First major
action throwing things out of balance or changing the
direction of the story.


Conflict/struggle develops. Can be
internal or external.

Narrative Progression (ARC)

Rising Action

Builds suspense as the conflict
becomes clearer.


The major turning point of the story. Point
of greatest interest.

Falling Action

Shows the effect of the climax and
tells what happens to the characters next.

Dénouement (Resolution)

Answers any remaining
questions related to the plot.