The Narration Mode
Ø To narrate is to tell a story, to relate a sequence of events that are linked in time;
“to illuminate the stages leading to a result”
Ø When used as primary means of developing essay, relates a sequence of events that led to
new knowledge or had notable outcome.
Ø The point (what the reader takes away) determines the selection of events, the amount of
detail, and arrangement.
Ø We see this mode in speeches, histories, biographies, autobiographies, personal letters,
diaries, journals, anecdotes in general.
Possibilities for arrangement:
Ø Straight chronological sequence (easiest, good for short pieces, and those with standard
plot development); this also intensifies the drama if you withhold the “thesis”
Ø The final event (self-revelation) might come first followed by events leading up to it
Ø Entire story might be summarized and then relayed in detail
Ø Flashbacks to recall events whose significance wouldn’t be clear otherwise
Ø In medias res!
order, the ending should leave readers with the desired effect/ impression.
Point of view:
and verb tense need to be consistent - - Narrative time is not real time (but whatever chosen it must be consistent!)
Ø If first person, then it will be more subjective
and will show the writer’s feelings.
Ø If third person (nonparticipant), then it will be more objective (unbiased).
Key question: Why was the incident or experience significant?
What does it teach or illustrate?
Other key elements to consider:
Ø Sometimes it helps to draft the story first if the experience is fresh.
Ø Scene vs. summary
Ø Dialogue adds immediacy and realism (as long as it advances the story).
o Relates not only what was said, but how (speaker’s voice) and with what expression.
Ø Transitions should be informative, such as afterward, earlier, for an hour, in that time,
the next morning, a week later.
Journalistic questions to consider:
Ø Who was involved?
Ø What happened?
Ø When did it happen?
Ø Where did it happen?
Ø Why did it happen?
Ø How did it happen?
(as with description,
choice of detail determines an impression and should reflect the understanding the author wishes to relay to the audience)
When revising, consider:
A variety of sentence
openings and combined simple sentences
Ø Does your assignment call for narration?
Ø Does your essay’s thesis communicate the significance of the events you discuss?
Ø Have you included enough specific detail?
Ø Have you varied your sentence structure?
Ø Is the order of events clear to readers?
Ø Have you varied sentence openings to avoid monotony?
Ø Do your transitions link events in time?