The Rhetorical Mode of Narration
Any time you “tell what
happened” or “tell a story” you
are using NARRATION.
Strictly speaking, narration is any
writing that lays out the events of
a story in a dramatic and climactic
Narration typically uses the chronological
organization of events to make a point. It may
also include flashback (analpsis) or begin in
medias res (L. “in the middle of things”) a
classical method of telling a story in which the
narrator works backward from the action or
climax to bring the reader up to the present
(Examples: the novel: Identity Lost and the epic
poems: The Iliad and The Odyssey
Narration tells a story by presenting events in an
orderly, logical sequence. Some examples of
television and news reports
A narrative essay is usually written to
recount a series of events, usually to
support a THESIS or THEME.
Narrative writers don’t just tell a
story, but they tell a story to make a
For purposes of a narrative essay, we’ll use the words
theme and thesis interchangeably.
A theme is the central topic of the work that functions
like a thesis, but is usually IMPLIED, not stated.
A thesis is usually stated outright.
In a narrative, you will typically have to discern the
theme on your own; in other words, you will have to
figure out what the writer is trying to convey beyond the
actual story itself. Skilled writers don’t TELL readers the theme. Skilled writers IMPLY a theme; skill readers
INFER the theme. In this AP class, you’ll do BOTH!
Narratives are usually told in chronological order,
for the purpose of coming to a new insight.
(“losing” and “finding”) –a discovery about
yourself or a truth.
Examples: Nahirny WSJ article, “Son for a
Season,” and Conniff, NY Times article,
“Manchild Coming of Age.” (We will read in class.)
Narratives are generally PERSONAL stories.
In a narrative, your reader should never
finish the story and say “So what?” Your
story should not be POINTLESS!
As the narrator/writer, you are obligated to
make your narration meaningful to give it
some central theme or topic that justifies
the time spent reading it.
In your narrative, avoid the “and then”
“and then” format. BORING!
Don’t just write your narrative using a
series of statements or DECLARATIVE
Be sure to VARY YOUR SENTENCE structure as you
write. Use long sentences, short sentences,
different sentence types (declarative,
interrogative, exclamatory, imperative). Write in
paragraphs of different lengths.
(There is such a thing as a one word or even a
one-sentence paragraph -–think of the proper way
to punctuate dialogue: every time the speaker
changes, a new paragraph begins. )
Narrative essays need a rich, specific
details if they are to be convincing.
Details interest the reader and give
the story authenticity.
Set the scene and focus on the
important elements, not the minor
elements. We don’t need to know
Narration encompasses SENSORY
DETAILS which can create a picture
or set a scene. If the
reader/audience cannot VISUALIZE
what you are recounting, the
narrative will not be effectual.
People and places are the
lifeblood of your narrative. Make
them real through the use of
Remember this rule: SHOW ME,
don’t TELL ME! Set the scene.
Draw a picture with words so that
your reader feels like he or she
was/is actually there.
Dialogue can often be
incorporated into a narrative to
make it interesting and realistic.
Narrative writing must have a
consistent perspective or POINT
The most typical perspective for a narrative is
FIRST PERSON , “I”. Narratives can also be told
from the point of view of a specific person or a
character. Decide BEFORE you start your narrative
what POINT OF VIEW you will use. Don’t...
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