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How to Write One Well-Developed Narrative Paragraph

by Judi Light Hopson, Demand Media

    A narrative paragraph tells a short story from beginning to end. It provides insight into the writer's life concerning an incident that made an impact on the writer. In many cases, the emotions and lessons learned will reflect some of the reader's feelings as well. Such a paragraph follows a specific chronological order of events, which all leads up to a conclusion defining the lesson learned.

    Choose the Experience

    Reflect on a personal experience that gave you a new life lesson. You will need to take time to think about how to shape the narrative's beginning. It should begin with a single topic sentence that provides clear language telling what the paragraph will be about. An adjective in the topic sentence will give the underlying emotion surrounding the life-changing moment. This adjective might state that the experience caused you to feel sad, enlightened or determined, for example.

    Focus the Message

    Write the topic sentence, actually using a couple of sentences, if needed, to share with your reader the message that you way to convey. Reveal the eye-opening lesson you learned about precious time spent with your grandfather, for example.

    Engage the Reader

    Subsequent sentences should support the adjective you chose to describe your feeling about the incident. Tell the story from the beginning in the order that everything happened. The ideal narrative paragraph will make your reader feel what you were feeling, so use plenty of details and description in your writing.

    Create the Journey

    Develop the body of the paragraph, after sharing initial information, in seven or eight sentences. Include a transitional sentence or two that lets the reader know when the perspective of the writer started to change. You might state: Everything changed the summer my grandfather was admitted to the hospital. Moments with him became more special for me.

    Pull at the Reader's Heart

    The narrative will seem more personal to the reader if you challenge the reader to respond emotionally to what happened. This can come through dialogue or providing a general thought-provoking question along these lines: I asked myself, "How much more time I would have to spend with this man who was so special to me?"

    Reveal the Impact

    Allow the closing sentence to emphasize the main idea of the story, letting the reader know how the event changed the writer forever. For example, a closing sentence might state: Every time I submitted a children's story to a publisher in my adult life, I knew my grandfather's deep impression on my life was alive in each story.

    Style Your World With Color

    About the Author

    Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.

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