A narrative represents a detailed, chronological story with a clear beginning, middle and end. The narrative can be based on a personal experience or can be told in the third person about someone else. Outlining the story before writing benefits authors by helping to provide organization and clarity for the piece.

Graphic Organizers

Start by organizing the ideas and events that you will include in the story. A visual representation helps you discern the elements that are to be included. The website Read Write Think features an "Essay Map," for example, that could be a helpful tool. Other ideas include a spider map, for which you write the life event in the middle and create spokes coming out that represent the events, or a chronological timeline.

Topic Outline

A topic outline, or macro outline, can help to clearly organize your ideas. The main ideas are represented by Roman numerals. A narrative story would utilize about four to five main parts. Each Roman numeral topic will be broken down into several sections. These are represented by capital letters that are indented. These details can be broken down even further, with indented Arabic numerals. You can write phrases for topic outlines, capitalizing the first word of each phrase.

Sentence Outline

Sentence outlines, or micro outlines, go into even more detail than than macro outlines by describing each element in a complete sentence. You can organize your broad events with Roman numerals and set up the outline like the macro version. Clarify and elaborate on each point by writing a more detailed sentence.


Employ subordination when you write. The Roman numerals should represent big ticket subjects or general ideas and the letters and Arabic numbers explain more specific descriptors. Also, make sure that each Roman numeral or letter is parallel with the others. Whether writing phrases or sentences, if letter A is a noun phrase, letter B must also be one. Make sure to divide equally. If you have a one, you must have a two. If you have an "A", you must have a "B".