Part Two Paragraph Writing Skills and Essay Introduction

Unit 5 Narrative Paragraphs

Learning Objectives

  1. To learn what a narrative paragraph focuses on
  2. To understand and practice narrative paragraphs with a focus on the use of time transitions, past tenses, descriptive vocabulary, and specific supporting details
  3. To study narrative paragraphs through analyzing multiple models
  4. To apply the writing process to plan and write narrative paragraphs

 

I. Warm – Up

a man sitting on a chair at an airport
a man sitting on a chair at an airport

Read Paragraph “My Worst Trip” and do the activities that follow.

My Worst Trip

          My experiences at Miami Airport and during the flight to Chicago on September 29, 2007 were terrible because I could not understand English. I came from Mexico, and that was my first connecting trip out of my own country. After a long flight from my native country, I arrived at Miami Airport. I had been so excited walking in an American airport until a uniformed officer asked me something in English. I felt nervous because I did not speak English and did not know how to answer her questions. I just shook my head. I was not walking excitedly anymore because I realized that I did not speak the language. I already began to miss my own country! Suddenly, I looked at my watch, and it said 12:30 pm. I was so hungry that I needed to eat something. I had not eaten much on my first flight. I went to a small restaurant in the airport, looked at the pictures of the menu on the screen, and decided to have a coke and a sandwich. I could not see clearly or read what kind of sandwich that was, but it looked scrumptious[1]. I was just going to point to the picture and tell the waiter what I wanted. He came and spoke fast. Because I did not understand, I felt I had to say “Ok”. Well, he gave me a different meal, and it cost me almost $20! This situation was awful[2]. I ate the meal in sad silence. I could not tell what it tasted like because I was tired and upset. Finally, I got on my flight to Chicago in the evening. On the plane, I wanted to drink water, but I did not know how to ask for it. I just stayed in my seat quietly and felt despondent[3]. In the end, I met my family at the airport in Chicago at 11:30 pm. On our way home, I told them about my nightmare. They comforted me, “Don’t worry. All will be fine.” However, I could not shake off the feeling that I had just had a rocky start[4] on my life in this new country. On that day, I made a promise to myself that I would have to study English really hard.

 

By student,  ESL Writing III, Harper College. Used with permission.

 

1. Color code the paragraph:

Title – pink                                             Background informationpurple                         

Topic sentencered                          Beginning of the storygreen

Middle of the story – blue                 End of the story – green

Transitions – yellow                            Concluding sentence(s) – red

 

2. Discuss:

  • What was your experience on your trip to the U.S.? Did you have a similar experience as the writer?
  • Does the writer focus on telling a story, arguing for a controversial issue, or listing points to explain an idea?
  • How is this paragraph similar to the ones you have studied in Unit 4 Enumerative Paragraphs?
  • How is this paragraph different from the ones in Unit 4?
  • What types of supporting ideas and details are used to explain the main idea?
  • What do you like about this paragraph?
  • How would you improve the paragraph?
  • If you could ask the writer a question, what would you ask?

 

II. Focus of Narrative Paragraphs

Narration is a description of an experience, an event, a story, or a situation to show a point of view. You have already studied a narrative paragraph in Unit 3: My Valuable Life Lesson.

Narrative paragraphs have:

an opened book with a leaf
an opened book with a leaf
  • a beginning: How did the story start?
  • a middle: How did it progress?
  • an ending: How did it end?

As you are telling a story in this type of paragraph, it is important to:

  1. provide the background information about the story: what, who, when, where. If applicable, include the information on why and how. The information is usually given in the beginning.
  2. use past tenses as you narrate a past experience or event.
  3. guide the readers in understanding the event by using appropriate time expressions and arrange the information in chronological order, meaning time order.
  4. use appropriate descriptive words and details to help the readers feel as if they were experiencing the event in person.

 

Exercise 1. Read the following paragraph titles. Which ones can be appropriate titles for narrative paragraphs? What will the paragraphs be about?  Click “True” for appropriate narrative titles and “False” for non-narrative titles.  You will get instant feedback after each sentence. The explanation is given in blue.

 

III. Topic Sentence in Narration

Read Paragraph “My Worst Trip” again. How does the writer start the paragraph? The beginning contains the topic sentence and background information.

 

Parts for the Beginning of the Paragraph Ideas
What (topic) my experiences at Miami Airport and during the flight to Chicago
Controlling Idea terrible
Who I
When September 29, 2007, after a long flight from my native country
Where Miami Airport and on the plane to Chicago
Why (if applicable) I could not understand English.
How (if applicable)
Ways to Write the Beginning

 

  • My experiences at Miami Airport and during the flight to Chicago on September 29, 2007 were terrible because I could not understand English. I came from Mexico, and that was my first connecting trip out of my own country. After a long flight from my native country, I arrived at Miami Airport. (3 sentences)

 

Study one more example:

Parts for the Beginning of the Paragraph Ideas
What (topic) a shopping trip
Controlling Idea exhausting
Who my sister and I
When Black Friday, 2019
Where Woodfield Mall
Why (if applicable) to get good deals on Christmas gifts for family and friends
How (if applicable)
Ways to Write the Beginning

 

  • My sister and I had an exhausting[5] shopping trip in the Woodfield Mall. It was Black Friday, 2019. We wanted to get good deals on Christmas gifts for our family and friends. (3 sentences)
  • On Black Friday in 2019, my sister and I had an exhausting shopping trip in the Woodfield Mall. We wanted to get good deals on Christmas gifts for our family and friends. (2 sentences)
  • To get good deals on Christmas gifts for our family and friends, my sister and I had an exhausting shopping in the Woodfield Mall on Black Friday in 2019. (1 sentence)

 

Exercise 2. Use the above examples as models. Fill in the information for the next three topics. In #3, you think of a topic of your own. Try writing your topic sentence with background information in one, two, or three sentences.

#1

Parts for the Beginning of the Paragraph Ideas
What (topic)  My first visit to Harper College
Controlling Idea
Who
When
Where
Why (if applicable)
How (if applicable)
Ways to Write the Beginning

 

#2

Parts for the Beginning of the Paragraph Ideas
What (topic)  My family’s most important day
Controlling Idea
Who
When
Where
Why (if applicable)
How (if applicable)
Ways to Write the Beginning

 

#3

Parts for the Beginning of the Paragraph Ideas
What (topic)
Controlling Idea
Who
When
Where
Why (if applicable)
How (if applicable)
Ways to Write the Beginning

 

IV. Supporting Ideas in Chronological Order and with Time Transitions

Chronological Order

The information in the middle of the paragraph is going to be the main part of the story. All the events are arranged chronologically. What happened first is written first, what happened next is explained next, and so on. One way to make sure of the correct order is to draw a timeline. This could be used as a brief outline for a paragraph. Below is a timeline for an interview experience:

an interview timeline
an interview timeline

Time Transitions

Another important aspect of narration is to use appropriate time expressions. They are transitions to guide the readers through the narration. You have already learned different transitions in Unit 3 Parts and Characteristics of a Good Paragraph and Unit 4 Enumerative Paragraphs.  (For reviews, open Unit 3 here and Unit 4 here.)

 

Here are some time transitions. As you study them, pay attention to their punctuation.

Adverbs

(in the beginning of a sentence – comma after them)

Other adverbs and adverbial phrases

(in the beginning of a sentence – comma after them)

(at the end of a sentence – no comma)

Prepositional phrases

(in the beginning of a sentence – comma after them)

(at the end of a sentence – no comma)

First,

Second,

Next,

Meanwhile,

Then (usually no comma after it)

Finally,

Lastly,

 

Right away,

Immediately,

Suddenly,

Quickly,

Soon,

Moments later,

A short while later,

Initially, Subsequently,

That morning,

The following day,

At first,

At last,

At the end,

After that,

After a while,

In the meantime,

In an instant,

Before dinner,

At 10 am,

At noon,

In the morning,

Until the end of the class,

 

Dependent clauses

(before independent clauses – comma after them)

(after independent clauses – no comma)

Complete sentences

(period after them)

When I woke up,

While I was driving,

Until it was midnight,

Since he started the semester,

As it was happening,

As soon as they arrived home,

Before he left for work,

After the test was over,

Time went by quickly.

This was not the end of the ordeal.

Surprises continued.

Misfortune goes hand in hand[6].

More good news followed.

Two hours passed.

I was not prepared for the next event ten minutes later.

My work finally ended at 5 pm.

 

Review Paragraph “My Worst Trip” in the beginning of this unit and discuss how the writer uses a variety of time transitions.

 

Read the new paragraph “My Memorable Interview” below.  It is developed based on the timeline above. The time transitions are underlined. Discuss:

  1. How does the writer begin the paragraph? What is the topic sentence? What is the controlling idea? What is the background information (what, who, when, where)?
  2. Does the paragraph follow chronological order?
  3. How are different types of time transitions used with different punctuations? (underlined)

 

My Memorable Interview

          In my last year of high school in Japan, I learned an important lesson from a memorable interview. I had applied to the Social Welfare Department of the college that I wanted to enter. To be accepted, I had to pass an interview and answer questions about a book the college professors had assigned. The book, What is the True Wealth, was a very famous book among the people studying social welfare in Japan. One month before the interview, I read the book but understood the topic only superficially[7]. To help myself understand the topic better, I then bought another book that described the current social situation in Japan. After reading it many times, I was able to understand the topic of social welfare more clearly. In the middle of February, I flew to the college for the interview. It was not a cold day, but I had chills because of tension. I had never visited the prefecture where the college was located, so I felt the strain I had never felt before. The interview day arrived. The applicants were called in one by one from the waiting room. As soon as my name was called, I took a deep breath before entering with a smile. The interview room was small, with six professors sitting across the table. It appeared to be a normal interview situation, but when five cards were put side by side on the table, I realized that it was not! I could not understand what the cards were for. My nervousness grew. One professor instructed, “Please choose one card on the desk. You will see our first question there about the assigned book.” It was like a card game!  Fortunately, I answered the question calmly and clearly. During the interview, I expressed my opinions with confidence, thanks to the two books which I had read. At the end of the interview, one professor asked me, “Have you read another book besides our assigned one?” At that time, I thought, “Good for me!” I spoke about my additional book and explained why I had chosen it, what I had learned from it, and how it had helped me with the interview. The professors looked impressed. I was so glad that I almost jumped for joy. They nodded to me and to each other. That afternoon, I flew back home, feeling happy. From this experience, I have learned a lesson essential to my success. It is important to prepare elaborately[8] before an important event. Hard work in advance would give me confidence and help me in unexpected situations.

 

By C. Kotani (student), ESL Writing III, Harper College. Used with permission.

 

Exercise 3. Read Paragraph “The Day My Daughter Was Born” and discuss:

  1. How does the writer begin the paragraph? What is the topic sentence? What is the controlling idea? What is the background information (what, who, when, where, why)?
  2. Does the paragraph follow chronological order?
  3. Underline the time transitions. How are different types of time transitions used with different punctuations?

The Day My Daughter Was Born

          The day I met my daughter Ela has been the most significant day in my life. When I was in my 38th week of pregnancy, my husband and I went to the hospital for a routine pre-natal exam. While the doctor was checking me, she said, “We have to take the baby.” We were so shocked. If I had not had a problem, she would not have said such a thing. Right away, she started to explain my problem. My daughter could not move herself because there was not enough water in my womb. Upon hearing this, I wanted to go back to my house to bring the baby stuff, but she did not allow me. My husband was little panicked, for he did not know what to do. Actually, I was so scared and also excited at the same time. My daughter was coming to my life! Our family had been waiting for her arrival for a long time, and we could not wait to take her into our arms. In the next ten minutes, the doctor did some tests on me and took me to the surgery room. I was not aware how many minutes or hours had passed. When I opened my eyes, everything had already finished. My first question was if she was OK. My doctor reassured me, “Don’t worry. She is OK”. After that, the medical staff took me to my room. All my family members were waiting eagerly there. I asked my husband if he had seen our daughter. He said no. We could not wait to see her, and we were so happy, for she was born without any problem. Everybody in the room was happy and asking how I was feeling. I had totally forgotten myself! Soon, the doctor brought her to the room, and I will never forget the moment when I laid my eyes on her for the first time. I cried so much from happiness. There was my little baby Ela, so tiny and soft, and most important all, so beautiful! Her “baby smell” was the most heart-warming scent. My husband’s face was full of joyful pride. Everyone wanted to hold Ela for a second but stopped as she was sleeping soundly. At that moment, I understood that my life would change forever because of this precious new life. I promised myself and her that I would always be by her side.

 

By Z. Turkmen (student), ESL Writing III, Harper College. Used with permission.

 

V. Past Tenses in Narration

In most narrative paragraphs, you are describing past events, so you need to use mostly past tenses even though present and future tenses are also possible in some parts of the paragraph. Past tenses include simple past, past progressive, past perfect, and past perfect progressive, and future past. However, the most common one is the simple past.

 

There are detailed explanations and practice in verb tenses from Unit 11 through Unit 14  in this book.  (Open Unit 11 Present Tenses, Unit 12 Past Tenses, Unit 13 Future Tenses, Unit 14 Mixed Tenses here.)

 

Review paragraphs “My Worst Trip”, “My Memorable Interview”, and “The Day My Daughter Was Born”. Underline all the past tense verbs and discuss how these verbs are used.

Read another new paragraph “A significant Meeting” below and discuss:

  1. What is the topic sentence? What is the controlling idea?
  2. What is the background information (what, who, when, where)?
  3. Does the writer explain the event in chronological order?
  4. How are different types of time transitions used?
  5. Underline all the verbs in past tenses. Why are some verbs in past perfect (bold-faced), one in past progressive (bold-faced), and one in simple future (bold-faced)?

 

A Significant Meeting

a hand holding pink and blue heart-shaped lollipop candy
a hand holding pink and blue heart-shaped lollipop candy

          My first meeting with my future husband in real life on March 18, 2017 was so significant that it changed my life. This was my first visit to the U.S.A when I met Sergey. We had communicated and seen each other only through the Internet before that. Our meeting happened in beautiful New York City. The smell of early spring, with blooming trees, sunny weather, and breathtaking views of this city, reinforced my romantic mood. I woke up very early to prepare for the meeting that was supposed to happen at breakfast. I arrived at the restaurant before 10 am. 10 am was not a perfect time for a romantic date, but we had planned to spend the whole day together and visit sights. Just then, Sergey called to apologize that he had overslept on his flight to New York and would not arrive until 11 pm. I became very angry and disappointed. I could not believe how a person could approach[9] such an important event so irresponsibly[10]. As a result, I assumed[11] that he would not be my destiny and my second half. When I arrived back at the hotel, I suddenly noticed a man standing with flowers and staring at me with a guilty look. He was wearing a formal gray suite with a matching tie. After a couple of seconds, I realized this man was Sergey! He had gotten a few transfers to arrive earlier than expected. I was so surprised to see him at that moment. I did not know whether to be joyful or angry, but I instantly forgot about the morning case. Of course, I gave him one star for diligence[12]. During our live communication, all invisible borders were erased. We quickly connected and understood each other. His surprises did not end at our lunch. He gave me a helicopter flight over the city! I was in heaven with happiness and beauty around me. In addition, Sergey had another surprise at dinner. He produced two tickets, for the most anticipated fight show of the year by my favorite boxer Gennady Golovkin in the famous Madison Square. I could not believe that another dream would come true that day. At the end of that fantastic day, I came to realize that my future husband was very attentive[13]. He had remembered everything that I loved and dreamed about. He fulfilled my one desire after another. Sergey was like a genie[14], and I possessed his lamp. By the end of our first day together, I had decided to give him all stars and pluses. Our meeting transformed[15] my whole life, and these first happy moments will remain forever in my memories.

By E. Yugay (student), ESL Writing III, Harper College. Used with permission.

 

 

Exercise 4. Read Paragraph “Meeting My Best Friends” and fill in each blank with the correct verb tense. When you finish this exercise, you can click “Check” to see how you did.  You can retry or see all the answers. The first one is an example.

 

VI. Descriptive Vocabulary and Details in Narration

Words are your tools in writing. Choosing specific, descriptive words will help your readers “see” or “picture” the event you are describing. Read the pairs of sentences below and discuss which sentence is better in each pair.

  • They have a large house.
  • They have a 2-story, red brick house.

 

  • An old man walked on the street.
  • An eighty-seven-year-old man stumbled[16] along Algonquin Road.

 

  • Mrs. Kim is the best teacher I have ever had.
  • Mrs. Kim is the most humorous and hardworking teacher I have ever had.

 

In each pair, the second sentence helps the reader “see” the house, the man, and Mrs. Kim more vividly[17]. Using descriptive words will make your writing more interesting and effective.

Words like “big, good, nice, great, bad” are very general and can be replaced by other better, more interesting ones. Many of the words below are “sensory” words that describe sight, sound, smell, flavor, and feeling.

 

General Vocabulary Descriptive Vocabulary
Afraid fearful, frightened, petrified, scared, terrified …
Ask/Say/Tell beg, command, instruct, murmur, order, plead, whisper, wonder …
Bad damaging, detrimental, disadvantageous, harmful, negative …
Big bulky, colossal, enormous, gigantic, huge, immense, massive, vast…
Delicious appetizing, flavorful, rich, mouth-watering, savory, scrumptious, succulent …
Happy cheerful, content, delighted, ecstatic, elated, exhilarated, joyful …
Important critical, crucial, essential, life-changing, momentous, significant, vital, weighty …
Look gaze, glance, glare, glimpse, inspect, marvel, peep, stare …
Nervous anxious, concerned, fretful, uneasy, unsettled, worried …
Walk hop, ramble, scamper, scuttle, stride, stroll, strut, stumble, tiptoe …

 

Before you use any new vocabulary, make sure you check an English-English dictionary to see its exact meaning and use it only when appropriate. Try using two or three new descriptive words in each paragraph you write.

 

Details are the key to interesting paragraphs. In a narrative paragraph, details in the middle of the narration – how the story progresses – are even more critical[18].

As you learned in the earlier units, color-coding is a helpful strategy to make sure:

  • The paragraph has all the essential parts.
  • All the parts are in the right order.
  • Some parts need to be longer and more detailed.

Here is the color-coded paragraph “The Worst Trip” you read in the beginning of this unit. Discuss:

  1. Which color covers the most information?
  2. How does the part in blue help you “see” or “experience” what the writer was going through?
  3. Underline some descriptive or specific vocabulary . In what way does it make the paragraph more interesting?

 

My Worst Trip

          My experiences at Miami Airport and during the flight to Chicago on September 29, 2007 were terrible because I could not understand English. I came from Mexico, and that was my first connecting trip out of my own country. After a long flight from my native country, I arrived at Miami Airport. I had been so excited walking in an American airport until a uniformed officer asked me something in English. I felt nervous because I did not speak English and did not know how to answer her questions. I just shook my head. I was not walking excitedly anymore because I realized that I did not speak the language. I already began to miss my own country! Suddenly, I looked at my watch, and it said 12:30 pm. I was so hungry that I needed to eat something. I had not eaten much on my first flight. I went to a small restaurant in the airport, looked at the pictures of the menu on the screen, and decided to have a coke and a sandwich. I could not see clearly or read what kind of sandwich that was, but it looked scrumptious. I was just going to point to the picture and tell the waiter what I wanted. He came and spoke fast. Because I did not understand, I felt I had to say “Ok”. Well, he gave me a different meal, and it cost me almost $20! This situation was awful. I ate the meal in sad silence. I could not tell what it tasted like because I was tired and upset. Finally, I got on my flight to Chicago in the evening. On the plane, I wanted to drink water, but I did not know how to ask for it. I just stayed in my seat quietly and felt despondent. In the end, I met my family at the airport in Chicago at 11:30 pm. On our way home, I told them about my nightmare. They comforted me, “Don’t worry. All will be fine.” However, I could not shake off the feeling that I had just had a rocky start on my life in this new country. On that day, I made a promise to myself that I would have to study English really hard.

By student,  ESL Writing III, Harper College. Used with permission.

Exercise 5. Try to write a new sentence with descriptive vocabulary by replacing the words underlined.

Example:       

The family carried the big mattress into the small apartment.

Improved:  The family carried the bulky mattress into the one-bedroom apartment.

a cruise ship
a cruise ship
  1. The big cruise ship has 18 decks and is 1188 feet long.
  2. My upcoming interview is going to be important to my career.
  3. The family made a big decision to immigrant to the U.S. one year ago.
  4. The mother walked into the baby’s room quietly.
  5. The graduates walked proudly onto the stage to receive their diploma.
  6. Some parents have a bad influence on their children.
  7. In darkness, I was very afraid when I heard a strange noise behind me.
  8. I love looking at the stars in the night sky.
  9. The mom said no, but the boy still asked for more ice cream.
  10. The students are nervous about their grades.

 

 

Exercise 6. Use Paragraph “My Worst Trip” you just discussed as an example. Color code Paragraph “My Memorable Interview” as follows and discuss the questions below.

1. Color code the paragraph:

Title – pink                                                Background informationpurple

Topic sentence – red                            Beginning of the story – green

Middle of the story – blue                    End of the story – green

Transitions – yellow                               Concluding sentence(s) – red

2. Discuss:

  • Which color covers the most information?
  • How does the part in blue help you “see” or “experience” what the writer was going through?
  • Underline the descriptive or specific vocabulary. In what way does it make the paragraph more interesting?

 

VII. More Narrative Paragraph Examples

As you read more narrative paragraphs below, you may color code them as you have done for the earlier paragraphs.

Discuss:

  1. How does the writer start the paragraph? How many sentences does the writer have for the topic sentence and background information? What is the controlling idea?
  2. Does the background information include what, who, when, and where?
  3. Are the events arranged in chronological order?
  4. What different types of time transitions are used?
  5. Does all the information in the story support the main idea?
  6. Is the middle of the story the longest in the paragraph?
  7. Underline some specific descriptions. How do they help make the story more interesting?
  8. Does the writer use past tenses to narrate the story? Are present and future tenses used? If so, why is the past tense changed to a present or future one?
  9. What do you like about the paragraph? How would you like to improve it?
  10. If you could ask the writer one question, what question would it be?

 

 

Exercise 7. Read the following two paragraphs. You may color code them as you have done for the earlier paragraphs. Discuss the following questions in your group.

  1. What is the topic sentence? Is there a controlling idea in the topic sentence? If not, write one.
  2. Does the background information include what, who, when, and where? If something is missing, add it.
  3. Are the events arranged in chronological order? If not, correct the order.
  4. Does all the information in the story support the main idea? If anything is irrelevant, cross it out.
  5. Are the transitions used appropriately? If a transition is wrong, correct it. If a transition is missing, add it.
  6. Are there enough descriptive details in the middle of the story? What more ideas can you add?
  7. Does the writer use correct past tenses to narrate the story?
  8. Are there any present and future tenses? If so, why is there a shift in verb tenses?
  9. What do you like about the paragraph?
  10. If you could ask the writer one question, would question would you ask?
 

VIII. Unit Review Practice: Writing Assignments

Now you are ready to write your own narrative paragraph! As you have learned in Unit 2 The Writing Process, (Open Unit 2 here.) the best way to plan a paragraph is to follow the proper steps.

 

Narrative Paragraph Writing Assignments

You will be writing two at-home narrative paragraphs. The second one will start after the first one is complete. For both assignments, follow the instructions below.

Purpose: To show your understanding of planning and writing a narrative paragraph. Use the writing process to help you.

Topic:  Choose from the list below.

Brainstorm and Outline: Brainstorm for ideas. Then use one of the templates below to make an outline. Your outline is due on _________. Bring it to class.

Paragraph: Your paragraph should have a title, a topic sentence, background information, beginning of the story, middle of the story with details, the end of the story, a conclusion, and appropriate time transitions.  Include at least 5 descriptive vocabulary from Section VI in this unit (Descriptive Vocabulary and Details in Narration).

Format: Type your paragraph, double spaced, font size 12, with 1-inch margins on four sides of the page. Type your name, class, and date on the upper right-hand corner of the page. The first line of your paragraph should be indented. Save your paragraph in a Word file.

Self Checklist: When you finish writing, use the Self Checklist below. Put a checkmark beside each item if you think you did a good job in that area.  Otherwise, improve your paragraph until you can check off the item. Save your work again.

Submission: Submit your paragraph on the Blackboard.  Go to your Blackboard course site and follow the instructions there.  Due by __________.

 

Choose one of the following topics.  If you wish to write about a topic of your own, discuss with your professor first.

  1. Your first class (reading, writing, grammar, communication skills, or another class) experience at Harper College
  2. A time when you helped someone in need
  3. Your proudest moment
  4. Your most embarrassing experience
  5. A disappointing shopping trip
  6. An experience where you got to know yourself better
  7. An experience where you got to know another person better
  8. An experience that changed your opinion of an event
  9. An interview you had (any kind of interview)
  10. The day when you got your first cell phone

 

Narrative Paragraph Outline Template #1

Topic: _____________________

Controlling idea: ____________________

Background information:

What: ____________________________________

When: ____________________________________

Where: ___________________________________

Who: _____________________________________

Topic + controlling idea + background information (1 – 3 complete sentences):

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

a narrative timeline
a narrative timeline

 

Narrative Paragraph Outline Template #2

Topic: _____________________

Controlling idea: ____________________

Background information:

What: ____________________________________

When: ____________________________________

Where: ___________________________________

Who: _____________________________________

Topic + controlling idea + background information (1 – 3 complete sentences):

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Beginning of the story:

 

Middle of the story:

End of the story:

 

Narrative Paragraph Self Checklist

Questions Paragraph Revising and Editing Self Checklist
1 Is my paragraph on topic and clear to understand?
2 Did I include a topic sentence with a clear controlling idea?
3 Did I include background information on what, who, when, and where in the beginning?
4 Did I include interesting, descriptive details that support the main idea?
5 Did I have a beginning, a middle (the longest), and an ending?
6 Did I narrate the story in chronological order? Did I use proper time expressions?
7 Did all my verbs agree with their subjects (subject-verb agreement)? Did I use proper past tenses and other tenses?
8 Did I try my best to use correct sentence structure (simple, compound, complex)?
9 Did I try my best to use correct grammar such as nouns, pronouns, word form, word order, and others?
10 Did I try my best to have correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization?
11 Did I follow the proper paragraph format?
12 Did I include at least 5 vocabulary words from Section VI?

Note:  #7 – #10 may include more specific aspects of grammar depending on how many editing units you have already studied.

 

NSNT Practice

a pen writing in a notebook
a pen writing in a notebook

Go to The NSNT Free Writing Approach and Additional Weekly Prompts for Writing in Appendix A. (Open Appendix A here.) Choose two topics to write a paragraph each. You may start with the NSNT approach and then revise and edit the paragraphs using the Self Checklist above. You are encouraged to share your writing with your partner and help each other improve.

 

 

Vocabulary Review

a page in a dictionary
a page in a dictionary

The words here have appeared in this unit.  The best way to learn them is to guess the meaning of each word from the context.  Then hover your computer mouse over the number beside each word to check its meaning and part of speech. These words are also listed in the footnote area at the end of each unit.

Here, you can use the flashcards below to review these words.

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

  1. A narrative paragraph focuses on describing an event, an experience, or a story.
  2. A narrative paragraph should have a title, a beginning with a topic sentence and background information, a middle with details, and an ending.
  3. Descriptive vocabulary and details will make the paragraph interesting.
  4. The story should be narrated in the chronological order and should use proper time transitions.
  5. Past tenses are used primarily, but other tenses are often needed, too.
  6. Following the writing process (pre-writing, writing, and post-writing) can ensure a well- organized and well-supported paragraph.

 

Media Attributions


  1. scrumptious: adjective, delicious
  2. awful: adjective, terrible
  3. despondent: adjective, feeling sad and hopeless
  4. a rocky start: noun phrase, not a smooth beginning
  5. exhausting: adjective, very tiring
  6. Misfortune goes hand in hand: a saying, bad things happen one after another.
  7. superficially: adverb, on the surface, not deeply
  8. elaborately: adverb, with great care and effort
  9. approach: verb, handle, deal with
  10. irresponsibly: adverb, not responsibly, carelessly
  11. assume: verb, guess or think based on what has happened
  12. diligence: noun, good efforts
  13. attentive: adjective, giving careful attention
  14. genie: noun, a spirit that makes wishes come true for people
  15. transform: verb, change in significant ways
  16. stumble: verb, walk unsteadily, as if going to fall
  17. vividly: adverb, lively and brightly
  18. critical: adjective, extremely important

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