Module 2: Prewriting, Drafting, and the Narrative

Topic 1: What Makes a Narrative Narrative?

Every day, you relate stories to other people through simple exchanges. You may have had a horrible experience at a restaurant the night before, or you may have had some good news you are ready to share—or maybe your car broke down on the highway on the way in to work. In each one of these experience there's a story, and when you begin to share a personal experience, you often communicate in a narrative mode.

Narratives can vary widely in type and tenor, from the whimsical and comedic to the serious and tragic; however, most narratives share a number of common features. Normally, storytellers establish a cast of characters, in which they may include themselves. They work around a conflict or some particular event that builds their audience's interest. They arrange details in specific order so their audience remains engaged as the story unfolds. And they reflect on the event or events they recount while trying to communicate their reason or reasons for telling the story.

Aliens, Love—Where Are They? (16:37 minutes)
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The Music of a War Child? (18:06 minutes)
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Consider two narratives that couldn't be more different—a tale of love and a story of war: John Hodgman's sweet, geeky tale of falling in love and Emmanuel Jal's story of being a child soldier and learning to forgive his enemies.

After reviewing the videos and reading the sections on narrative in Writing for Success, identify the four basic components of narrative in each of the stories and think about how you would characterize the stories. Use the grid below to help you organize your thoughts. If you need more room to draft your notes, just resize the form field by clicking-and-dragging the lower right-hand corner of the box. If you wish to save any of your notes, cut and paste them into a document, such as an MS Word or Google document.

Components

Hodgman Narrative

Jal Narrative

1. Plot
2. Characters
3. Conflict(s)
4. Theme(s)
Characteristics

 

 

1. Fictional/Factual?

2. Sensory Details

3. Events Sequence
4. Major Events