Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Logo
Apply to SIUE

Learning Support Services

The Writer’s Reference Book



A narrative reports an incident or series of incidents occuring over a period of time. The scenes described are often chronological, and use dialogue, revealing details, scenes, and characters. A narrative should contain:
  • Setup: A detailed description of the place and time the action is taking place
  • Conflict: The real reason the story is taking place. The conflict will outline the struggle"
  • Struggle: The action taking place when the conflict is confronted and dealt with
  • Outcome: The result of the struggle - good or bad
  • Meaning: This does not have to explicitely stated; rather, your thesis will already alude to it

An author can use the narrative style when writing a personal essay, while anything can be described - from the worst day of your life to how you ran your first marathon. Often it becomes clear that a writer is analyzing material, letting events sift in his mind, trying to make sense of something. A personal essay is often a way of working things out, and by the end, the writer and reader should understand that something has indeed been worked out. Endings do not need to be wrapped up in a tight and seamless manner, and sometimes events don't make sense. However, there still needs to be an ending or resolution to the incident.

facebookoff twitteroff vineoff linkedinoff flickeroff instagramoff googleplusoff socialoff