Online College Courses for Credit

2 Tutorials that teach Introduction to Narrative
Take your pick:
Introduction to Narrative

Introduction to Narrative

Author: Mackenzie W

Recognize the components of narrative writing.

See More
Fast, Free College Credit

Developing Effective Teams

Let's Ride
*No strings attached. This college course is 100% free and is worth 1 semester credit.

28 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

286 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 26 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


Video Transcription

Download PDF

[MUSIC PLAYING] Hi, everyone. I'm McKenzie, and today we're learning about introduction to narrative. Have you ever known someone who has interesting life stories? That might be an example of a narrative. In this tutorial, we'll learn about elements of personal narratives, we'll look at examples of personal narratives, we'll learn about elements of narrative arc, and we'll look at examples of narrative arc.

We'll begin by discussing the definition of narrative. When I say "narrative," what I mean is a story. A narrative is just a story that usually communicates some sort of purpose or main point.

We're going to focus on a specific type of narrative called a personal narrative. A personal narrative is a story that's told from one person's unique perspective or viewpoint. Oftentimes, the personal narrative is written by the person whose perspective is being communicated.

There are four different types of personal narratives for us to discuss, the first of which is creative nonfiction. In creative nonfiction, stories are told about that person's life in a creative, artistic sort of way, much like a fiction story. However, these stories are accurate, true-to-life stories.

An example of creative nonfiction is an autobiography. This is the story of a person's life. Oftentimes, these are very accurate with very specific details from that person's life, documenting quite a large amount of that person's personal narrative.

We also have a memoir. These are stories that document a specific period in time, a specific event, or a specific person. And we have life writing. This is when someone simply wants to record a memory or an event that happened from his or her life.

There are four reasons why personal narratives are typically written. These are the purposes for personal narrative. We have reflection. Oftentimes, authors are reflecting on something that happened in their lives and gathering their thoughts about it.

We then have lessons. Sometimes authors are communicating a lesson that they learned, and they're telling the story in a creative type of way. We have keeping a record or a memory of a life event. Sometimes, authors simply want to record what has happened in their lives. Maybe it's an interesting event, or maybe it's an everyday occurrence.

And we have sharing meaning or insight. Sometimes, authors want to share what they know about a specific topic, and to provide the audience with insight about their perspective on that topic. When we think about the different types of personal narratives, and we think about the different purposes for personal narrative, we see that personal narratives can come in all shapes, sizes, and forms.

Now that we have learned about the different elements of personal narrative, let's take a moment to look at two examples. Pause the video and read the first example. Keep in mind that we're looking for what type of personal narrative it is, and we're trying to determine the purpose of this narrative.

This first example appears to be an example of life writing. The author is describing something that happened in his or her childhood, and then again happened last week. Now we think about the author's purpose. Why did the author write this particular personal narrative?

Was it to reflect, to teach a lesson, to record a memory, or to share meaning or insight? In this instance, it appears as though the author is reflecting on what has happened. Here, she reflects on the quotation from his or her childhood, and then uses that same reflection to analyze an event that he or she witnessed.

Let's now look at another example. While you read this example, ask yourself what type of personal narrative is this, and what is the purpose of this personal narrative? Pause the video and take a moment to read.

This example appears to be autobiographical. The author is describing how her cancer affects her own life, and it appears as though the purpose for this narrative is to share insight or meaning about what it's like to have cancer. These examples demonstrated to us that personal narratives can have different styles, they can have different purposes. And that means that personal narratives can take many different forms.

Whenever we have a narrative or a story, we have things that are going on within that narrative. These are sometimes referred to as the narrative arc. These are the set of events in the order in which they occur within the story itself.

The order of events typically begin with an exposition. This is the background information that sets up the story, that lets us know what the story is about. Then we have the rising action. These are events that happen that lead us up to the main point of the story.

The main point of the story typically happens during the climax. This is the most important or most exciting or more significant part of the story. After that comes the falling action, the events that happen after the climax. Then we end at the denouement. This is the end result of the story, sort of like a summary or a conclusion.

When we think about narrative arc, we have to realize that some stories follow a traditional pattern, meaning that they start with the exposition. They work their way up to the climax. After the climax, there is some falling action, and finally, a conclusion at the denouement. This is the typical order in which we tell stories. But sometimes, we have experimental types of narratives, which begin somewhere other than the exposition, and sometimes end somewhere other than the denouement.

Let's take a look at some examples of personal narratives to identify the narrative arc within them. The first example is a traditional narrative arc. Take a moment to pause the video, read the narrative and decide where the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement are located within this narrative.

The exposition tells us that there is a family who has adopted a dog, and that they were a little nervous about the dog at first. Then we have the rising action. It starts when they're bringing the dog home from the shelter. The dog is shaking in the backseat of the minivan. The rising action continues when they bring the dog on her leash into their living room.

Now for the climax. The dog lunged at a young child, knocking him to the ground. The falling action begins when we see that the dog is not attacking the child, but rather playing with the child, licking the child's face. The denouement happens when the author communicates that the dog felt welcomed into the family, and that they could not imagine their life without the dog.

Now that we've identified the narrative arc in a traditional narrative arc format, let's look at an experimental narrative arc format. This excerpt is going to include all of the parts of narrative arc, but they're going to be in a different order than they typically would be. Take a moment to pause the video, read the narrative, and then we'll discuss.

This narrative actually begins with the falling action. We see what happens when a homeless man opens a bag that has been given to him, and we see his reaction. His reaction is the denouement. It shows us the end result of whatever happened in the story.

Then the story leads us to the exposition, the rising action, and the climax. The exposition is that the author sees this homeless man on his or her way to work. The exposition is that the homeless man reminds the author of his or her grandfather.

The rising action is that the author put together some items to give to the homeless man, and the climax is actually giving the bag to the homeless man. We see that, once the climax happens, the author alludes to the falling action after watching the homeless man open the bag. Even though the narrative arc was a little different in this experimental example, we still saw that the message of the personal narrative was communicated effectively.

In this tutorial, we learned about elements of personal narrative, we looked at examples of personal narratives, we learned about elements of narrative arc, and we looked at examples of narrative arc. Every person has his or her own narrative. I'm McKenzie. Thanks for listening.

Terms to Know