© 2015 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHECK OUT SHMOOP'S FREE STUDY TOOLS:

Essay Lab | Math Shack | Videos

Common Core Standards: ELA

Grades 11-12

Writing W.11-12.3

Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

  • Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation and its significance, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.
  • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
  • Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole and build toward a particular tone and outcome (e.g., a sense of mystery, suspense, growth, or resolution).
  • Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
  • Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative.

Everybody has a story to tell, and while your students may complain they don’t have one, with a little reflection on their part, they can usually remember a time when they learned a lesson. This standard also gives students the opportunity to write fictional stories and to incorporate narratives and narrative techniques into other forms of writing. This standard isn’t just for your creative writing unit, folks.

In this standard, students should strategically use setting, plot, characters, and vivid details to tell their story. They will have to think about structure, pacing, and point of view. Through reflection, they’ll also provide that insight to life or theme. This is a great time to remind students to apply what they are learning in the reading/literature half of your class to their writing. Here’s an example to get you started.

Teach With Shmoop

Tag! You're it.

The links in this section will take you straight to the standard-aligned assignments tagged in Shmoop's teaching guides.

That's right, we've done the work. You just do the clickin...

Teaching Guides Using this Standard

Example

Assignment Example

Tell a story? Write a narrative? Learned a lesson? No problemo! You know exactly what you’re going to write about because the image of the little girl remains with you today.

You think back to last year when the basketball season did not turn out as you’d hoped. You had just returned from a collarbone injury. You were excited to get back out on the court after a three-month break (no, pun intended). It was practice, and in your excitement, you skillfully dribbled the ball up and down the court, better than ever. But, an errant basketball made its way under your left foot, and you felt a sharp pain shoot through your leg. Lying on the ground, unable to move, you saw your leg hanging limply, and realized that it was broken.

You were rushed to the hospital and surgery was performed. You were sorely disappointed, and as you adjusted to homecoming, a wheelchair, and restrictions, you became increasingly discouraged. More and more, you asked why this had to happen to you. Two heartbreaking injuries! And, no more basketball for another three months! Being confined to a wheelchair was overwhelming. Your usual cheerful demeanor was replaced with an ever-present scowl.

Until the day of your three-week checkup. Until you saw the little girl standing in front of you. Until you saw her bald head, her skinny arms and legs, and her pale face. It was the smile you’ll never forget, for there was this tiny girl who, despite her cancer, was able to give you the biggest smile in greeting. That’s when you learned that things could have been a lot worse. That’s when you decided that it’s important to remain upbeat and positive, to earn your place on this earth. That’s when you learned broken, didn’t mean done.

This essay will come easily for you, you think. You’ll be the narrator of this real experience by describing the events through vivid descriptions and details. Your teacher offers you great advice. Make your reader be right on the court with you: PANT PANT. Sitting beside you in the ambulance: BUUUUUMMMPYEEEE. Pushing you in your wheelchair: UGH! Let the reader take in the hospital smells: YUCKY. Feel the pain in your leg: OUCH. See the little girl: SHOCKING.

You’ll use chronological order to tell your story, though you might inject comments of how you feel about what’s happening as you go. Be sure to think about the pace of your story. Indicate fast action as you dribble down the court and are whisked away in the ambulance with short sentences. Then, slow the story down just as you were slowed down by the cast, using longer sentences to linger on this action.

Build suspense through clear details about your disappointment. You might ask Why did this have to happen to me? several times within the essay. This will create that feeling-sorry-for-yourself impression you’re trying to develop. Describe the features of the little girl to shock and sadden your reader just as you were. Then, at the story’s end, reflect on the lesson you learned through the experience, how you grew as an individual, and how this experience impacts your life today.

Quiz Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

Mark each question as True or False.

  1. An important feature of Standard 3 is reflection in which you consider an important lesson learned or an insight.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). This is the theme and every story needs one.


  2. The tone of a narrative can vary depending upon the word choice of the writer.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Is the tone sarcastic? Silly? Somber? Academic? It’s all in the words.


  3. The narrative relies heavily on facts and statistics.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Nope. Narratives rely on details and events in sequence.


  4. Vivid imagery helps capture the reader’s attention; creating suspense keeps it.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Two great strategies; make sure you use them!


  5. A personal narrative contains many of the same elements as a fictional, short story.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Often the only difference is that one is true and the other is not.


  6. Narrative writing often uses unimportant information to meet the expected word count set by the teacher.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Good writing of any kind should NEVER include unimportant info.


  7. Using your powers of observation is helpful in this type of writing.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, the characters in your stories will be more believable if you base them on real people, so watch the people around you for ideas and insights into human nature.


  8. It is important to engage the reader at the beginning of your essay by setting out a problem, situation, or observation.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). If your reader isn’t interested at the beginning, they probably won’t keep reading to find out how it ends.


  9. Narratives are only used for creative writing assignments.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Narratives can also enhance informative and argumentative writing by providing vivid details and examples.


  10. Written narratives are always true.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Narratives are events told in sequence; they can be true or imagined.


Aligned Resources