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Common Core Standards: ELA

Grades 9-10

Writing W.9-10.3

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, observation, 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.
  • 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.

This standard is popular with students and teachers alike. Here, your students will demonstrate their ability to write a narrative in which they will use all the elements of plot usually found in fictional stories, including setting, character, events, conflict, resolution, and theme. The excitement of narrative writing rests on its ability to use sensory details that help the reader join the writer’s experience. It also provides an opportunity for students to reflect on their experiences to determine what they’ve learned about life.

This is a great standard to connect to the reading side of your class. You know all those literary devices you’ve been analyzing with your students? Well, it’s time to put them into practice. Help students use features like figurative language, setting, dialogue, and plot structure to the greatest effect. The following example should give you some ideas to get started.

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Teaching Guides Using this Standard

Example

Assignment Example

Your teacher has assigned an observation essay in which you must tell a story, or narrative. You can either recall an experience that you had in the past, or you can just make one up. What to write… what to write, you drum on your desk. Your teacher suggests that you write about a time when you learned a lesson or changed, but you still haven’t decided on a topic by the time you get home from school. Just to procrastinate, you turn to your newest video game for inspiration. You’ve been thumbing wildly for at least a minute when your two dogs, Annie and Jack, start pestering you to take them out. At first, it was just the staring; then it turned to glaring. Annie is on the left, nosing your arm so badly that you can’t control the controller. Jack is on your right, licking your hand and playing CANINE MISSION. Jack starts to whine AND drool while Annie gives you that “let’s-go-to-the-dog-park growl.”

Giving up, you toss the controller down, head to the mudroom, and put on their leashes. They are in a frenzied scramble to get out the door. You’re off! Practically running all the way (it’s been a while since they went to the park), all three of you are panting as you swing open the chain-link gate. Releasing your furry buddies from their leashes, they charge inside the fence while some dog nearby barks, “INCOMING!” On that signal, 20 dogs, including 12 from Sonja’s Doggy Day Care, come running to check out Annie and Jack. There are some familiar faces, but new ones, too. You like coming to the dog park almost as much as your pets. It’s fun watching the antics of the dogs as they rush for tossed balls or tumble in the wood chips or scuttle through the agility course. You don’t particularly like the clean-up, but, hey, it’s all part of the experience, right?

You decide you better not stay too long since you have that writing assignment when it dawns on you that you are LIVING the essay right now. Why not observe the happenings at the park and write about them? You reach into your back pocket for the assignment. Luckily, you didn’t put it in your planner as you’re supposed to. Your pencil is there, too. You’ll be able to jot down ideas and notes about what you’re seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling. This fits right into the assignment since you’ve been asked to use your five senses as much as possible.

It’s a great day, and spending time in the sunshine and slight breeze at the dog park is fun. That will be your setting. Your point-of-view and persona will be from the perspective of a proud dog owner. Your audience will be your classmates… everybody loves dogs. Your characters will be the dogs and their owners. Chronological order seems to fit best here, but you can mix in some flashbacks, or you might compare and contrast this visit from the last. You move to the huddle of owners who are bragging about their dogs. “My dog runs faster than yours,” or doling out some useful dog training tricks: “Don’t stand too long in one spot; someone’s likely to lift a leg.” That will help you add dialogue to your essay.

There is so much commotion going on with all the dogs that you think you can write about how the two dogs by the fence are trailing like bloodhounds though they’re little poodles. Three mutts chase each other into the woods with incredible maneuvers (this would make a great video game). How they run that fast without running into the trees is beyond human understanding. Two dogs roll in the grass while another pair just sits and watches the activity. Some of the dogs seem to be very fast-paced while others appear more laid back.

You wonder if dogs and their owners are alike, so you start to match up the pairs. You’ve got to watch closely. How do they move? What are their attitudes? Are they shy or aggressive? Do they wear their hair and fur the same way? You laugh when you contrast the size of the small dogs standing under the bellies and legs of the tall ones. You are also amazed at how you cannot tell the chocolate labs in the pack apart. You conclude that the dog park is an exciting place where dogs and their human friends can have fun and find a common ground.

This will make a great story! Now, suppose your write the story from your dog’s point-of-view? Get creative!

Quiz Questions

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

Write T for statements that are true; write F for statements that are false.

  1. The purpose of narrative writing is to take a stand on a controversial issue.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Nope, that’s an argument. Narrative writing tells a story.


  2. One unique feature of a narrative is the use of dialogue.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Don’t get confused by the use of quotation marks. Quoted material in expository or argumentative writing isn’t the same as dialogue.


  3. The organization of a narrative is always chronological.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). It’s often chronological, but not always. Lots of narratives include flashbacks or use other complex structures.


  4. Annie and Jack like to go to the dog park.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Who doesn’t?


  5. The writer of a narrative must provide sensory details so that the reader feels like s/he is part of the adventure.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). A narrative without sensory details or descriptions feels more like a summary than a story.


  6. Your narrative should include some reflection or thought about the experience or observation.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Narratives should indicate why this experience matters. When writing a narrative, you must choose a topic that is important; not everything makes a good story.


  7. Narrative writing is very different from fiction.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Narrative writing often is fiction, but it doesn’t have to be.


  8. Language used in a narrative must be vivid.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Why write about it if you’re not going to make the language interesting?


  9. Point-of-view means who’s telling the story.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Think, “Whose eyes am I looking through in this story?”


  10. There can only be one plot line within a narrative.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Longer narratives often have a main plot and several subplots.


Aligned Resources