When a writer creates a story, they want to make sure that the plot is interesting and engaging.
To do this they will take the reader through what some people call a ‘narrative arc’.
It is sometimes easier to understand plot development if you think of a story as if it is a mountain and the reader is the person walking over the mountain.
To keep a reader interested a writer needs to make sure that they include a strongly developed plot in order to maintain the interest of the reader throughout the whole of the story.
The writer takes the reader on a journey over the story ‘mountain’ and the reader discovers some interesting things on their route. The reader then arrives on the other side of the mountain satisfied with the outcome of their journey.
Usually, there are five stages to a narrative arc. The beginning, or ‘exposition’, starts at the bottom of the story mountain. This is where the writer introduces the setting and the characters of their story.
It is important that the exposition of any story uses an interesting and attention grabbing ‘narrative hook’. A narrative hook is usually a few lines at the start of the story that are used to engage the reader
A good narrative hook should always make the reader want to know what happens in the rest of a story.
The next stage of a narrative arc is called ‘rising action’. This is where the writer starts to develop or build up a story. The reader starts to find out more about the characters in the story and what problems or complications they might have later in the narrative.
The third stage of a narrative arc is the ‘climax’. This is when the tension, conflict or complication created by the writer is at its highest point and the reader may wonder how the situation can ever be resolved.
The fourth stage of a narrative arc is called ‘falling action’. At this stage of a story the writer starts to show the reader how the story might end. For example, the main character might find a way of solving their problems and conflict or mysteries may become clear.
The final stage of a narrative arc is called the resolution and comes at the end of the reader’s journey through the story. At this point in the story, the writer usually provides answers to any mysteries, resolves any conflict and the characters often find a solution to their problems. This often makes the reader feel satisfied with the ending although sometimes the ending or resolution is not quite what the reader wants.
Some writers like to make the reader think about the story after they have finished reading it. To do this they might include a twist or a cliff hanger at the end of their story.
So that is how a narrative arc works! You should try to use these features when you plan your writing so that your stories can be as effective and interesting as possible.
For example, you should emphasise that when we narrate our purpose is to tell a story that entertains the reader through a series of events or plot developments.
When we write to describe, our purpose is to create a vivid image in the reader’s mind. This might be of a place, a time or a person.
However, there are some similarities between writing to describe and writing to narrate. Both of them use figurative language such as metaphors, similes, personification, adjectives and alliteration. Both might describe a setting or a location but in writing to narrate this is much shorter. And both can be used to entertain the reader.
Transactional writing can inform, persuade and argue. It is important that learners can recognise the difference between writing to persuade and writing to argue, and how the key features are used in the different styles of writing.
Learners should remember to use accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar in all their writing and you should remind your learners to check each piece of work after they have finished writing. This means that they can check for accuracy and avoid unnecessary mistakes.