Narrative Writing

Tell The Story of You!

Where you come from, where you belong!

Task: Write a short story of at least 700 words with an interesting plot and well‐developed character/s. You have already begun to develop ideas for your short story in your Writing Notebooks. You may use the narrative graphic organizer attached or create one of your own.


  1. Choose a setting
  2. Develop a description of your main character
  3. Identify a problem or conflict that your character will need to resolve
  4. Develop the plot in your story
  5. Choose a point of view

Introduce the setting in the beginning: The setting is where the story or event takes place. Setting can include specific information about time and place (e.g. Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, in 2004) or can simply be descriptive (eg. a lonely farmhouse on a dark night).

Why is it important?

Setting provides a backdrop for the action. Think about setting not just as factual information but as an essential part of a story’s mood and emotional impact. Careful portrayal of setting can convey meaning through interaction with characters and plot.

How do I create it?

To create setting, provide information about time and place and use descriptive language to evoke vivid sights, sounds, smells, and other sensations. Pay close attention to the mood a setting conveys.

To portray setting:

  • Refer specifically to place and time:

“In the early weeks of 2014, Nicholas was a busy young man living in Prince Albert.”

  • Provide clues about the place and time by using details:

“Because the nights were cold, and because the snow was heavy and wet, each man carried a green water-proof parka that could be used as a coat or groundsheet or makeshift tent. With its quilted liner, the coat weighed almost 2 pounds, but it was worth every ounce. In April, for instance, when Ted  was shot, they used his coat to wrap him up, then to carry him across the field, then to lift him into the chopper that took him away.”

  • Describe the inside of a room where a scene takes place:

“The walls were made of dark stone, dimly lit by torches. Empty benches rose on either side of him, but ahead, in the highest benches of all, were many shadowy figures. They had been talking in low voices, but as the heavy door swung closed behind Harry an ominous silence fell.”

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Focus On What Character Does: Show Rather Than Tell!

·         Due to the shorter length of short stories, only a few characters, usually two to four, can be used, and they have to be developed quickly. The development should be “shown” not “told.” characters should be believable. In short stories, character development may not be as in depth, but the characters still need to seem real, believable.

·         A “good” character is alive in the mind of the writer and on the pages of a story.

·         Weaving facts about characters into the story makes the process more interesting. Don’t simply pile a paragraph or two of details at once – but give glimpses of the character naturally through dialogue and actions. Details about the character needs to move the plot forward or give hints about the character’s personality that are required for readers to understand.

·         Refer to the character traits(personality traits) handout.

Plot Your Story

Make trouble. To keep your readers interested in the situation, characters, and setting you’ve chosen, something has to happen. The sequence of events in a short story is called plot. To develop a plot for your story, answer the questions below.

  1. What’s the conflict – the problem in the story?
  2. What happens next?
  3. Will things go on like this forever?
  4. What happens to the characters at the end?

As it happens. Decide when to vary the pace in your short story – the rate at which you reveal events. For example, you can build suspense by lingering over details that describe a character or setting, or you can create tension by speeding up the narrative. Although you’ll present most plot events in chronological order, you may sometimes skip forward (flash forward) or backward (flashback).

Put words in their mouths. Let the characters speak for themselves. Dialogue – character’s actual words – can help move the plot forward and develop a character’s personality.

Choose a Point of View

First person. The narrator, usually a character in the story, tells only what he or she knows and experiences.

Third person (limited). The narrator is not a character in the story but tells the story from the perspective of just what one character knows and experiences.

Third person (omniscient). The narrator is not a character in the story. The narrator can tell the story from the perspective of any character and includes the thoughts and feelings of any character. Using this point of view allows the narrator to shift perspectives from one character to another in the short story.

A Writer’s Framework for Short Stories

Beginning Middle End
Engage reader’s attention Develop the characters through specific actions, dialogue, description, and concrete sensory details. Develop the plot intensity to a climax.
Give details about the setting. Introduce plot complications through conflict. Resolve the conflict.
Introduce the main characters, and establish the point of view. Add stylistic devices – figures of speech, imagery, or irony. Reveal the final outcome.
Set the plot in motion with an event or situation that initiates conflict. Use Action Verbs

e.g. run(common verb): dash, bolt, sprint, lunge, careen

Make the significance clear to the reader.


Using Dialogue in your Narrative

A dialect is the variety of a language that a group of people speak, separated either by geography, class, or ethnicity. Dialect is most often applied to the different speech patterns of people from different regions. For example, the English spoken in Australia is different from the English spoken in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. However, there is also a huge difference between the regional dialects across Canada.

Dialects can be distinguished one from another by way of grammar, pronunciation, syntax (sentence structure) and vocabulary. If there’s only a difference in pronunciation, this is just an example of different accents.

Dialect, Colloquialisms, and Slang used as a Literary Device in your Narrative

Dialect, colloquialisms, and slang (‘aint’ instead of ‘isn’t’; ‘yah’ instead of ‘yes’; ‘youz guys’ instead of ‘you guys’; ‘soda’, ‘pop’, ‘soft drink’, and ‘Coke’ ) have much in common in that they all refer to variations in speech patterns in a given language. Dialect refers to an entire set of linguistic (language) norms that a group of people use. Colloquialisms are geographic in nature, but refer to specific words or phrases that people of that region use. Colloquialism is similar to slang, but slang refers to terms that are used in specific social groups, such as for teenagers. There are plenty of examples of slang from the rise of the internet and subsequent rise of social media: LOL, Friend/Unfriend/Defriend, Hashtag.

As a literary device, colloquialism refers to the usage of informal or everyday language in literature. Colloquialisms are generally geographic in nature, in that a colloquial expression often belongs to a regional or local dialect. They can be words, and phrases. Native speakers of a language understand and use colloquialisms without realizing it, while non-native speakers may find colloquial expressions hard to translate. This is because many colloquialisms are not literal usages of words, but instead figurative expressions, ex. that costs an arm and a leg.

Using Dialect in your Narrative

Use dialect in your narrative to create a better sense of place and to help characterization:

Examples of Dialect in Literature:

  1. Atticus said to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

(To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird is an example of the different social classes of people living in the same place; this is an example of southern U.S.A. dialect.

  1. “Naaaaah,” he said. “it’s okay, long’s you shoot straight down. That’s the thing. I always used to shoot water-hell, we shot ice too. We shot hundreds a big jacks through the ice when I was a kid at Sled Lake. Them jacks, they’d come in real shallow in the fall, I dunno why-for warmth maybe. And when the ice was an inch thick we could still see ‘em swimming under there, me an my brothers. So we took a .22 and an axe and we went out there, boy, and that ice was cracking and squealing and bouncing whenever you took a step, and the bubbles shaking underneath. And we hunted. Hunted for fish….I dunno what they had to be scared about…Not like anything worse is gonna happen, eh?…But anyways. Water and ice’re perfectly safe to shoot. Long as you’re not stupid about it. Or unlucky.”

(Lake of the Prairies by Warren Cariou, P. 33-34)

*This is an example of Northern Saskatchewan dialect.

**This is the end of the instructions for your short story assignment.

Independent Reading

We will have independent reading time at the start of class. Choose a book that you would like to read. The only stipulation is that it must be written by a Canadian author.

Choose the link below:

100 novels that make you proud to be Canadian

“147 reasons to love Canada”- this article  was published in The Globe and Mail.

turn and talk with someone sitting by you and tell what you love about Canada.

Move into groups of 3-4. Share your stories about what you love about Canada. Write and /or illustrate your ideas on the newspaper print provided.

This is My Canada-video

Poem: I am a Canadian” by Duke Redbird:

Canadian Stereotypes:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3EvS467JK0

How to Become A Canadian Citizen:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=388dRTxSnco

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