Teaching Narrative Writing: Strategies to Help Students Enjoy Writing Stories

Teaching narrative writing can be an incredibly rewarding experience, unlocking the hidden storyteller within each student. But how can you make the process engaging, exciting, and effective for your students? Discover the essential components of narrative writing, explore engaging teaching methods, and learn how to foster a love for writing that will last a lifetime.

The Basics of Narrative Writing

Narrative writing is the exciting art of storytelling, including personal narratives. It’s a form of writing that shares captivating sequences of events, intriguing characters, and thought-provoking themes. Every personal narrative should have a captivating beginning, exciting middle, and satisfying end, as well as engaging characters and a vivid setting, which teachers can teach students. By understanding these narrative elements and exploring narrative writing examples, you’ll be well-equipped to introduce narrative writing to your students and help them develop their own stories.

The key components of a narrative structure are orientation, complications and events, and resolution. These elements create a captivating story and are essential aspects of teaching narrative writing. Encouraging students to recognize their natural storytelling abilities and create their own story is a great way to introduce this form of writing through a narrative writing unit.

Videos, songs, and other engaging activities can make learning narrative writing fun and exhilarating, enhancing the effectiveness of writing instruction. With narrative writing online, students can access these resources anytime, anywhere.

Plot Development

Plot development is essential for captivating stories and should include a concise beginning, middle, and end. In teaching narrative writing, focus on the key components of a narrative text: orientation, complication, resolution, and ending. One great way to help students understand the structure of a narrative story is by deconstructing a text through a fun activity like cutting it up and sticking it back together. This sorting task can be engaging for middle school students learning narrative writing.

Temporal words play a significant role in narrative writing, as they assist students in arranging their events in an orderly, chronological fashion. A Narrative Plot Structure Diagram or a plot map can provide students with a visual representation of how to craft a captivating narrative that starts with an exciting action. These tools can be invaluable in teaching plot development and helping students create stories that truly capture the reader’s imagination.

Character Creation

Character creation is an exciting opportunity to craft believable, relatable characters with distinct personalities and physical traits that will captivate your readers. Character traits infuse a story with realism, depth, and meaning, creating an unforgettable and captivating experience for the reader. To help your students create characters that come to life, encourage them to use real people as inspiration, craft brief background stories and physical descriptions, and include small details that make their characters unique.

For a short story, it’s recommended to have one main character and a few secondary ones. Teaching character creation involves guiding students in developing their characters and ensuring they have a clear understanding of each character’s traits and distinguishing features. This will help students create engaging and memorable characters that truly bring their stories to life.

Setting the Scene

Setting the scene plays an essential role in helping to create the story’s atmosphere and giving context to the characters and events. Encouraging students to select a suitable setting for their story can help them move onto the exciting task of crafting characters to inhabit their imaginative world. To give students the boost they need to tackle the intimidating blank page when writing, offer them the support they need by providing word banks or other resources to get them started.

For older or more advanced students, exploring and challenging existing story-setting expectations can be an exciting activity. They may find this a great opportunity to push their boundaries and learn something new. By doing so, they can create a unique story with a humorous twist or a more original story that will captivate their readers. Encouraging students to experiment with their story settings can spark creativity and inspire them to think outside the box.

Engaging Teaching Methods for Narrative Writing

To help students develop their narrative writing skills, it’s essential to use engaging teaching methods that spark creativity and interest. Engaging methods can include storytelling games and visual aids, which not only make the writing process enjoyable, but also provide valuable insight into the structure, elements, and techniques used to craft a captivating story. By incorporating these methods into your writing instruction, you’ll provide an interactive and memorable learning experience for your students.

Storytelling games and visual aids are just two examples of engaging methods to teach narrative writing. Other approaches may include using narrative writing prompts, brainstorming sessions, reading mentor texts, and teaching the 5Ws (and 1H). By using a variety of methods, you can help your students develop the skills and confidence they need to become successful narrative writers.

Storytelling Games

Storytelling games are an excellent way to encourage students to think creatively and collaborate on developing stories. One exciting storytelling game is Round Robin Storytelling, where each person gets to contribute to the story. Round Robin Storytelling encourages the development of speaking and listening skills, making it a great addition to narrative writing instruction. To ensure success in Round Robin Storytelling, pay special attention to less confident learners and provide them with the necessary support.

In addition to Round Robin Storytelling, there are many other storytelling games that can be used to engage students in narrative writing. Some examples include story dice, story starters, and collaborative writing activities. By incorporating these games into your lesson plans, you’ll provide a fun and interactive way for students to practice their writing skills and develop their storytelling abilities.

Visual Aids

Visual aids, such as photographs, illustrations, diagrams, charts, graphs, videos, and props, can inspire students and help them visualize their stories. In teaching writing, visual aids can be an invaluable tool in helping students express ideas and comprehend experiences that language may not be able to capture. Visual aids can also help students link their own experiences to the stories they are writing, providing a deeper connection and understanding of the narrative.

To incorporate visual aids into your writing instruction, consider using visual prompts such as pictures, illustrations, or videos to inspire students’ creativity and imagination. You can also use graphic organizers, like story maps or character profiles, to help students plan and organize their narratives. By using visual aids in your lesson plans, you’ll not only engage your students, but also help them develop important skills in visual literacy and storytelling.

Implementing Mentor Texts

Mentor texts are essential for teaching narrative writing, as they provide examples of successful storytelling. These texts can showcase various narrative elements and techniques, helping students understand what makes a great narrative story. To make the most of mentor texts, students should carefully observe how the author crafted the text to serve their purpose, and identify areas in the model that demonstrate the criteria outlined in the rubric.

In addition to providing valuable insight into narrative writing, mentor texts can also serve as a source of inspiration for students. By reading and analyzing mentor texts, students can not only learn from the best but also develop their own unique writing style and voice.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss how to choose the right mentor texts and how to analyze them effectively.

Choosing the Right Mentor Texts

When selecting mentor texts, it is crucial to consider their captivating nature, excellence, pertinence, and capacity to provide vivid illustrations of the writing strategies being taught. Teachers can discover inspiring mentor texts for teaching narrative writing on various websites, such as the Cult of Pedagogy website. By evaluating mentor texts, teachers can select the ones that are most suitable for their students’ age and skill level.

To ensure you select the best mentor texts, consider the following criteria: the text should be engaging, of high quality, relevant to the topic, and provide clear examples of the writing techniques being taught. By choosing mentor texts that meet these criteria, you’ll provide your students with powerful examples of successful storytelling that they can learn from and aspire to emulate in their own writing.

Analyzing Mentor Texts

Analyzing mentor texts is a great way to learn from the best. It involves closely examining the techniques used by the author to create a powerful effect on the reader. By exploring how the author develops the plot, creates characters, and sets the scene, students can gain a better understanding of the essential elements of narrative writing. This can help them hone their own writing skills by learning how to create compelling stories that truly capture the reader’s imagination.

When analyzing a mentor text, students should explore how the author uses language to create a certain mood or atmosphere. They can also examine how the author uses figurative language, sensory details, and vivid verbs to bring the story to life. By engaging in this process, students can not only learn valuable writing techniques, but also develop their analytical skills and critical thinking abilities.

Writing Workshops and Peer Review

Writing workshops and peer review sessions provide opportunities for students to practice their writing skills and receive feedback. These sessions can help students improve their writing, develop their ability to give and receive constructive criticism, and foster a supportive and collaborative learning environment.

By combining writing workshops with peer review, students can benefit from a structured approach to the writing process. This includes pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing, all of which help students write and develop their writing skills and confidence in their abilities.

With this approach, students can become more confident and competent writers, ready to tackle any narrative writing challenge.

Organizing Writing Workshops

Organizing writing workshops involves setting clear objectives, providing guidance, and allowing time for independent writing. To create an ideal writing space, provide a designated area with the necessary supplies, such as notebooks, pens, and other materials, and ensure the space is comfortable and conducive to writing. Schedule the workshop to be engaging and motivating, with topics that are inspiring and relevant to the students.

Planning mini-lessons effectively can significantly contribute to the success of a writing workshop. Select topics that align with the workshop’s goals, prepare materials, and create activities that engage the students in a meaningful way. Ensure that there is ample time for independent writing, offering guidance and support as needed.

By organizing and conducting writing workshops effectively, you can create a nurturing environment where students can develop their writing skills and confidence.

Effective Peer Review Strategies

Effective peer review strategies involve teaching students how to provide constructive feedback and encouraging a supportive environment. By providing clear guidelines for feedback, encouraging constructive criticism, and allowing time for revisions based on feedback, you can foster effective peer review strategies in narrative writing. It is essential to communicate clear objectives, expectations, and criteria for acceptable work, and to provide students with focused tasks or criteria.

To foster an environment of support, offer positive reinforcement, honor student successes, and create a safe space for students to express their ideas. Encourage cooperation and peer review, and guide students on how to give feedback that is both helpful and constructive. By implementing effective peer review strategies, you can create a collaborative and supportive learning environment where students can grow and develop as writers.

Assessing and Providing Feedback on Student Narratives

Assessing and providing feedback on student narratives is crucial for their growth as writers. By carefully examining content, grammar, sentence structure, story cohesion, story grammar, vocabulary, and voice, as well as mechanics such as spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, you can gain a better understanding of their writing and provide valuable feedback. Utilizing a rubric or other assessment tool can help to clearly define expectations and assess writing progress both in the present and over time.

Formative assessment is an invaluable tool for gathering information about student learning and providing feedback to help guide instruction and support student growth. Summative assessment, on the other hand, is an excellent way to evaluate student learning and progress at the end of a unit or course. By using both formative and summative assessments, along with providing helpful and meaningful feedback, you can support your students’ development as writers and help them reach their full potential.

Grading Rubrics

Grading rubrics are powerful sets of guidelines or criteria used to evaluate student work and measure their progress. They include a task description, the outcome being assessed, the characteristics to be rated, levels of mastery/scale, and a description of each characteristic at each level of mastery/scale. By using grading rubrics, you can ensure consistent and fair assessment of students’ work, helping them understand what they need to improve and what they have already mastered.

To create effective grading rubrics, consider the following components: a task description, the outcome to be evaluated, the criteria to be graded, levels of mastery/scale, and a description of each criterion at each level of mastery/scale. By clearly defining expectations and assessment criteria, grading rubrics can help motivate students and provide them with a clear understanding of what is required for success in narrative writing.

Providing Constructive Feedback

Providing constructive feedback involves identifying strengths and areas for improvement, as well as offering specific suggestions for revision. To give constructive feedback, focus on providing both corrective and affirming comments about past behavior. This approach can help students recognize areas that need improvement and motivate them to take action.

To ensure that your feedback is helpful and meaningful, be specific in your comments and provide clear guidance on how students can improve their work. Offer praise and support where appropriate, and encourage students to continue working on their writing skills. By providing constructive feedback, you can help your students grow and develop as writers, ready to tackle any narrative writing challenge.

Encouraging a Love for Writing

Encouraging a love for writing involves creating a supportive environment and celebrating student success. By providing resources, encouragement, and opportunities for students to share their work, you can help foster a love for writing that will last a lifetime.

In the following sections, we’ll explore how to build a supportive writing environment and celebrate student success. Creating a nurturing environment for writing can help unlock students’ creativity, access resources and guidance, and celebrate their successes. By fostering a positive community and recognizing student achievements, you can inspire a love for writing that will stay with your students throughout their academic careers and beyond.

Building a Supportive Writing Environment

To create a supportive writing environment, provide a designated area with the necessary supplies, such as notebooks, pens, and other materials, and ensure the space is comfortable and conducive to writing. Schedule regular writing workshops and activities that engage students in the writing process and provide guidance and feedback as needed. Encourage students to share their work with their peers and offer constructive criticism and support to help them grow as writers.

In addition to providing resources and encouragement, cultivate a positive community by honoring student successes and creating a safe space for students to express their ideas. Encourage cooperation and peer review, and provide opportunities for students to practice giving and receiving feedback. By creating a supportive writing environment, you can help your students develop the skills and confidence they need to become successful narrative writers.

Celebrating Student Success

Celebrating student success can involve showcasing their stories, offering praise, and acknowledging their progress and achievements. Teachers can display student stories in the classroom, share them with other classes for inspiration, or publish them in a school newsletter or website to spread the good news. By recognizing and celebrating student success, you can help foster a love for writing and motivate students to continue honing their skills.

In addition to showcasing student stories, provide verbal feedback, give out awards or certificates, and write letters of recommendation to recognize their accomplishments. Recognize and reward students for their achievements by providing extra credit, offering special privileges, or giving out small gifts or tokens of appreciation to show your gratitude. Celebrating student success will not only inspire a love for writing, but also help students develop the confidence and motivation needed to continue their writing journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the steps to teach narrative writing?

Engage students by exposing them to inspiring narratives and showing them stories are everywhere. Guide them through the structure of a story with in-class activities, like story mapping and reading models.

Assign an essay to demonstrate their knowledge, and plan out how long each step should take.

What are the five steps to narrative writing?

To write a narrative essay, begin by choosing a topic, create an outline, write the essay, revise it, and proofread it before publishing.

What is narrative writing?

Narrative writing tells a story through a main character in a setting, with a problem or event that engages the reader. It is characterized by a plot that follows what happens to this character, making it an interesting and entertaining experience.

The plot should be structured in a way that builds suspense and keeps the reader engaged. It should also have a clear beginning, middle, and end. The characters should be developed and have a clear motivation.

How can storytelling games and visual aids help in teaching narrative writing?

Storytelling games and visual aids can provide an engaging way to spark creativity in students and help them explore ideas in narrative writing. They help to capture experiences that language alone may not be able to convey.

What is the importance of mentor texts in teaching narrative writing?

Mentor texts are invaluable when teaching narrative writing, offering powerful examples of successful storytelling and insight into structure, elements, and techniques used to craft a captivating story.

By studying mentor texts, students can learn how to create a compelling narrative arc, develop characters, and use language to evoke emotion. They can also gain an understanding of how to use dialogue, pacing, and other elements to create a vivid and engaging story.


In conclusion, teaching narrative writing is an exciting and rewarding journey that can help students unleash their creativity and develop valuable writing skills. By understanding the basics of narrative writing, using engaging teaching methods, implementing mentor texts, organizing writing workshops, assessing and providing feedback, and encouraging a love for writing, you can inspire and support your students as they embark on their own storytelling adventures.

Remember, the key to successful narrative writing is to create a supportive environment where students feel empowered to explore their imaginations and share their stories with the world.