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Writing a Narrative

In this task, you will write a fictional or nonfiction narrative of about 750 to 1000 words on a theme that is present in some of the selections from Victorian literature that you read in this unit. Below are a few themes involving difficult childhood circumstances and ill-fated love, both of which figured in this unit’s readings. In developing your own narrative, you can choose one of these themes, create a variation on one of them, or use another theme in consultation with your teacher:

  • a child who does not fit well into his or her social circumstances
  • a child who is perceived as bad when he or she is actually good, or vice versa
  • an orphan or displaced child who faces struggles similar to those of Oliver Twist, Kim, or Heathcliff
  • two people who are attracted to one another but are prevented from uniting due to social norms or related personal conflicts

You can write your narrative in any style. For example, you could write in a modern style or imitate the style of one of the authors whose works you examined in this unit. Your narrative can be about real events and people, it can be fictionalized, or it can be a mix of real and fictional events and people.

A narrative can be a full-fledged story or an anecdote that mainly conveys key events and conflicts. Some narratives take the form of a case study that describes the circumstances of a person’s situation from a sociological point of view.

Regardless of what type of narrative you are writing, it will be richer and more enjoyable to read if it includes many of the elements of fiction. Before writing, you should decide which literary elements to develop most fully.


Themes are rarely stated explicitly in a narrative; they are usually conveyed through a narrative’s characters and the plot.


Setting includes the time, geographical region, and social context in which the events of the narrative take place. In addition to visual descriptions, the setting also includes tastes, smells, sensations, and sounds. Details of the setting may be important in building the atmosphere and mood of your narrative. For example, you can use a wild, windswept landscape to create mystery or a sense of foreboding.


Think about your characters’ motives, their strengths, and their flaws, and what might make readers able to identify with them.Think about how you want your characters to develop. Do they change in response to changed circumstances, or are they the same at the end of the narrative as they were in the beginning?


Tone is your attitude toward the subject of your narrative, and it is reflected in the style you adopt and the details of the narration. Consider if you want to use a detached tone, an ironic tone, or a tone that is openly sympathetic to the protagonist.

Point of view

You will need to choose a type of narrator. If you write your narrative from the third person point of view, the narrator will not be a character in the story and can have deep or limited ability to see into the thoughts of others. If the narrative is written in the first person, he or she will by definition have limited awareness of events and thoughts outside his or her own awareness or experience. But this narrator can describe personal impressions in great detail.


A basic plot will have a beginning, middle, and end. It also contains an engaging central conflict. As you are writing a short narrative, it’s best to concentrate on one plot instead of interweaving plots and subplots, as some longer narratives do.

Once you have planned the main elements of your narrative in sufficient detail, you can write it.


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