Continuing on our guides for the upcoming NAPLAN tests is our guide for writing narratives.

What is a narrative?

Narrative writing tells a story. The main purpose of a narrative is to entertain a reader, but stories can also contain a universal theme or moral, or teach the reader a lesson. The stories can either be imaginative or realistic.

Narrative text types include, for example, fairy tales, adventures, legends, myths, mysteries and fables.

How is a narrative structured?

A narrative is made up of four main sections: ‘orientation’, ‘complication’, the ‘sequence of events’ and the ‘resolution’.

The orientation sets the scene, mood and introduces the characters. Try to include ‘When’, ‘Where’, ‘Who’ and ‘What’ in this section to explain to the reader what the story is going to be about.

Complication is when a problem or a dilemma disrupts the normal life or comfort of the characters and sets off a sequence of interesting events.

The complication, often in the form of an obstacle (physical or emotional) that needs to be overcome, creates tension or excitement for the reader of the story and usually needs a response from the main character.

This leads to the resolution, where the problem is resolved. This section will include a description of the final outcome or ending.

Some writers like to include what is called a coda to the end of their narratives. A coda underlines how the character has changed and what they learnt as a result of the experience they went through. A coda is purely optional.

Grammar and language conventions used

  • Nouns: To refer to or describe the particular people, animals and things that arise in the story.
  • Adjectives: To build noun groups to describe the people, animals and things in the story.
  • Verbs: Saying and thinking verbs can be used to indicate what characters are feeling, thinking or saying.
  • Adverbs: Use in conjunction with adverbial phrases to locate the particular incidents or events.
  • Connectives: Use time connectives to show a sequence of events through time.
  • Tense: Use past tense (usually) except when there is dialogue (present).

 Practice makes perfect

To keep up your new-found narrative writing skills try to read other well-formed narratives, such as classic story books. Additionally, keep writing your own narratives and let your family or friends read over them for feedback and advice.

Persuasive Writing Guide


Board of Studies