Content and Structure Choices
First, you have to decide what story you want to tell. What are the time boundaries of your story: a single breakfast, a whole day, three years, or a lifetime? In general, for a single paragraph, your paragraph will be more successful the shorter your story is since you do not have much space to develop it. As you will see in a minute, specific details help your narrative, and the larger your story is, the fewer details you can include.
Second, you have to choose what the purpose of your paragraph is. Are you simply telling your version of the story or are you drawing some kind of conclusion from your story? If you are writing your paragraph for a school assignment, it is likely that you will need to include some kind of conclusion or lesson learned in your paragraph. If that is the case, then you will probably want to place that lesson at either the beginning or end of the paragraph. At the beginning, it will shape your reader's entire experience of the story; at the end, it will summarize any important message you want your readers to have when they finish your paragraph.
Third, you will want to determine the arrangement of your narrative's plot points. Will you follow a chronological order in that you simply start at the beginning and move to the end? Consider another technique, which is a good technique for getting your readers' attention: start with an exciting or intriguing action. This may mean that you need to start telling a detail from the middle or even the end of the story before looping back to fill in the remaining details.
Fourth, you will want to work on your transitions, or words used to connect one sentence and idea to another. Since you are telling a story, transition words related to time are especially important here, such as first, next, and last. These words usually go at the beginnings of sentences in order to tell your readers how this new sentence connects to the last one.
The following is a list of common transition words.
Another set of choices you have relates to the imagery, or the descriptive language used to describe people, items, and events, that will appear in your narrative. Usually, a narrative is stronger when its author uses more imagery, as its inclusion of details helps readers grasp and relate to the story more easily.
For instance, 'Carrie was happy to go to school yesterday,' does not paint a picture nearly as vivid as, 'yesterday, in her anticipation for the school day ahead, Carrie excitedly grabbed her backpack on her way out the front door and skipped to the bus stop.' The second sentence helps readers understand the emotions through some of the five senses.
Use these five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell) throughout your narrative to provide rich detail to your readers. Some teachers call this technique 'showing, not telling.' In other words, don't tell your readers how characters feel or act but show them through the use of imagery.
Your narrative paragraph (your particular telling of events) of a specific story (the chronological and factual events) requires you to make a number of choices. You need to choose the story that you want to tell, whether your paragraph will simply contain the story or the story plus a lesson or moral learned from the story, and what chronological order you will follow.
You also want to work in solid transitions that move your readers from sentence to sentence, which will likely be related to time for a narrative.
Finally, you should develop your use of imagery, or descriptive language, so that your readers can better understand your narrative and you will leave them with a clear set of character or action images.