So What

While a narrative is based on something that actually happened, keep in mind that the reason you write about a subject or event is to portray something that makes a point. Narratives, just like reports, critical essays, and research papers, must have a reason for having been told. As a reader, the question I ask is "So what?" What difference has it made that I read this? Why did the author choose to tell me this? As a writer, I try to keep the same question in mind at all times: Why am I bothering to tell this particular story and not some other? What do I intend my reader to take away from this reading?

However, seldom are our lives broken up into neat modules or stories with clear beginnings, middles, or ends. As writers our task will be to fashion convincing lives for our readers, as if such starting and stopping points existed. In that sense, whatever you write as truth will have some element of fabrication about it. Sometimes a narrative will start with a directly stated point (in the first set of student samples, Frank's "monotony"). However, it is more likely that a narrative lead will imply, but not state, the actual thesis (Sue's "dull throbbing of my lower back" or Jeff's "target waiting to be shocked"). Many narratives make their point through the accumulation of detail, asking the reader to make meaning from a revealed slice of life.

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