月曜日, 2月 26, 2007

What is a good narrative writing?

What are the qualities/elements of good narrative writing? Name some in comments in English.

If possible make reference to "Matches." What are the strengths of this piece and what might be the possible areas of improvement?

ラベル:

27 Comments:

At 2/26/2007 8:10 午後, Blogger jubin said...

The quality of a good narative writing is that it has to be "interesting." It is good if you can "describe" the situation very vividly...(It shouldn't be just listing of facts...as hatakeyama sensei was keep on emphasizing...)Also, it is important to use varities of sentence structure..( I don't know why,but is sounds kind of repetitive if you are keep on writing down the same structure of a sentence although you aren't repeting.)

 
At 2/26/2007 8:27 午後, Blogger げんこつ山 の たぬき said...

Good writing brings the reader into the story so that he feels like he is there, experiencing the events first-hand. One of the problems with "Matches" is the choppy flow brought on by too many short, simple sentences. Occasionally, this can be good (especially if you are trying to create a sense of urgency) but, in general, it should be avoided. Also, the ending is very abrupt--the story builds and then quickly collapses in the last, brief sentence. The ending should be rounded off in some way, like with a reflection, etc.

 
At 2/26/2007 8:28 午後, Blogger ブラツクバーン said...

Good narrative writing shouldn't "tell" a story. It should illustrate one vividly, building on a moment until it comes a live. It should burst into flames for the reader, much like the sheets did in "Matches". While the material of this story was incredibly interesting, something about the way it was told left much to be desired. "I thought" "I said" "The last step took her into the room"... All of this is obvious. I want to feel the heat. I want to see the color of the flames and know what the character FELT. Obviously there was much more to it than what was written. And he was put into punishment for 4 months? Come on... I want to hear about that beating. :)

 
At 2/26/2007 9:03 午後, Blogger Gregory Scott said...

I would add that in contrast to descriptive writing, narrative writing should carry some trace of the character of the narrator. The person who is telling us the story of "Matches" sounds like a young child, and often children of that age speak in short, choppy sentences. While we may not speak or write this way, it reminds us that this is a story being presented from a particular point of view.

That said, we can incorporate this into our own writing by determining our descriptive strengths and focusing on them during the composition. If one has an eye for detail, that can be incorporated. If you enjoy speech and dialog, more direct quoting rather than reported speech. The presence of a narrator should be treated as a strength, not a weakness of this genre.

 
At 2/26/2007 9:21 午後, Blogger もも said...

i agree with the previous comments that narrative writing should draw the attention of the reader through showing what happened rather than simple telling. that being said, the essay, Matches, does a good job in being descriptive in its use of dialogue. however, the sentences are choppy and it doesn't flow. perhaps this was to demonstrate the perspective of a young person; but, i still think there needs to be variety in sentence length. dialogue may be refreshing when used sparingly. its overuse seems to take away from the piece.

 
At 2/26/2007 9:40 午後, Blogger Stella K. said...

For me, a good writing simply means a writing that will make the reader keep reading, turning pages upon pages, forgetting about time and place, bursting with anxiety to find out what happens next and how it will end. Most likely it will be a combination of elements that can make this happen. The most obvious is an interesting plot/storyline, complete with the beginning, middle/build up, climax, and the end/finale. Other elements could be fascinating characters, style of prose, great conversations, et cetera. Obviously more of these elements we can include in our writing, more interesting it will be. I think "Matches" has potential to be a very interesting and absorbing piece. Personally I am partial to more detailed description of everything (for instance, fire, mom's footsteps, tension) in writing, so I would like more of those thrown in. There are some good descriptions (rice krispies, etc.) but I would want more. would also improve the dialogues, especially since the "thinking" dialogues seem rather forced and awkward. I think the "choppy" sentences that the above poster pointed out might aid in setting the tone, it is after all a very urgent and tense situation.

 
At 2/26/2007 10:17 午後, Blogger Ecael said...

Good narrative writing to me involves much in the way to be able to illustrate a story rather than dictating it. To be able to bring the reader into the story.

In the case of the story posted, I found that the first paragraph was quite interesting in style. However, it loses that style by the second paragraph where it seems to have boiled down to a description of the events flatly.

 
At 2/26/2007 10:24 午後, Blogger Tracy said...

The opening of “Matches” was interesting and caught my attention. A good story should catch the reader’s interest right away. Good narrative writing should be focused on one specific event, like the small mishap in “Matches”. Writing about what one did over winter break would be too broad. The narration should be rich in details, so readers can hear, smell, and feel what is happening. In “Matches,” the narrator could have described in greater detail the smell, sound, and heat of the flames, so readers could better feel what he/she was experiencing. A good story does not wander off on tangents, but stays focused on the main story line. “Matches” was told from start to finish without any unnecessary interruptions; each action was connected to the next, so the story flowed nicely.

 
At 2/26/2007 10:47 午後, Anonymous Eric Khaw said...

i agree with the previous comments. A good narrative writing definitely has to be able to grip the reader's attention. However, having only a good introduction wil not suffice. The interest has to be sustained. That said, it seems that the author of Matches may just have started with his education on english. As a result, he doesn't seem to be able to express himself entirely. i think that would be the problem with with most of us trying to write in Japanese. Perhaps we could make it up with a little humor.

 
At 2/26/2007 10:59 午後, Blogger sally said...

I think that a good narrative should focus not on what is necessarily true or present, but rather the narrator's sentiments towards these truths and situations. There is a distinct difference between saying "There was a house." and saying "There was a small pretty house that I used to often pass by on my home from school when I was 9 years old." Narrative writing should be personal, not necessarily regarding the narrator, but other characters or even the reader.

 
At 2/26/2007 11:31 午後, Blogger サラリーマン said...

Good narrative writing hooks you from the very start. You're gripped, you're interested, and you want to read more. A strong active voice carries you along swiftly; no namby-pamby reliance on the passive voice. Vivid internal dialogue announces the narrator's voice and may serve to explain or contrast inexplicable actions that are occurring in the narrator's orbit (as with Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov, or even Lethem's Essrog). This can often be accomplished with creative, narrator-specific language (think Twain, Joyce). As other commentators mention, strong narrative writing often displays a lapidary focus on a single event, moment, or thought.

On all these counts, "Matches" is a promising start. I was hooked from the beginning. Sure, the language is simple, but so was Hemingway's. It's written in a child's voice and is meant to be read as such. The active voice is strong throughout -- another positive. There's an internal dialogue, though admittedly not complex.

While highly focused on a single incident, the story ultimately flags in its inherent interest. So the boy played with matches and started a small house fire...who really cares? Moreover, the ending is meaningless and unsatisfying; the narrator learns nothing. There's no resolution and the reader is left, after a promising beginning, unsatisfied. A Greek or even an Elizabethan audience would not approve! Unless of course we've only been shown two paragraphs of a longer short story....

 
At 2/26/2007 11:45 午後, Blogger Sung Joo said...

What are the characteristics of good writing? It really depends on what story you write about. However, I agree with the comment that good writing should be able to attract the readers' attention. It would be hard to imagine a piece of writing without any interesting element inside.
Furthermore, sentences in the writing should be short and clear. Although it is always good to be vivid in what are being described, verbose descriptions will easily bore the reader. Therefore, short sentences are the key to bring readers' attention.
Finally, use of simple but strong vocabulary is the key to success in good writing. Use of excessive high-level vocab will only make readers confused and difficult to understand the context of the story. Therefore, simple words that can best describe the events the writer wants to demonstrate to the reader will yield higher chance of producing a good piece of narrative writing.

 
At 2/26/2007 11:50 午後, Blogger Momiji said...

Good writing should leave a reader feeling satisfied, yet still desiring more. "Matches" did not quite leave me with this feeling. The narrative guides me through emotions and some interesting description, but the overall flow is turbulent. The language was too advanced to remind me of a child-like writing, instead I felt the writer was having a difficult time describing the story. To improve the narrative, I agree with many other posts that it is necessary to add more description and more emotion. It is also more interesting to start sentences in different ways, instead of saying "She ..." start with a verb or another clause. Adding more tension into the story would also excite the reader, making the climax more intense and also leaving the reader satisfied.

 
At 2/26/2007 11:59 午後, Blogger 魚点 said...

I agree with the comments above. A good story should always have some focus on the setting to give the readers an idea of the environment (inanimate objects). Descriptions of the setting would also create images to which the readers can relate. The writer should not start every sentence with pronouns (subjects) in general. Rather, he should show some variation in sentence structure. The writer can also use more conjunctions to connect the actions to lessen the choppiness of the story.

 
At 2/27/2007 12:07 午前, Blogger Byron said...

A good narrative should be entertaining or else you will lose the reader. We see this in "Matches" when the narrator, as a child, decides to play with matches. A good narrative, IMHO, should also have an underlying moral to it as well. It should teach us something. At the very least, we should take a lesson away after reading such a story. The lesson should also be timeless, but adapted to our lives or modernity. Again, in "Matches" the child gets punished for doing something he "felt" was bad but decided to do it anyway. He also lied to his mother which makes his punishment all the more fitting. Finally, a narrative should have a natural flow to it. Hence, the sentences should be like nourishment to the hungry, who will devour every word and relish it. I believe that this will allow the reader to be transported to the narrator's world and stay there until the last period.

 
At 2/27/2007 1:00 午前, Blogger Keiko said...

I thought the first paragraph of matches was really good. The tone of the voice is very childish, but I think it is supposed to be from the perspective of the child, so in that sense it works really well. It is the second paragraph that proves problematic for me. The second paragraph's sentences should be longer because the first paragraph sets up the urgency of the situation with its shorter, choppy sentences. Also, there are really boring details, like what the fire department brought. And the second paragraphs is more of a listing of events rather than a narrative.
A good narrative seems for me to be one in which the interest in the story is maintained at all times. Additionally, the narrative should include quotes as to make the event seem more real and approachable. Also, there should be varied sentence structure and only interesting details need be included. Each sentence should contribute to the narrative on the whole in some way, whether it be adding to the emotion of the scene or furthering the plot, etc. Nuanced writing is key.

 
At 2/27/2007 1:24 午前, Blogger ケイシー said...

In high school, we learned that stories should have an introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. While you don't always have to follow this, its something to keep in mind while writing. As for "Matches" I felt that the falling action and resolution were pretty minimal compared to everything else. It ended a little too abruptly in my opinion.

Personally, I like stories that are very description. They need to paint a picture, so I feel like I'm actually in the story, instead of just reading about it. While a detailed description of the surroundings is important, the story needs to do more than merely describe the surroundings.

Somebody previously mentioned that the story should have a moral, or an underlining lesson to it. I couldn't agree more. Whats the point of reading a story if we aren't going to learn something from it?

 
At 2/27/2007 1:45 午前, Blogger Angelina ジュリー said...

Commenting on the "Match" narrative story, I think it's interesting how it started off with a so-called "attention grabber". It just throws out a word "Matches!" and triggers the readers' curiosity to read more about it and be interested in what the writer has to say about it. As ブラツクバーン san said, I was also a little bothered by too many "I thought," "I said,". Unless it is unclear who is saying/thinking the quote, it would be best to not use too many unnecessary explanations.
I also think when narrating a story, the story should be interesting and have a valid reason for the writer to have chosen to write it. For instance, I would not end the story like the writer of "Matches" did, because it does not fully explain what his motives were when he lit up his bed, and so on, so it won't leave the readers with
"huh?"--confusion.

 
At 2/27/2007 3:11 午前, Blogger Carlene said...

I think the narrative "matches" serves as an example of what an excerpt from a narrative should be. It has many fo the necessary aspects of a good narrative that many of the other students have mentioned, ie. interesting and visual. I personally love it when I can visualize what is going on and I think the writer does a great job at making this possible for the reader. Another important aspect that makes this a good narrative is the way the writer brings the reader into his thoughts by using keywords like "i thought"; It makes the narrative more personal which, in my opinion, is what a good narrative should be. But, like I said, "matches" is an example of what an excerpt from a good narrative would be. The ending of matches was very abrupt and could've been more descriptive like the first paragraph. It seemed as though he was rushing. A good narrative brings the story full circle and shouldn't leave any open ends.

 
At 2/27/2007 3:19 午前, Blogger retrotechnical said...

Grammatically, good narrative writing uses varying syntax, with multiple conjoined clauses through the use of the comma and semicolon (in English at least). The content of good narrative writing will make use of tone of voice and "show rather than tell". It should avoid straightforward listing of events and reptition; in this passage there is an extreme amount of repitition, especially of declarative sentences starting with a pronoun.

 
At 2/27/2007 3:46 午前, Blogger Tedde said...

Stories are told for no reason other than a reason; a well-conceived theme is paramount to a successful narrative. Especially when writing about one's own experiences, the personal moments included in the narrative should be chosen purely for their utility in building up a theme. Unlike a "well-written narrative," "good narrative writing" need not adhere to perfect grammatical correctness as long as its theme, and thereby its plot, is strong. For examples of this, read any New York Times Bestseller.

Language-learners often abandon their narrative instincts when writing in a non-native language. Conveniently, the ability to construct a potent themes transcends language proficiency. This means there is no excuse for writing a story with a poor theme, even if you're writing in a non-native language.

 
At 2/27/2007 4:22 午前, Blogger Eikichi said...

As others have said before, for me a mark of a good story is if it makes me want to keep on reading it. To do this a good narrative piece should have an interesting plot or should be written in a way to make it fun to read. The writing needs to make the piece flow, so the reader can fully enjoy the story. "Matches" tells a great story, but the short sentences break up the flow and makes it slightly awkward to read.

I think in narrative writing the writer should have free reign on the format of the piece. Making the format unique can go a long way to making the story itself intersting to read. The thought quote in the beginning of "Matches" gives you a good idea of where the story is leading, whereas the abruptness of the ending gives it a humorous tone, which I liked.

 
At 2/27/2007 10:39 午前, Blogger Dr. Jazz A. Saurus-Wrecks, MD said...

I think "Matches" is a good example of a simple narrative, I guess the kind we are expected to write at this level. There are elements of deception and dishonesty, curiosity, danger, and even humor, which allows it to appeal to a wide range of audiences rather than confining itself to a single-sided genre. The thing that caught me in the beginning was the opening quote - a lot of narratives lack a captivating introduction AND dialogue, and while I don't think the latter is necessary it definitely pulls the reader in more and allows them to identify more with the action. The opening, however, often decides the fate of the story considering (at least from my experience), if the first few sentences are weak and uninteresting, I'm not likely to keep reading. If the first word I see on a page is "Matches!" my curiosity is going to be aroused and I'm going to want to know what happens next. Of course, the climax is the most critical to the story, and I think this is the most difficult aspect to master - if it comes too soon, the reader will get bored and want more, but if it comes too late, the end seems rushed and not thoroughly thought out.

The one aspect of "Matches" that I think I didn't like so much is that it was rather predictable - a child finds matches, sets something on fire, invariably gets caught and is punished, the end. If you already know what happens, are you going to want to keep reading? If the story had more depth - introspection into the emotions felt during the course of action, or at the least a hint at some sort of lesson learned - perhaps this would be more excusable. Granted it is written from a child's perspective, I'm pretty sure when I was a kid and I played with fire, I at least FELT something - excitement, anxiety... heat. I think this could've added to the story overall.

 
At 2/27/2007 10:58 午前, Blogger happy white seal said...

Some qualities of good narrative writing are good theme, story, characters, organization, suitable tone, sentence structures, and minimal grammar errors. I agree with most of the comments that others have made about the "Matches". I think it has an interesting story because the event is so unusual, but it lacks all the other qualities of good writing. The characters were not developed, after reading the piece, I can't describe anything about the personality of the narrator and the mother. I only know the action that occured. More adjectives and details will help. Also, the organization of the piece is very much like a report rather than a narrative, there is no emphasis on any part. A central theme or some sort of conclusion at the end of the story is also missing. "Matches" can be a lot more effective if it is written with some other good qualities of narrative writing.

 
At 2/27/2007 11:42 午前, Blogger andre said...

this narrative is good as it makes you feel a genuine sense of excitement for what is going on in the story. I thought the use of short sentences was all right as it brought some variety to the pacing and flow of the story. Also, it does seem to emphasize the role of a young narrator, making it all the more believable. By using narrative structures that fit the mood or the persona we are playing out in a story, it becomes more engaging.

andre

 
At 2/27/2007 2:32 午後, Blogger midorichiken said...

I think that a good piece of narrative writing is interesting and engaging, using dialogue to engage the audience, eg that between the author and his mum. Also, it should have a basic storyline or plot with some main characters and not just your ramblings about one particular thing.

 
At 2/27/2007 5:00 午後, Blogger OilCanBoy said...

A captivating narrative often shows more than it tells. To that end, this narrative vividly (though perhaps choppily or awkwardly) describes a series of actions and responses from which the reader draws conclusions as to the actors' states of mind. It is better to describe how an actor's actions reveal what he or she is thinking rather than merely to say, for example, "I was scared."

That being said, this narrative, as noted above, also suffers from excessive repetition. Beginning each of the first three sentences of the second paragraph with "she" begs for some variety. Moreover, the narrator here glosses over some of the most exciting parts of the story! "They brought fire hoses and other materials. They put out the fire." This seems like a poor climax to an otherwise exciting story. Furthermore, saying simply that the firemen brought hoses "and other materials" is a weak way to describe an uncommon event. If firemen ever came into MY bedroom, you can be sure I would describe what they were wearing, what they carried, and what they did with greater specificity.

 

コメントを投稿

Links to this post:

リンクを作成

<< Home