Catherine’s Paper – A Narrative Writing Sample

This child was taught the Empowering Writers skills but has not used them all.  Is this normal?  Absolutely!  It is very possible that your students will forget to apply all of the skills at once.  Writing is a multifaceted task. It requires a lot of higher order thinking.  Progress doesn’t happen overnight.   We need to continue the modeling process and revisit lessons so that applying these skills will become second nature.   

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This paper is a classic example of a potentially great author who has not applied all of the skills that had been modeled and practiced.  Let’s look at the strengths of her paper first.


If you look at the main event of her story, she has included some of the skills taught. The main event is the longest part of the narrative (although it could be developed more) and she has stretched it out with a lot of great details.  She has also added a lot of suspense in order to keep the reader’s attention.


  • The last batter of the day came up to the plate, loaded up, and shot the ball straight to
     An action sentence.
  • At this point, I knew it was either make it or break it.  A sentence including a


  • So I aligned my glove even with the ball to insure I would catch it.  An action  

            sentence.  This is also suspenseful.

  • Soon, I heard a loud pop noise and realized that I had just caught the ball.  A sound

           mixed with action.  Suspenseful as well.


There are a few things that this author could do to “knock” this paper out of the ball park!

  1. One of the first things that is very apparent is the fact that she has not included an entertaining beginning.  The reader has not been “hooked.”  What if she would have opened with an action?



          I positioned myself way out in right field. Bending over, resting my palms on my

          knees, I could feel the sweat trickle down my back from the blazing sun.


         Notice that the setting, time of day, and character is introduced in an exciting way that

         invites the reader into the story.


  1.  Another skill that is missing is that of elaborating on a critical character, setting,

          or object.  Young authors are taught to stop the action and describe

          something critical to the story.  What if she would have included the following:


The last batter stood, slightly bent over the plate, peering out into the field with a look of stern determination on her face.  Bat in hand, cocked behind her back, she was ready to unwind like a coiled up spring.  


           The last batter is a critical character in the story, because she actually defined

           the outcome of the game.   The author could have elaborated on other

           critical elements of the story such as the ball field (critical setting) or the actual

           softball (critical object).


  1.  Finally, she has not included a satisfying extended ending.  Her story just “stops” and the reader does not leave feeling satisfied.  What if she would have ended it like this:


             I walked off the field, standing taller than ever before. I’ll never forget the sound of

             the roaring crowd in the stands.  I had done it.  I caught the ball that sealed the

             victory for my team.  My decision was made that day…softball would be my future.


Remember that writing is a process…not a destination.    Progress will most assuredly come. Especially when young writers have the specific skills necessary for powerful revision!