An Adventure – A Narrative Writing Sample

We’ve all had them.  You know, the student that comes to you will a lot of writing talent?  The author below is a prime example.  But there is a misconception that advanced writers do not need a lot of instruction.  This simply is not true.  Whether struggling or not, every child needs to be taught skills to shape their writing.  The author, below, had a lot of talent but her writing lacked the intentional application of the structure and skills that take a piece of writing from “creative with lots of potential” to polished.  Let’s look at each part of the story to see what skills this fourth grade student has mastered.

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#1:  Entertaining beginnings:  The writer has “hooked” the reader with an action/sound

      beginning.  The setting has been referenced and the main character introduced.

      This beginning definitely leaves the reader wanting to hear more of the story.  


#2:  Elaborative detail:  The young author has chosen critical parts of the story to elaborate

      on (which is a foundational EW lesson.)  Notice the way she elaborates –

      white and red stitched ball standing still as a statue (critical object). Later in the piece, she describes…    

      her brown streaked colored face and arms (a critical character).


#3:  Suspense:  Suspense has been used to draw the reader in by describing the ball being  

      tackled in the mud.  Following this event, the main character tries again which  

      adds even greater depth to the storyline.  The author also refers to the eyes of the crowd.

      The story questions captivate the reader, and, at the same time, move the story along.


#4:  The main event:  This writer has jumped inside his/her story and has invited the reader

      to come along.  Notice that the main event is the largest portion of her story.

      She also reveals the main event, step-by-step, and uses great sentence variety.  A

      balanced mix of action, description, dialogue, thoughts and feelings really breathes life

      into the story.

      Let’s look at some of her sentences:

  • Water flew through the air from the sprinkler as we tackled the ball.  This is an action sentence.
  • Lauren screamed, “It’s MINE!”  This is a dialogue sentence.
  • The eyes on us built up as Lauren rambunctiously shoved me into a pile of gross brown mud.  This is a descriptive sentence.


#5:  Conclusion:  The author has concluded the story with a wish and then wraps it up nicely

       with a statement.  “A smile was painted on my face.”


Notice the high level of vocabulary as well as the application of skills.  This student has most definitely been involved in powerful modeling where the teacher articulates the thought process of an author and shares this kind of high level vocabulary on a regular basis.  The fact that all of the skills taught have been independently applied in a rough draft really speaks to the effectiveness of the approach.  


Without teaching this young author the skills, her writing most certainly would not have flourished as such.