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Writing Well

Tell Me a Story: Narration

  • Seized with a determination to learn to read, at any cost, I hit upon many expedients to accomplish this desired end. The plea which I mainly adopted, and the one by which I was most successful, was that of using my young white playmates, with whom I met in the street, as teachers. I used to carry, almost constantly, a copy of Webster's spelling book in my pocket; and, when sent on errands, or when play time was allowed me, I would step, with my young friends, aside, and take a lesson in spelling. I generally paid my tuition fee to the boys with bread, which I also carried in my pocket. For a single biscuit, any of my hungry little comrades would give me a lesson more valuable to me than bread.
  • —Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855)

Narration is writing that tells a story. Like coffee, narration comes in different flavors. Narration that tells about real events includes autobiographies, biographies, and personal narratives, such as the excerpt you just read from Douglass's autobiography. Narration that deals with fictional events includes short stories, myths, narrative poems, and novels. In this section, you'll learn the basics for writing stories and personal narratives.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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