Writing Genres: Narrative Writing

Everyone loves a good story. Whether you watch a great television, see an award-winning movie, attend a sold-out play, or read a highly recommended book, it is because someone had a story to tell.

“Narrative” comes from the word “narrate” which of course means to tell a story; narrative writing includes novels, biographies, autobiographies, short stories, essays, plays, historical accounts, plays, and so on. Narrative writing can be either fiction or non-fiction.

When writing a narrative, the best way to start is to just start. There are specific parts and an order in a properly written narrative, but the most important thing to do is to get your ideas on paper first. Don’t slow yourself down worrying about the formal details at the beginning. Good writing takes practice; but all narratives have a beginning, a middle and an end.

If you need assistance writing your story, contact the writers at Writing It Right For You.

Don’t Dangle that Modifier!

To dangle or not to dangle!

A very common English grammar error, and one of my favorites because the result of the error is often very funny, is the “dangling modifier”. A modifier is a word or phrase that changes the meaning of another word. Adjectives and adverbs are modifiers.

A house. A big house. A big green house.

He ate the sandwich. He ate the sandwich quickly. He ate the sandwich very quickly.

Can you find the adjectives and adverbs in the above sentences? Can you identify the words that the adjectives and adverbs modify?

OK, the above examples were pretty easy. People usually get in trouble with modifiers when the words are put in the wrong place in the sentence. Because the modifier is not modifying the right word, it seems to “dangle”.

Incorrect: Running for the subway, my purse fell in the mud. Your purse was running to catch the subway? No wonder it fell in the mud!

Correct: Running for the subway, I dropped my purse in the mud. Now the sentence makes sense, because the word I is what is being described by the phrase “running for the subway”.

Can you find and correct the dangling modifier in this sentence?

Incorrect: After quickly changing into my hospital gown, the nurse told me to take a deep breath.

Correct: ____________________________________________________

Contact the professional writers and editors at Writing It Right For You for help undangling your modifiers!

Adjective or Adverb

Defining “adjective” and “adverb” is much easier than remembering the correct usage for these parts of speech.

An adjective is a part of speech that modifies, defines or changes a noun.
* The dress is red. The dress is red and long. The dress is red, long and fancy. In each case, the noun being modified is “dress”; and “red”, “long” and “fancy” describe or modify dress. Can you see the different dresses in your imagination? With each sentence, the dress “looks” different because of the different adjectives used to describe it.

An adverb is a part of speech that modifies, defines, or changes a verb. Usually, an adverb ends with the suffix “-ly”, but not always.

  • The girl ran quickly. The adverb quickly describes how the girl ran.
  • The man stood still. Here the adverb still describes how the man stood, but the adverb in this case does not end in “-ly”.

Of course, there are more rules (and the usual exceptions to the rules) for using adjectives and adverbs. There will be more examples in future posts. If you are not quite sure that your writing properly uses these words, make sure to contact the professional writers and editors at Writing It Right For You for assistance.