More Handy Tips for Crafting an Effective Narrative Essay

More Handy Tips for Crafting an Effective Narrative Essay


Once again It’s about that time in the semester to write term papers.

Term papers can be a drag. What’s there to write about? And who cares anyway? It just all seems so boring. But it’s not. Essay writing is an important skill, one well worth learning. And one of the most important things you’ll learn through essay writing is the art of character description.

Almost every narrative essay asks that you describe a character. Readers want to be able to imagine the story, and they can only do so if they can imagine the characters within the story. Characters must be unique, and the writer must work to make them so. Some sage words of advice from a long-forgotten composition instructor:

Emotional realization of a character is no less necessary than intellectual comprehension. Writers of imagination live with their characters, enter into their hopes and joys and fears, plan with them, suffer with them. When Thackeray had written the last line of his "The Newcomes," he gave over his work with reluctance, confessing himself as "quite sorry to part with a number of kind people with whom I had been living and talking these twenty months past."

That’s how you must feel for your characters if you are to write compelling narrative. They must be as close to you as your own family. You must love them as you would a wife, brother, sister, mother. You must live with them day in and day out, and you must never tire of their presence. Characters are like beloved guests. You never want them to leave.

When John Pelle wrote the last line of "Shadydrive Mansion," he cried, admitting that, like Thackeray, he had grown to love his creations. He had lived with them, witnessed their sorrows, rejoiced in their triumphs, lamented their deaths and disappearances. So it goes with sensitive authors. Who can forget Maupassant’s love for Mme. Loisel?

She was one of those pretty and charming girls, born by a blunder of destiny in a family of employees. She had no dowry, no expectations, no means of being known, understood, loved, married by a man rich and distinguished; and she let them make a match for her with a little clerk in the Department of Education.

Poor woman! Even we, reading from such historical distance, can sense the anguish of the little maid. How she suffers from the accident of modest birth! And it takes a great genius to convey that suffering to readers, whose hearts always begin as hard as rock until they softens from the gentle massage of engaging prose.

It’s that time of year again, when even you, humble student, must write essays. Can you make your professor cry? Can you melt her heart of granite? Your grade depends on it - can you do it? One more example before we part:

It is an axiom in criticism that good art should be unobtrusive. A turgid, strained style is offensive to good taste; it offends against our instinctive feeling for the natural and sincere and accurate. A style that is labored or a style that self-consciously cries aloud for attention is manifestly a bad style; like the artificial manners of shallow, superficial people it quickly breeds distrust and contempt. 

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