The key elements of narration t include sequence, chronology, a statement of meaning, a plot structure, and a narrator. A partial list of examples of narratives includes police reports, medical histories, lab reports, novels, short stories, plays, urban legends, television sitcoms, soap operas, history books, genre ﬁlms (westerns, romances, mysteries), biographies, and autobiographies. We can call these narratives when they use -- as they often do -- sequences of events that use time as a primary organizational strategy, but also use setting, characters, action, and resolution to convey a message.
Not only do narratives use time and sequence, but also they have a narrator who is important to the story’s meaning. This narrator is sometimes unnamed and sometimes almost invisible. It is the voice that chooses the events and chooses how to organize them, gives them emphasis, and who offers the ﬁnal “meaning” to the story. Readers need to be careful not to confuse the narrator and the author. Authors create different types of narrators just as they create different types of characters. These choices are never neutral, and by mapping them, we ﬁnd out about the narrative’s values and beliefs. We see the narrative’s hidden agendas, its unacknowledged assumptions, and its place in the network of similar ideas.
Narration is a double-edged sword: it puts things into a particular kind of order, but it also excludes some things. When we consciously recognize both the included and the excluded material, we become better readers and better writers. Identifying the gaps in the existing map of a subject requires that we think about the narrator and about what is excluded from the story.
We have looked at essays written by successful students seeking admission to various schools: Michigan State University, The University of Michigan, Loyola of Chicago, Kalamazoo College, Barnard, Mount Holyoke, and Bryn Mawr. We have reviewed their narrative strategies to understand why the essays worked.
We have recognized that, as both readers and as writers, we will deal with the choices that select the materials for our narratives. All writers must be selective, and both readers and writers must recognize that the choices reflect the beliefs, values, experience, and knowledge of the writer. Thus, narrations can never be neutral, and they always embody many assumptions. Good readers are aware of the choices and their associated values. Good writers know how to select materials for narrations so that the message and the content of the narration are connected. If we are going to write well, we have to read with a keen eye for how a narrative is being put together. This chapter helps you master two basic skills: 1) writing narratives, and 2) recognizing how narratives are created and how they offer us meaning. Thus, you will sharpen your ability to read narratives so that you can create narratives, and you will sharpen your ability to create narratives so you can read with greater insight and skepticism. It is a two-way street between reading and writing, and the road between them lets you critically explore the world around you.
Sample admission essay created using TEQ Sheets, P&P, and Prospectus: HERE.
Additional sample admission essays: HERE.
L. V. Anderson's "Woman Falls 17 Stories to Her Death; AP Implies She Deserved It"
Adam Gropnik's "Can Science Explain Why We Tell Stories?"
David Schonauer's "An Image of Innocence Abroad"
Balazs Pataki's adaption of Orkin's image: HERE
Your job is to write an application letter that uses a narrative. The letter must be organized as a narrative whose “meaning” is that you are the person who should be selected. It must reﬂect a thorough understanding and use of the concepts established in this chapter.
Your letter will use all the tools provided in class to produce the letter. These steps and tools will help you produce an effective letter with a better chance of getting you what you want. They are the steps used to create a useful document for almost any goal.
1. TEQ Sheets for the question to which you are responding;
2. P&P Statement
The paper may not use any form of the verb, "to be." Examples of this verb include "am," "is," "are," "was," "were," "being," "been."
The paper may not use second person ("you" or "your") Any paper using second person will receive a zero.
The paper not use "one" as a substitute for second person. Any paper using "one" in this fashion will receive a zero.