How to compose a narrative

Students’ approaches and pedagogical implications

  • Anja Thorsten Linköping University


The purpose of this paper is to contribute knowledge on children’s narrative writing from a pedagogical perspective. Through analyses of nine- to ten-year-old students’ narrative writing, aspects that are critical to discern in order to write narratives with a well-developed plot are formulated. The theoretical framework is narratology theories and Variation Theory. Narratology provides a conceptual framework for describing narrative writing, while Variation Theory offers a pedagogical perspective. A total of 80 narratives written by students have been analyzed, and five qualitatively different approaches to writing were seen. Narrative writing can be approached as describing events, solving a problem, creating action, making jokes and composing a narrative. A comparison between these approaches revealed five aspects that are critical for children to discern in order to develop the ability to write narratives: the discernment of a reader, the function of a narrative, the narrative structure, coherence, and duration. These aspects can be discerned in a more or less powerful way. The study contributes to the field by offering teachers guidance in what aspects are critical to address when teaching narrative writing in school.

Author Biography

Anja Thorsten, Linköping University
Anja Thorsten is at the Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Sweden.


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How to Cite
Thorsten, A. (2019). How to compose a narrative. Writing & Pedagogy, 11(1), 23-48.
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