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How to Teach Narrative Writing through Character Traits

Were you satisfied with the way you taught narrative writing last school year?  Well, I was NOT.  Especially after seeing how the students had to write narratives for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test!  I was so used to teaching personal narratives (that’s what the old California ELA Standards had), that teaching narrative this year was a huge learning process not only of my students, but for me as well!

How hard can teaching narrative writing be?  HARD!  First of all, students have to do a lot more than just write about an experience in their lives.  Most of the time, the prompt requires the student to write creatively to a situation, using his/her imagination to produce a sequenced and well written narrative.

What I found the hardest to teach, and this may be because it is just a new experience, is for a student to take on a persona when writing.  Or sometimes, students must continue a narrative that is already started.  Those are the kinds of writing tasks I observed onto SBAC.  Another part students found difficult to do was to incorporate dialogue while using commas, quotations and other punctuation correctly.

With that in mind, I developed a resource that I think will help my students to write good narratives.  Since one of the units I have to teach (in the second trimester) is a Folktale unit, and it also happens to be when we concentrate on narrative writing, I brainstormed a way to connect the two.  So in this resource, I use well known characters from fairy tales to develop narrative writing. 

First, students must understand the character well if they are to assume the persona.  So character traits are examined first.  Then I have the students do a RAFT writing activity in the role/persona of the character.  If you are unfamiliar with RAFT writing, here is a good place to learn about it:  Then it’s time to begin a narrative. I wrote a specific prompt involving the character that takes the story beyond the fairy tale so the student could use his/her imagination.  I also included a Narrative Pre-writing Planner to help students develop the events in sequence (since that is very much emphasized in the standard, including the use of temporal words).

Examining Character Traits

RAFT Writing Activity

But wait, what’s missing?  Dialogue!  Essentially there are 3 things a student must know about writing dialogue.  They must use the quotations correctly, use the comma and other punctuation correctly and use words that denote a character has spoken (said, responded, yelled, etc.).  Included in this resource is a Juicy Dialogue sheet to get the students to practice first writing dialogue before adding it to their narrative.

Adding Juicy Dialogue
Prewriting Organizer

The Narrative Writing Prompt

This resource can be used to help the teacher with mini-lessons on writer’s craft, developing sequence, word choice, conventions, etc.  Everyone has their own style and lessons to teach writing, so I felt rather than develop lessons, I would develop a resource that supported these types of lessons.  The CCSS is very clear that most writing by the student is done with teacher guidance and adult support.

If you would like to see if this resource is right for your students, I will have a SAMPLER version available for download from my TpT store on July 13 and 14.  Why those dates?


Yes, many TpT sellers have banded together to do a CHRISTMAS IN JULY SALE!  I will have 4 items heavily discounted for sale on July 13 and 14.  Additionally, the SAMPLER will be available for that limited time.  You can search for these items and all the sellers who are participating by searching for this hashtag on TpT:


The banner will be active on July 13 and 14 and will point down to the items I will have on sale. 

Also look for this side banner to download the SAMPLER Freebie.

I hope you get a chance to drop by for the sale and check out the fabulous resources that will be on sale.  

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