Writing an Engaging Opening to a Narrative

Please look carefully at the opening to a narrative response below and please note the annotations:

The main teaching and learning points are listed below:

  • The opening sentence orientates the reader to a possible/potential location for the narrative and gives us the temporal context for the narrative- it’s early morning and daylight is breaking.
  • The young man is ‘crumpled’ much like the newspapers he’s covered with. The newspapers are symbolic of being discarded, they are worthless and forgotten about… much like him.
  • the setting also works on a symbolic level as it’s clearly an abandoned building. The young man is also constructed as abandoned.
  • The cold which ‘knifed’ him is used metaphorically here. It’s an intertextual reference to a Wilfred Owen poem ‘Exposure’ but it’s used her to show how punishing the winds are. They are cutting and cold.
  • The ‘furtive’ attempt at finding shelter is meant to show how secretive his quest to find shelter is. The word renders him invisible.
  • ‘Any shelter’. I shorted the syntax here to echo his desperation.
  • The question ‘Why?’ is deliberately left open-ended to get the reader to ask what the question might be… and what the possible answer might be to it.
  • ‘Cocoon’ is used ironically here. Cocoons are meant to a place of comfort but his cocoon is anything but.
  • The verb ‘staggered’ gets the reader asking questions about why the young man is staggering.

In short, the paragraph above is designed to get the reader asking questions, it’s meant to engage them and immerse them in the narrative. The next part of the narrative would need to pick up the pace…

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