Essay Writing Tutorial: Narrative Writing Technique for WAEC/NECO/GCE Exams

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Essay Writing Tutorial: Narrative Writing Technique for WAEC/NECO/GCE Exams

Narrative writing is just one of the types of essay writing. This tutorial will explain how to approach narrative writing. So if you are aspiring to write O Level exam. Do not take this for granted.

What is an essay?

An essay is a piece of writing based on the writer’s perspective or one’s view point of a particular situation. We see things in different ways. If you and I write on a particular issue that happened, we will interpret it differently. Essay is the state of mind that is replicated in the course of writing.

Types of essay

There are basically four types of essay from which questions are usually asked at the WAEC level. They are:

  1. Narrative essay
  2. Descriptive essay
  3. Argumentative essay
  4. Expository essay

The narrative essay

The narrative essay as the name implies is simply story telling. It is the act of telling a story about past event or experience.  When you are giving an account of a past event you are narrating a story.  The story could be imaginary or real. It is real when the story is a real life event or experience. It could be your own personal experience or something that happened to someone else to which you were a witness. Every individual is a narrator, at least a narrator of your own life. You tell stories about your experience on daily basis.

The story could be imaginary. An imaginary story is a story that you frame up. In other words, you made up or created the story. It is not a real live event. It is the opposite of real life story. However, the fact that it is imaginary does not mean it has to be factious like a fairy tale. It has to be believable which means you don’t leave any loop holes for the reader to guess your story is not real. It has to be convincing. The reader should perceive it as real. Make your story as real as possible, capable of moving the reader to action.

Picture this scenario, you watch a movie and in the movie a good and important person dies. His loved ones begin to cry. Although you know it’s a movie, you are moved to tears and you begin to cry with those who cry. Why is it so? Because the narrator made the story look real. That is what you are expected to do.

Features of the narrative essay

The tense must be in the past: This is where many students have a problem. You need to keep in mind the fact that you are narrating a past event. Suppose that on your way to school you witness an accident in which the victim was rushed to the hospital. Now you want to narrate the story to your friend. Would you say, “On my way to school this morning I witness an accident. The victim sustains injury and is taken to the hospital.” Hell NO. You would rather say, “on my way to school this morning I witnessed an accident. The victim sustained injury and was taken to the hospital. The only  exception is when you want to quote what a speaker said. For example, I had the victim cry out with a loud voice,  “I’m finished.”

The story must be convincing: Enough about this has been said already. Just make your story replicate a real life situation.

The story must relate to the question: This is very important because if your story is not relational it becomes off content. This means you score zero under content.

All these having been said, do not forget the standard marking guide. It spells how the examiner awards you mark and what you can do to improve your chances of scoring high. Don’t fail to learn about the standard marking guide, COEMA:

  • C = content (10 marks)
  • O= Organization (10 marks)
  • E= Expression (20 marks)
  • MA= Mechanical Accuracy (10 marks)

For details about standard marking guide refer to my previous post: 

Formal Letter: How to Write a Formal Letter That Meets WAEC/NECO/GCE Standard


Points to remember when narrating a story

  • Keep to the content.
  • Avoid error of redundancy.
  • Avoid wrong spelling.
  • Capitalization- use capital letter where necessary.
  • Avoid omission of article.
  • Use either Standard British English or Standard American English and be consistent with your choice.
  • Arrange your story in a sequential order and in paragraphs.  Each paragraph should introduce a new idea.


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