Paper 1 Section B: writing narrative

This second prompt will link back into the reading section as well. In this case it’s about people from different backgrounds:

Write a story about two people from different backgrounds.

[40 marks]

Again, not exactly going to set the world on fire, is it. But we can work with this and come up with something interesting. 

The basic structure of a story

You may have been taught this, but if not it’s worth knowing. This is narrative structure at its most basic, but that’s all you need to know.

Follow these steps to write a story about pretty much anything, and to ensure it reads well and interests the examiner:

  1. You’ll need two things first of all – characters and setting. Decide on a main character, and where you’ll base the story. I’d suggest you base the story on the point of view of one character not two. In the above example, it may be two people meeting for the first time. 
  2. You want to start by placing your main character (MC) in the setting. And get them doing something. Not contemplating the meaning of life. That’s boring.
  3. Something needs to happen to this character to snap him/her out of his day to day life. In this case it may be meeting this other person for the first time. 
  4. This incident sparks a series of events which somehow change the MC. You don’t want the MC to be the same at the beginning at the end.
  5. The story reaches a climax where the MC has to make a choice. It shouldn’t be easy for them.
  6. The story ends with the MC back on with their life – only the incident has changed them in some way. 

Applying it to a prompt

Applying this to our writing prompt, the notes for the story might be something like this:

  1. A young man working in a coffee shop.
  2. The man serves a series of unpleasant, arrogant people and hates what he does. He dreams of getting out and doing something with his life.
  3. On his way home, he sees a homeless guy being kicked outside the coffee shop and goes to help him. 
  4. He talks to the homeless man, learns about his background, and decides to help him. 
  5. The final choice will be whether or not he leaves his job to help this man find his family. He does so, and the man’s family turn out to be very wealthy. 
  6. MC in the coffee shop once more – but this time it is his own, as the family gave him money to thank him. 

Yes, it’s a bit cheesy, but it has all the ingredients of a compelling story. Have a go writing using these ideas if you wish, or use the narrative structure to think of your own. You should find it makes writing stories easier.

For more detail on writing, including exercises to complete, download my ebook from Amazon.

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