How can I spice up my narrative essay?I am writing about a big horse show that I competed at, which was overall a very good experience.  However, I noticed that my writing does not portray the...

How can I spice up my narrative essay?

I am writing about a big horse show that I competed at, which was overall a very good experience.  However, I noticed that my writing does not portray the excitement that I felt.  The main point of my essay is the moment where my horse and I are suspended in midair over a jump that every other horse refused.  I was scared to death coming up to it, and the relief I felt as my horse took the jump without hesitation mingled with the familiar joy I feel each time we soar over a fence together.  That one moment is extremely emotional, but I can't get that to come across when I write it.  Some interesting adjectives would be helpful, as well as any tips that you can think of.  Thanks everyone!!

6 Answers | Add Yours

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Why don't you try mapping. For each event or important character, including the horse, map out a list of words that you associate with it. Then you can try to make them more interesting, by adding adverbs and adjectives and sensory details. This usually helps.
amarang9's profile pic

amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

You have a great start and you’re right that the emotional aspect is lacking. Write this as if you were describing it to a friend who would appreciate the rush you felt. Some people write better than they speak. I am certainly not one of those people. I found, by trial and error, than my writing greatly improved when I started writing as if I were in a conversation or speaking extemporaneously. It frees things up and gets you out of this structured, formulaic mindset.

Once you get this, you can then refine your writing. Two things: Detail and metaphor. Describe very particular things about the jump. The first poster alluded to this technique. By describing many small things, you convey that so much is going on and that you’re aware and in tune to all of these things. Then throw some metaphors in. What was the jump like? First describe it literally, and then describe what it was like. You are in the air, so technically, you are flying, soaring, suspended, and falling and so on. What about psychological aspects? This will add to the emotion. You were scared to attempt the jump which means you thought the horse would chicken out or not make it. You had doubt. You attempted it despite the doubt. If you want to increase a feeling of drama, without going overboard, try describing as it happened. For example: “As we approached the jump, I had this feeling of dread; like we were foolishly attempting to defy gravity. I imagined crashing. But the horse didn’t hesitate. It was like . . . “

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that you actually have much here which can result in a fairly effective narrative prompt.  Without having read the work sample, perhaps being able to open with a lead sentence that captures this excitement might bring some level of interest to your work.  For example, what if you opened with the line, "I was suspended in mid air over a jump that every other horse refused."  Another line that I pulled from the subquestion that could be a good lead would be, " I am scared to death as I come up to it."  In making part of the action in present tense and opening up the narrative, you bring the reader into the piece.  They experience what you experience, feel what you feel, sense what you sense.  In this light, your first person narrative becomes something more than a moment in time of your experience, but rather something else that is shared by the readers in a sort of "eternal present."

ask996's profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

You're right. You do a great job of telling your audience about the experience, but you don’t show us. Good writing should show the audience. When we close our eyes, we should be taken to that moment and place in time. Better adjectives would spice it up a little, but you need to use other writing techniques as well. The use of figurative language such as original metaphors or original similes, personification, and etc. would be helpful. In addition, addressing your writing through more senses would help. Close your eyes as you think about this moment. What sounds do you hear? What smells do you smell? What physical sensations do you feel? Can you feel the hardness of the stirrups pressing into the bottom of your boots? Can you use better writing technique when you show your audience that moment of midair suspension to draw the moment out before you land?

 The following link provided by Purdue University might offer some helpful advice.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/685/04/

kellyeller's profile pic

kellyeller | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Perhaps write it from the horse's point of view.  I own horses and have done a little jumping myself, and I'm sure you agree that equines have a mind of their own.  That might give it just the creative twist you need.  Good luck!

iceprince403's profile pic

iceprince403 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Thank you both!!  You have been very helpful, and I think my essay is going to turn out quite nicely from your advice!! Thanks again!!

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