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Teacher Tips and Answers

Writing a Historical Narrative

Once you finish prewriting, you are ready to tell your story in writing. These activities will help you hook the reader's attention at the beginning, build interest through a sequence of events, and create a strong ending for your narrative. You'll also read another student's essay to see how all of the parts came together.

Writing the Beginning Paragraph

The first sentence in your narrative should grab the reader’s attention. It is called a “lead.”

Write a lead.

Read each lead-writing strategy and example. Then write your own. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

  • Start in the middle of the action:

    With the mighty Rockies on the horizon, our expedition came upon a fork in the Missouri River.


  • Start with interesting dialogue:

    “If we make the wrong choice, the expedition is doomed,” said Captain Lewis.


  • Use a startling idea:

    If your life hung on a 50-50 chance, could you flip the coin?


Write your beginning paragraph.

Write your lead and give more details to establish the setting and the main problem or obstacle facing the characters.


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