Writing Mini Lesson #18- Building Suspense and Climax in a Narrative Essay

narrative writing suspense climax mentor text Cinderella plot

Building Suspense and Climax:  
Mentor Text:  Cinderella

After discussing the body section of the essay, develop the suspense and climax in the story.  An author creates suspense and a climax to a story to keep the readers’ interest.  This is one of my favorite lessons in narrative writing!  Use a roller coaster like the anchor chart below.  I like to get a matchbox car and ride it up and down the coaster using Cinderella as an example.  I start off by introducing Cinderella, step sisters, and step mother.  I explain how their characters develop and the mean things they do to Cinderella.  Next, I explain how the author increases the suspense when the fairy godmother gets involved and Cinderella shows up at the ball.  The action rises when Cinderella dances with the prince.  The suspense increases even more when the clock strikes 12 and she loses her shoe!!!!  The climax is when the prince is looking for the right foot to fit in the shoe.  Will Cinderella get to try on the shoe?  Will the prince find her?  

characters, setting, problem, increase suspense, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution

Divide students up into groups of four.  Place one of the Shared Suspense Writing Prompts below for each student into a cup and pass it around the groups.  

1.  Hurrying to get home on time, they decided to run through the cemetery to get home faster.
2.  Finding a treasure map in the old attic, we decided to follow it.
3.  Her computer kept flickering and the next things she saw…..
4.  My friends kept staring at me in fear.  I turned to look in the mirror to see ….
5.  As the boy was swimming in the ocean, he felt something rub up against him.
6.  My dog started barking in the middle of the night.  I crept down stairs.

7.  On the camping trip, the campers realized they were on the wrong trail.

Each person in the group chooses one prompt.  When you signal to begin, each person writes an introduction paragraph for the prompt.  Give them enough time to write then stop the whole class.  Ask them to pass their paper to the left.  That person needs to read what the previous person wrote and start the next paragraph adding suspense.  The 3rd person needs to build more suspense.  The 4th person writes the climax of the story.  Share within the small group.  (Do not write conclusions.  We will use it later.)

I hope you enjoyed learning suspense and climax! Next lesson will be DEVELOPING CHARACTERS

Like always, 

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