If you are looking for ways to teach students how to write an introduction in a narrative story, you are in the right place!  An introduction is the beginning of the story so it should introduce a character or two as well as establish the setting and plot!  These ideas are ideal for any writing curriculum and are a part of a series of mini lessons for writer’s workshop designed for scaffolding through the writing process. Read on for steps to writing an effective introduction.

What steps should you take to create a powerful introduction?

1. Teach

An introduction should include the main character and can have other characters.  Explain that not all of the characters need to be introduced right away, but the main character should be introduced.  In the body of the paper, students can bring in more characters.  I have a post on character traits later in this writing mini lesson series.  Upper elementary students have a habit of wanting to tell a whole story that leads up to the actual place where the story is beginning which leaves no room for the actual plot.  The best way to avoid that is start off the story with the problem so the story can be developed from there. Think of CSI.  The crime is presented at the beginnin of the show.  Then the story unfolds. This is the same with narrative writing.  In the introduction, the character(s), setting and plot should be introduced.  It gives the rest of the essay room to develop the characters and story.

2. Mentor Text

A good mentor text for teaching the elements to put in an introduction, is Thundercake by Patricia Polacco.  She introduces the characters, setting and plot at the beginning.

For the setting, a good mentor text is Working Cotton by Sherley Anne Williams.  Discuss the details of the setting in the story.

3. Model

Take the story you are working on as a class and model writing an introduction.  Talk out loud as you brainstorm and have students chime in. Discuss the characters, plot (from previous lesson), the setting.  Choose a student(s) to draw the setting on large paper and as a class discuss what to add.  Together, write a vivid description. Discuss the reason for choosing each particular part of the introduction.  It gives students a deepers understanding to how the stories are developed.  Then show students how to add the introduction to a graphic organizer.

4. Take Notes

Have students take notes on introductions and brainstorm their own introduction elements and reason for their choices. Taking notes is important so students have a reference the next time they write a narrative story.  If your time is limited, make a copy of an anchor chart or the notes you want them to remember and hand it out to your students to keep in a notebook.  This is an example of an interactive notebook page for notes.



5. Apply

Now students have the foundation for writing a good introduction for their own story.  Have students use their notes and create an introduction on their graphic organizer.

6. Share

If there is time, it is always good to have students share introductions with another peer or peer group.  This assures that you are on track.


This lesson is also included in the STEP-BY-STEP WRITING® Program with mini-lessons designed to scaffold through the writing process. Writing units included are sentence structure, paragraph writing, narrative writing, opinion writing, and informative writing. See what is included in the image below and click on it to learn more about them! You will turn your reluctant writers into ROCKSTAR WRITERS™! 

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