Supplemental Materials

Video Tutorials

New this year! To help you through the writing process, we’ve put together these short video tutorials featuring Carol Edgarian, bestselling author and Cofounder/Editor of Narrative Magazine. Each video covers a basic aspect of the writing process—from choosing an idea to crafting a scene to revising and submitting—and offers some expert, behind-the-scenes advice.

Reading List

Need a start? The Narrative Archive offers thousands of stories, poems, and essays, free of charge—we invite you to gather inspiration by getting lost in our stacks.

The best personal narratives allow small events to speak broadly about who we are and our understanding of the world. The following essays provide strong examples of how to distill greater meaning from a few defining moments.

Snapshots of My Brother” by Lynn Ahrens
Whale Shark” by Rick Bass
My Daughter and God” by Justin Cronin
Catching Out” by Charles D’Ambrosio
Sparrow” by Maria Hummel
The Lost Sister: An Elegy” by Joyce Carol Oates
Real People” by Jayne Anne Phillips
Blue Lake” by Laura Rose
At Lee” by Jack Schiff
Mysteries of Love and Grief” by Sandra Scofield

Conflict, action, resolution. Character, plot, theme. Language and imagery. Dialogue and narration. Great stories offer these key elements in compelling and original combinations. And what gets the words flowing better than sitting down with a short story? Enter the incredible worlds created by these authors and think about how, in your writing, you can best create your own universe, using a voice that is all your own.

Hands” by Sherwood Anderson
The Woman in the Rose-Colored Dress” by Gina Berriault
Araby” by James Joyce
The Treatment of Bibi Halder” by Jhumpa Lahiri
Red Dress–1946” by Alice Munro
The Man Arguing in the Kitchen” by Gina Ochsner
Friday Night Fish Fry” by Austin Smith
In the Water” by Brenden Willey
Übermensch” by Tobias Wolff

Choose your words deliberately and economically. Every word, every sentence, tells its own story, so craft yours with care, and opt for quality over quantity. Read the poems below to see how a few well-chosen words can create an entire world.

Los Angeles” by Chris Abani
How to Be a Real Indian” by Kenzie Allen
How to Live in an American Town” by Jennifer Chang
night vision” and “it was a dream” by Lucille Clifton
Slow Dance” by Matthew Dickman
Weak Winter Sun” by Jim Harrison
English” by Yusef Komunyakaa
To the New Year” by W. S. Merwin
A Small Motor” by Alberto Álvaro Ríos
What We Have” by Ruth Stone
Trojan” by Ocean Vuong
Put This Book Down” by Javier Zamora
Poem for Americans” by Matthew Zapruder

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