Supplemental Materials

Video Tutorials

To help you through the writing process, we’ve put together these short video tutorials featuring Narrative cofounder/editor and bestselling author Carol Edgarian. 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.

Suggested Reading List for “The Mistake”

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. Need a place to start? We’ve handpicked a few of our favorite pieces that center on a pivotal mistake, and included a brief prompt below each title.

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 mistake.

My Daughter and God” by Justin Cronin

• Think about which characters you're following in the essay. How does the author complete a story arc for each of them?

Shattered” by Charley Burlock

• How does the author use imagery to effectively illustrate the emotional consequences of the pivotal mistake?

Last Things” by Debra Spark

• Is feeling guilty a mistake?

Conflict, action, resolution. Character, plot, theme. Language and imagery. Dialogue and narration. Great stories offer these key elements in compelling and original combinations. Enter the awesome worlds created by these authors and think about how, in your writing, you can best create your own universe, and how that universe will be affected—changed—by a mistake.

Nicky Nicky Nine Doors” by Alex Jaros

• How does the story's setting inform (or even inspire) the mistake?

Possessions” by Gail Godwin

• Think about an object in your life that holds a specific memory of a mistake. What does that object mean to you now?

The Halverson Brothers” by Austin Smith

• What would it be like to tell the story of someone else's mistake? What effect does someone else's mistake have on you, or the narrator of your story?

At Risk” by Gabriel Tallent

• What do you think of the title “At Risk?” What does it mean to you before, and after you read the story?

Dear Fox” by Lisa Taddeo

• How would you write a story in the form of a letter?

Übermensch” by Tobias Wolff

• What happens when a character in your story won't admit he or she has made a mistake?

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 turn moments into meaning. How will a mistake shape the words you choose?

TWA Flight 800” by Richard Jones

• Tell a story in which a mistake saves someone’s life.

Teenage Riot and Other Poems” by Matthew Dickman

• Tell a story in which you or a character was unfairly punished or humiliated for a mistake.

Put This Book Down” by Javier Zamora

• What mistakes do you remember from your childhood? What do they mean to you now?

General Reading List
The Narrative Archive doesn’t stop there! Great reading—no matter the subject matter—inspires great writing. So dive into the below essays, stories, and poems too. You never know when you’ll read something that sticks.


Snapshots of My Brother” by Lynn Ahrens
Whale Shark” by Rick Bass
Catching Out” by Charles D’Ambrosio
Sparrow” by Maria Hummel
Real People” by Jayne Anne Phillips
Blue Lake” by Laura Rose
At Lee” by Jack Schiff
Mysteries of Love and Grief” by Sandra Scofield


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


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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