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Expressions for narrative essays
by Nikita N Ryfer
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In medieval thought, emotions, as embodied and physiological processes, are often characterised as liquid. They are adjoined to the humours and occasion movements of the body’s heat and vital spirit. Chaucer uses this medical discourse and emotion scholars have noted how emotions are often pathologised and embodied in his work. But the liquidity of emotions in Chaucer goes beyond humours and tears; it is as much literal as it is metaphorical, and it also contains joy—an emotion too often overlooked in the field. This paper explores the different uses of liquidity to represent emotions in Chaucer’s writing, and especially in Troilus and Criseyde. The exploration uncovers the liquid imagery of emotions, from tears as ink to drinking sorrow and baths of bliss; and it shows how those different figurations are contingent on genre and gender. It also brings forward the interrelation of tears and words of complaint—the text of love poetry becoming itself material and liquid affect—and the subsequent struggle to find space for joy in a poem avowedly written in tears. Indeed, this study shows how employing a discourse of water in the writing of emotions creates separate discursive streams for sorrow and for joy—the waters of sorrow being somatic and fluid, those of joy external and still.
Soumya Prakash Sahu
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Down and Dirty Tips: Narrative and Descriptive Essays: Narrative Transitions
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Adding Transitions: Narrative Essay
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Using Creative Words and Phrases for Composition Writing & Essays
- Primary School Composition Writing
Using Creative Words and Phrases for Composition Writing & Essays
How to use creative words and phrases for composition writing & essays.
This blog post will teach you how to use creative and inspired phrases for composition writing. It will also give you examples and ideas of Idioms, Similes, Metaphors or Personification that you can use in your compositions.
But first, here’s a Free Ebook – 80 Awesome Phrases to Wow your Teacher !
(Tip: You can print out the free ebook for your child to read.)
Do You Really Need Good Phrases for Composition Writing?
No, you don’t. Your child should not use good phrases just for the sake of impressing the reader. Your child should concentrate on using the RIGHT PHRASE for the RIGHT SITUATION . (In fact, our collection of Model Compositions for Primary School Students does not contain pompous, bombastic words or phrases.)
And to do so, your child needs to have a broad knowledge of a variety of phrases. That way, he will be well-equipped with an arsenal of words to express himself fluently and smoothly.
Many parents misunderstand the use of good vocabulary words for essays. They force their child to memorise bombastic words and phrases. This should not be the case as memorisation does not equal application. Students tend to memorise the phrases and then use them in the wrong context when writing. This causes the students’ writing to become stilted and mechanical. Some may even become addicted to the use of bombastic vocabulary and end up writing overly-complicated sentences or phrases to look smart.
Now which is smarter – expressing yourself in a short and sweet manner, or, writing a whole bunch of fancy and pompous words just to narrate a simple thought?
Instead of “good phrases”, focus on using – EFFECTIVE PHRASES.
It’s okay to use simple phrases! Keep your sentences short, concise, and straight to the point. Use the right words at the right time. Express your ideas fluently.
Remember – You are writing to let the reader read for the sake of enjoyment. You are not writing to IMPRESS the reader.
Bonus Video – How To Use Good Expressions in Composition Writing:
Here’s an online lesson I conducted some time back on how to use Good Expressions in your compositions. It is very similar to what I address in the article later on How to Write Good Phrases.
It’s about 1 hour long so you may want to set aside some time to watch it. (You can also fast forward to 6:09 to skip straight to the introduction and then the lesson.)
Types of Descriptive Phrases
“Good Phrases” can be broken down into:
An idiom is an expression of words whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements. (Definition taken from dictionary.com )
In other words, an idiom is a quirky series of words combined to form a special meaning.
Idioms should be used sparingly in a composition. Do not overuse them as it may make your overall composition sound very cheesy or old-fashioned. Some idioms are also not commonly used in our everyday speech. Hence, over-usage of the less well-known idioms might make reading awkward.
Some Useful Idioms
1. An arm and a leg – Very expensive or costly.
E.g: Dining at this high-class restaurant cost me an arm and a leg ! I will never return here again.
2. Blessing in disguise – something good that was not recognized at first.
E.g: Missing that field trip turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the school bus met with an accident.
3. Piece of cake – used to describe something that is very easy to do.
E.g: This assignment was a piece of cake . I completed in less that fifteen minutes
4. Not to make head or tail of something – unable to decipher or understand the meaning
E.g: The teacher was talking so fast that I could not make head or tail of what he was saying.
5. See eye to eye – to agree with someone
E.g: Jack and Diane kept on quarreling as they could not see eye to eye with each other.
For more useful idioms, you check out our LIST of 88 AWESOME IDIOMS that you can learn and apply immediately. Boost your language marks for compo writing and WOW your teacher!
Click the button below to download this free ebook for your child!
- Simple & Easy-to-use
- Minimal Memory Work
- Examples provided
- Learn the meaning of these idioms!
It is a figure of speech where one thing is compared with another thing of a different kind.
It is used to make a description more vivid or to draw out a particular quality of the subject being mentioned.
Similes are used with the words “like” or “as…as”.
Similes are best used when they are original, creative, relevant and logical. A simile which has been used too many times – “as fast as a cheetah” or “as fast as lightning” – will not score you extra points.
Some Useful Similes
1.The students were chattering like monkeys .
2. The winner of the race paraded around the track like a peacock .
3. We tried to carry him but he was as heavy as an elephant .
4. The signboards were as bright as daylight .
5. When she heard someone call her name in the dark, she turned as pale as a sheet .
6. Filled with rage, the bully charged towards me like a bull .
7. The boys were laughing like hyenas when they pulled off the prank.
8. Don’t worry about her. She can handle it herself. She is as tough as nails !
9. When the exams commenced, the classroom became as silent as a grave .
10. On the last day of school, Jimmy dashed out of the school gates feeling as free as a bird .
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something that is not literally applicable to suggest a resemblance. (definition taken from dictionary.com ).
In other words, it is almost like a simile, except you are not using the words ‘like’ or ‘as…as’.
Simile: He was as angry as a bull.
Metaphor: He was an angry bull.
Metaphors are slightly more difficult to use than similes. But when they are used right, they can give an extremely vivid portrayal of a character or a situation in the story.
A metaphor applied correctly can be a very powerful tool in writing.
Some Useful Metaphors
1. She felt a whirlwind of emotions passed through her. ( overwhelmed by emotions)
2. Don’t believe that fortune-teller. He is selling you snake oil . (metaphorical idiom, fake promises, products or services that fail to live up to expectations, something fraudulent)
3. Mr Tan is a teacher with a heart of gold . ( very kind or generous)
4. Stay away from him. He is a loaded gun . (dangerous)
5. When the basketball team got off the bus, we could smell the stench of defeat on them. ( they acted in such a way that it was easy to deduce that they have lost)
6. After failing her exams, Shirley wallowed in a sea of self-pity . ( metaphorical idiom, overwhelmed by self-pity)
7. He was so sad that he was crying rivers . (a lot of tears)
8. Sean’s stomach was a bottomless pit . ( extremely hungry, describe someone who cannot stop eating.)
9. Completing this assignment was a breeze . ( very easy to complete)
10. Hearing her laughter was music to my ears . (a pleasant sound)
Personification is done by attributing human characteristics to something non-human.
This is used to give a clearer picture of whatever that’s being described. It enables the reader visualise and see the imagery in their minds.
Personification can be done by simple usage of verbs or action words.
Just like metaphors, personification can count as good vocabulary words for essay writing.
Some Useful Ideas for Personification
1. The thunderstorm raged on outside my window.
2. The soft, cool sand caressed my feet.
3. The sun peeked out from behind the clouds.
4. I could hear the faint wail of the ambulance in a distance.
5. The moment I stepped out into the streets, I was greeted by the strong diesel fumes.
6. The trees shadowed the soldiers as they trekked through the forest.
7. The sports car roared with ferocity as it zoomed past the spectators.
8. The road was treacherous and unforgiving .
9. The expensive handbag seemed to call out to her. “Buy me!”
10. By the time the firemen arrived, the flames were already dancing on the roof.
How to come up with your own phrases?
The best descriptions are often ones that you come up with on the spot, that can fit the scenario or context that you are describing perfectly.
Coming up with good phrases for composition writing is not that hard. All you need is an inquisitive mind that is able to draw comparisons between 2 unrelated objects.
You need to be creative – a trait that is inherent in most children.
You need to be able to come up with fresh ideas and fresh perspectives.
Some questions to ask yourself when coming up with good vocabulary words for essays:
- How can I better depict this character/scene/object by comparing it with something else?
- What’s a better verb I can use to personify this object?
- How can I make this phrase or sentence more interesting for the reader?
- How can I better convey my point across to the reader?
- How can I help the reader to visualise better?
How to write a good essay in English?
DON’T be so preoccupied with employing gargantuan words in your expositions that your sentence ends up reading like this. See what I did there?
Often students pepper their essays with “smart-sounding” words to impress their examiners. This has the opposite effect; readers are left scratching their heads, wondering what message the student is trying to convey.
The best way to resist this impulse is to replace bombastic words with effective ones. “Bombastic”, according to Oxford Languages, means “high-sounding but with little meaning”. When you use bombastic words, you may just end up using words in the wrong context . You also tend to make errors of repetition by force-fitting all the words you know into your compo.
Consider this sentence: “The enraptured onlookers were jolted and entranced by the spine-tingling sight of the sunset.”
Did you spot the errors?
1. “Enraptured” and “entranced” mean the same thing. (Repetition)
2. “Jolted” means “shocked”. (Wrong context. This is a sunset, not a horror movie!)
3. “Spine-tinging” means “scary”. (Again, wrong context.)
Here’s the revised sentence: “The onlookers were left mesmerised by the breathtaking sunset.”
By replacing bombastic words with effective ones, you’re well on your way to writing a good essay in English.
Good vocabulary words for essays
Good vocabulary forms the bedrock of an essay, so it is important to use vocabulary that is appropriate, yet not overused and therefore, cliched. Let’s begin with the introduction.
The introduction is where you set the scene for your reader. Use descriptive phrases that vividly describes the setting. Word of caution: do not overdo the setting descriptions, especially when the setting plays no role in your story plot.
- Use vivid vocabulary instead of vague adjectives :
For instance, replace vague adjectives like “beautiful” with more precise vocabulary. If you’re describing places like a quiet beach or park, “ serene ” and “tranquil ” can be used instead.
If you’re describing greenery, “verdant” is more appropriate and paints a more vivid picture in your reader’s mind:
e,g, “My parents and I were at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, enjoying a peaceful afternoon amidst the verdant expanse of lush trees and vibrant flower beds, blissfully unaware that things would soon take an unexpected turn.”
- Use creative phrases instead of cliches :
It’s high time we ditch cliched phrases about how “fluffy clouds dotted the azure sky”. This does not impress your reader!
Consider this other cliched phrase: “The smell of buttery popcorn wafted into my nostrils.”
What a yawn! Let’s improve by rewriting it as follows: “The smell of buttery popcorn beckoned to me, tantalising my senses.” You have effectively personified the smell of the popcorn and in doing so, you convey just how tempted you were by it!
Things are heating up here and if you want to keep your readers on their toes, use suspenseful language to plant clues. This is especially useful if your story is about an unfortunate event or something unexpected.
When something seems a little amiss, hint at the impending problem using phrases such as:
1. Something gnawed at the back of my mind, but I brushed it off.
2. I could not shake the feeling of…
3. I could feel it in my bones; something was not right.
4. I felt a tug of apprehension in my gut, subtle but persistent.
5. The birdsong abruptly ceased, as if nature itself were holding its breath.
This is where the main conflict or action occurs and where vocabulary should be impactful . Once again, stand out from the crowd by using high-intensity words (and avoid using “very”) to create excitement!
- Use impactful, highly charged vocabulary instead of dull phrases :
- Use “show, not tell” instead of stating the facts :
This means showing, not telling , the reader what your character is thinking and feeling. In doing so, you engage the reader and make your writing a whole lot more immersive! When the reader can picture your character, you evoke a deeper emotional response.
Consider these two descriptions:
- Jane was devastated but determinedly continued on.
- Hastily wiping her tears away, Jane bit her lip and marched ahead.
Ask yourself: which one is more impactful? Which description draws you in and allows you to feel Jane’s pain?
Here’s the part where the dust settles. Common emotions experienced by characters include relief (usually after negative events) and happiness (for positive outcomes).
- Use body language to convey emotions like relief or joy
Your characters don’t always have to ‘heave/ breathe a sigh of relief”. There are plenty of other “show, not tell” or body language phrases we can use to convey relief:
1. Unclenching my fists, I…
2. Marcus slumped in his chair in relief .
3. She let out a long breath , thankful for the brief reprieve.
4. A soft smile played on her lips as worry washed away.
5. He wiped his brow as anxiety finally ebbed away
- Explore using new idioms and metaphors to convey emotions
While “jumped for joy” and “over the moon” do show happiness, it’s time to retire these and adopt some new lingo! Try these instead:
1. Benjamin was walking on air after winning the championship.
2. The blushing bride graced us with a smile that could light up a room .
3. I was tickled pink after being personally invited to Taylor Swift’s birthday bash.
Belle walked up on stage with a spring in her step .
- Capture complexity of emotions to create round (not flat) characters
More advanced writers might want to play around with describing more nuanced feelings because human emotions are complex! We often experience bittersweet emotions like joy tinged with melancholy.
Consider descriptions that capture this complexity. For instance, if describing a graduation, you can try: “The valedictorian gave the graduating class a wistful smile as he prepared to throw up his mortarboard for the final hurrah.”
This lends more depth to your characters; this makes your characters three-dimensional, rounded … and real.
Leave the reader with a thought-provoking statement as you wrap up your final scene. You do your essay no favours by ending with crutch phrases about how “this memory will always be etched in his mind”.
- Use reflective vocabulary and words that convey closure:
1. Mulling over the day’s events, she…
2. Sandra was lost in a pleasant reverie as the jubilant cheers of her teammates faded into the backdrop.
3. Cristopher kept turning things over in his mind until he finally concluded that…
- Use vivid descriptions to end with imagery:
1. Rain pattered against the window, washing away the dust of the day.
2. I stared at my reflection in the gleaming medal and saw, for the first time, a champion.
Remember, the best conclusions should leave the reader satisfied, bring closure, and create a lasting impression. And that’s how you end with a bang.
See other related articles on Writing Samurai:
- Proverbs are Phrases Commonly Used in Compositions
- 6 Tips On How to Write a Good Composition For Primary School Students
- Great Phrases To Use For Composition Writing & Essays
Still need more help?
Here’s an ebook of good phrases that your child can use to describe emotions, $15 free for a limited time only.
More than 28,437 students have benefited from this book!
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Howe Center for Writing Excellence
Narrative: The spoken or written account of connected events; a story
The introduction of a narrative essay sets the scene for the story that follows. Interesting introductions—for any kind of writing—engage and draw readers in because they want to know more.
Since narratives tell a story and involve events, the introduction of a narrative quite often starts in the middle of the action in order to bring the reader into the story immediately, as shown in examples 1, 3, and 5 below. Other effective introductions briefly provide background for the point of the story—often the lesson learned—as in 4 below and the first example on the reverse side.
Below are some strategies for writing effective openings. Remember your introduction should be interesting and draw your reader in. It should make your audience want to read more. If it’s a person , begin with a description of the person and then say why that person mattered. If it’s an event , begin with the action or begin by reflecting back on why the event mattered, then go into the narrative.
- “Potter...take off!” my coach yelled as I was cracking yet another joke during practice.
- Why do such a small percentage of high school athletes play Division One sports?
- It was a cold, rainy night, under the lights on the field. I lined up the ball on the penalty line under the wet grass. After glancing up at the tied score, I stared into the goalkeeper’s eyes.
- My heart pounds in my chest. My stomach full of nervous butterflies. I hear the crowd talking and names being cheered.
- Slipping the red and white uniform over my head for the first time is a feeling I will never forget.
- “No football.” Those words rang in my head for hours as I thought about what a stupid decision I had made three nights before.
- “SNAP!” I heard the startling sound of my left knee before I ever felt the pain.
- According to the NCAA, there are over 400,000 student-athletes in the United States.
- Unified: Ensure all actions in your story develop a central idea or argument.
- Interesting: Draw your readers into your scene(s), making them feel as if they’re experiencing them first-hand.
- Coherent: Indicate changes in time, location, and characters clearly (even if your story is not chronological).
- Climactic: Include a moment (the climax) when your ending is revealed or the importance of events is made clear.
- Remember the 5 W’s : Who? What? When? Where? Why?
- Write vividly : Include significant sensory information in the scene (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) to make readers feel they are there
- Develop “ Thick Descriptions ”
Clifford Geertz describes thick descriptions as accounts that include not only facts but also commentary and interpretation . The goal is to vividly describe an action or scene, often through the use of metaphors, analogies, and other forms of interpretation that can emote strong feelings and images in your readers’ minds.
“The flatness of the Delta made the shack, the quarters, and the railroad tracks nearby seem like some tabletop model train set. Like many Mississippi shacks, this one looked as if no one had lived there since the birth of the blues. Four sunflowers leaned alongside a sagging porch. When the front door creaked open, cockroaches bigger than pecans scurried for cover [...] walls wept with mildew.”
—from Bruce Watson’s Freedom Summer
- Does the story have a clear and unifying idea? If not, what could that idea be?
- If the story doesn’t include a thesis sentence, is the unifying idea of the story clear without it?
- Is the story unified, with all the details contributing to the central idea?
- Is the story arranged chronologically? If not, is the organization of ideas and events still effective and clear?
- Do the transitions show the movement from idea to idea and scene to scene?
- Are there enough details?
- Is there dialogue at important moments?
- Is there a climax to the story—moment at which the action is resolved or a key idea is revealed?
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10 Beautiful Words You Can Use in Narrative / Descriptive Writing | Secondary School
- Posted By blog-user
Have you ever asked yourself: what makes a word beautiful? Is it because of what it means or the way it sounds? According to British linguist David Crystal in his article titled, “Phonaesthetically Speaking”, we tend to love words that have three or more syllables and include letters that we enjoy enunciating like “ m ” and “ l ”. Simply put, beautiful words are lovely to read and sound pleasant to our ears.
For Secondary English students, such charming words with positive connotations can be used to bedazzle your reader. Let’s explore ten beautiful words which not only sound great but will also be useful in painting vivid pictures for your examiners (especially for narrative and descriptive writing). With the examples provided below, try coming up with your own sentences to use these words! (:
1. Compelling (adj.)
Meaning: (something e.g. a reason, argument) that makes you pay attention to it because it is interesting and exciting
Synonym: enthralling, captivating, gripping
I found it hard to look away from his compelling eyes that seemed to ask me to inch closer. It was such a compelling story that I ended up reading the entire book in one sitting.
2. Effervescent (adj.)
Meaning: (of people and their behaviour) excited, enthusiastic and full of energy
Synonym: vivacious, animated, bubbly
She has a warm effervescent personality that made her easy to get along with. The effervescent host spoke with infectious energy and was able to bring a smile to not only the contestants on the show, but also the audience at home.
3. Euphonious (adj.)
Meaning: (of a sound, especially speech) pleasing to the ear
Synonym: pleasant-sounding, sweet-sounding, honeyed
The euphonious chimes of the bell lulled the baby to sleep. Her euphonious tone made her sound like an angel and I was immediately all ears to what she was explaining.
4. Evocative (adj.)
Meaning: bringing strong images, memories, or feelings to mind
Synonym: reminiscent, suggestive
The writer uses descriptive vocabulary to paint evocative images, moving his readers to tears. The evocative music that she often heard as a child in her grandparents’ house made her miss them dearly.
5. Halcyon (adj.)
Meaning: denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful
Synonym: happy, carefree, blissful
My grandmother would often recall the halcyon days of the past when her grocery store business boomed and she was healthy and free to do what she liked. The halcyon summer holidays where we could play outdoors freely in groups without our masks are long gone.
6. Lissom (adj.)
Meaning: (of a person or their body) thin, supple, and graceful
Synonym: lithe, elegant, svelte
The lissom dancer mesmerised the audience as she swayed to the music. Perry grew up with horses and always admired how graceful they looked trotting around the stables with their lissom bodies.
7. Resplendent (adj.)
Meaning: very bright, attractive and impressive in appearance
Synonym: splendid, magnificent, brilliant
Dressed in resplendent costumes, the children created a beautiful rainbow of colours on the stage. During the Singapore Night Festival in 2019, a resplendent underwater scene full of marine animals was projected onto the building of the National Museum of Singapore.
8. Redolent (adj.)
Meaning: having a strong pleasant smell
Synonym: aromatic, perfumed
Although my mother had left for work, the entire house was redolent with the fragrance of her perfume. The kitchen was redolent with the aroma of freshly baked bread, making my mouth water.
9. Serendipitous (adj.)
Meaning: occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way
Synonym: coincidental, lucky
The serendipitous encounter with my primary school classmate after not seeing him for two years led to an enjoyable chat about our shared experience. The scientists made a serendipitous discovery which could lead them to the cure for cancer.
10. Sublime (adj.)
Meaning: of great excellence or beauty
Synonym: outstanding, grand, majestic, stellar
The Great Barrier Reef is known for its sublime natural seascape full of unique marine life and vibrantly coloured corals. Having devoured the delectable food, we complimented the chef for the sublime meal.
Were you able to come up with your own examples to use the beautiful words in your narrative writing as you were reading this post? Feel free to look them up in a dictionary to familiarise yourself with more contexts where you can use these charming words appropriately.
I hope you would use these beautiful words in your narrative writing. Go forth and apply the new knowledge you have acquired to impress your readers. See you in future posts!
Ms. Hui Jun
As a teacher, Ms Hui Jun is driven to create a safe conducive space for learning in her classroom. To achieve this, she makes an effort to build rapport with her students so that they are unafraid to ask questions when in doubt. With an aim for her students to grow from every lesson, she encourages them to reflect on their learning and find ways to connect them to real life application. With this, she hopes to stretch the young minds of all her pupils and to equip them with the language skills necessary in our world today.
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Lil’ but Mighty Clementi Block 432 Clementi Avenue 3, #01-282, Singapore 120432
Lil’ but Mighty Bukit Timah 170 Upper Bukit Timah Road, #B2-02 Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, Singapore 588179
Lil’ but Mighty Hougang Block 211 Hougang Street 21, #01-305 (Back entrance), Singapore 530211
Lil’ but Mighty Novena 1 Goldhill Plaza, #02-25, Singapore 308899
Lil’ but Mighty Marine Parade 1 Marine Parade, #04-05 Parkway Centre, Singapore 449408
Lil’ but Mighty Tampines 3 Tampines Central 1, #06-03 Tampines Plaza 1, Singapore 529540