UW in the Classroom

Discovering Worlds Past and Present

Acts of Inquiry, University of Washington, 2013

“Opening with a short narrative, or story, is a strategy many writers use successfully to draw readers into a topic.  A narrative introduction relates to a sequence of events and can be especially effective if you think you need to coax and indifferent or reluctant reader into taking and interest in the topic.”

Tell Me The Old, Old Story . . .

      When done right, this makes a great introduction.  If overdone — and it is overdone — it makes for melodrama and boredom.  That said, it’s a tool for your writing shed, so you should at least know how to do it.

      Good writing calls for different strategies.  As we study Ethos, Logos, and Pathos, you will see strategy depends on audience.  For instance, if you are speaking to a group of Type-A scientists, you might not start out with a story about changing a baby’s diaper.  If you were talking to a mother, however . . .

     In general, a Narrative Introduction belongs with less formal purposes — i.e., you’re talking to someone just like yourself — and Pathos rules the day. You need to establish credibility, and sometimes a story is your best bet.


  1. Read “Ways of Seeing” (Part I)
  2. On the top of the box below, write the word Mystification
  3. Then, write a Narrative Introduction personalizes the word*
  4. Integrate the story with details from Ways of Seeing (embedded citations) 
  5. Within the Intro, hilight your major claim.

* Does not need to come from personal experience: can be a story related to the topic

© Jeff Thomas, uw_thomas@icloud.com