400 MLA paper First and foremost, all papers have an introduction and conclusion, but it is twice as important to understand this for a Narrative paper. Oftentimes though, students assume that an introduction and the Setup are the same things.  They are not.

The introduction serves as an overview of the paper, and it should lead nicely into the thesis, maybe previewing little bits of information readers will see if they choose to read your whole paper. If anything else, think about it like the movie trailer for your paper.

That said, in addition to an introduction and conclusion, a Narrative paper has 5 essential parts.  They are:

1) Setup – The who, what, where, when of your paper. Sometimes the where and the when aren’t important, but if you go back and re-read the first paragraph of “Sixty-nine Cents”, you’ll see how the author has inserted some of those details artfully without you even noticing.

After the Setup, the next four parts tell the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of your thesis statement

2) Struggle – This is back and forth interaction between two forces, either internal and/or external.  For instance, it could be someone struggling with internal demons, or it could be two people going against each other for whatever reason. Sometimes, it could be both. This usually contains a number of instances to fully show the back and forth of coming to our next part.

3) Conflict – I’m calling this the ultimate manifestation of the struggle, in either action or inaction.  When those internal demons are finally put to bed after struggling with them. When the adversary is finally overcome. Or when the guy finally asks the girl out on a date.  These are all examples of the conflict, that final moment where the struggle is fully addressed. Or when it isn’t. Sometimes inaction, the decision to not do something, is your ultimate conflict.

4) Outcome – The result of the struggle/conflict. This can be as short as one sentence.

5) Meaning –  In a narrative paper, the meaning can be tied to together with the conclusion, but this is what hearkens back to the thesis.  Showing the bigger picture.

With that in mind, for our Narrative paper, you are going to plot a character from a movie’s arc.

This is a character who has the opportunity to change and/or do something and then either does or doesn’t do it.  A character has to be faced with a choice, basically, and we have to see what they decide.

It doesn’t have to be the main character in the movie.  The classic example is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which isn’t a movie about Ferris, who is static (the same from start to finish without ever changing/desiring to change).  The movie is really about his friend, Cameron, and the arc he experiences on Ferris’s day off.

Anyway, pick a movie, pick a character with an arc, and then jot down notes on that arc.  Work on what your thesis is going to be.  Think about the bigger meaning to the thesis.  And think about what key events in the movie illustrate the struggle and what is the overall conflict.

Remember, the struggle will be the longest part of your paper.  The outcome will be the shortest.

THIS IS NOT A SUMMARY OF THE ENTIRE MOVIE. There may be entire scenes or characters that are left out of your paper because they are unimportant to your character’s arc. It is up to you to decide what details are important and help to best back up your thesis.

ALSO, choose your movie wisely.  Comedies, dramas, and Disney films tend to have the easiest to explain character arcs, whereas action films and horror films are instead a chain of cause and effect with the main characters happy to survive and not enduring any real arc.

That said, your choice of film and character is entirely up to you.

This is our first paper, so do your due diligence with editing. I highly suggest reading your paper out loud to yourself to make sure all the sentences make sense and that you haven’t left any words out while typing. Think about sentence variety. Are there places you could combine your sentences to make them more effective? Are your paragraphs focused?

In addition, the paper needs to be at least 5 paragraphs and at least 400 words long and in MLA Format.

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