Narrative Writing Feedback Tools

Following up on my recent post about writing feedback in general, this post offers two tools targeting NARRATIVE writing specifically.

As I’ve said many times before, I don’t believe in “peer editing,” which strikes me as “the blind leading the blind” (because “I think you need a comma there” is not helpful). My friends at Great Oaks Legacy Charter School* have been trying out various approaches and come up with two useful alternatives: 1) a modified form of the “Partner Feedback Protocol” mentioned in my earlier post and 2) a “Peer Support Narrative Checklist,” which focuses on specific strategies they’ve taught.

*Many thanks to Amanda Amanullah, Sanjana Hossain, Bianca Licata, and Alison Paludi for their persistent efforts to improve and for sharing what they learn in the process!

First, here’s the modified “Partner Feedback Protocol.” Student sit side-by-side in pairs. One partner reads aloud his/her narrative all the way through while the other reads along silently. Then the author reads the piece again, this time a bit more slowly, and this time the audience partner can tap the desk twice after any sentence to provide feedback, either to ask a question requesting clarification or elaboration or to offer praise. The author should make a note of the question (to address later) but not answer it orally. Nor should the audience member offer advice. This is not a negotiation or coaching session! Its purpose is simply to give the writer some authentic feedback from an interested reader.

Sample questions and praise are included in the “PARTNER FEEDBACK PROTOCOL FOR NARRATIVE” (a free download) below. NOTE: For younger students, you may want to shorten the lists to make them more accessible.


Clarify Elaborate Praise
Who/what is this specifically about?


Which character is speaking in this dialogue?


Where is this taking place?


Why is this taking place?


How is this taking place?


What exactly is happening here?


What do you mean by…?


What is the conflict?


What is the climax?

How does the character feel at the moment, and how could you show that?


What is the character thinking right now?


What does this scene look like? What sensory details can you add?


What are the characters doing as they speak?


How can you foreshadow this event?

I really liked it when you wrote…


I like the way you described…


Your character _____________ is very realistic because….


The scene you created is very realistic because _________________.


I would like to ___________ the way you did because it _______________.


This story was very suspenseful because you ________________.

For another approach, check out the “PEER SUPPORT NARRATIVE CHECKLIST,” (another free download) which includes Narrative Peer Support Questions. NOTE: As with any rubric/checklist, this checklist should only include strategies/elements you have explicitly taught.



□ Introduce the setting.

□ Introduce the main characters.

□ Introduce the conflict.

□ Use descriptive details.


□ Description

□ Dialogue

□ Action

□ Thoughts

To create SUSPENSE:

□ Slow down the pace.

□ Include details about SOUND and TOUCH.

□ Include character thoughts.

□ Use figurative language.

To create CONFLICT:

□ Your character WANTS something he can’t have.

□ There are PROBLEMS solving the problem.

□ Your conflict is introduced at the BEGINNING.

□ Your conflict comes to a breaking point in the CLIMAX.


When you revise a narrative, look for 4 different things:

1)         Is the STRUCTURE of the story clear? Is there a clear CONFLICT in the exposition that gets RESOLVED?

2)         Does the narrative use SPECIFIC DETAILS to SHOW RATHER THAN TELL?

3)         Does the narrative use STRONG DIALOGUE?

4)         Do the PARAGRAPHS MAKE SENSE?

For more support on narrative writing instruction, please check out the following resources:

PS—If you do not already subscribe to the TLC Website, as a reader of this blog you are eligible for a 50%-off discount membership. Click HERE and use the discount code TLCBOOK50 (NOTE: The code is ALL CAPS).

About theliteracycookbook

In addition to this blog, I am the creator of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK Website ( and ONLY GOOD BOOKS Blog (, and the author of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK: A Practical Guide to Effective Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Instruction (Jossey-Bass, 2012), LITERACY AND THE COMMON CORE: Recipes for Action (Jossey-Bass, 2014), and USING GRAMMAR TO IMPROVE WRITING: Recipes for Action (BookBaby, 2018). Check out my Website for more information about my consulting work.
This entry was posted in Instruction, Narrative Writing, PARCC, Resources, TLC Website Resources, Using Grammar to Improve Writing BOOK, Writing, Writing Feedback and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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