GCE O Level English Guide – 3 Useful Introduction Techniques For Narrative

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Writing a narrative O level English composition is not a piece of cake.

Writing a good story entails 3 main features:

• A good protagonist (the main character)

• A protagonist who has a problem which is unusual and intriguing

• A suspenseful climax

And when you have mastered the art of forming a solid protagonist with a problem and the climax which follows, you would have gained a strong foothold in narrative writing in O level English.

I will discuss the art of writing about the Protagonist, how to build up the Problem and the way to etch out a dynamic Climax in O level English below.

I) The Protagonist

These are the key features which should be present in any good story in O level English.

The protagonist should be well defined, appealing and have an edge of vulnerability. 

o level english

Too perfect a character can be off -putting. 

So invent a character who seems to have everything but has a gnawing ache which only he knows.

The protagonist is the hero, the one through whom the story is told. 

So the protagonist has to have a certain quality which draws the reader to him/ her. 

The protagonist may be very ordinary but should have that one distinctive quality which softens the heart of the reader.

Example of O level English composition:

“Ben Charles, the self-made millionaire drove his car through Cairnhill road to his private clinic in Mount Elizabeth Hospital. He had everything that any man could desire. He was married to a former supermodel and present philanthropist, Jean Louane. His mansion stood atop a rise at Bukit Timah and it was supposed to have two swimming pools and a gym.”

Note that the details are accurate and clear. There is no doubt about the protagonist’s station in life, his job and his personal life.

II) A Protagonist who has a problem

The perfect character should have at least one problem. 

He should have a chip on his shoulder which should make it impossible for him to go on with his ‘perfect’ life as if there was nothing wrong.

Unfortunately, all these did not mean anything to him, including even his wife. 

Ben did not have any children and his heart ached for the love of a son.

In this instance, Ben seems to be the envy of all men but by the end of this paragraph, he seems to be someone to be pitied. 

Ben only becomes interesting at this point. 

No one is interested in someone who has a perfect life. 

There is nothing much to read if everything is perfect. 

It is only the hitches, the problems, the heart aches which makes a hero someone whom you feel something for.

So you will have to invent a story with a character who has some flaws. 

Flaws make a story spring to life. 

A good narrative story in O level English should not veer over into very unreal story lines or characters. 

They should be within the realm of reality and yet have a problem which draws the reader. 

If the heartache which Ben has is an ordinary one, then make the climax somewhat extraordinary.

III) The Climax

The climax should be in the mid-section of the O level English essay. 

There should be a build-up to the climax so that it will have time to explode. 

The climax may stretch over 2 paragraphs and should be totally unexpected. 

Though the build-up is there, the outside interferences could add to the improbability. 

This means there could be the elements of human error, fate, coincidence and timing which could contribute to a surprising climax.

Example of O level English composition:

“Ben waited eagerly for the results of his fertility test. He wanted to determine once and for all if there was any chance of having a child. He knew that his wife was not interested in having children but he wanted to be sure if he could be a father at the age of 50. When he read the lab results, he found that the news did not disturb him. 

He knew he had to rely on that agency to adopt a child discreetly. His small frame of five feet five inches was hunched over his laptop where he scanned the reports which his secretary had sent him. As he shut the laptop after 30 minutes, his mind wandered to his adopted child. He had already made arrangements for the child to be adopted by his trusted worker and the child was actually living at his premises.”

THIS is the explosive climax in O level English! 

“Ben has an adopted child. He wanted to know for one last time if he could have a child. The information is disclosed at this point because he wanted to make sure for one last time.”


The climax may be prolonged here. 

The why part will make it easier to read till the end.

So there will be curiosity about the staff who work for Ben. 

How old is the child? Why is Ben keeping it a secret?

All these factors will be revealed slowly and the climax will be prolonged.

Example of O level English composition:

“It was Jean’s birthday the following month and there was a big bash planned for her 40th birthday. One of the pools was to be used for the poolside barbeque. Anika from his office had arrived to coordinate the seating arrangement with his housekeeper. The staff and their families had been invited as well as Jean’s office staff and friends. There was entertainment for children with a play station area with burgers and soft drinks. Jean was meticulous about everything. 

She owned a magazine, D’stiny which had reviews about the latest in technology for media gadgets as well as for aesthetic products. Ben owned 80% of the company’s stocks but Jean was in the front line. It was December and there was a pleasant festive air as the guests assembled at the pool. The housekeeper’s sister’s family had chipped in to lend a hand with the decorations. Both of Zaira’s children were adept at art and design. Tilda and Man had arranged all the banners and balloons. 

Both practically grew up at Ben’s house as Jean was very tolerant of her housekeeper and her sister. They had been delighted when they had been asked to organise the games. The yelps and screams grew as Ben’s staff joined in the games. Morin, Shelby and Anika joined in valiantly with their children. It was a sack race with the parent and child hopping along in the same sack. All the parents practically fell over themselves and Anika was breathless as her son, Almo, was taller than her at six feet one.

The climax is well done as it could be anyone’s guess as to who the child is at this point. The reader is left wondering and by this time, the resolution can be reached.

The pace is kept till the very last paragraph and the question of who is Ben’s child will be answered.”

These are rather detailed notes which can also be found in my O level English book, Guide to English Compositions. 

Why did I choose to share it with you?

That is so you can have a quick view of the key ingredients needed to write a narrative in O level English.

Wait. There is also the Resolution and the Conclusion. 

I will discuss that later in another Blog.

You will have to think of the Protagonist, Problem and Climax for now. 

Learn these O level English strategies well. 

Study my notes and train your mind to think along these lines.

The next blog will appear shortly. 😊

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