Writing a Narrative

For many officers, telling the story of what happened at a call (the narrative) is the most difficult part of writing a report. Often the story began before you got there.

Instead of getting the story in one big chunk, like a TV show, you might get bits and pieces from several people. And they may start by telling you about events that happened in the middle of the story or even near the end.

So how do you put all this together into a narrative?

The answer is to use groupings. Remember, you’re not writing a Hollywood script. It’s perfectly OK (even recommended) to have a separate paragraph for each person’s part of the story.

So let’s say that a juvenile stole some valuable items from his parents and put them up for sale on eBay. Drug use is suspected. You might get bits of the story from the mother, the father, a sister, and a grandmother. Use a separate paragraph for each one. (Lists are great for this! They save time.)

Mark Grant, Jason’s father, told me:

  • Jason had frequently been in trouble lately.
  • Jason often withdrew into his room for hours at a time.
  • Jason kept complaining that he didn’t have enough money.

Karen Grant, Jason’s mother, told me:

  • She had noticed odd smells when she went into Jason’s room to get his dirty laundry.
  • She noticed a valuable ring was missing from her jewelry box at about seven o’clock this morning.
  • She couldn’t remember the last time she had seen the ring.

And so on.

Thinking about the type of report you’re writing (Type 1, 2, 3, or 4) can also be a huge help. You’ll have a model to work from rather than having to invent one yourself.

Once you’ve developed and practiced a strategy for organizing your reports, writing tasks become much easier.

 

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