Emotion and Narrative Structure in Young Children's Personal Accounts
Abstract We propose that the definition of well-formedness in narrative production should be expanded to include different types of narrative genres. Furthermore, varia-tions in narrative genre may be related to the emotional tone of the narrative. Research on preschool children's personal narratives is reported, which indicates that young children employ different narrative structures when narrating experi-ences related to different emotional moods. In relating a happy experience, children often focused on recreating the mood of a particular moment in time; these stories contained relatively less dynamic action and were more often categorized as moment-in-time stories which achieved coherence through their richness of description and use of emotional evaluation. Stories about anger and fear more closely resembled traditional plotted stories in which dynamic actions rise to a climax or high point that is followed by falling action and resolution. However, when telling stories about a fearful experience children focused more on rising action and less on falling action than when they related stories about anger. Thus, the fear stories focused more on recreating a mood of suspense and impending danger whereas the anger stories focused more on conditions leading to anger, the expression of anger, and its consequences. Examples from adult writers are also discussed in terms of these narrative structures for talking about emotion. (Psychology)
Published online: 04 August 2015
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