The Narrative Essay (aka Personal Narrative)


Your writing task: Your assignment is to write a narrative about a formative moment in your life that somehow defined who you are (the event changed you or you learned about an important idea). You must include several paragraphs that reflect on how you changed or what did you learned, and WHY it is significant.

Part I: Examining an example: "A Shirt Full of Bees"


Points to contemplate:
  • a narrative tells a story
  • a narrative has a point (aka - a thesis)
  • a narrative focuses on key moments and quickly deals with necessary, but uninteresting information
  • a narrative uses a consistent POV (1st or 3rd)
  • a narrative is rich in detail (that is, important/significant/interesting detail)
  • a narrative includes an interesting/creative introduction
  • a narrative includes a conclusion that leaves the reader thinking
  • a narrative essay includes several paragraphs that reflect on WHY the event described is important
    • How did you change? What did you learn? WHY is it significant?

Questions: (post answers on your PN wiki page)
What creative strategy does the author use to begin the story?
What is the point (or thesis) of the narrative?
What is 'the moment' on which the author focuses?
What events are not central to the story and 'disappear in the puff of a sentence'? (It's necessary information, but detail is not needed.)
What is the POV?
What are the key details in the story?
How does the author leave the reader thinking?

Part II: Prewriting (post on your PN wiki page)


Assignment: Your assignment is to write a narrative about a formative moment in your life that somehow defined who you are (the event changed you or you learned about an important idea). You must include several paragraphs that reflect on how you changed, what did you learned, and WHY is it significant.

Directions: Fill in the information below as completely as possible.

Purpose:
Your purpose is to explain, from your POV, a moment in your life that somehow defined who you are. Be as specific as possible. Focus in on one or two main events that demonstrate the change (or idea learned). What is your specific purpose in this narrative - what change are you demonstrating (or idea learned)?

Audience:
Who is your audience?

Thesis:
In one sentence state the main idea of this story from the 1st person POV. (This is how you changed or what you learned.)

Description of Character (this is you)
Looks like:
Age:
Motivation / Objective: (What do you want?)

Setting:
Where does the narrative take place?
When does the narrative take place?

Plot:
In chronological order, list the main events of the story / narrative. Hint: focus your narrative on the key moment where the change occurred.

Conflict:
What is the major problem in the story that produces the change in you? Describe this conflict in several complete sentences.

Dialogue:
Are there any key moments in the story where dialogue would be effective? List these moments here.

Sensory Details:
List any sensory details that will be important in your narrative: sight, smells, sounds, tastes, touch, and movement.

Reflection / Analysis section: (this section is critical)
How did you change? What did you learn? Why is it significant?


Part III: Draft 1: (750 - 1000 words)


Organization

Introduction
  • attention grabbing statement (dialogue, startling statement, question, quotation)
  • introduce the focus of the paper - change or idea learned
  • establish the narrative POV - 1st person
  • thesis should be the last sentence of this paragraph

Body Paragraphs
  • begin telling the story (narrative) of change or idea learned
  • include specific events that caused the change
  • focus on showing not telling

Conclusion (might be several paragraphs)
  • reflect on how you changed or what you learned
  • explain WHY the change or idea learned is significant
  • end with with something for the reader to ponder

Make sure your narrative essay included the following:
  • a narrative tells a story
  • a narrative has a point (aka - a thesis)
  • a narrative focuses on key moments and quickly deals with necessary, but uninteresting information
  • a narrative uses a consistent POV (1st or 3rd)
  • a narrative is rich in detail (that is, important/significant/interesting detail)
  • a narrative includes an interesting/creative introduction
  • a narrative includes a conclusion that leaves the reader thinking
  • a narrative essay includes several paragraphs that reflect on WHY the event described is important
    • How did you change? What did you learn? WHY is it significant?


Examples:
Narrative essays from Newsweek

Part IV: Revising


Revising a Narrative Essay and Adding Sentence Patterns .pdf

Part V: FINAL DRAFT

  • Submit a final draft of your narrative essay to Turnitin.com by 8:00am January 15th.
  • You must use TWO Sentence Patterns in your paper.
  • You need to have an insightful title.
  • Bring a double spaced, physical copy of your FINAL DRAFT -MLA format on January 15th.