Writing a Personal Narrative Narrative – A spoken or written account of connected events; a story.
A Personal Narrative: • Is an interesting story about you – the writer! • (The narrator is the person who tells the story, either • through writing or speaking.) • Is written in the first person (using the pronouns I, me, and my. • Presents events in a clear order. • Uses details to help readers see people, places, and events. • Shows how the writer feels about the experience and why it is meaningful to him or her.
What to Write About • A memorable event • A good time • A bad time • An important time • A first time • A last time
What to Write About Remember, your narrative does not need to be about an extraordinary event. Just make sure that it is about an experience that is interesting and important to you!
How to Start Think of a topic – your personal experience that you want to share. List several events and details that you want to include in your story. Put the events in chronological (time) order.
Writing your Story Write a topic sentence that clearly introduces the purpose of your narrative. Connect your events using good transitions. Use vivid1 details to describe the characters and events in your narrative. 1Vivid – producing powerful feelings or strong, clear images in the mind.
Writing a Vivid Sentence “I was so embarrassed that my face turned red.” “I was so embarrassed that my face turned as red as a tomato!”
Writing your Story Try to recreate the events as they happened, rather than simply telling about them. Sometimes it’s OK to use dialogue to make the story more interesting for the readers. Make sure your narrative includes: a plot – including setting and characters – a climax, and an ending.
Finishing your Story Review your story. Read it aloud to yourself or a partner. Did the introduction capture your attention? Is the order of events clear? Did you include good transitions? Did you use vivid details? Does the conclusion finish the story appropriately?
Practice: Is this an interesting topic sentence? Once I almost drowned. It’s a good start, but not enough details. X
When Robert was fifteen, he made his first gift of true love to his father. ✓
A journey of 1 mile or 5000 miles begins the same way: with a single step. This sentence might be a good beginning for an essay, but not for a personal narrative. We don’t really know what the story will be about. X
The 5-minute drive to the hospital seemed to have taken hours. What’s the central idea of the narrative? X
He was driving home one evening, on a two-lane country road. What’s the central idea of the narrative? X
Xiao Wang has proved once again that he is an incurable optimist. Not too bad, but a little bit more detail would be nice. ✓
The day I got the letter of admission from BFSU (Beijing Foreign Studies University) was one of the happiest of my life. Great! ✓
My family believed that if something went wrong, it was always someone else’s fault. A good start to an essay, but not a personal narrative. X
One of my most memorable experiences took place when I worked as a school teacher in a mountain village. Excellent! Lots of details. We know the writer’s role (school teacher) and the setting (mountain village). ✓
Transitions Time/Order – Later (on), a little bit later, soon, while, when, (shortly) afterward, after that, shortly thereafter, before, then, subsequently, the next day. Importance – First, next, finally, most of all, more importantly, last but not least. Cause & Effect – Because, since, for, so, therefore, as a result, consequently. Comparison – Similarly, in the same way, unlike, on the other hand, nevertheless Examples – For example, for instance, such as, like, in other words, along with