narrative essay

Assignment requirements: 4 – 5 pages, typed, double-spaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins. Please use a word processing program (Microsoft Word or Word Pad) and save as .docx/ .doc/ or .rtf files.

Assignment topic: For this essay you will need to write about how you have had a long-held belief or assumption SHATTERED.  Use your experience of shattering as a spring board for reflection. Trace this shift in your beliefs to a specific event. This essay will narrate that event.

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Your purpose is not to merely tell an interesting story but to show your readers the importance and influence the experience has had on you. Good narratives are entertaining, detailed, informative, lively, and believable; they will mean something to those who write them as well as to those who read them. All stories account for something that happened, after which something or somebody is changed. Just like in a fictional story, your personal essay will contain the similar elements:

a character (who?) to whom something happens (what?), in some place (where?), at some time (when?), for some reason (why?), told from a particular perspective (how?).

 In other words, any time you render a full account of a personal experience, you answer what is commonly known as “reporter’s questions”–the who, what, where, when, why, and how

 Characteristics of a narrative:

· Narratives make a point

 · Narratives convey action and details

 · Narratives present a conflict and create tension

 · Narratives sequence events

 · Narratives use dialogue

 · Narratives are told from a point of view

 For this paper, you will need to have the following:

· Characters: In the personal essay, your main character is yourself, so try to give your readers a sense of who you are through your voice, actions, level of awareness, and description. The characters in a good story are believable and interesting; they come alive for the readers.

· Voice: Language reveals who you are; chose your words to reflect your theme as well as yourself.

 · Actions: Readers learn something about the kind of person you are through your actions.

 · Insight: One of the best ways to reveal who you are is to show yourself becoming aware of something, gaining a new way of seeing the world, a new insight. While such awareness can occur for apparently unexplainable reasons, it most often happens when you encounter new ideas or have experiences that change you in some way. This is not the same as a tacked on “moral”.

 · Telling Details: Describe yourself and other participants in your story in such a way that the details and facts help tell your story. A telling detail or fact is one that advances your characterization of someone without your having to render an obvious opinion.

·Setting: Experiences happen in some place at some time, and good essays describe these setting. To describe a believable physical setting, you need to re-create on paper the sights, sounds, smells, and physical sensations that allow readers to experience it for themselves. In addition to telling the details that support your plot and/or character development, try to include evocative details, colorful details of setting and characters. The telling details of a setting can reveal something essential about your essay without your explaining them. After all, you can let your reader to do a little work.

 · Sequence of Events: In every narrative, events are ordered in some way. While you cannot alter the events that happened in your experience, as a writer, you need to decide which events to portray and in what order to present them. Remember, sequencing of events need not be chronological.


  • Things that tend to befall student writers — lack of specificity and DETAIL.

Even if you think you are over-telling, I guarantee you, your readers won’t think so. Think of your readers as toddlers who need help crossing the road. We readers are eager to understand, but we often need lots of guidance and gentle reminders of the point/intention/direction of the essay.

  • Please proofread! Let your friends read your essay. Where ever they stumble or need clarification, THAT is where the essay needs work. Trust them. 🙂

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