Essay #1: Personal Narrative Assignment Sheet The Narrative Essay Assignment



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Essay #1: Personal Narrative
Assignment Sheet

The Narrative Essay
Assignment:

Write an essay about a significant event in your life.



  • Choose an event that will be engaging for readers and that will, at the same time, tell them something about you.

  • Tell your story dramatically and vividly, giving a clear indication of its autobiographical significance.

  • Use first-person, singular (“I”) narration for this essay

  • Structuring your essay using a chronology may also be a good idea, in many cases.

Planning Your Narrative:


  1. To plan a narrative, your job is:

  2. Select an incident worthy of writing about.

  3. Find relevance in that incident. (What about the incident provides new insights or awareness?)

  4. To create and use details that will make the incident real for the readers.

Directions

  • 1 1½ - 2 pages in length

  • Typed (no exceptions)

  • Double spaced

  • Times New Roman 12 pt. font

  • Title Page

    • Your Name

    • Dr. Julia Carpenter

    • Freshman Composition I

    • Due Date

  • Staple a copy of the Peer Review to your Rough Draft

  • With your Final Draft Rubric you must include:

    • Completed peer review form

    • a short summary of specific ways that you revised your rough draft of the paper, using specific peer review feedback

Autobiography: A “Story” About You
This narrative essay assignment is like a short story, except it is autobiographical, which means it is a true story about you, the author. Choose an event in your life that is significant or important to you (but bear in mind when you select a topic you may be sharing with classmates during editing workshops). Successful topics have included: the passing of a loved one, a special trip or travel/adventure story, meeting new people or reconnecting with a certain person, the success or failure of one’s athletic team, the success or failure of marriages or other family related topics, and, the effects of a traffic accident or other event.
What Stories Do I Have? - Writing a Personal Narrative or Memoir

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

- Socrates
Tell a Story:

A narrative essay is a story written about a personal experience. Writing a narrative

essay provides an opportunity to get to know and understand yourself better. One of the best ways to reveal who you are is to write about how you became aware of something, gained a new way of seeing the world, a new insight.
During the process of writing a narrative, you will learn ways to articulate personal

experience to inform and entertain others.A well-written narrative can accomplish the following:



  • Create a sense of shared history, linking people together.

  • Provide entertainment. Most people enjoy a thrilling movie or an intriguing book.

  • Provide psychological healing. Reading or listening to the narrative of someone who has faced a life crisis similar to one you are experiencing can help you through a crisis.

  • They can also help the writer deal with the crisis.

  • Provide insight. Narratives can help you discover values, explore options, and examine motives.

“Don’t tell us that the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”

- Samuel Clemens
Characteristics of Narrative Writing:

Narrative essays describe specific experiences that changed how you felt, thought, or acted. The form of a narrative is similar to a story in that it describes how your character is feeling by “showing” through his/her actions, rather than by coming right out and “telling” your readers.


However, a good narrative isn’t just an entertaining story, but has a point to make, a purpose to convey. In writing a narrative essay, your purpose is not to merely tell an interesting story but to show your readers the importance and influence the experience has on you. This experience may be used as a springboard for reflection.
Purpose and Audience

Personal narratives allow you to share your life with others and vicariously experience

the things that happen around you. Your job as a writer is to put the reader in the midst of the action letting him or her live through an experience. Although a great deal of writing has a thesis, stories are different. A good story creates a dramatic effect, makes us laugh, gives us pleasurable fright, and/or gets us on the edge of our seats. A story has done its job if we can say, "Yes, that captures what living with my father feels like," or "Yes, that’s what being cut from the football team felt like."
A personal narrative makes a point. Your details, specific scenes, accounts of changes or conflicts, and connections between past and present should point to a single main idea or dominant impression for your paper as a whole. While not stating a flat “moral” of the story, the importance of your memory must be clear to your reader.
Structure

A narrative relates events in sequence by creating specific scenes that are set at actual times and in actual places. Show, don’t tell, and re-create an event by setting it in a specific time and space. There are a variety of ways to structure your narrative story. The three most common structures are: chronological approach, flashback sequence, and reflective mode. Select one that best fits the story you are telling. The key is making sure that your organization is both interesting and logical.


Methods

Show, Don’t’ Tell

Don’t tell the reader what he or she is supposed to think or feel. Let the reader see, hear, smell, feel, and taste the experience directly, and let the sensory experiences lead him or her to your intended thought or feeling. Include detailed observations of people, places, and events. Showing is harder than telling. It’s easier to say, "It was incredibly funny," than to write something that is incredibly funny. The rule of "show, don’t tell" means that your job as a storyteller is not to interpret; it’s to select revealing details. You’re a sifter, not an explainer. An easy way to accomplish showing and not telling is to avoid the use of "to be" verbs and include more active verbs.


Let People Talk

It’s amazing how much we learn about people from what they say. One way to achieve this is through carefully constructed dialogue. Work to create dialogue that allows the characters’ personalities and voices to emerge through unique word selection and the use of active rather than passive voice. Use actual or re-created dialogue to reveal the character.


Choose a Point of View

Point of view is the perspective from which your story is told. It encompasses where you are in time, how much you view the experience emotionally (your tone), and how much you allow yourself into the minds of the characters. Most personal narratives are told from the first-person limited point of view.


Tense

Tense is determined by the structure you select for your narrative. Consider how present vs. past tense might influence your message and the overall tone of your piece.


Tone

A strong narrative will indirectly voice an opinion for or against a subject. Think of ways to demonstrate your tone towards a subject without blatantly stating it. (For example, if you are expressing a tone against a type of horrible teacher or other person, show their negative behaviors as examples of your opinion, without having to blatantly state the negativity you are observing.)


The tone of your narrative should set up an overall feeling. Look over the subject that you are presenting and think of what you are trying to get across. How do you want your audience to feel when they finish your piece? Careful word choice can help achieve the appropriate effect.


Significance: The “Moral” of the Story
In this essay, your audience will want to learn a little about who you are and, through you, something about the world or life as you see it. This “something about world or life through your eyes is what we call the “significance” of the essay, but it need not be philosophically profound. Life is full of simple lessons and small insights. These are important, and readers appreciate little gems. Don't worry if, right now, you aren’t sure what makes your story special or important. If you think your story is worth telling, even if you can't say why, then most likely it is.


This aspect of the essay, the “moral” of the story (or the implied lesson), is something that must be present for your essay to earn a passing grade.

The 5 W’s of the Personal Narrative
WHO
Who was involved in the incident? How are they connected/related to you? What should the reader know about these people in terms of both objective/factual details (age, appearance, social/economic status, family relationships,background) and subjective/emotional details (beliefs, values, emotions, identity)?
WHAT
What led up to the incident? In what order did the stages of the incident occur? What effect(s) did the experience have, both immediate and long-term? What details must be included to convey the drama or intensity of the experience to someone who was not there?
WHERE

How many locations were involved? How much description of each location will the reader require? Which details will convey the scene?


WHEN

At what time of day and/or year did the event occur? Of what significance was the time, day, date, season and/or year?


WHY

What caused the incident? Did anything foreshadow what was to happen? Did more than one factor contribute? Was one person or thing more responsible than others? What conclusions can you draw from considering why the incident happened?









Peer Review Rubric

Name of Peer Reviewer:




Yes

No

Comments

Did the author pay attention to the following directions?

  • 1 1½ - 2 pages in length

  • Typed (no exceptions)

  • Double spaced

  • Times New Roman 12 pt. font

  • Title Page

    • Student’s Name

    • Dr. Julia Carpenter

    • Freshman Composition I

    • Due Date

  • Peer Review Sheet stapled to Paper










Did the author give the essay an attention-getting title that captures the thesis of the narrative?










Read the Introduction of the Paper

Did the author include an Introduction that sets up the narrative? (focuses on a specific event or experience)










Is the first sentence of the story a “hook” that grabs your attention?










Does the thesis statement set up the significance of the event?










Read the Supporting Paragraphs of the Paper

Organization of Paragraphs

  • Does each body paragraph contain a clear topic sentence that focuses each paragraph around one point?

  • Are the details/examples in the body paragraphs clear and well developed?

  • Are there enough details to create vivid images in the reader's mind with the use of vivid/ sense language that creates a dominant impression?










Point of View

Did the author use first person point of view consistently throughout the paper?












Show Not Tell

  • Did the author effectively “show not tell” throughout the story?

  • Did the author let the reader see, hear, smell, feel, and taste the experience directly through vivid sensory details.










Use of Dialogue

Did the author allows the characters’ personalities and voices to emerge through unique dialogue?












5 Ws

Did the author address each of the 5 Ws (Who, What, Where, Why, When)? Who was involved in the event? Who was present during the event? What happened? Where it was set? Why it was significant? When the event happened?












Transitions

Does the author use transition words effectively to move from one paragraph to the next?












Conclusion

Did the author explain how and why the events are significant to you and what you learned (moral and significance)













Did the author use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling?










Comments

In writing a narrative essay, the purpose is not to merely tell an interesting story but to show your readers the importance and influence the experience has on you. What did you learn about the influence the specific experience in this paper had on the author by reading this paper?



What are the strengths of this paper? (What did the author do well?)


What specific suggestions do you have for this author to strengthen the paper?








































Final Draft Rubric




Points

Earned


Possible

Points


Did the author pay attention to the following directions?

  • 1 1½ - 2 pages in length

  • Typed (no exceptions)

  • Double spaced

  • Times New Roman 12 pt. font

  • Title Page

    • Student’s Name

    • Dr. Julia Carpenter

    • Freshman Composition I

    • Due Date

  • Peer Review Sheet stapled to Paper

Did the author give the essay a title that is appealing and captures the theme of the essay?




15

Did the author include a summary of specific ways that the rough draft of the paper was revised, using specific peer review feedback?




20

Did the author include an Introduction that sets up the narrative? (focuses on a specific event or experience)




15

Is the first sentence of the story a “hook” that grabs your attention and makes you want to keep reading?




15

Does the thesis statement set up the significance of the event?




15

Organization of Paragraphs

  • Does each body paragraph contain a clear topic sentence that focuses each paragraph around one point?

  • Are the details/examples in the body paragraphs clear and well developed?

  • Are there enough details to create vivid images in the reader's mind with the use of vivid/ sense language that creates a dominant impression?




50

Point of View

Did the author use first person point of view consistently throughout the paper?






10

Show Not Tell

  • Did the author effectively “show not tell” throughout the story?

  • Did the author let the reader see, hear, smell, feel, and taste the experience directly through vivid sensory details.




40

Use of Dialogue

Did the author allows the characters’ personalities and voices to emerge through unique dialogue?






30

5 Ws

Did the author address each of the 5 Ws (Who, What, Where, Why, When)? Who was involved in the event? Who was present during the event? What happened? Where it was set? Why it was significant? When the event happened?






35

Transitions

Does the author use transition words effectively to move from one paragraph to the next?






25

Conclusion

Did the author explain how and why the events are significant to you and what you learned (moral and significance)







25

Did the author use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling?




25

Total Points




320


Grading Scale:







Grade

320-288

90-100

A

287-256

80-89

B

255-224

70-79

C

223-192

60-69

D

Below 191

59 and below

F





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