Writing Workshop Writing a Personal Narrative Essay



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Writing Workshop Writing a Personal Narrative Essay

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Writing a Reflective Essay

  • Assignment: Write a 1,500-word reflective narrative essay in which you explore the meaning of an important experience. For this assignment, you should reflect on a time you were affected by stereotypes, or felt like an outsider for some reason.
  • When you have a significant experience, you usually know it right away. You might think to yourself, “Wow, I never saw it this way before.” Writing a reflective essay gives you a chance to explore how an important experience has changed you or your ideas about life.

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Think About Purpose

  • When you write a reflective essay, your purpose is to
  • examine how the experience changed you
  • tell what the experience says about life in general

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Reflect on Your Subject

  • Your reflective essay should
  • help you examine abstract ideas—love, patience, courage
  • lead you to a new understanding of your beliefs about life and people

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Reflect on Your Subject

  • How does (or did) the experience affect me?
  • I experienced a sense of awe at the destructive power of nature. This was a new feeling for me. It is different to see a natural disaster in real life than to watch special effects in a movie.
  • Consider questions like these as you reflect on your experience.

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Reflect on Your Subject

  • How did the experience change my attitudes or behaviors?
  • Being stranded at the community center and not being able to go home or get in touch with my parents gave me a new appreciation for my home and family.

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Reflect on Your Subject

  • What universal truth or insight into human existence did the experience teach me?
  • I learned that the most catastrophic events can bring out the best qualities in people—courage, cooperation, kindness, leadership.

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Gather and Record Details

  • Then, make a list of all the events.
  • each event from beginning to end.
  • Recall the events that made up the experience:
  • to someone else who was there.
  • through mementos—photographs, letters, souvenirs.
  • Visualize
  • Talk
  • Look

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Gather and Record Details

  • Record narrative and descriptive details about each event. These details will help you create concrete images in the minds of your readers.
  • Narrative details
  • relate actions, thoughts, and feelings of the people involved in the events
  • I saw a young girl wade through water up to her waist to rescue a cat from her neighbor’s porch.

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Gather and Record Details

  • Narrative details
  • include dialogue, the actual words spoken by people involved in the experience, and interior monologue, your thoughts during the experience
  • “I just hope my dog is okay,” Diego whispered to me. “I love that dog more than anything else in the world.”
  • “When will we be able to call our families?” I wondered silently.

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Gather and Record Details

  • Some of the last people to arrive at the center had been rescued from cars or homes. Most had been provided with dry, but ill-fitting, clothes. They carried their own clothes in plastic sacks. Many of them still seemed to be in shock.

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Gather and Record Details

  • Descriptive details
  • describe settings of events
  • By this time the community center was crowded with evacuees. There were no cots and very few chairs. We tried to sleep on blankets on the hardwood floor of the gymnasium, but very few people actually slept that night. We could hear news pouring out of radios all night long.

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Gather and Record Details

  • Throughout your essay . . .
  • maintain a balance in the events. (Don’t spend all your time narrating just one event.)
  • describe your thoughts and feelings to hint at the meaning of the experience
  • As you narrate each event . . .
  • state the significance of the experience
  • In your conclusion . . .

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Organize Your Reflective Essay

  • Arrange the events in chronological order—the order in which they occurred.
  • You might want to vary the chronological order by using flashbacks and flash-forwards.
  • What Happened First
  • What Happened Third
  • . . . and so on

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Organize Your Reflective Essay

  • Within chronological order, you can use other organizational patterns for certain purposes.
  • Spatial Order
  • Good for describing places, people, or objects
  • Details arranged by location in space— top to bottom, near to far, and so on
  • Points arranged from most important to least important, or vice versa
  • [End of Section]

Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Practice and Apply

  • First, choose a subject for your reflective essay. Then
  • reflect upon your subject
  • organize your essay
  • [End of Section]
  • explanations of factual information that relate to an important part of your experience or to life in general
  • As you reflect on the significance of your experience, think about
  • the narrative—the events that occurred
  • descriptions of sights and sounds that contribute to your overall impression
  • A flashback takes readers back to an event that occurred before the story’s action.
  • Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Organize Your Reflective Essay
  • first
  • event
  • second event
  • third
  • event
  • event from the past
  • flashback
  • return to action of main story
  • Writing a Reflective Essay Prewriting: Organize Your Reflective Essay
  • A flash-forward jumps ahead in time, skipping intervening events.
  • first
  • event
  • second event
  • third
  • event
  • event in the future
  • flash-forward, skipping events
  • back to main action


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