Personal Narative

 

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Your task is to write a 750-1000 word essay about a memorable event in your life.

ESSAY PROMPT

Annie Dillard’s and Louise Erdrich’s essays are observations of animals that lead back to reflections on their own lives. Write your own personal essay, following these steps.

  • Write about a memorable event in your life.
  • Explain how this event led to an insight about your own life or about the human condition.
  • Organize your ideas into a unified essay.

Step Two: Prewrite

Brainstorm possible topics.

List memorable events or encounters with nature or other people that you remember. Ask yourself questions about ways in which each encounter might be emblematic of a general truth.

Your essay will progress from the personal to the universal and include specific details to help the reader understand the insights gained from the experience.

Get Organized

Decide on the structure of your narrative and create an outline or use a story map to reflect your ideas.

Look back at Living Like Weasels and Local Deer to help you. Ask yourself these questions about each one:

  • How does the story begin? What techniques are used to engage the audience?
  • How does the writer develop the narrative? What is the sequence of events? How are the main ideas organized?
  • How does the writer use setting, people or characters, conflict, and events to reveal a theme about experiencing the natural world?
  • How does the narrative end? Is there a final observation or reflection on nature?

Flesh out your narrative with descriptive details. Visualize the places and people in your narrative, and write down details about them. Be sure to include qualities and characteristics that make them unique.

Record some ideas for revealing the insight you gained from this experience.

Draft Your Essay

Use your outline to write your essay.

         Remember to

  • Begin by introducing your readers to the setting, people, and experience that will be central to the narrative.
  • Describe a chronological sequence of events (opens in a new window).
  • Write from the first-person point of view (opens in a new window), and allow your own unique voice to shine through.
  • Provide a powerful conclusion. A personal narrative should end with reflections on the events and experiences that have been described.

Revise and Edit

Revise for Words that Wow (opens in a new window).

Scoring

Grading will be assigned on the attached rubric.

Ideas and Evidence (20)

  • 5 points – The introduction creates a vivid impression, clearly establishes the setting, and identifies the experience.
  • 5 points – The narrative provides informative background to help explain events.
  • 5 points – Descriptive details, realistic dialogue (if included), and reflection dramatically re-create the experience.
  • 5 points – The conclusion powerfully summarizes the importance of the experience and offers an insightful observation.

Organization (10)

  • 4 points – The organization is effective; ideas are arranges logically and events are organized chronologically.
  • 2 points – The pace is effective.
  • 4 points – Well-chosen transitions clearly connect ideas and show the sequence of events.

Language (8)

  • 2 points – A consistent, first-person point of view creates a unique voice.
  • 2 points – Sensory language is used creatively to describe people, places, and events in vivid ways.
  • 2 points – Sentence beginnings, lengths, and structures vary and have a rhythmic flow.
  • 2 points – The writing demonstrates strong command of standard English writing, including spelling, capitalization, punctuation, grammar, and usage.

MLA Formatting (2)

  • 2 points – All MLA Guidelines have been followed— margins, paragraphs indented, double-spacing, 12″ Times New Roman font, heading and title included and formatted correctly, page numbers.

Total marks = 40 points

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