The perspective is of a 20 year old male (My name is Johnny Andino)

Week One: Preparing for the Narrative Essay

Narrative writing tells a story. A good narrative is more than reporting what happened. It has a purpose. It takes the audience on an adventure. This is best achieved by introducing a conflict, adding tension, and building to the moment (climax) when the conflict is resolved. This week we begin our journey by taking the first steps in the writing process.

Writing Process

  • Discovery
  • Drafting
  • Revision
  • Publishing

In the discovery process, also called prewriting, we generate ideas, explore options, and gather connected thoughts to build a foundation for the essay. After generating ideas, we begin to organize by creating an outline which serves as a framework for the essay. Next, we draft the essay, presenting the ideas for the first time in a logical order with focus on our audience and purpose.

This week we will complete discovery activities and create an outline for our essay. To complete this assignment, download these instructions as a Word Document using the link above and respond to the three prompts.

What will you write?

Think of the kinds of stories you like to tell your friends or family to make them laugh or to share a tough moment or challenge you had at work or school. Consider a story you would tell in a job interview, on a first date, or the first time you met your partner’s parents. You might tell a story of something cute or or scary, or one that makes you look good, right? Choose a story that you fit into like your old sneakers, one that you know where all the dramatic turns are.

Think about it for a while. Take a walk, clear your mind, or have a cup of tea. It’s important to decide on a story you are comfortable with because you’ll be working with it for the next four weeks.

Before you complete the work sheet, read Chapter 6 in The Norton Sampler, pages 121- 130. Remember, the story has to be a single event–one event. “That time when I fell off the couch just now” is too short for 2-3 pages, but “My whole pregnancy” is way too long for 2-3 pages (which is 500-750 words).

Ready? Good. Now complete the attached worksheet attached (see the link at the top of this page).


Generating Ideas: What Shall I Write?

It is best to focus on an event that takes place in a short period of time. Possible topics include:

  • An event that was interesting, humorous, or embarrassing
  • Something you found especially difficult or challenging
  • A memory from your childhood that remains vivid
  • An important moment that changed your life

Part I – Exploring with Sentences

Before you begin choosing a topic, explore each possible topic by writing a sentence using the same sentence pattern as demonstrated in the example.

  • An event that was interesting, humorous, or embarrassing

Example: When the beady-eyed raccoon darted out from behind my sofa, I knew it was time to find a new apartment.

YOUR SENTENCE________________________________________

  • Something you found especially difficult or challenging

Example: Running a marathon takes stamina, endurance, and lot of patience.

YOUR SENTENCE________________________________________

  • A memory from your childhood that remains vivid

Example: The smell of vanilla and cinnamon brings me back to my grandmother’s kitchen.

YOUR SENTENCE________________________________________

  • An important moment that changed your life

Example: I owe my life to a single man who changed my life: my father.

YOUR SENTENCE________________________________________

Part 2 – Your Story Begins

Now that you have considered several possible topics, it is time to explore the topic in more depth. Fill in the blanks to complete the following sentences.

My story is about__________________.

My story takes place _______________ (where).

My story takes place _______________ (when).

In the opening, _______________ happens.

The conflict in my story is___________________.

The resolution of the conflict is_______________.

The main point of the story is________________.

Part 3 – Organizing: Create an Outline

Consider your story with a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning informs the audience of the topic of the story either implicitly or explicitly. It is often best to be direct, particularly as you move forward in your studies to classes specific to your field of study. Be certain the reader has enough information to understand where you are going. The middle is where you describe the conflict and build to the climax, the moment when a decision must be made or a change occurs. In the end, the conflict is resolved, and a moment of reflection follows, often underlining the main point or theme of the story.

Complete the following:

  1. Write one sentence introducing your topic/story.
  2. Write one sentence describing the scene when the story opens.
  3. Write one sentence describing the conflict.
  4. Write one sentence sharing how the conflict is resolved.
  5. Write one sentence describing what you learned.
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