Revision and Editing Checklist for a Narrative Essay
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- Writing Essays
- Writing Research Papers
- English Grammar
- Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
- M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
- B.A., English, State University of New York
After you have completed one or more drafts of your narrative essay , use the following checklist as a revision and editing guide to prepare the final version of your composition.
- In your introduction, have you clearly identified the experience you are about to relate?
- In the opening sentences of your essay, have you provided the kinds of details that will evoke your readers' interest in the topic?
- Have you clearly explained who was involved and when and where the incident occurred?
- Have you organized the sequence of events in chronological order?
- Have you focused your essay by eliminating unnecessary or repetitious information?
- Have you used precise descriptive details to make your narrative interesting and convincing?
- Have you used dialogue to report important conversations?
- Have you used clear transitions (in particular, time signals) to tie your points together and guide your readers from one point to the next?
- In your conclusion, have you clearly explained the particular significance of the experience you have related to the essay?
- Are the sentences throughout your essay clear and direct as well as varied in length and structure? Could any sentences be improved by combining or restructuring them?
- Are the words in your essay consistently clear and precise? Does the essay maintain a consistent tone ?
- Have you read the essay aloud, proofreading carefully?
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Steps for Revising Your Paper
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Proofreading is primarily about searching your writing for errors, both grammatical and typographical, before submitting your paper for an audience (a teacher, a publisher, etc.). Use this resource to help you find and fix common errors.
When you have plenty of time to revise, use the time to work on your paper and to take breaks from writing. If you can forget about your draft for a day or two, you may return to it with a fresh outlook. During the revising process, put your writing aside at least twice—once during the first part of the process, when you are reorganizing your work, and once during the second part, when you are polishing and paying attention to details.
Use the following questions to evaluate your drafts. You can use your responses to revise your papers by reorganizing them to make your best points stand out, by adding needed information, by eliminating irrelevant information, and by clarifying sections or sentences.
Find your main point.
What are you trying to say in the paper? In other words, try to summarize your thesis, or main point, and the evidence you are using to support that point. Try to imagine that this paper belongs to someone else. Does the paper have a clear thesis? Do you know what the paper is going to be about?
Identify your readers and your purpose.
What are you trying to do in the paper? In other words, are you trying to argue with the reading, to analyze the reading, to evaluate the reading, to apply the reading to another situation, or to accomplish another goal?
Evaluate your evidence.
Does the body of your paper support your thesis? Do you offer enough evidence to support your claim? If you are using quotations from the text as evidence, did you cite them properly?
Save only the good pieces.
Do all of the ideas relate back to the thesis? Is there anything that doesn't seem to fit? If so, you either need to change your thesis to reflect the idea or cut the idea.
Tighten and clean up your language.
Do all of the ideas in the paper make sense? Are there unclear or confusing ideas or sentences? Read your paper out loud and listen for awkward pauses and unclear ideas. Cut out extra words, vagueness, and misused words.
Visit the Purdue OWL's vidcast on cutting during the revision phase for more help with this task.
Eliminate mistakes in grammar and usage.
Do you see any problems with grammar, punctuation, or spelling? If you think something is wrong, you should make a note of it, even if you don't know how to fix it. You can always talk to a Writing Lab tutor about how to correct errors.
Switch from writer-centered to reader-centered.
Try to detach yourself from what you've written; pretend that you are reviewing someone else's work. What would you say is the most successful part of your paper? Why? How could this part be made even better? What would you say is the least successful part of your paper? Why? How could this part be improved?
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8.4 Revising and Editing
- Identify major areas of concern in the draft essay during revising and editing.
- Use peer reviews and editing checklists to assist revising and editing.
- Revise and edit the first draft of your essay and produce a final draft.
Revising and editing are the two tasks you undertake to significantly improve your essay. Both are very important elements of the writing process. You may think that a completed first draft means little improvement is needed. However, even experienced writers need to improve their drafts and rely on peers during revising and editing. You may know that athletes miss catches, fumble balls, or overshoot goals. Dancers forget steps, turn too slowly, or miss beats. For both athletes and dancers, the more they practice, the stronger their performance will become. Web designers seek better images, a more clever design, or a more appealing background for their web pages. Writing has the same capacity to profit from improvement and revision.
Understanding the Purpose of Revising and Editing
Revising and editing allow you to examine two important aspects of your writing separately, so that you can give each task your undivided attention.
- When you revise , you take a second look at your ideas. You might add, cut, move, or change information in order to make your ideas clearer, more accurate, more interesting, or more convincing.
- When you edit , you take a second look at how you expressed your ideas. You add or change words. You fix any problems in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. You improve your writing style. You make your essay into a polished, mature piece of writing, the end product of your best efforts.
How do you get the best out of your revisions and editing? Here are some strategies that writers have developed to look at their first drafts from a fresh perspective. Try them over the course of this semester; then keep using the ones that bring results.
- Take a break. You are proud of what you wrote, but you might be too close to it to make changes. Set aside your writing for a few hours or even a day until you can look at it objectively.
- Ask someone you trust for feedback and constructive criticism.
- Pretend you are one of your readers. Are you satisfied or dissatisfied? Why?
- Use the resources that your college provides. Find out where your school’s writing lab is located and ask about the assistance they provide online and in person.
Many people hear the words critic , critical , and criticism and pick up only negative vibes that provoke feelings that make them blush, grumble, or shout. However, as a writer and a thinker, you need to learn to be critical of yourself in a positive way and have high expectations for your work. You also need to train your eye and trust your ability to fix what needs fixing. For this, you need to teach yourself where to look.
Creating Unity and Coherence
Following your outline closely offers you a reasonable guarantee that your writing will stay on purpose and not drift away from the controlling idea. However, when writers are rushed, are tired, or cannot find the right words, their writing may become less than they want it to be. Their writing may no longer be clear and concise, and they may be adding information that is not needed to develop the main idea.
When a piece of writing has unity , all the ideas in each paragraph and in the entire essay clearly belong and are arranged in an order that makes logical sense. When the writing has coherence , the ideas flow smoothly. The wording clearly indicates how one idea leads to another within a paragraph and from paragraph to paragraph.
Reading your writing aloud will often help you find problems with unity and coherence. Listen for the clarity and flow of your ideas. Identify places where you find yourself confused, and write a note to yourself about possible fixes.
Sometimes writers get caught up in the moment and cannot resist a good digression. Even though you might enjoy such detours when you chat with friends, unplanned digressions usually harm a piece of writing.
Mariah stayed close to her outline when she drafted the three body paragraphs of her essay she tentatively titled “Digital Technology: The Newest and the Best at What Price?” But a recent shopping trip for an HDTV upset her enough that she digressed from the main topic of her third paragraph and included comments about the sales staff at the electronics store she visited. When she revised her essay, she deleted the off-topic sentences that affected the unity of the paragraph.
Read the following paragraph twice, the first time without Mariah’s changes, and the second time with them.
Nothing is more confusing to me than choosing among televisions. It confuses lots of people who want a new high-definition digital television (HDTV) with a large screen to watch sports and DVDs on. You could listen to the guys in the electronics store, but word has it they know little more than you do. They want to sell what they have in stock, not what best fits your needs. You face decisions you never had to make with the old, bulky picture-tube televisions. Screen resolution means the number of horizontal scan lines the screen can show. This resolution is often 1080p, or full HD, or 768p. The trouble is that if you have a smaller screen, 32 inches or 37 inches diagonal, you won’t be able to tell the difference with the naked eye. The 1080p televisions cost more, though, so those are what the salespeople want you to buy. They get bigger commissions. The other important decision you face as you walk around the sales floor is whether to get a plasma screen or an LCD screen. Now here the salespeople may finally give you decent info. Plasma flat-panel television screens can be much larger in diameter than their LCD rivals. Plasma screens show truer blacks and can be viewed at a wider angle than current LCD screens. But be careful and tell the salesperson you have budget constraints. Large flat-panel plasma screens are much more expensive than flat-screen LCD models. Don’t let someone make you by more television than you need!
Answer the following two questions about Mariah’s paragraph:
Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.
- Now start to revise the first draft of the essay you wrote in Section 8 “Writing Your Own First Draft” . Reread it to find any statements that affect the unity of your writing. Decide how best to revise.
When you reread your writing to find revisions to make, look for each type of problem in a separate sweep. Read it straight through once to locate any problems with unity. Read it straight through a second time to find problems with coherence. You may follow this same practice during many stages of the writing process.
Writing at Work
Many companies hire copyeditors and proofreaders to help them produce the cleanest possible final drafts of large writing projects. Copyeditors are responsible for suggesting revisions and style changes; proofreaders check documents for any errors in capitalization, spelling, and punctuation that have crept in. Many times, these tasks are done on a freelance basis, with one freelancer working for a variety of clients.
Careful writers use transitions to clarify how the ideas in their sentences and paragraphs are related. These words and phrases help the writing flow smoothly. Adding transitions is not the only way to improve coherence, but they are often useful and give a mature feel to your essays. Table 8.3 “Common Transitional Words and Phrases” groups many common transitions according to their purpose.
Table 8.3 Common Transitional Words and Phrases
After Maria revised for unity, she next examined her paragraph about televisions to check for coherence. She looked for places where she needed to add a transition or perhaps reword the text to make the flow of ideas clear. In the version that follows, she has already deleted the sentences that were off topic.
Many writers make their revisions on a printed copy and then transfer them to the version on-screen. They conventionally use a small arrow called a caret (^) to show where to insert an addition or correction.
1. Answer the following questions about Mariah’s revised paragraph.
2. Now return to the first draft of the essay you wrote in Section 8 “Writing Your Own First Draft” and revise it for coherence. Add transition words and phrases where they are needed, and make any other changes that are needed to improve the flow and connection between ideas.
Being Clear and Concise
Some writers are very methodical and painstaking when they write a first draft. Other writers unleash a lot of words in order to get out all that they feel they need to say. Do either of these composing styles match your style? Or is your composing style somewhere in between? No matter which description best fits you, the first draft of almost every piece of writing, no matter its author, can be made clearer and more concise.
If you have a tendency to write too much, you will need to look for unnecessary words. If you have a tendency to be vague or imprecise in your wording, you will need to find specific words to replace any overly general language.
Sometimes writers use too many words when fewer words will appeal more to their audience and better fit their purpose. Here are some common examples of wordiness to look for in your draft. Eliminating wordiness helps all readers, because it makes your ideas clear, direct, and straightforward.
Sentences that begin with There is or There are .
Wordy: There are two major experiments that the Biology Department sponsors.
Revised: The Biology Department sponsors two major experiments.
Sentences with unnecessary modifiers.
Wordy: Two extremely famous and well-known consumer advocates spoke eloquently in favor of the proposed important legislation.
Revised: Two well-known consumer advocates spoke in favor of the proposed legislation.
Sentences with deadwood phrases that add little to the meaning. Be judicious when you use phrases such as in terms of , with a mind to , on the subject of , as to whether or not , more or less , as far as…is concerned , and similar expressions. You can usually find a more straightforward way to state your point.
Wordy: As a world leader in the field of green technology, the company plans to focus its efforts in the area of geothermal energy.
A report as to whether or not to use geysers as an energy source is in the process of preparation.
Revised: As a world leader in green technology, the company plans to focus on geothermal energy.
A report about using geysers as an energy source is in preparation.
Sentences in the passive voice or with forms of the verb to be . Sentences with passive-voice verbs often create confusion, because the subject of the sentence does not perform an action. Sentences are clearer when the subject of the sentence performs the action and is followed by a strong verb. Use strong active-voice verbs in place of forms of to be , which can lead to wordiness. Avoid passive voice when you can.
Wordy: It might perhaps be said that using a GPS device is something that is a benefit to drivers who have a poor sense of direction.
Revised: Using a GPS device benefits drivers who have a poor sense of direction.
Sentences with constructions that can be shortened.
Wordy: The e-book reader, which is a recent invention, may become as commonplace as the cell phone.
My over-sixty uncle bought an e-book reader, and his wife bought an e-book reader, too.
Revised: The e-book reader, a recent invention, may become as commonplace as the cell phone.
My over-sixty uncle and his wife both bought e-book readers.
Now return once more to the first draft of the essay you have been revising. Check it for unnecessary words. Try making your sentences as concise as they can be.
Choosing Specific, Appropriate Words
Most college essays should be written in formal English suitable for an academic situation. Follow these principles to be sure that your word choice is appropriate. For more information about word choice, see Chapter 4 “Working with Words: Which Word Is Right?” .
- Avoid slang. Find alternatives to bummer , kewl , and rad .
- Avoid language that is overly casual. Write about “men and women” rather than “girls and guys” unless you are trying to create a specific effect. A formal tone calls for formal language.
- Avoid contractions. Use do not in place of don’t , I am in place of I’m , have not in place of haven’t , and so on. Contractions are considered casual speech.
- Avoid clichés. Overused expressions such as green with envy , face the music , better late than never , and similar expressions are empty of meaning and may not appeal to your audience.
- Be careful when you use words that sound alike but have different meanings. Some examples are allusion/illusion , complement/compliment , council/counsel , concurrent/consecutive , founder/flounder , and historic/historical . When in doubt, check a dictionary.
- Choose words with the connotations you want. Choosing a word for its connotations is as important in formal essay writing as it is in all kinds of writing. Compare the positive connotations of the word proud and the negative connotations of arrogant and conceited .
- Use specific words rather than overly general words. Find synonyms for thing , people , nice , good , bad , interesting , and other vague words. Or use specific details to make your exact meaning clear.
Now read the revisions Mariah made to make her third paragraph clearer and more concise. She has already incorporated the changes she made to improve unity and coherence.
1. Answer the following questions about Mariah’s revised paragraph:
2. Now return once more to your essay in progress. Read carefully for problems with word choice. Be sure that your draft is written in formal language and that your word choice is specific and appropriate.
Completing a Peer Review
After working so closely with a piece of writing, writers often need to step back and ask for a more objective reader. What writers most need is feedback from readers who can respond only to the words on the page. When they are ready, writers show their drafts to someone they respect and who can give an honest response about its strengths and weaknesses.
You, too, can ask a peer to read your draft when it is ready. After evaluating the feedback and assessing what is most helpful, the reader’s feedback will help you when you revise your draft. This process is called peer review .
You can work with a partner in your class and identify specific ways to strengthen each other’s essays. Although you may be uncomfortable sharing your writing at first, remember that each writer is working toward the same goal: a final draft that fits the audience and the purpose. Maintaining a positive attitude when providing feedback will put you and your partner at ease. The box that follows provides a useful framework for the peer review session.
Questions for Peer Review
Title of essay: ____________________________________________
Writer’s name: ____________________________________________
Peer reviewer’s name: _________________________________________
- This essay is about____________________________________________.
- Your main points in this essay are____________________________________________.
- What I most liked about this essay is____________________________________________.
These three points struck me as your strongest:
These places in your essay are not clear to me:
a. Where: ____________________________________________
Needs improvement because__________________________________________
b. Where: ____________________________________________
Needs improvement because ____________________________________________
c. Where: ____________________________________________
The one additional change you could make that would improve this essay significantly is ____________________________________________.
One of the reasons why word-processing programs build in a reviewing feature is that workgroups have become a common feature in many businesses. Writing is often collaborative, and the members of a workgroup and their supervisors often critique group members’ work and offer feedback that will lead to a better final product.
Exchange essays with a classmate and complete a peer review of each other’s draft in progress. Remember to give positive feedback and to be courteous and polite in your responses. Focus on providing one positive comment and one question for more information to the author.
Using Feedback Objectively
The purpose of peer feedback is to receive constructive criticism of your essay. Your peer reviewer is your first real audience, and you have the opportunity to learn what confuses and delights a reader so that you can improve your work before sharing the final draft with a wider audience (or your intended audience).
It may not be necessary to incorporate every recommendation your peer reviewer makes. However, if you start to observe a pattern in the responses you receive from peer reviewers, you might want to take that feedback into consideration in future assignments. For example, if you read consistent comments about a need for more research, then you may want to consider including more research in future assignments.
Using Feedback from Multiple Sources
You might get feedback from more than one reader as you share different stages of your revised draft. In this situation, you may receive feedback from readers who do not understand the assignment or who lack your involvement with and enthusiasm for it.
You need to evaluate the responses you receive according to two important criteria:
- Determine if the feedback supports the purpose of the assignment.
- Determine if the suggested revisions are appropriate to the audience.
Then, using these standards, accept or reject revision feedback.
Work with two partners. Go back to Note 8.81 “Exercise 4” in this lesson and compare your responses to Activity A, about Mariah’s paragraph, with your partners’. Recall Mariah’s purpose for writing and her audience. Then, working individually, list where you agree and where you disagree about revision needs.
Editing Your Draft
If you have been incorporating each set of revisions as Mariah has, you have produced multiple drafts of your writing. So far, all your changes have been content changes. Perhaps with the help of peer feedback, you have made sure that you sufficiently supported your ideas. You have checked for problems with unity and coherence. You have examined your essay for word choice, revising to cut unnecessary words and to replace weak wording with specific and appropriate wording.
The next step after revising the content is editing. When you edit, you examine the surface features of your text. You examine your spelling, grammar, usage, and punctuation. You also make sure you use the proper format when creating your finished assignment.
Editing often takes time. Budgeting time into the writing process allows you to complete additional edits after revising. Editing and proofreading your writing helps you create a finished work that represents your best efforts. Here are a few more tips to remember about your readers:
- Readers do not notice correct spelling, but they do notice misspellings.
- Readers look past your sentences to get to your ideas—unless the sentences are awkward, poorly constructed, and frustrating to read.
- Readers notice when every sentence has the same rhythm as every other sentence, with no variety.
- Readers do not cheer when you use there , their , and they’re correctly, but they notice when you do not.
- Readers will notice the care with which you handled your assignment and your attention to detail in the delivery of an error-free document..
The first section of this book offers a useful review of grammar, mechanics, and usage. Use it to help you eliminate major errors in your writing and refine your understanding of the conventions of language. Do not hesitate to ask for help, too, from peer tutors in your academic department or in the college’s writing lab. In the meantime, use the checklist to help you edit your writing.
Editing Your Writing
- Are some sentences actually sentence fragments?
- Are some sentences run-on sentences? How can I correct them?
- Do some sentences need conjunctions between independent clauses?
- Does every verb agree with its subject?
- Is every verb in the correct tense?
- Are tense forms, especially for irregular verbs, written correctly?
- Have I used subject, object, and possessive personal pronouns correctly?
- Have I used who and whom correctly?
- Is the antecedent of every pronoun clear?
- Do all personal pronouns agree with their antecedents?
- Have I used the correct comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs?
- Is it clear which word a participial phrase modifies, or is it a dangling modifier?
- Are all my sentences simple sentences, or do I vary my sentence structure?
- Have I chosen the best coordinating or subordinating conjunctions to join clauses?
- Have I created long, overpacked sentences that should be shortened for clarity?
- Do I see any mistakes in parallel structure?
- Does every sentence end with the correct end punctuation?
- Can I justify the use of every exclamation point?
- Have I used apostrophes correctly to write all singular and plural possessive forms?
- Have I used quotation marks correctly?
Mechanics and Usage
- Can I find any spelling errors? How can I correct them?
- Have I used capital letters where they are needed?
- Have I written abbreviations, where allowed, correctly?
- Can I find any errors in the use of commonly confused words, such as to / too / two ?
Be careful about relying too much on spelling checkers and grammar checkers. A spelling checker cannot recognize that you meant to write principle but wrote principal instead. A grammar checker often queries constructions that are perfectly correct. The program does not understand your meaning; it makes its check against a general set of formulas that might not apply in each instance. If you use a grammar checker, accept the suggestions that make sense, but consider why the suggestions came up.
Proofreading requires patience; it is very easy to read past a mistake. Set your paper aside for at least a few hours, if not a day or more, so your mind will rest. Some professional proofreaders read a text backward so they can concentrate on spelling and punctuation. Another helpful technique is to slowly read a paper aloud, paying attention to every word, letter, and punctuation mark.
If you need additional proofreading help, ask a reliable friend, a classmate, or a peer tutor to make a final pass on your paper to look for anything you missed.
Remember to use proper format when creating your finished assignment. Sometimes an instructor, a department, or a college will require students to follow specific instructions on titles, margins, page numbers, or the location of the writer’s name. These requirements may be more detailed and rigid for research projects and term papers, which often observe the American Psychological Association (APA) or Modern Language Association (MLA) style guides, especially when citations of sources are included.
To ensure the format is correct and follows any specific instructions, make a final check before you submit an assignment.
With the help of the checklist, edit and proofread your essay.
- Revising and editing are the stages of the writing process in which you improve your work before producing a final draft.
- During revising, you add, cut, move, or change information in order to improve content.
- During editing, you take a second look at the words and sentences you used to express your ideas and fix any problems in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
- Unity in writing means that all the ideas in each paragraph and in the entire essay clearly belong together and are arranged in an order that makes logical sense.
- Coherence in writing means that the writer’s wording clearly indicates how one idea leads to another within a paragraph and between paragraphs.
- Transitional words and phrases effectively make writing more coherent.
- Writing should be clear and concise, with no unnecessary words.
- Effective formal writing uses specific, appropriate words and avoids slang, contractions, clichés, and overly general words.
- Peer reviews, done properly, can give writers objective feedback about their writing. It is the writer’s responsibility to evaluate the results of peer reviews and incorporate only useful feedback.
- Remember to budget time for careful editing and proofreading. Use all available resources, including editing checklists, peer editing, and your institution’s writing lab, to improve your editing skills.
Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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- How to revise an essay in 3 simple steps
How to Revise an Essay in 3 Simple Steps
Published on December 2, 2014 by Shane Bryson . Revised on July 23, 2023 by Shona McCombes.
Revising and editing an essay is a crucial step of the writing process . It often takes up at least as much time as producing the first draft, so make sure you leave enough time to revise thoroughly.
The most effective approach to revising an essay is to move from general to specific:
- Start by looking at the big picture: does your essay achieve its overall purpose, and does it proceed in a logical order?
- Next, dive into each paragraph: do all the sentences contribute to the point of the paragraph, and do all your points fit together smoothly?
- Finally, polish up the details: is your grammar on point, your punctuation perfect, and your meaning crystal clear?
Table of contents
Step 1: look at the essay as a whole, step 2: dive into each paragraph, step 3: polish the language, other interesting articles.
There’s no sense in perfecting a sentence if the whole paragraph will later be cut, and there’s no sense in focusing on a paragraph if the whole section needs to be reworked.
For these reasons, work from general to specific: start by looking at the overall purpose and organization of your text, and don’t worry about the details for now.
Double-check your assignment sheet and any feedback you’ve been given to make sure you’ve addressed each point of instruction. In other words, confirm that the essay completes every task it needs to complete.
Then go back to your thesis statement . Does every paragraph in the essay have a clear purpose that advances your argument? If there are any sections that are irrelevant or whose connection to the thesis is uncertain, consider cutting them or revising to make your points clearer.
Next, check for logical organization . Consider the ordering of paragraphs and sections, and think about what type of information you give in them. Ask yourself :
- Do you define terms, theories and concepts before you use them?
- Do you give all the necessary background information before you go into details?
- Does the argument build up logically from one point to the next?
- Is each paragraph clearly related to what comes before it?
Ensure each paragraph has a clear topic sentence that sums up its point. Then, try copying and pasting these topic sentences into a new document in the order that they appear in the paper.
This allows you to see the ordering of the sections and paragraphs of your paper in a glance, giving you a sense of your entire paper all at once. You can also play with the ordering of these topic sentences to try alternative organizations.
If some topic sentences seem too similar, consider whether one of the paragraphs is redundant , or if its specific contribution needs to be clarified. If the connection between paragraphs is unclear, use transition sentences to strengthen your structure.
Finally, use your intuition. If a paragraph or section feels out of place to you, even if you can’t decide why, it probably is. Think about it for a while and try to get a second opinion. Work out the organizational issues as best you can before moving on to more specific writing issues.
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Next, you want to make sure the content of each paragraph is as strong as it can be, ensuring that every sentence is relevant and necessary:
- Make sure each sentence helps support the topic sentence .
- Check for redundancies – if a sentence repeats something you’ve already said, cut it.
- Check for inconsistencies in content. Do any of your assertions seem to contradict one another? If so, resolve the disagreement and cut as necessary.
Once you’re happy with the overall shape and content of your essay, it’s time to focus on polishing it at a sentence level, making sure that you’ve expressed yourself clearly and fluently.
You’re now less concerned with what you say than with how you say it. Aim to simplify, condense, and clarify each sentence, making it as easy as possible for your reader to understand what you want to say.
- Try to avoid complex sentence construction – be as direct and straightforward as possible.
- If you have a lot of very long sentences, split some of them into shorter ones.
- If you have a lot of very short sentences that sound choppy, combine some of them using conjunctions or semicolons .
- Make sure you’ve used appropriate transition words to show the connections between different points.
- Cut every unnecessary word.
- Avoid any complex word where a simpler one will do.
- Look out for typos and grammatical mistakes.
If you lack confidence in your grammar, our essay editing service provides an extra pair of eyes.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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Shane finished his master's degree in English literature in 2013 and has been working as a writing tutor and editor since 2009. He began proofreading and editing essays with Scribbr in early summer, 2014.
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How to Revise a Narrative Essay
How to Write an Introduction to a Reflective Essay
Revising a narrative essay is a lot like revising anything else. It helps to focus on higher order issues first, such as content, development and organization, and then move on to grammar, mechanics and word choice toward the end of the process. What sets a narrative apart is the story form. Provide enough supporting details so your audience can follow the plot; also, remember to put those details in chronological order.
Step One: Thesis Statement
A narrative essay tells a story, but it also contains a thesis statement, just like any other kind of essay. Thesis statements are usually explicitly stated, often at the end of an introductory paragraph, but they can also be included in the conclusion or implied. Check with your professor for specific preferences on thesis statements.
When you revise your essay draft, first check that you have a thesis statement. Usually this is a sentence or idea that answers the question, "What is the point I want to get across with this story?"
Step Two: Supporting Details
Once you have checked for a thesis, read over the entire essay and make sure you have enough details so your audience can understand the story and get a clear picture of what's happening. Check that the details you have included are relevant to the story and aren't distracting from the plot or main points. Also, make sure the details support the thesis statement and don't contradict it. A great way to revise at this stage is to read the essay aloud to a partner and get feedback.
Step Three: Organization and Cohesion
Like other essays, a narrative essay includes an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. When revising your narrative, make sure you have an introduction that grabs your readers' attention and gives enough background information to set up the events of the story. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the introduction. The events in the body paragraphs should be organized in chronological order with paragraph breaks at scene changes or between speakers of dialogue. Include transition words between events, such as "first," "then," "suddenly" or "the next day" to show the progression of time. There is no standard number of body paragraphs for a narrative essay, so check with your instructor for specific length requirements.
Step Four: Lower Order Concerns
Once you have checked your essay for higher order concerns, shift your focus to lower order issues: grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice and format. Check your paper one line or sentence at a time, covering the rest with a blank sheet of paper. Some writers like to start with the very last line of the paper and move backwards to ensure they do not get wrapped up in content at this stage. Pay special attention to each word and sentence to check that you have the correct spelling, sentence structure and punctuation. Check for correct format last, and be sure to consult your assignment instructions for preferred format.
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Jamie Trusty is based in Nashville, Tenn., and has been teaching and writing for more than five years. Her concentrations are non-fiction essays, research-based argumentative writing, literary analyses and film reviews. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. Although Trusty focuses on publishing more "serious" work, her favorite thing to write is Twin Peaks fan fiction.
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Telling the Story of Yourself: 6 Steps to Writing Personal Narratives
First off, you might be wondering: what is a personal narrative? In short, personal narratives are stories we tell about ourselves that focus on our growth, lessons learned, and reflections on our experiences.
From stories about inspirational figures we heard as children to any essay, article, or exercise where we're asked to express opinions on a situation, thing, or individual—personal narratives are everywhere.
According to Psychology Today, personal narratives allow authors to feel and release pains, while savouring moments of strength and resilience. Such emotions provide an avenue for both authors and readers to connect while supporting healing in the process.
That all sounds great. But when it comes to putting the words down on paper, we often end up with a list of experiences and no real structure to tie them together.
In this article, we'll discuss what a personal narrative essay is further, learn the 6 steps to writing one, and look at some examples of great personal narratives.
Why Do We Write Personal Narratives?
6 guidelines for writing personal narrative essays, inspiring personal narratives, examples of personal narrative essays, tell your story.
As readers, we're fascinated by memoirs, autobiographies, and long-form personal narrative articles, as they provide a glimpse into the authors' thought processes, ideas, and feelings. But you don't have to be writing your whole life story to create a personal narrative.
You might be a student writing an admissions essay , or be trying to tell your professional story in a cover letter. Regardless of your purpose, your narrative will focus on personal growth, reflections, and lessons.
Personal narratives help us connect with other people's stories due to their easy-to-digest format and because humans are empathising creatures.
We can better understand how others feel and think when we were told stories that allow us to see the world from their perspectives. The author's "I think" and "I feel" instantaneously become ours, as the brain doesn't know whether what we read is real or imaginary.
In her best-selling book Wired for Story, Lisa Cron explains that the human brain craves tales as it's hard-wired through evolution to learn what happens next. Since the brain doesn't know whether what you are reading is actual or not, we can register the moral of the story cognitively and affectively.
In academia, a narrative essay tells a story which is experiential, anecdotal, or personal. It allows the author to creatively express their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and opinions. Its length can be anywhere from a few paragraphs to hundreds of pages.
Outside of academia, personal narratives are known as a form of journalism or non-fiction works called "narrative journalism." Even highly prestigious publications like the New York Times and Time magazine have sections dedicated to personal narratives. The New Yorke is a magazine dedicated solely to this genre.
The New York Times holds personal narrative essay contests. The winners are selected because they:
had a clear narrative arc with a conflict and a main character who changed in some way. They artfully balanced the action of the story with reflection on what it meant to the writer. They took risks, like including dialogue or playing with punctuation, sentence structure and word choice to develop a strong voice. And, perhaps most important, they focused on a specific moment or theme – a conversation, a trip to the mall, a speech tournament, a hospital visit – instead of trying to sum up the writer’s life in 600 words.
In a nutshell, a personal narrative can cover any reflective and contemplative subject with a strong voice and a unique perspective, including uncommon private values. It's written in first person and the story encompasses a specific moment in time worthy of a discussion.
Writing a personal narrative essay involves both objectivity and subjectivity. You'll need to be objective enough to recognise the importance of an event or a situation to explore and write about. On the other hand, you must be subjective enough to inject private thoughts and feelings to make your point.
With personal narratives, you are both the muse and the creator – you have control over how your story is told. However, like any other type of writing, it comes with guidelines.
1. Write Your Personal Narrative as a Story
As a story, it must include an introduction, characters, plot, setting, climax, anti-climax (if any), and conclusion. Another way to approach it is by structuring it with an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should set the tone, while the body should focus on the key point(s) you want to get across. The conclusion can tell the reader what lessons you have learned from the story you've just told.
2. Give Your Personal Narrative a Clear Purpose
Your narrative essay should reflect your unique perspective on life. This is a lot harder than it sounds. You need to establish your perspective, the key things you want your reader to take away, and your tone of voice. It's a good idea to have a set purpose in mind for the narrative before you start writing.
Let's say you want to write about how you manage depression without taking any medicine. This could go in any number of ways, but isolating a purpose will help you focus your writing and choose which stories to tell. Are you advocating for a holistic approach, or do you want to describe your emotional experience for people thinking of trying it?
Having this focus will allow you to put your own unique take on what you did (and didn't do, if applicable), what changed you, and the lessons learned along the way.
3. Show, Don't Tell
It's a narration, so the narrative should show readers what happened, instead of telling them. As well as being a storyteller, the author should take part as one of the characters. Keep this in mind when writing, as the way you shape your perspective can have a big impact on how your reader sees your overarching plot. Don't slip into just explaining everything that happened because it happened to you. Show your reader with action.
You can check for instances of telling rather than showing with ProWritingAid. For example, instead of:
"You never let me do anything!" I cried disdainfully.
"You never let me do anything!" To this day, my mother swears that the glare I levelled at her as I spat those words out could have soured milk.
Using ProWritingAid will help you find these instances in your manuscript and edit them without spending hours trawling through your work yourself.
4. Use "I," But Don't Overuse It
You, the author, take ownership of the story, so the first person pronoun "I" is used throughout. However, you shouldn't overuse it, as it'd make it sound too self-centred and redundant.
ProWritingAid can also help you here – the Style Report will tell you if you've started too many sentences with "I", and show you how to introduce more variation in your writing.
5. Pay Attention to Tenses
Tense is key to understanding. Personal narratives mostly tell the story of events that happened in the past, so many authors choose to use the past tense. This helps separate out your current, narrating voice and your past self who you are narrating. If you're writing in the present tense, make sure that you keep it consistent throughout.
6. Make Your Conclusion Satisfying
Satisfy your readers by giving them an unforgettable closing scene. The body of the narration should build up the plot to climax. This doesn't have to be something incredible or shocking, just something that helps give an interesting take on your story.
The takeaways or the lessons learned should be written without lecturing. Whenever possible, continue to show rather than tell. Don't say what you learned, narrate what you do differently now. This will help the moral of your story shine through without being too preachy.
GoodReads is a great starting point for selecting read-worthy personal narrative books. Here are five of my favourites.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen, the author of 386 books, wrote this poetic story about a daughter and her father who went owling. Instead of learning about owls, Yolen invites readers to contemplate the meaning of gentleness and hope.
Night by Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. This Holocaust memoir has a strong message that such horrific events should never be repeated.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
This classic is a must-read by young and old alike. It's a remarkable diary by a 13-year-old Jewish girl who hid inside a secret annexe of an old building during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1942.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
This is a personal narrative written by a brave author renowned for her clarity, passion, and honesty. Didion shares how in December 2003, she lost her husband of 40 years to a massive heart attack and dealt with the acute illness of her only daughter. She speaks about grief, memories, illness, and hope.
Educated by Tara Westover
Author Tara Westover was raised by survivalist parents. She didn't go to school until 17 years of age, which later took her to Harvard and Cambridge. It's a story about the struggle for quest for knowledge and self-reinvention.
Narrative and personal narrative journalism are gaining more popularity these days. You can find distinguished personal narratives all over the web.
Curating the best of the best of personal narratives and narrative essays from all over the web. Some are award-winning articles.
Long-form writing to celebrate humanity through storytelling. It publishes personal narrative essays written to provoke, inspire, and reflect, touching lesser-known and overlooked subjects.
It publishes non,fiction narratives, poetry, and fiction. Among its contributors is Frank Conroy, the author of Stop-Time , a memoir that has never been out of print since 1967.
Aimed at Generation Z, it publishes personal narrative essays on self-improvement, family, friendship, romance, and others.
Personal narratives will continue to be popular as our brains are wired for stories. We love reading about others and telling stories of ourselves, as they bring satisfaction and a better understanding of the world around us.
Personal narratives make us better humans. Enjoy telling yours!
If you're writing your life story, you'll need to create yourself as a character! Download this free book now to find out how:
Creating Legends: How to Craft Characters Readers Adore… or Despise!
This guide is for all the writers out there who want to create compelling, engaging, relatable characters that readers will adore… or despise., learn how to invent characters based on actions, motives, and their past..
Be confident about grammar
Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.
Jennifer Xue is an award-winning e-book author with 2,500+ articles and 100+ e-books/reports published under her belt. She also taught 50+ college-level essay and paper writing classes. Her byline has appeared in Forbes, Fortune, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Business.com, Business2Community, Addicted2Success, Good Men Project, and others. Her blog is JenniferXue.com. Follow her on Twitter @jenxuewrites].
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Narrative Essay Writing
Personal Narrative Essay
Personal Narrative Essay - Easy Guide & Examples
16 min read
Published on: Apr 18, 2020
Last updated on: Jul 21, 2023
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A personal narrative essay can be a fun way to share your life story with friends and family. However, most students have no idea how to write a personal narrative essay.
This can be a challenge. On top of that, it's one of the most common assignments in school.
Is this something that you are also dealing with? Fortunately, you don't have to worry anymore! We are here to simplify the process for you.
This guide will walk you through the process of writing a personal narrative essay step by step. Plus, you can find plenty of examples here to help you get started and avoid common writing mistakes.
So what are you waiting for, take a step forward to make your essay shine!
Personal Narrative Essay Definition
What is a Personal Narrative Essay?
A personal narrative essay is also referred to as short storytelling. It depends on the writer's type of story they want to tell the readers. This type of essay can be composed of the personal experience of the writer.
A personal narrative essay is usually written in the first person participle. It helps to depict a clear narrative thatâs focused on a specific moment.
Usually, high school students are usually assigned to write such essays. Writing these essays helps them to enhance creative writing skills. Also, they help to provide insight into a studentâs personal life.
To write a personal narrative essay, the writer specifies a plot around which the entire essay revolves. Moreover, the plot should also discuss the characters that have played some part in the story.
Sample Personal Narrative Essay (PDF)
How to Start a Personal Narrative Essay?
The personal narrative essay requires a balance between objectivity and subjectivity . To write about an event or situation with significance, you must first identify what's important to share with the readers.
As with other types of writing - there are some guidelines you need to follow some guidelines. These are;
1. Choose the Right Topic
A good topic can not just make your essay look good, but also it will make the writing process much easier. Since personal narrative essays are written on personal experiences and thoughts, make sure you choose your most interesting experience.
Keep in mind that the topic you choose matches the intended audience. It is the reader who decides the scope and success of your essay.
2. Choose a Theme
You can also choose a theme for your essay. This will help you focus on what you want to say. You can use your personal experiences to explore the theme in depth. For example, if you choose the theme of love, you could talk about your experience of love with your sister(s). Alternatively, you can start writing out the story and see if any ideas might relate to a bigger theme. When you are writing, pay attention to any ideas that keep coming up. See if they might be related to a bigger topic.
3. Create a Thesis Statement
The thesis statement is the most important sentence and tells the reader what your essay will be about.
In a personal narrative essay, the thesis statement can briefly explore the story's events. Or it can tell the reader about the moral or lesson learned through personal experience. The thesis statement can also present the main theme of the essay.
For example, if you are writing an essay about your personal experience as a refugee. You may have a thesis statement that presents the theme of freedom.
Check out more thesis statement examples to learn how to write one!
4. Create an Outline
Once you have your topic, it is time that you create an outline for your essay. The essay outline is an essential element of an essay. It keeps the whole composition in an organized order.
Also, it helps the reader through the essay. With the help of an outline, a writer can provide logic for the essay.
Personal Narrative Essay Outline
Being a student, you must know how important an outline is for an essay. It provides an organization with the whole content.
To create an outline for a personal narrative essay, you need to follow the following traditional method.
These three major elements of a narrative essay are further elaborated down below.
The introduction is the most important part of essay writing. It is the first impression on the reader; by reading this part, the reader decides the quality of the essay. This part should be the most attention-grabbing part.
It should have an attention-grabbing hook and some background information about the topic. Moreover, it should include the thesis statement, which explains the main idea of your essay.
Keep in mind that the essay introduction should always end with a transition sentence. This will make a logical connection with the rest of the essay.
Personal Narrative Introduction Example
After the introduction, the body paragraphs are written. These paragraphs help you to explain the key elements of your personal narrative essay.
In a standard personal narrative essay, there are usually three body paragraphs. These paragraphs help the writer to describe the subject of the essay in all possible aspects.
With the help of these paragraphs, the writer describes their point of view to the readers. To support the essay, the time and place of the event happening are also mentioned. Moreover, these paragraphs have all the information about the characters.
Keep in mind that a body starts with a topic sentence . This sentence is a kind of introductory sentence for that particular paragraph.
Another important thing you need to keep in mind is the order in which you will present the details. Make sure that you use chronological order for this purpose.
Personal Narrative Body Example
In conclusion, you need to provide the climax of the story.
In this section of a personal narrative essay, you should wrap up the whole story. Do it in such a way that you provide a summary of the entire essay.
Your conclusion should be just as impactful as your introduction. End with a memorable sentence or thought that leaves the reader with a lasting impression. You can summarize the main points of your essay or reflect on the significance of the experience in your life.
Make sure that you do not add any new points in this part. It will not give the reader a sense of accomplishment and will leave them in confusion.
Personal Narrative Conclusion Example
How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay
A personal narrative essay is considered very good when it is expressive, and the reader enjoys your personal narrative. The key to writing an amazing personal narrative is to use sensory details as much as possible.
An excellent narrative essay doesn't tell what happened. Instead, it shows what happened precisely and how you have felt at that moment.
Here is how you can write a personal narrative essay:
- Start With a Good Hook
For any type of essay , a hook statement can be a game-changer. But, particularly for a personal narrative essay, hook sentences are very important.
Usually, the introduction of the essay starts with this sentence. You may use a famous quotation, verse, or an interesting fact for this purpose. This sentence helps to attain the readerâs attention and persuade the reader to read the entire essay.
- Vivid Description
For a narrative essay, it is a must to be vivid enough to let the reader imagine the whole scene. This is why it is necessary that the writer uses as much descriptive language as possible.
For instance, if you are writing about a visit to the beach, you can describe how the sun felt on your face. On top of that, making use of strong verbs and adjectives will also help to provide an engaging experience for readers.
- Use Transition Words
For any essay, be it an argumentative essay , descriptive essay , or personal narrative essay. It is very important to have some transition sentences and words. These transition words help to make a logical connection in all parts of the essay.
In other words, the transition words help to make links between the storyline. You may use transition words like this, however, whereas, therefore, moreover, etc.
- Add Emotions
The purpose of a personal narrative essay is to show the reader what and how you have felt. Hence don't forget to add the emotions, as you have to make the reader know about the feelings.
Describe all of the emotions and feelings using very descriptive words.
- Be Consistent
Consistency is the key to writing an essay in a professional way. Make sure that you don't get distracted by any irrelevant details.
Stay focused on one single point, and add details related to your specific idea. Make sure that you inter-link all the events of the story in a regular manner. This will help the reader to relate all the events. Also, use first-person impressions as you are writing a personal narrative.
You also want to show the reader that you are telling your own story. Make sure that you follow the same participle in the entire essay.
- Prove the Significance of Your Experience
You know that behind every event, there is a reason. Similarly, let your readers know the reason behind your essay and its significance.
Also, mention that the story you just told was important to share.
As it is a personal narrative, you don't have to provide evidence to prove the significance of your story. Rather, you have to convey a broader message through your story.
- Use Dialogue
Dialogue is an excellent way to bring life to your story and make it more engaging. It can reveal the characterâs personalities and add a touch of realism to the essay.
When you use dialogue, make sure to punctuate it correctly and indicate who is speaking.
- Show, Don't Tell
When writing a personal narrative essay, avoid summarizing events and simply telling the story. Instead, use sensory details to help the reader experience the story with you.
Describe what you saw, heard, felt, tasted, and smelled to bring the story to life.
- Reflect on the Experience
Reflection is an important part of any personal narrative essay. It is an opportunity for you to reflect on the experience you are writing about and what it means to you. Take the time to think about what you learned from the experience and how it has shaped you as a person.
Once you are done with writing your personal narrative essay. It's time that you put a little effort into making it error-free. Proofread the essay more than once and look for minor spelling mistakes and other grammatical mistakes.
This will ensure that you have written an essay like a pro. You can do this yourself or you may ask a friend to do it for you.
To understand better how to write a personal narrative essay, take a few moments to watch the video below!
Tough Essay Due? Hire a Writer!
Free Personal Narrative Essay Examples
Examples help you to understand things better; here are a few well-written narrative essay examples . Read them thoroughly and use them as a guide to writing a good essay yourself.
Personal Narrative Essay 750 words
Personal narrative essays can be long or short. It depends on the writer how they want to elaborate things.
750 Words Personal Narrative Essay (PDF)
Personal Narrative Essay Examples for High School Students
Personal narrative essays are often assigned to high school students. If you are a high school student and looking for some good examples, you are exactly where you should be.
Best Summer Memory of My Childhood (PDF)
Near-Death Experience (PDF)
Personal Narrative Essay Examples for College Students
Being a college student, you will often get to write personal narrative essays. Here are a few examples of well-written personal narrative essays to guide college students.
Climbing a Mountain (PDF)
My First Job (PDF)
Want to get a better understanding? Dive into the wide collection of our narrative essay examples !
Personal Narrative Essay Topics
It is important to choose a good topic before you start writing. Here are some interesting narrative essay topics you can choose from for your essay.
- My worst childhood memory
- My favorite summer activities during vacation.
- The first time I had a serious argument with my best friend
- The first time someone broke my heart.
- Things I could tell myself.
- How I balance my family life and my professional life.
- The most important rule in life
- Teachers who inspired me in my college.
- Why I love to write a diary
- My favorite New York Times Article.
- My favorite movie.
- Personal advice for the youth of today.
- How I overcame my stage fear.
- The toughest decision I have ever made.
- What I regret most
Need some inspiration to craft your essay? Our expansive list of narrative essay topics will provide you with plenty of ideas!
Personal Narrative Essay Writing Tips
You need to follow a few things in order to start your personal narrative essay in a proper way. Those significant things are as follows:
- Think of a memorable event, an unforgettable experience, or any that you want to tell the readers.
- Plan your narrative essay. Make yourself clear on the order in which you want to mention all the details.
- Start your personal essay with a hook sentence. This will help you to grab the attention of the readers.
- Use vivid language so that the reader can imagine the whole scene in mind. Describe the actions, mood, theme, and overall plot.
- Make sure that you use descriptive language.
- Use proper sentence structure.
writing a personal narrative essay can be daunting for many students. We have professional essay writer online at CollegeEssay.org.
Our essay writing service can help you write your college essay so you can deliver them right in time.
We have a customer support team available 24/7 to attend to all queries related to your assignments. So place your order now with our narrative essay writing service and let all your stress go away.
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For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.
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Students are finished with their rough drafts and what do they want to do? Immediately write a final copy. NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! This post will provide ideas for your writer’s workshop when teaching your students how to REVISE a narrrative essay. It is also a part of a series of writing mini lessons that scaffold through the writing process ideal for any writing curriculum.
I call Step 3 of the writing process DARE to REVISE. I DARE YOU!!!!!!! Mention a few of your students’ favorite authors and explain how they NEVER take a rough draft and try to publish it right away. They ALWAYS revise!
Share an anchor chart or write the following on the board. Explain to your students that you are DARING them to make their papers better. Be excited and stress the importance of revising their writing! They will want to imitate your enthusiasm! Don’t get confused with editing mechanics like capitalization, usage, punctuation and spelling. That will come later. This step is making the content of writing better! See the transformation of writing into an amazing piece of art!
D- Delete unnecessary information A- Add more important detail and transition words. R- Rearrange text to be logical and effective. E- Exchange words for clearer and stronger ones.
2. MENTOR TEXT
Share a mentor text for revising. One suggestion is Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Jack Pretlutsky and Dr. Seuss. If you own my interactive writing notebooks , there is a mentor text selection for each grade level. In this particular book, there is an appendix that shows how famous authors find the need to revise! Remind your students that even the best authors revise, edit, revise, edit, over and over before they even think about the publishing stage. Roald Dahl’s website is an amazing resource to share with your students. There is an interview with him where he talks about the importance of revising!
Model how to revise! When you wrote your rough draft with the class, did you make mistakes to correct for this step? If not, no worries! Take a section of the rough draft and make mistakes on it. Show students where they can make changes.
4. TAKE NOTES
Whether you have your students create interactive notebooks or simply take notes in a notebook, have them add the acronym D.A.R.E. They can refer back to their notetaking next time they have to revise an essay!
Provide students with a paragraph with mistakes that could be revised. Have them work in partners or groups to find ways for each letter of DARE. Allow them to use a thesaurus, colored pens, and notes, and other student resources for this activity.
Students will need :
- A rough draft essay
- Colored pens or pencils
- Student Resources
- Optional- Recorder
I used to call this step READ to revise because ultimately you want them reading and listening to their own writing. Read the rough draft out loud! DARE seemed more motivational so I changed it. When students read their own papers out loud, they can HEAR where they are making errors. I love it when a student is reading a writing piece to me out loud and says, “I didn’t mean to say that!” I reply, “This is exactly why we are revising! Think like an author!” It reinforces what I’ve been telling them all along! I like to give them options. They can read it to a peer or record it on a device where they can play it back to LISTEN for places to revise. Challenge your students to be DARE detectives. Find places to revise! Below you will see students using their IPADs to record themselves reading.
Sharing is always a valuable activity. Students learn so much from each other! Have your students share their revisions! Tell them to explain why they chose to revise those areas.
I hope this helps in your writing lessons! The next several mini lessons will break down each of the acronyms for revising!
Check out my FREE writing masterclass! CLICK HERE
LAST LESSON: WRITING MINI LESSON #22- WRITING A ROUGH DRAFT
NEXT LESSON: WRITING MINI LESSON #24- REVISING A NARRATIVE ESSAY- DELETE!
CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LIST OF WRITING MINI LESSONS
This lesson is also included in the STEP-BY-STEP WRITING ® Programwith mini-lessons designed to scaffold through the writing process. Writing units included are sentence structure, paragraph writing, narrative writing, opinion writing, and informative writing. See what is included in the image below and click on it to learn more about them! You will turn your reluctant writers into ROCKSTAR WRITERS ™!
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Writing Mini Lesson #22- Writing a Rough Draft for a Narrative Essay
Effective ways to teach greek and latin roots and vocabulary.
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How to Write a Personal Narrative like a Pro (With Examples)
Last Updated: April 18, 2023 References Approved
Template and Sample Narrative
This article was co-authored by Grant Faulkner, MA . Grant Faulkner is the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the co-founder of 100 Word Story, a literary magazine. Grant has published two books on writing and has been published in The New York Times and Writer’s Digest. He co-hosts Write-minded, a weekly podcast on writing and publishing, and has a M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 846,330 times.
Personal narratives focus on a particular real life event that was pivotal or important for the writer. You may have to write a personal narrative as part of a college application or as an assignment for a class. To write a strong personal narrative, start by coming up with an engaging idea. Then, write the narrative with an opening hook and a detailed, organized structure. Always review and revise the personal narrative before handing it in so it is at its best.
Things You Should Know
- Center your narrative around an important moment in your life. For example, you might write about a time you had to make a hard decision or deal with a conflict.
- Move chronologically through the events you’re discussing. This will make your narrative easy to follow and draw your reader in.
- Finish with a moral takeaway or a life lesson. What did you learn from these events, and why is it important? How did they shape you as a person?
Brainstorming Ideas for the Narrative
- For example, you may write about your struggles with body image in high school and how you overcame them in adulthood. Or you may write about your disastrous 15th birthday party and how it affected your relationship with your mother.
- For example, you write a personal narrative about your complicated relationship with your birth mother. Or you may write about a conflict you have with a sport you play or a club you are a part of.
- For example, you may explore a theme like poverty by writing about your family’s struggle with money and finances. You may write about having to defer college applications to work at your parent’s business to make ends meet for your family.
- The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard
- Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
- Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
- The Lives section of The New York Times
Writing the Personal Narrative
- For example, the first line in the personal narrative by Tony Gervino is attention grabbing: “I was 6 when my brother John leaned across the kitchen table and casually whispered that he had killed Santa Claus.”  X Research source
- For example, in Tony Gervino’s essay, he sets the scene by providing setting, character, and narrative voice: “It was July 1973, we were living in Scarsdale, N.Y., and he was four years older than I was, although that seemed like decades.”
- For example, you may start with an event in childhood with your older sister and then move forward in time to the present day, focusing on you and your older sister as adults.
- For example, you may describe the feeling of your mother’s famous lemon cake as “rich and zesty, with a special ingredient that to this day, I cannot identify.”
- For example, you may end a personal narrative about your complicated relationship with your troubled sister by ending on a recent memory where you both enjoyed each other’s company. You may leave the reader with a lesson you have learned about loving someone, even with all their messiness and baggage.
Polishing the Personal Narrative
- You can also try reading the narrative out loud to someone else so they can hear how it sounds. This can then make it easier for them to give you feedback.
- Be willing to accept feedback from others. Be open to constructive criticism as it will likely strengthen the narrative.
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You Might Also Like
- How to Write a Narrative Essay
- How to Write a Journal Entry
- How to Write an Epistolary Narrative
- How to Write an Autobiography
- ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/personal-narrative-examples
- ↑ http://www.byrdseed.com/writing-better-personal-narratives/
- ↑ https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/grammar-rules-and-tips/tips-for-writing-a-personal-narrative-essay.html
- ↑ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/magazine/lives-a-rats-tale.html
- ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/10-1-narration/
- ↑ http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/grammar-rules-and-tips/tips-for-writing-a-personal-narrative-essay.html
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/reading-aloud/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/revising-drafts/
About This Article
To write a personal narrative, start by choosing a memorable moment, event, or conflict in your life that you want to write about. Then, use your personal narrative to describe your story, going chronologically through the events. Try to use a lot of sensory detail, like how things smelled, sounded, felt, and looked, so your readers can picture everything you're describing. At the end of your narrative, include a lesson you learned or something you took away from the experience. To learn how to brainstorm ideas for your personal narrative, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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The Winners of Our Personal Narrative Essay Contest
We asked students to write about a meaningful life experience. Here are the eight winning essays, as well as runners-up and honorable mentions.
By The Learning Network
Update: Join our live webinar on Oct. 8 about teaching with our Narrative Writing Contest.
In September, we challenged teenagers to write short, powerful stories about meaningful life experiences for our first-ever personal narrative essay contest .
This contest, like every new contest we start, was admittedly a bit of an experiment. Beyond a caution to write no more than 600 words, our rules were fairly open-ended, and we weren’t sure what we would get.
Well, we received over 8,000 entries from teenagers from around the world. We got stories about scoring the winning goal, losing a grandparent, learning to love one’s skin and dealing with mental illness. We got pieces that were moving, funny, introspective and honest. We got a snapshot of teenage life.
Judging a contest like this is, of course, subjective, especially with the range of content and styles of writing students submitted. But we based our criteria on the types of personal narrative essays The New York Times publishes in columns like Lives , Modern Love and Rites of Passage . We read many, many essays that were primarily reflective but, while these pieces might be well-suited for a college application, they weren’t exactly the short, powerful stories we were looking for in this contest.
The winning essays we selected were, though, and they all had a few things in common that set them apart:
They had a clear narrative arc with a conflict and a main character who changed in some way. They artfully balanced the action of the story with reflection on what it meant to the writer. They took risks, like including dialogue or playing with punctuation, sentence structure and word choice to develop a strong voice. And, perhaps most important, they focused on a specific moment or theme — a conversation, a trip to the mall, a speech tournament, a hospital visit — instead of trying to sum up the writer’s life in 600 words.
Below, you’ll find these eight winning essays, published in full. Scroll to the bottom to see the names of all 35 finalists we’re honoring — eight winners, eight runners-up and 19 honorable mentions. Congratulations, and thank you to everyone who participated!
The Winning Essays
Nothing extraordinary, pants on fire, eggs and sausage, first impressions, cracks in the pavement, sorry, wrong number, the man box.
By Jeniffer Kim
It was a Saturday. Whether it was sunny or cloudy, hot or cold, I cannot remember, but I do remember it was a Saturday because the mall was packed with people.
I was with my mom.
Mom is short. Skinny. It is easy to overlook her in a crowd simply because she is nothing extraordinary to see.
On that day we strolled down the slippery-slick tiles with soft, inconspicuous steps, peeking at window boutiques in fleeting glances because we both knew we wouldn’t be buying much, like always.
I remember I was looking up at the people we passed as we walked — at first apathetically, but then more attentively.
Ladies wore five-inch heels that clicked importantly on the floor and bright, elaborate clothing. Men strode by smelling of sharp cologne, faces clear of wrinkles — wiped away with expensive creams.
An uneasy feeling started to settle in my chest. I tried to push it out, but once it took root it refused to be yanked up and tossed away. It got more unbearable with every second until I could deny it no longer; I was ashamed of my mother.
We were in a high-class neighborhood, I knew that. We lived in a small, overpriced apartment building that hung on to the edge of our county that Mom chose to move to because she knew the schools were good.
We were in a high-class neighborhood, but as I scrutinized the passers-by and then turned accusing eyes on Mom, I realized for the first time that we didn’t belong there.
I could see the heavy lines around Mom’s eyes and mouth, etched deep into her skin without luxurious lotions to ease them away. She wore cheap, ragged clothes with the seams torn, shoes with the soles worn down. Her eyes were tired from working long hours to make ends meet and her hair too gray for her age.
I looked at her, and I was ashamed.
My mom is nothing extraordinary, yet at that moment she stood out because she was just so plain.
Mumbling I’d meet her at the clothes outlet around the corner, I hurried away to the bathroom. I didn’t want to be seen with her, although there was no one important around to see me anyway.
When I finally made my way to the outlet with grudging steps, I found that Mom wasn’t there.
With no other options, I had to scour the other stores in the area for her. I was dreading returning to her side, already feeling the secondhand embarrassment that I’d recently discovered came with being with her.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Mom was standing in the middle of a high-end store, holding a sweater that looked much too expensive.
She said, “This will look good on you. Do you want it?”
It was much too expensive. And I almost agreed, carelessly, thoughtlessly.
Then I took a closer look at the small, weary woman with a big smile stretching across her narrow face and a sweater in her hands, happy to be giving me something so nice, and my words died in my throat.
I felt like I’d been dropped into a cold lake.
Her clothes were tattered and old because she spent her money buying me new ones. She looked so tired and ragged all the time because she was busy working to provide for me. She didn’t wear jewelry or scented perfumes because she was just content with me.
Suddenly, Mother was beautiful and extraordinarily wonderful in my eyes.
I was no longer ashamed of her, but of myself.
“Do you want it?” My mom repeated.
By Varya Kluev
I never kissed the boy I liked behind the schoolyard fence that one March morning. I never had dinner with Katy Perry or lived in Kiev for two months either, but I still told my entire fourth-grade class I did.
The words slipped through my teeth effortlessly. With one flick of my tongue, I was, for all anybody knew, twenty-third in line for the throne of Monaco. “Actually?” the girls on the swings beside me would ask, wide eyes blinking with a childlike naivety. I nodded as they whispered under their breath how incredible my fable was. So incredible they bought into it without a second thought.
I lied purely for the ecstasy of it. It was narcotic. With my fabrications, I became the captain of the ship, not just a wistful passer-by, breath fogging the pane of glass that stood between me and the girls I venerated. No longer could I only see, not touch; a lie was a bullet, and the barrier shattered. My mere presence demanded attention — after all, I was the one who got a valentine from Jason, not them.
This way I became more than just the tomboyish band geek who finished her multiplication tables embarrassingly fast. My name tumbled out of their mouths and I manifested in the center of their linoleum lunch table. I became, at least temporarily, the fulcrum their world revolved around.
Not only did I lie religiously and unabashedly — I was good at it. The tedium of my everyday life vanished; I instead marched through the gates of my alcazar, strode up the steps of my concepts, and resided in my throne of deceit. I believed if I took off my fraudulent robe, I would become plebeian. The same aristocracy that finally held me in high regard would boot me out of my palace. To strip naked and exclaim, “Here’s the real me, take a look!” would lead my new circle to redraw their lines — they would take back their compliments, sit at the table with six seats instead of eight, giggle in the back of the class when I asked a question. I therefore adjusted my counterfeit diadem and continued to praise a Broadway show I had never seen.
Yet finally lounging in a lavender bedroom one long-sought-after day, after absently digesting chatter about shows I didn’t watch and boys I didn’t know, I started processing the floating conversations. One girl, who I had idolized for always having her heavy hair perfectly curled, casually shared how her parents couldn’t afford to go on their yearly trip the coming summer. I drew in an expectant breath, but nobody scoffed. Nobody exchanged a secret criticizing glance. Instead, another girl took her spoon of vanilla frosting out of her cheek and with the same air of indifference revealed how her family wasn’t traveling either. Promptly, my spun stories about swimming in crystal pools under Moroccan sun seemed to be in vain.
The following Monday, the girls on the bus to school still shared handfuls of chocolate-coated sunflower seeds with her. At lunch, she wasn’t shunned, wasn’t compelled to sit at a forgotten corner table. For that hour, instead of weaving incessant fantasies, I listened. I listened to the girls nonchalantly talk about yesterday’s soccer game where they couldn’t score a single goal. Listened about their parent’s layoff they couldn’t yet understand the significance of. I listened and I watched them listen, accepting and uncritical of one another no matter how relatively vapid their story. I then too began to talk, beginning by admitting that I wasn’t actually related to Britney Spears.
By Ryan Young Kim
When first I sat down in the small, pathetic excuse of a cafeteria the hospital had, I took a moment to reflect. I had been admitted the night before, rolled in on a stretcher like I had some sort of ailment that prevented me from walking.
But the nurses in the ward were nice to me, especially when they saw that I wasn’t going to be one of the violent ones. They started telling me something, but I paid no attention; I was trying to take in my surroundings. The tables were rounded, chairs were essentially plastic boxes with weight inside, and there was no real glass to be seen.
After they filled out the paperwork, the nurses escorted me to my room. There was someone already in there, but he was dead asleep. The two beds were plain and simple, with a cheap mattress on top of an equally cheap wooden frame. One nurse stuck around to hand me my bedsheets and a gown that I had to wear until my parents dropped off clothes.
The day had been exhausting, waiting for the psychiatric ward to tell us that there was a bed open for me and the doctors to fill out the mountains of paperwork that come with a suicide attempt.
Actually, there had been one good thing about that day. My parents had brought me Korean food for lunch — sullungtang , a fatty stew made from ox-bone broth. God, even when I was falling asleep I could still taste some of the rice kernels that had been mixed into the soup lingering around in my mouth.
For the first time, I felt genuine hunger. My mind had always been racked with a different kind of hunger — a pining for attention or just an escape from the toil of waking up and not feeling anything. But I always had everything I needed — that is, I always had food on my plate, maybe even a little too much. Now, after I had tried so hard to wrench myself away from this world, my basic human instinct was guiding me toward something that would keep me alive.
The irony was lost on me then. All I knew was that if I slept earlier, that meant less time awake being hungry. So I did exactly that. Waking up the next day, I was dismayed to see that the pangs of hunger still rumbled through my stomach. I slid off my covers and shuffled out of my room. The cafeteria door was already open, and I looked inside. There was a cart of Styrofoam containers in the middle of the room, and a couple people were eating quietly. I made my way in and stared.
I scanned the tops of the containers — they were all marked with names: Jonathan, Nathan, Kristen — and as soon as I spotted my name, my mouth began to water.
My dad would sometimes tell me about his childhood in a rural Korean village. The hardships he faced, the hunger that would come if the village harvest floundered, and how he worked so hard to get out — I never listened. But in that moment, between when I saw my container and I sat down at a seat to open it, I understood.
The eggs inside were watery, and their heat had condensated water all over, dripping onto everything and making the sausages soggy. The amount of ketchup was pitiful.
But if I hadn’t been given plastic utensils, I think I would have just shoved it all into my mouth, handful by handful.
By Isabel Hui
When I woke up on August 4, 2016, there was only one thing on my mind: what to wear. A billion thoughts raced through my brain as wooden hangers shuffled back and forth in the cramped hotel closet. I didn’t want to come off as a try-hard, but I also didn’t want to be seen as a slob. Not only was it my first day of high school, but it was my first day of school in a new state; first impressions are everything, and it was imperative for me to impress the people who I would spend the next four years with. For the first time in my life, I thought about how convenient it would be to wear the horrendous matching plaid skirts that private schools enforce.
It wasn’t insecurity driving me to madness; I was actually quite confident for a teenage girl. It was the fact that this was my third time being the new kid. Moving so many times does something to a child’s development … I struggled finding friends that I could trust would be there for me if I picked up and left again. But this time was different because my dad’s company ensured that I would start and finish high school in the same place. This meant no instant do-overs when I pick up and leave again. This time mattered, and that made me nervous.
After meticulously raiding my closet, I emerged proudly in a patterned dress from Target. The soft cotton was comfortable, and the ruffle shoulders added a hint of fun. Yes, this outfit was the one. An hour later, I felt just as powerful as I stepped off the bus and headed toward room 1136. But as I turned the corner into my first class, my jaw dropped to the floor.
Sitting at her desk was Mrs. Hutfilz, my English teacher, sporting the exact same dress as I. I kept my head down and tiptoed to my seat, but the first day meant introductions in front of the whole class, and soon enough it was my turn. I made it through my minute speech unscathed, until Mrs. Hutfilz stood up, jokingly adding that she liked my style. Although this was the moment I had been dreading from the moment I walked in, all the anxiety that had accumulated throughout the morning surprisingly melted away; the students who had previously been staring at their phones raised their heads to pay attention as I shared my story. My smile grew as I giggled with my peers, ending my speech with “and I am very stylish, much like my first period teacher.” After class, I stayed behind and talked to Mrs. Hutfilz, sharing my previous apprehension about coming into a new school and state. I was relieved to make a humorous and genuine connection with my first teacher, one that would continue for the remainder of the year.
This incident reminded me that it’s only high school; these are the times to have fun, work hard, and make memories, not stress about the trivial details. Looking back four years later, the ten minutes I spent dreading my speech were really not worth it. While my first period of high school may not have gone exactly the way I thought it would, it certainly made the day unforgettable in the best way, and taught me that Mrs. Hutfilz has an awesome sense of style!
By Adam Bernard Sanders
It was my third time sitting there on the middle school auditorium stage. The upper chain of braces was caught in my lip again, and my palms were sweating, and my glasses were sliding down my nose. The pencil quivered in my hands. All I had to do was answer whatever question Mrs. Crisafulli, the history teacher, was going to say into that microphone. I had answered 26 before that, and 25 of those correctly. And I was sitting in my chair, and I was tapping my foot, and the old polo shirt I was wearing was starting to constrict and choke me. I pulled pointlessly at the collar, but the air was still on the outside, only looking at the inside of my throat. I was going to die.
I could taste my tongue in my mouth shriveling up. I could feel each hard-pumping heartbeat of blood travel out of my chest, up through my neck and down my arms and legs, warming my already-perspiring forehead but leaving my ghost-white fingers cold and blue. My breathing was quick. My eyes were glassy. I hadn’t even heard the question yet.
Late-night readings of my parents’ anatomy textbooks had told me that a sense of impending doom was the hallmark of pulmonary embolism, a fact that often bubbled to the surface of my mind in times like these. Almost by instinct, I bent my ring and little fingers down, holding them with my thumb as the two remaining digits whipped to my right wrist and tried to take my pulse. Mr. Mendoza had taught us this last year in gym class. But I wasn’t in gym class that third period. I was just sitting on the metal folding chair, waiting for Mrs. Crisafulli to flip to the right page in her packet for the question.
Arabella had quizzed me in second-period French on the lakes of Latin America. Nicaragua. Atitlán. Yojoa. Lake Titicaca, that had made Raj, who sat in front of me, start giggling, and Shannon, who sat three desks up and one to the left, whip her head around and raise one fist to her lips, jab up her index finger, and silence us. Lakes were fed by rivers, the same rivers that lined the globe on my desk like the cracks in the pavement I liked to trace with my shoe on the walk home. Lake Nicaragua drains into the San Juan River, which snakes its way around the port of Granada to empty into the Caribbean Sea. I knew that.
At that moment I was only sure of those two things: the location of Lake Nicaragua and my own impending doom. And I was so busy counting my pulse and envisioning my demise that I missed Mrs. Crisafulli’s utterance of the awaited question into her microphone, as I had each year in the past as one of the two people left onstage.
“ … Coldest … on earth,” was all I heard. My pencil etched shaggy marks as my shaking hands attempted to write something in the 20 seconds remaining.
“Asia,” I scrawled.
So, for the third time in three years, I got it wrong, and for the third time, I didn’t die. I walked home that day, tracing the faults in the pavement and wondering what inside me was so cracked and broken. Something had to be fissured inside, like the ridges and rivers on my desk globe that I would throw out later that evening, but fish from the trash can when the sun rose the next day.
By Michelle Ahn
My phone buzzes. An unfamiliar number with a 512 area code — I later find out it’s from Texas. It’s a selfie of a 30-something man, smiling with his family, a strange picture to receive as I live halfway across the country.
For the past three years, I — a 14-year-old girl living in Virginia — have been getting texts meant for this man, Jared. Over the years, I’ve pieced together parts of who he is; middle-aged, Caucasian, and very popular according to the numerous messages I’ve received for him.
Throughout this time, I’ve also been discovering who I am. When I received the first text, I was a playful sixth grader, always finding sly ways to be subversive in school and with friends. With this new method of mischief in my hands, naturally, I engaged:
“My sweet momma just told me that BYU Texas Club is holding a Texas Roundup free BBQ dinner on October 10th! Thought y’all would enjoy,” came one of the texts.
After staring at the message for a while, I responded.
As time went on, the story of the mystery man deepened. I was halfway through sixth grade, for example, when I learned he was part of the “Elder’s Quorum,” a rather ominous-sounding group. Looking it up, I learned that it was not a cult, as I’d initially thought, but rather an elite inner circle within the Mormon Church.
This was around the same time my family had stopped going to church. I’d started to spend more time taking art classes and trying out various sports — tennis, basketball, even archery — and soon church fell to the side. Instead, I meddled in the Quorum’s group texts; when a message came about a member moving away, I excitedly responded, “Let me help y’all out, brother!”
I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but after a while I started to feel guilty about this deception. I wondered if I’d somehow ruined Jared’s reputation, if his friends were turned off by my childish responses. I was also dealing with changes within my friend group at the time; the biggest change being letting go of a close but toxic friend; I realized that I needed friendships that were more mutually supportive.
Shortly after, I got a phone call from a strange woman. She started talking about the struggles in her life; her children, her job, even about how she wanted to leave Texas forever. In comparison, my own problems — the B minus I’d gotten, the stress of an upcoming archery tournament, the argument I had with my sister — all seemed superficial. I timidly informed her I wasn’t Jared, and her flustered response told me that I should have told her at the start of the call.
A while later, I got another text: “Congratulations on getting married!” It had never occurred to me how much Jared’s life had changed since I had received his number. But of course it did; over time, I’d outgrown my prankster middle school self, gained the confidence to build a solid friend group, and devoted myself to my primary loves of art and archery. Why wouldn’t Jared also be settling into his own life too?
Though I’ve since taken every opportunity to correct those who text Jared, it still happens every once in a while. Just last month, I got another random text; all it said was: “Endoscopy!” When I got it, I laughed, and then I wrote back.
“Hey, sorry, you have the wrong number. But I hope Jared’s doing well.”
By Maria Fernanda Benavides
“Mayfier? Marfir?” the tournament judge called squinting her eyes, trying to find the spelling error, although there was no error.
“It’s Mafer. It’s a nickname for my full name, Maria Fernanda.”
She stared at me blankly.
“My parents are creative,” I lied, and she laughed.
“O.K., Mahfeer, you’re up!”
I walk to the center and scanned the room before starting as instructed. I took a deep breath.
I reminded myself, “Use your voice.”
I spoke loudly at first, trying to hide the fact that I was overthinking every single word that came out of my mouth. As my performance continued, the artificial confidence became natural, and I started speaking from my heart as I told the story of my experience as an immigrant woman, and I described how much I missed my father who had to travel back and forth every weekend to see my mom and me, and how disconnected I felt from my family, and how I longed to have a place I could call home.
My performance came to an end, and I made my way back to my seat with newly found optimism as I reflected on how performing had consumed me.
I used my voice. Finally. I had found my home in the speech program.
Waiting for the speech tournament to post the names of the finalists was excruciating. I jumped off my seat every time a staff member passed by. I didn’t care about accumulating state points or individual recognition. I wanted the chance to speak again.
Finally, a girl walked up to the oratory postings with a paper on her hand, and the entire cafeteria surrounded her, impatiently waiting to see who the finalists were. Then, I saw it.
My name. Written in dense, black letters.
I smiled to myself.
This time, as I walked to the oratory final, I did so by myself, as I had finally acquired self-assurance needed to navigate the quiet hallways of the high school. I could only hear the heels of the two girls behind me.
“I heard that Saint Mary’s Hall freshman made it to oratory finals,” one of them said, obviously speaking about me. “She broke over me. I didn’t see her performance. Did you? Did you see her performance? What is her speech about?” she questioned the other one.
“It’s about being a Mexican immigrant.”
“Oh, so that’s why she broke.”
“It’s the same pity narrative, there’s nothing different about it.”
Suddenly, the confidence that I had acquired from the previous rounds vanished, and I found myself wishing that I had my older, more experienced teammates by my side to help me block the girls’ words. But no one was there.
I thought my narrative was what made my words matter, what made me matter.
But they didn’t matter. Not anymore. From that moment on, I knew I would be recognized around the circuit as the Mexican girl whose name no one knows how to pronounce. I didn’t even need to speak about my identity to be identified. Everyone would recognize me not for my achievement or my being, but by the peculiar way I pronounce words. I could speak about different topics, but it felt like it wouldn’t make a difference. It felt like my voice didn’t make a difference.
“Mafer, how did it feel?” my coach asked me after the round. “It felt amazing!” I lied.
I didn’t feel anything. Not anymore. Speech gave me a voice, but it also took it away.
By Gordon Lewis
We’re all average boys: hard working in school, spending every minute together in the summer, and doing our best to pretend we don’t have a worry in the world. The facts are no different as the sun is beginning to set on a warm July evening. Sam and I say goodbye to Ben, stepping out of our best friend’s house.
“My sister is going to pick me up while we’re walking, is that O.K.?” I ask.
“Actually, she can probably drive you home, too.”
“Sounds good,” says Sam, but lacking his usual upbeat, comedic energy. Neither of us says anything else, but I’m O.K. with it, we just keep walking. I look around, admiring the still, peaceful park as the warm summer breeze brushes across my face. The crickets are chirping and an owl sings along between the soft hum of cars rolling along nearby. It’s nature’s tune of serenity.
I almost forgot Sam was with me until he asked, “Can I ask you kind of a weird question?”
“Sure,” I say, expecting a joke in poor taste as per usual.
“You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to,” he says before asking.
More hesitantly, I say, “O.K.”
“Do you have someone that you talk to about like deeper stuff … Like more emotional stuff?” Silence hits us like a brick wall: The crickets stop chirping, the owl stops hooting, even the cars stop driving by. It’s deafening. I’m only shocked at the question because it’s Sam, one of the happiest and funniest people I know.
I’m wondering. My disappointment takes over just as quickly as my hope fades as I fail to come up with a name. In the end, the closest thing I can think of is the book I occasionally write in when I’m feeling sad or stressed.
“Huh,” I say quietly, “I’ve never really thought about that, but I guess not.”
“Yeah, I didn’t either, but at camp we did activities and had talks that led to more emotional conversations.” I’m silently both jealous and proud of him, but it’s mostly jealousy.
“It’s funny,” I say, “in English we always joked about that TED Talk guy talking about the man box, but it’s actually so true. We shouldn’t feel like we can’t talk about deeper stuff like that.”
“Yeah,” laughed Sam. Silence drapes over us again, but this time it’s more comfortable. I’m lost in my thoughts trying to think of what to say next, but there’s too much. I’ve never had an opportunity like this before. However it’s not shocking or overwhelming, even though it’s with Sam of all people — instead it’s therapeutic.
The silence is broken once again by Sam:
“Like I never told you guys that my parents got divorced.”
“I’m-I’m sorry,” I say, “That really sucks.” I’m disappointed in myself for not saying more.
“It’s O.K.,” Sam says, but I know he’s lying. I can feel his sadness.
Drowning in my thoughts, I try to pick out something to say. But there’s too much to say. There are too many options after being silent for 16 years.
Headlights appear in front of us, and for a split second I’m relieved, but it rapidly turns into regret.
Knowing it’s Rose, I quickly tell sam, “If you ever want to talk again just let me know.”
I say hi to Rose, masking my solemn, thoughtful mood as tiredness. The warm breeze gives my cheek one final kiss; nature resumes her number, and the cars roll by again as Sam and I reluctantly step into the car.
In alphabetical order by the writer’s last name
“Sorry, Wrong Number” by Michelle Ahn
“Speechless” by Maria Fernanda Benavides
“First Impressions” by Isabel Hui
“Nothing Extraordinary” by Jeniffer Kim
“Eggs and Sausage" by Ryan Young Kim
“Pants on Fire” by Varya Kluev
“The Man Box” by Gordon Lewis
“Cracks in the Pavement” by Adam Bernard Sanders
“The First (and Last) Time Speedy Wasn’t Speedy Enough” by Maya Berg
“Searching for Air” by Sydney Do
“Fear on My Mind” by Daytona Gerhardy
“Under the Starry Sky” by Letian Li
“Chinatown Diptych” by Jeffrey Liao
“They” by Haven Low
“The Vigil” by Beda Lundstedt
“How My Brother Taught Me to Drive” by Sarah Shapiro
“The Six in Mid-August” by Liah Argiropoulos
“‘Those Aren’t Scratches Are They?’” by Casey Barwick
“Brown Is Beautiful” by Tiffany Borja
“I Am Ordinary, After All” by Rebecca Braxley
“Torn” by Melanie D.
“The Stupid Seven” by Madeline G.
“Speak No Evil” by Amita Goyal
“Building My Crown” by Ambar Guzman
“Me, Myself, and a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich” by Zachary Hommel
“The Tomato” by Raymond Huang
“Out” by Michael H.
“Cold Noodles With a Side of Birdballs” by Audrey Koh
“Banya in Siberia” by Arshiya Sanghi
“Traffic” by Kecia Seo
“The Power of Ambiguity” by Marcus Shallow
“Land Mine” by Geneve Thomas-Palmer
“How to Fall Asleep With the Lights On” by Caroline Wei
“The Taste of Tofu” by Amy Zhou
“The Newcomer’s Journey” by Maria Z.
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Revising my Personal Narrative
I understood what I missed. It lacked of focusing on portraying my medical condition's causes and development. While understanding, I found I never gave a comprehension of family ancestry and how my sickness had come to fruition. I broadly expounded on my voyage of how I was analyzed at the emergency room, and my way toward getting back to great wellbeing, making it hazy for my audience to grasp it. While being in my social conduct parts of general wellbeing, I went to the understanding that social and conduct parts of general wellbeing make central capability, concerning social thoughts and systems that affect prosperity status and general soundness of the general population.
I will be clarifying what I missed in my last part. During my time in this class as an imperative factor I had learned the manner by which I had to apply circumstances and end results to an individual circumstance. For an issue whether it is mental, physical, mental, wellbeing and so forth there was a reason that prompt those medical issues, which was trailed by an effect. For instance intergenerational neediness which is the destitution instigated by the socially/monetarily tested foundation of an individual’s background. The reason for this is because of somebody's background history being unfit to profit or being in debt during their years alive, and the impact of that is neediness conveys down to the accompanying age on the grounds that the past might have been not able pay obligation. I wasn’t the most knowledgeable person when I had realized I had that medical condition, I had only gotten a high school degree, and in that spot my way of getting an advanced education wasn’t really an option for me.
Growing up just like the fundamental supplier for my expenses I din’t consider education an option. I valued money the most which I would get weekly. I worked extended periods at a mobile phone store it was something that improved the chances of needing a surgery. Usually a cyst goes away on its own if I was drinking a lot of water and doing exercise. However, I didn’t care about that part until my stomach grew bigger, and I suffered a lot of pain. Indeed working extended periods of time, and unfit to invest significant time to go to the specialists or stress over my wellbeing, it made my wellbeing not be in the best shape when I was told to have laproscopic cystectomy as soon as possible. Unfit to plan specialist visits and eating horribly prompt my health to be worse. Eating unfortunate and sleek sustenances prompt elevated severe pain. At first, I thought my horrible eating habit has caused my stomach to grew bigger. I tried a lot of weight losing exercises, but it wasn’t helping. Did I point that out in my narrative essay part 1? no. Which is something I would change.
From my Social and conduct parts of Public health class, a course material I am applying to my essay is that training impacts wellbeing conduct and wellbeing status. Having the capacity to make objectives that address the association between prosperity status and science, solitary lead, prosperity organizations, social components, and game plans. Teaching individuals about their wellbeing makes them more mindful of the potential outcomes that could consider while being analyzed, and what precautionary measures to take. In the event that my specialist told me to take precaution medicines, if I had taken them it would’ve prevented me from being getting a surgery.
People with more education will probably find out about health issues, but at that time I only had a high school degree and getting an education didn’t mean anything to me. Some patients may be more prepared to understand their prosperity needs, take after rules, advocate for themselves and their families, and discuss adequately with wellbeing. One enormous issue while understanding ideas on general wellbeing is the absence of knowing. In the event that people in general doesn't have a fundamental comprehension of social issues that are significant in the present society like destitution, health issues, and so on. It is on the grounds that they are not taught or don't play the job of endeavoring to be instructed in the issue. Furthermore, it conveys us to the inquiry like how is general population going to know the projects, emotionally supportive networks, human services framework offers? They wouldn’t without being instructed. Perhaps if I had stepped up with regards to go to the specialists the time I felt queasiness and feeble, cause my pain to grow, rather than getting worse.
A noteworthy general medical problem that is made reference to in my own story is to indicate how vital wellbeing is to someone, and that education plays a main consideration to this. Informational achievement broadly should be a real field for general wellbeing reflection. Sometimes, wellbeing experts could truly lift enlightening tasks to impel public health. Guidance in this manner should be seen as a fundamental essential for the interference of the cycle of poverty and awkward nature in prosperity. The public health network ought to develop research to more readily grasp the causal associations among training and wellbeing, and along these lines recognize demonstrate based procedures that can possibly promote public health. Bringing back my health , aversion could have been made to help my current condition of prosperity. It is our very own duty to play it safe of instructing ourselves on medical issues society faces on an everyday premise.
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Personal Narrative Essay: Inspiring Personal Narrative Examples for Your Essay
Personal narrative essays are a unique form of writing that allows you to share your personal experiences with your audience. These essays are often used in academic settings, such as college admissions essays, but can also be used in creative writing or for personal reflection. In this article, we will explore the basics of personal narrative essays and provide you with some personal narrative examples to inspire your writing.
How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay
Understanding Personal Narrative Essay
If you are looking to write a personal narrative essay, it is important to understand what it is and how it differs from other types of essays. A personal narrative essay is a type of essay that tells a story about a personal experience. It is usually written in the first person and provides a detailed account of the experience, including the thoughts and feelings of the writer.
The purpose of a personal narrative essay is to share a personal experience with the reader in a way that is engaging and meaningful. It can be used to explore a particular theme or idea, or simply to share a story that is important to the writer.
When writing a personal narrative essay, it is important to choose a topic that is meaningful to you. This will help you to write with passion and authenticity, and will also make the essay more interesting for the reader. Some tips for choosing a topic include:
- Choosing a topic that is personal to you
- Choosing a topic that is interesting and engaging
- Choosing a topic that has a clear beginning, middle, and end
Once you have chosen a topic, it is important to create an outline for your essay. This will help you to organize your thoughts and ensure that your essay flows logically and cohesively. Some tips for creating an outline include:
- Starting with an introduction that sets the scene and introduces the main characters
- Including a clear thesis statement that summarizes the main point of your essay
- Including body paragraphs that provide details about the experience, including sensory details and emotional reactions
- Concluding with a summary of the experience and a reflection on its significance
In summary, a personal narrative essay is a type of essay that tells a story about a personal experience. It is important to choose a meaningful topic, create an outline, and write with passion and authenticity in order to create an engaging and meaningful essay.
Structure of Personal Narrative Essay
A personal narrative essay is a type of essay that tells a story from the author’s personal experience. It is a way for the author to reflect on their experiences and share their insights with the reader. The structure of a personal narrative essay is similar to that of other types of essays, with an introduction, body, and conclusion.
The introduction section of a personal narrative essay should capture the reader’s attention and provide some background information about the story. It should also present the thesis statement, which is the main point that the author is trying to make in the essay. The thesis statement should be clear and concise, and it should reflect the author’s personal experience.
Body of the Essay
The body of the essay is where the author tells the story. This section should be organized chronologically, with events presented in the order in which they occurred. The author should use descriptive language to help the reader visualize the events and characters in the story. It is important to remember that the story should be told from the author’s perspective, with their thoughts and feelings about the events included.
The body of the essay should also include reflections on the events that occurred. The author should analyze their experience and provide insights that can be applied to other situations. This reflection should be related back to the thesis statement and should help the reader understand the significance of the story.
Ending the Essay
The conclusion of the essay should summarize the main points of the story and provide a final reflection on the experience. The author should restate the thesis statement and provide some final thoughts on the story. It is important to end the essay on a strong note, leaving the reader with a lasting impression of the author’s experience.
Choosing a Topic for a Personal Narrative Essay
When it comes to writing a personal narrative essay, choosing the right topic is crucial. Your topic should be something that you are comfortable discussing and that will allow you to tell a compelling story. Here are some tips to help you choose the perfect topic for your personal narrative essay:
Consider Your Experiences
The best personal narrative essays are often based on personal experiences. Think about events in your life that have had a significant impact on you. These could be positive or negative experiences, but they should be something that you feel comfortable sharing with others.
Take some time to brainstorm ideas for your personal narrative essay. Write down anything that comes to mind, even if it seems insignificant at first. You can always narrow down your ideas later.
Focus on a Specific Moment
Instead of trying to cover a broad topic, focus on a specific moment in time. This will help you to tell a more detailed and engaging story. For example, instead of writing about your entire childhood, you could focus on a specific memory from your childhood.
Choose a Topic that Resonates with You
Choose a topic that is meaningful to you. If you are passionate about your topic, it will come through in your writing. Your readers will be able to feel your emotions and connect with your story on a deeper level.
Consider Your Audience
Think about who your audience is and what they might be interested in reading. While your personal narrative essay is about your experiences, you still want to make sure that your audience will find it engaging and relatable.
Writing Style for Personal Narrative Essay
Your writing style should be engaging and descriptive, allowing the reader to feel as though they are experiencing the events alongside you. Here are some tips for developing a strong writing style for your personal narrative essay:
Use Vivid Language
Using vivid language is essential when writing a personal narrative essay. This means using descriptive words and phrases that create a clear picture in the reader’s mind. For example, instead of saying “I walked to the store,” you could say “I strolled down the sun-drenched street, my feet sinking into the warm pavement with each step.” This kind of language helps the reader feel as though they are experiencing the events alongside you.
Show, Don’t Tell
Another important aspect of writing a personal narrative essay is showing, not telling. This means using descriptive details and actions to convey emotions and events, rather than simply stating them outright. For example, instead of saying “I was sad,” you could describe how your shoulders slumped, your eyes filled with tears, and your breath caught in your throat. This allows the reader to experience the emotions alongside you, rather than simply being told about them.
Using dialogue is another effective way to bring your personal narrative essay to life. Dialogue allows the reader to hear the voices of the people involved in the events, making them feel more real and immediate. When using dialogue, be sure to use proper punctuation and formatting to make it clear who is speaking and when.
Be Honest and Reflective
Finally, it is important to be honest and reflective when writing a personal narrative essay. This means being truthful about your experiences and emotions, even if they are difficult to share. It also means reflecting on the events and their impact on you, and sharing those reflections with the reader. This kind of honesty and reflection can help the reader connect with you on a deeper level, and understand the significance of the events you are describing.
Examples of Personal Narrative Essay
In this personal narrative essay, the author tells a story about a time when they overcame a fear. The author starts by describing the fear and how it affected their life. They then go on to explain how they decided to face their fear and what steps they took to do so. Finally, the author describes how they felt after overcoming their fear and how it changed their life.
This personal narrative essay tells the story of a significant event in the author’s life. The author starts by setting the scene and describing the lead-up to the event. They then go on to describe the event itself and how it affected them. Finally, the author reflects on the event and what they learned from it.
In this personal narrative essay, the author tells the story of a difficult decision they had to make. The author describes the situation and the various factors they had to consider when making the decision. They then explain how they ultimately made their decision and what the outcome was. Finally, the author reflects on the decision and what they learned from the experience.
Reading personal narrative essay examples can help you understand how to structure your own essay and what elements to include. Keep in mind that personal narrative essays are often focused on a particular event or experience, so it’s important to choose a topic that is meaningful to you.
Common Mistakes in Personal Narrative Essay
Focusing too much on the plot
While the plot is an essential part of a personal narrative essay, it’s not the only thing that matters. You should also focus on the characters, the setting, and the emotions that you experienced. Don’t just describe what happened; try to convey how you felt and why it was important to you.
Not including enough reflection
Reflection is a crucial part of a personal narrative essay. It’s not enough to just describe what happened; you also need to reflect on why it happened and what it means to you. This reflection can help your readers understand your perspective and connect with your story on a deeper level.
Being too vague or general
When writing a personal narrative essay, it’s important to be specific and detailed. Don’t just say that something was “interesting” or “exciting.” Instead, use vivid language to describe the sights, sounds, and sensations that you experienced. This will help your readers feel like they were there with you.
Failing to edit and revise
Finally, one of the biggest mistakes that you can make when writing a personal narrative essay is failing to edit and revise your work. Even if you think that your first draft is perfect, there’s always room for improvement. Take the time to read through your essay carefully, looking for errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. You should also ask a friend or family member to read it and give you feedback. With some careful editing and revision, you can turn a good essay into a great one.
Improving Your Personal Narrative Essay
When writing a personal narrative essay, it is important to keep in mind that the purpose of the essay is to tell a story about yourself. To make your essay more engaging and interesting, there are several things you can do to improve it.
First, make sure that your essay has a clear and concise thesis statement. This statement should tell the reader what the essay is about and what you hope to achieve by writing it. Your thesis statement should be included in the introduction of your essay.
Second, use descriptive language to help paint a picture for the reader. Use vivid details and sensory language to help the reader feel like they are a part of the story. This will help to make your essay more engaging and interesting.
Third, use dialogue to help bring your story to life. Dialogue can help to break up the narrative and make it more interesting to read. It can also help to reveal character traits and motivations.
Fourth, use transitions to help move the reader from one part of the story to the next. Transitions can help to keep the reader engaged and interested in the story. They can also help to make the essay flow more smoothly.
Finally, make sure that your essay has a clear and concise conclusion. The conclusion should wrap up the story and provide closure for the reader. It should also leave the reader with a sense of what you learned from the experience.
By following these tips, you can improve your personal narrative essay and make it more engaging and interesting for the reader.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you structure a personal narrative essay?
To structure a personal narrative essay, you need to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. The beginning should introduce the main character and the setting, and provide some background information. The middle should describe the events and experiences that the character goes through, and the end should provide a conclusion or resolution. It’s important to use descriptive language and sensory details to make the story come alive.
What are some tips for writing a compelling personal narrative?
Some tips for writing a compelling personal narrative include choosing a topic that is meaningful to you, using descriptive language and sensory details, and focusing on a single theme or message. It’s also important to be honest and authentic, and to avoid exaggerating or embellishing the story. Finally, it’s important to revise and edit your work carefully to ensure that it is well-written and engaging.
What are some common themes in personal narrative writing?
Common themes in personal narrative writing include personal growth, overcoming adversity, and self-discovery. Other themes might include family relationships, cultural identity, or social justice issues. The key is to choose a theme that is meaningful to you and that you can explore in depth.
Can personal narratives be fictional or do they have to be true?
Personal narratives can be either true or fictional, but they should always feel authentic and true to life. If you choose to write a fictional personal narrative, it’s important to create a believable and engaging story that still reflects your own experiences and emotions.
What are some famous examples of personal narratives?
Some famous examples of personal narratives include “ The Glass Castle ” by Jeannette Walls, “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, and “The Color of Water” by James McBride. These books all tell powerful stories of personal growth and self-discovery, and have resonated with readers around the world.
How do personal narratives differ from other forms of writing, such as memoirs or autobiographies?
Personal narratives are typically shorter and more focused than memoirs or autobiographies, and they often focus on a single event or experience rather than a person’s entire life. Personal narratives also tend to be more subjective and emotional, and may include more descriptive language and sensory details. Memoirs and autobiographies, on the other hand, are usually more objective and factual, and may include more historical or cultural context.
Last Updated on August 29, 2023
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