Write a personal narrative (essay) that recalls an event (real or imagined) that led you to a change of mind or a new understanding about the world.
Your personal essay should have a number of the following characteristics:
• The story is either an invented one, created by the writer to make a point, or, more often, a telling of an actual event that the writer experienced first hand.
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• In a narrative essay, the focus is usually on a single experience. The writer describes to the reader the short- and long-term impact of that experience on his or her life.
• Individual events that are part of the experience are usually presented in chronological order, that is, in the order in which they happened. The writer may choose to include the use of flashback, a technique that gives the writer the opportunity to include past events as background information.
• The structure of a narrative essay follows the traditional pattern of storytelling: the characters, setting, mood, and the main conflict are introduced at the beginning; the middle section describes events that develop the main conflict; the conclusion draws the experience to an end.
• The writer usually includes details that describe the setting and the characters involved in the experience.
• The writer uses the concluding paragraph to reflect on the event and sum up the significance of it in his or her mind. This helps readers to recognize what the writer wants them to learn or to take away from the essay.
Writers often want to do more than simply present information. On occasion, they want to persuade their readers to take some sort of action or to think in a certain way. When this is a writer’s goal, the form of writing she or he uses is called an essay.
Writers can use a variety of strategies to win readers over and persuade them to think or act in a certain way. One of these strategies is to tell a story about an event that has special significance to the writer. An essay based on an experience in the writer’s life is called a personal narrative.
In personal narratives writers communicate a strong sense of how they feel about their subject. The reader is usually able to quickly identify the writer’s attitude toward the experience he or she is describing. Understanding the writer’s perspective or point of view on the subject is the first step to reaching a full understanding of what the writer is saying.
Reading Personal Narratives
a) Recognizing the purpose of personal narratives
A personal narrative is an essay that tells a story and like all stories, the events are intended to appeal to the reader’s emotions and own experiences. The writer’s purpose is to communicate both the substance of the event and the emotional impact it had on his or her view of the world. Usually, the writer uses a single, concisely told story as the basis for drawing a conclusion or making a statement of opinion on a topic or issue.
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