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English Composition I
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• Story based, but not just a story

• Narrative has a point to make, a purpose

• Good topic - one writer remembers strongly

• Helps writer understand feelings/reactions

• Makes reader respond in particular way, too

• I hit a duck with my car – just a story

• I hit a duck and can’t stop thinking about it – a narrative possibility

• Narratives often will not have an explicit thesis - it’s often implied

• Making the thesis/purpose too dominant creates a moral - an often improper tone

• Know the purpose BEFORE you start writing, and it will come through clearly

• Using “normal” essay intro and conclusion helps focus early drafts

• But later drafts should work on “losing” obvious intro and conclusion

• Needs to have beginning, middle, and end

• There are related stories that happened before and after your narrative,

• But you have to decide where to start and stop

• Decide based on purpose/subject of THIS narrative

• Focus on the accident, not the party before

• Focus on the accident, not physical therapy after

• Give the reader any necessary background, but not too much

You were in the car arguing; that’s enough

• We don’t need whole history of evening or relationship

• Focus on the KEY moment or moments

• Keep focus as clear and simple as possible

• Don’t overstay your welcome

• Once the key moment is over, conclude

• Audience expects HONESTY -- REALITY

Details help emphasize reality

• If your description is generic, why should audience believe you?

• Experience doesn’t have to be extreme or original – but it does need to be YOURS

• What did YOU hear? see? smell? think?

• Don’t try to Con the audience –

• Don’t force a purpose if it isn’t yours


Writer should ask these questions during the writing process

• What is the purpose of YOUR essay?

• Do you understand WHY you are writing THIS essay?

• Do you want the reader to laugh? To feel sorry for you? To be angry?

• How are you going to make sure that the reader sees this purpose?


WHO the writer is writing for affects many aspects of the narrative:

• Is everything explained completely?

• Does the audience know who you are talking about?

• Is your language and/or vocabulary appropriate?

• Is the subject matter appropriate?


Every element of the narrative should work together to communicate clearly

• Does the narrative have a definite beginning/middle/end?

• Is the narrative a complete story?

• Does the narrative stand on its own as a story?

• Does the reader understand the reason why this narrative was shared?

Narrative Essay

• For this class, we will focus on the writing process while writing the narrative essay

• Since the content is from your own life, you should be able to focus more on the writing

• Each week, approximately, will focus on one step of the writing process

• In addition, we will be reading both student and professionally written narrative essays

• Some examples are good, some are weak

Narrative Assignment

• Your Personal Narrative essay should fit the title:

“The Stupidest Thing I Ever Did”

• There is NO limit or restrictions on what you write about as long as it fits

• Can be humorous, serious, teaching, entertaining, whatever you want/need

• Most of the reading examples fit this title; but in different ways

• You are to write YOUR essay, not model somebody else’s