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?
• 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
• 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