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Strengthening the Personal Narrative By Johanna Rusk University of Southern Indiana Eng 101.

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1 Strengthening the Personal Narrative By Johanna Rusk University of Southern Indiana Eng 101

2 Description of "Personal Narrative" Personal narratives are often one of the first types of writing that you do. You write about yourself and experiences that you have encountered, read, or heard about. You can become much more engaged when your write about yourself in personal narratives because you are the expert on the topic of your life. When you write stories from your own experience, you already have a plot. What is a personal narrative?

3 Your job will be to make the story interesting - as interesting for your reader as it was for you when it happened. Lots of description, lots of action, and lots of dialogue will help your reader feel what you felt.

4 mENTAL pHotograpH Draw a picture of what you see in your mind when you picture what happened. Never mind the art—sketch out what is where—down to the very last detail you can see in your mind. DO IT!

5 Insert your mental photograph Locate the place in your writing where your “photograph” goes Describe your photograph so that the reader will be able to picture in his/her mind’s eye what you picture in yours

6 Example This wasn’t the man who had nearly struck me down for standing up to him during an argument. That man had looked me straight in the eye as if he could melt my very core. His hand had flown up into the air in a flinch so fast that my heart had nearly stopped beating. I stood almost as tall as he, and since he had never been fat a day in his life, I pretty much had him in the weight category, too. But he had a strength that day in the crisp fall that spread out like lightning radiating sparks; yet I defied him.

7 This day I would defy him, too, only not to push him down, but to build him up. Lights were not allowed in his room, so it was dark even in the mid-afternoon. His head reclined back on the deflated hospital pillow, his gown a pale sickly blue against the sanitized white of the bed. Everything about him seemed to simply fade into nothingness.

8 He had just told me that he wasn’t ready to die, and I had to stand there by the cold, steel railing of his bed, with all of the fear in my heart that I had ever known, and tell him that he was not going to die. Even though I wasn’t entirely convinced of this myself, I had to tell him that because he needed me to defy death like I had defied him—stand up to death like I had stood up to him—to be brave when he didn’t have the strength to be. So I did.

9 Adding Dialogue Is the movie in your head a silent movie or a talking picture? Dialogue can bring the piece to life—if it is added to an important place in the narrative and not just to add dialogue!

10 Does your story “tell a story?” Do you have a plot? Does your story have a climax? Does your story have characters? Are your characters described in detail with emotion and personality? Does your story have an explanation of the characters and setting? Does your story have an ending?

11 Public Resonance So what? Why should your audience WANT to read your story? Do YOU know why your story is important to you? Have you related that to your audience?

12 The Main Event Do you spend all of 3 seconds on the climax of your story? Where’s the beef?

13 Conclusion (Mine, not yours) Your personal narrative should catch the reader’s interest and be interesting to read Your climax should be the biggest moment of your story—and the most detailed The piece should have all the elements of a short story The narrative should have public resonance You should include a mental image

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