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Personal Narrative An Introduction by Mrs. Lori Wells.

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1 Personal Narrative An Introduction by Mrs. Lori Wells

2 Personal Narratives  A personal narrative re-creates a specific experience or event in the writer’s life.  To write an effective narrative, select an experience that you feel strongly about. If you don’t find your experience to be all that interesting, imagine how your reader will feel!

3 Personal… Narrative, Memoir or Essay?  Personal narrative-  Personal narrative- focused on a significant event.  Personal memoir-  Personal memoir- focused on a significant relationship between the writer and a person, place, or object.  Personal essay-  Personal essay- focused on belief or insight about life that is significant to the writer.

4 Personal Narrative vs. Memoir  A personal narrative has a more narrow focus than a memoir. Let’s look at a handout that displays the differences between the two.  Why is Alexie’s “An Indian Education” considered a personal narrative rather than a memoir?  Why is it not considered a personal essay ?

5 Characteristics: Take Notes!  We’re going to review the key characteristics of a personal narrative. Please take notes on your “Characteristics of a Personal Narrative” chart.

6 Conflict  As with any story, your personal narrative must have a conflict.  Arguably, the most interesting personal narratives have an external conflict.  It is likely that since your narrative is personal, you will have an internal conflict as well. Why?

7 Characters  Your narrative must have characters, including you, the narrator.  Question: Is it okay to have just two characters in your narrative?  Answer: Yes! As with any other story element, just be sure that your characters drive your narrative rather than hinder it. (Too many characters will overwhelm a short piece of writing.)

8 Characters  Who is your protagonist ?  Do you have a antagonist ? Do you need one?  Question: Are your characters flat or round ? What is the difference, and why does it matter?

9 Dialogue  A well-written personal narrative includes meaningful dialogue.  As the writer, you must ask yourself: when should I narrate a passage, and when should I allow my characters to speak?  Where does Alexie include dialogue? Do you agree with his choices? Why or why not?

10 Be Selective with Details  Although you are telling a story, you will still be using sensory details to paint a mental picture for your readers.  It is important to include specific details.  However, a reader doesn’t need to know every little thing.  Select details that are important to retelling the story.

11 Imagery  Any good story must include imagery. Sensory details help your reader connect to your story and understand your observation about life, or theme.  Find an example of imagery in Alexie’s “An Indian Education.” How does it connect with one of the narrative’s themes?

12 Transitions  As with any strong piece of writing, be sure to transition between your ideas. Otherwise, the connection between your ideas will not be clear to your reader. Transitions also improve the flow of your narrative.

13 Point of View  A personal narrative is typically told through a 1 st -person point of view.  The narrator has a persona, or a personality or voice, that is displayed and developed throughout the narrative. In some ways, you are playing a role in your own narrative as you tell your story.  Do you have to be a reliable narrator ? Why or why not?

14 Diction & Tone  You set a tone through the language that you use.  Your diction, or word choice, reveals your attitude toward your subject (event, character, etc.)  Diction comes in many forms: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and figurative language.

15 Tone  What is the tone of the following passage? In other words, how does the narrator feel about her uncle? Provide evidence for your claim.  Uncle Roger slumped into the room with a scowl and plopped into his recliner. He winced as he gripped the arms of his chair and leaned back to a reclining position, his filthy slippers displayed just inches from our plates on the coffee table.

16 Tone  The previous passage has been revised to include a different tone. What is the tone in this version? Provide evidence to support your claims.  Uncle Roger strolled into the room and lowered himself into his recliner. He winced as he gripped the arms of his chair and leaned back to a reclining position, his feet shaking in his well-worn slippers.

17 Foreshadowing  While a personal narrative doesn’t have to be suspenseful, a skillful narrative includes subtle hints about future events.

18 Audience Awareness  A skillful writer must always think of his or her audience.  What are the underlying assumptions that the author makes about the reader’s understanding of society or the world?  What does someone have to believe to accept the story as true?  What assumptions does Alexie make about his reader? Explain.

19 Structure  What organizational structure should a personal narrative take?  Does it have to be organized chronologically ?  Does it have to include flashbacks ?  Can you begin a personal narrative in the middle of the action?

20 Theme  What is the theme of the personal narrative?  Is the theme explicitly stated? Does it have to be? Can it be?  How does a writer imply a theme through a personal narrative?  What are some possible themes for Alexie’s narrative?

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