Strengthening the Personal Narrative (PowerPoint)

Strengthening the
Personal Narrative
By Johanna Rusk
University of Southern Indiana
Eng 101
What is a personal narrative?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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
The Main Event
•Do you spend all of 3
seconds on the climax
of your story?
•Where’s the beef?
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
• You should include a mental image