A personal narrative tells the true story of something that happened to you. To write your own personal narrative, choose a story from your life to write about. It could be a special memory with someone you care about or an experience you will never forget.
The purpose of a personal narrative is to put the reader right in the middle of the action, letting him or her live through your experience. A strong personal narrative creates a dramatic effect, makes people laugh, creates fear and suspense, and/or gets readers to be on the edge of their seats.
Tips for Writing Personal Narratives
- Focus your narrative on a SHORT amount of time, something that is maybe only 5 minutes long or less. Even though the memory is short, your job will be to make it as vivid and descriptive as possible, so that your readers feel as though they experienced it themselves.
- Make sure you SHOW, DON'T TELL. Don't tell the reader what he or she is supposed to see or think. Let the reader see, hear, smell, feel, and taste the experience directly by using sensory details. (Try using the sensory details chart here to help you brainstorm.) Rather than say, "I was so sad," you could say, "Tears were flowing down my cheeks, exploring the geography of my face, moving uncontrollably and swiftly as if pushed by a strong current."
- Use DIALOGUE. Again, instead of telling your readers about a person, show what the person is like through his/her words. Work to create dialogue that allows your characters' personalities to show. Don't know how to punctuate dialogue? Click here to download an explanation.
- Use LITERARY DEVICES in order to make your writing more interesting! These are some of the same techniques used in poetry writing as well! (e.g. simile, metaphor, hyperbole, symbolism, alliteration, repetition, onomatopoeia, etc.) Using literary devices helps your writing come alive.
- Create a strong HOOK. The "hook" is your introductory paragraph and it is the way that writers grab their readers' attention. Click here to download some tips for writing hooks and to look at some examples from published authors!