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Personal Narrative Basics

Excerpt from Texas Gateway “Write a Personal Narrative

All personal narratives have these features:

  • You can think of them as short autobiographical sketches (slices of your life), which are factual.
  • You write them about singular events, which can cover anything that has happened to you.
  • They are meaningful to you and include your personal reactions, insights, and observations.
  • You write them from the first person perspective, so they use the pronouns I, me, my, mine.

Four steps in preparing to write a personal narrative include:

  1. Brainstorm ideas and decide on an event or experience in your life about which you want to write. For example, you can use a graphic organizer to help recollect past experiences or events.
  2. Narrow the focus of the event or experience by adding details. You can start the narrowing process for your essay by remembering as many details as you can about your entries in the brainstorming graphic organizer.
  3. Pick one of the details on which to focus. That is, choose ONE detail about the experience or event you picked and think hard about what happened and how you felt about it.
  4. Write down the central idea of your essay that includes both the event and why it is important to you. Use all the thoughts and feelings you wrote down in the previous step to help you focus on exactly what is (and continues to be) significant about the experience you chose.

Questions to help begin writing personal narrative:

  • The event or experience that I am focusing on is . . .
  • The details that I remember about this event are (as many as you can remember):
  • Some words that I would use to describe my event or experience are (for example, frightening, fulfilling, anxious, joyful):
  • I was deeply affected by . . .
  • This changed me because it . . .
  • I will always remember . . .
  • This is important to me because it . . .

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