In essay, you will convey a significant realization of your life through narration of an autobiographical event.
A note on word count: You should aim for 1,000 though the less you think about the word count, the better. You should be concerned with content, not length. Focus on detail; explore; go deeper. Good writing goes in and in, not on and on
1) Choose a moment of significance from your life, an event. Keep in mind that significant moments are often very small, unexpected, inconspicuous, or otherwise unremarkable. Avoid family tragedies, the births of children, graduation from high school, Katrina experiences, major relocations, momentous sports games, or other very common “significant moments.” Look instead for an experience that is unique to you. In other words, tell your story that no one else could tell. Keep in mind that a good narrative is just as likely to span an hour as it is to span a decade. See pp. 22, 28, and 31 for some ideas. Every student must confer with me about your event before you begin writing. We must discuss the thesis of your narrative, implicit or explicit.
2) Develop the narrative’s structure. Classically, stories have three fundamental elements (protagonist, goal, and conflict), and storytelling has some basic structural milestones (inciting incident, avoidance, point of no return, hero looking good, turning point, increasing conflict, low point, hero rallies, climax, and finally, resolution), which we will discuss, but do not feel confined by these. No one but you can dictate how your story should be told. Do map out your story’s structure beforehand, however.
3) Next, work on developing vivid descriptive details. Practice showing, not telling, as well as using carefully selected and precise words. Experiment with concrete imagery, sensory detail, and figurative language. To adapt another example out of Chekhov’s quote: Don’t just tell me the birthday party was hot; show me the cake’s icing sagging in a humid kitchen. As we read example essays, notice how these skilled authors use detail to engage your senses and implant unforgettable images in your mind. See p. 290 and pp. 32-41 to get started.
4) As you draft, pay close attention to verb tense and time cues, which are often the grammatical downfall of many student narratives. Also pay attention to mechanically correct dialogue and speaker tags (what we’ve previously called signal phrases).
5) Check your thesis: By the end of your narrative, your reader should understand the unexpected truth that you discovered, either shown implicitly or stated explicitly in the narrative..