Nancy's Books

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Creating Ideas for Personal Narratives

As with fictional stories, personal narratives need to be problem driven, also. Imagine reading a story about Jack’s trip through the South. He passed through small towns where people sat on front porches and waved as he drove by, saw cows grazing in grassy fields, cotton growing, roadside fruit stands, and finally a sandy beach with frothy, crashing waves. The reader will yawn a couple of times and fall asleep long before Jack sees the ocean, because there is nothing exciting happening. The character is not involved in the action, merely viewing it. The same story would becomes more exciting if Jack looks out the window of the car and sees smoke billowing toward the sky up ahead. Traffic stops. Jack steps out of the car and hears a loud bang, followed by bang-bang-bang. Jack jumps back into the car and locks the door. “Hide under the dashboard,” he yells to Joan, who sitting in the front seat.” The reader wonders what is happening so the story becomes more interesting.

Personal narratives, like short stories, should focus on one event, not a series of events. Begin the story with action, where the problem arises. Personal narratives are short so there is little room for the build-up of a story. Beginning a story with action and a problem captures the attention of the reader immediately. The job of the writer is to place the reader in the middle of the action by letting the reader see, hear, feel, touch, and taste the relevant details. The writer expresses thoughts and feelings throughout the piece and explains how and why the experience mattered.

Personal narratives differ for everyone because each person has different experiences, emotions, and memories. Choose an event that stands out in your mind. What made that event memorable? Do the emotions that spilled over into your memory make you scared, happy, or sad? Think of events that bring out strong emotions. List those events and choose one to write about.

Do you have a favorite method of creating ideas for writing personal narratives or for helping students formulate ideas? If you would like to post an idea, click on Comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week, I’ll provide a first-aid for story writing.

No comments:

Post a Comment