personal-narrative-2

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plz write about anything here are some guidelines thanks

MANDATED REPORTING

The Penn Foster instructional staff recognizes and appreciates the importance of writing as a form of self-expression. That noted, please be aware that we are an educational institution and, consequently, we are legally tasked with mandated reporting of criminal activity. Should your writing contain a description of criminal activity of any kind (by you, including you, or against you), we are obligated to contact and alert the proper authorities. While you are certainly encouraged to express yourself in your writing, we want you to be aware of our binding obligation to take action when information regarding criminal behavior is relayed.

What Is a Personal Narrative?

A personal narrative is an essay about the author. In a very basic sense, all essays are personal, in that it’s impossible to avoid a personal opinion, even in the most objective writing. However, the personal narrative makes no effort to hide the author’s personal connection to the text. It’s openly accepted and celebrated that the author is the subject. The personal narrative not only accepts, but demands the thoughts, feelings, ideas, and personal input of the author.

The author of a personal narrative is telling a true story from his or her life. The author isn’t making up the story or writing fiction.

Nonfiction Story

Personal narratives are essentially nonfiction stories.What the essay should do is to create a map that takes the reader from point A to point B to point C. Of course, things aren’t always as straightforward as A-B-C. It’s your job, as the author, to pull together all the necessary elements of your story so they can efficiently guide the reader through your story, ending with the ever-important lesson learned or insight gained from your experience.

Unique to You

  • Your personal narrative must show your reasoning behind your opinions
  • It must provide specific examples from your personal experience, which will ultimately show your authority to write on your chosen topic.
  • All (or at least a great majority) of what you write must be based on what you already know and have experienced directly yourself.
  • By using specific examples of what happened to you directly or of what you personally observed happening to friends or family members, you’re providing your own unique, distinctive perspective on the topic.

Your Original Focus or “Slant”

First, you must decide on an original focus, or “slant,” by which to discuss your topic. For example, if you write about a vacation, you should make it a point to state or show, as a part of your introduction, your unique viewpoint on the experience in question. (Instead of simply stating, “I went to Hawaii,” it would be much more specific and descriptive to state, “My vacation to Hawaii was one of the most exciting times in my life.”) Next, you should use that “slant” or focus to guide you through choosing and organizing the details and examples you’ll include in your essay. Avoid giving only a list of general information or a diary account of what happened from the time you jumped out of bed, took a shower, and ate breakfast. That type of “catalog” approach lacks reader appeal and doesn’t help you to develop your personalized focus on the experience.

Your Personal Viewpoint Versus Facts

You should only research aspects of the narrative to verify facts or provide statistics to support ideas, and then only if necessary. You should keep in mind that factual information can’t be the main focus of your essay. By merely restating or paraphrasing what you’ve learned through research, you’re failing to provide your original thinking on the topic.

Use Only Your Own Opinions and Ideas

Your Own Words and Ideas

Remember that using others’ opinions or ideas in your own words is also not proper, even if you agree with them or feel that they best explain your own thoughts and feelings. If you choose to include some information obtained from research, you should carefully choose only one or two items that support your opinion or viewpoint, making certain that your opinion or viewpoint (not the researched information) is the main focus. The vast majority of your essay must come from your direct knowledge and experience.

First-Person Point of View

The narrative or story is told from the writer’s personal point of view.

Point of view refers to the writer’s relation to the story being told. Writing from a first-person point of view requires the frequent use of pronouns “I” and “we.”

Some examples of work written from a first-person point of view include personal essays, autobiographies, and memoirs. When writing from the first-person point of view, you’re relaying your personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences and speaking for yourself only. You can make observations regarding others, but you’re not able to speak for them or truly know what they’re thinking.

Point of View Matters

Take a look at the following sentences to find out why point of view makes a difference.

The first day at a new job is difficult for everyone.
My first day at my new job was a difficult one.

These sentences may, in essence, serve the same purpose when used as the topic sentence in a paragraph, setting up a story about the author’s first day at a new job (see below). However, there’s a difference between them in both voice and point of view. The first sentence is a sweeping generalization (the author doesn’t have the authority to state that this day is difficult for every person) with a noticeably absent narrative voice; the second sentence reflects the author’s personal experience and uses the first-person point of view. The second, more personal sentence is the type you should utilize in your essay.

Now take a look at the following introductory paragraphs:

SECOND-PERSON POINT OF VIEW

The first day at a new job is difficult for everyone. If you’re in a new city, you may not have friends yet to help you adjust to the new job. Everyone at work is unknown, and you might feel alone, especially because it might be a while before you learn your way around the building. Co-workers may be curious and looking for friendship, but every glance seems to be suspicious, like you are both after the same promotion. If you can meet a friend and establish a connection, it can change everything.

FIRST-PERSON POINT OF VIEW

My first day at my first job was a difficult one. To start my career, I had moved to a new city, without the familiar comfort of my friends and family. I hadn’t finished unpacking in my new apartment and didn’t even feel comfortable at home yet. Everyone at work was older and more experienced than I was. With every glance, I felt more and more out of place. Thankfully, that was the day I met Olivia, who changed everything for me.

FOR YOUR ASSIGNMENT

Use the second example as a guide when you write your essay. This illustrates the same point of view as the assignment requires: first-person.

The introductory paragraphs above essentially communicate the same basic point. However, while the first paragraph conveys a second-person, generalized account of the student’s first work experience, the second paragraph conveys a much more personal, first-person account. Also, when the reader reaches the end of the first paragraph, there’s a sense of completeness, as if the paragraph doesn’t need to connect to any other idea. When the reader reaches the end of the second paragraph, there’s a desire to read more, to find out more information about Olivia and how she “changed everything” for the author; this is the effect your introductory paragraph should have. The reader should be enticed into reading more, which is incredibly difficult to achieve using generalizations. All things considered, the reader doesn’t want to hear about “everyone’s” work experience; he or she wants to learn more about you, as the author.

ABOUT SECOND-PERSON STORY TELLING

Writing from a second-person point of view requires telling a story from another individual’s point of view. Pronouns such as you and yours are used when writing from a second-person point of view. It’s common to see second-person point of view used in speeches and advertising.

Learn More

If you’re still unsure about how to approach your personal narrative, here are two videos that may help:

Lesson—Personal Narratives (a video describing the key characteristics and process of writing a personal narrative)
Writing the Personal Essay (a short video to help you get started and focus on the elements required)

Nothing to Write About?

Choosing a Topic

A personal narrative (or an essay in general) isn’t generally written for the sake of recording an event or explaining a procedure. Instead, it’s used to explore generalizations, recall experiences, or interpret experiences on a personal level. Besides relating a series of events, a personal narrative may also

  • Reveal a personal insight or unique personal understanding about the experience or the people involved
  • Expose a personal conflict or problem that may or may not be solved within the confines of the essay itself
  • Reveal a personal change achieved through struggle, growth, or choice

Since you’ve lived to high school age, you surely have something to write about, a story that others can relate to that you would be willing to tell. Whether or not it’s something that you think is exciting or socially relevant may be another story altogether, but the fact remains that you do have topics that you can write on. An excellent example is how and why you’ve come to an online learning institution in pursuit of your high school diploma.

The Best Topic for You

The key to this particular assignment is to choose a topic that interests you, one that you feel comfortable sharing with an audience. Perhaps the following suggestions might spark some ideas.

  • Some experiences may initially seem trivial and insignificant but prove in time to be important to your life’s journey or to the development of your personality. Present one of these experiences from your life so that it gives the audience a sense of how your life was changed.
  • First-time experiences tend to be especially memorable. Think about the first time you rode a bicycle, went skiing, went to an amusement park, went on a date, attended school, went on vacation, and so on. What was special about this particular event that still stands out in your mind? What did you think? How did you feel? Show your audience why this first-time experience was special enough to you to remain in your memory.
  • Experiences that cause us extreme happiness or sadness remain in our memories. Consider the moments in your life that have made you happiest; consider the moments in your life that have made you sad, angry, or even depressed. These experiences may have something in common. Show your reader why these particular experiences merited the reactions they did. Also, you may want to examine what your reaction says about you.
  • Many relationships throughout our lives help us to grow and mature; some are positive and some are negative. Relay the details of such a relationship from your life. Be sure to provide enough information so the audience has a sense of how you were changed or impacted by the experience.
  • Childhood memories can be very powerful. Choose an event from your childhood that still stands out in your memory. Relay the event to your audience, showing why this event had meaning for you as a child, as well as why it still has meaning for you today.
  • Each of us has a particular place that triggers memories, whether they’re positive or negative. Show your audience, through descriptions of relevant events, why this particular place holds meaning for you. Please keep in mind that your audience will most likely not be familiar with the place in question, so you’ll need to make your best effort to guide your readers as carefully as possible.
  • The concept and value of education are different for each individual. Examine what education means to you. Show the reader how education has affected your life, whether positively or negatively, and how your idea of education may have changed over the years.
POSSIBLE PROMPTS

If you can’t think of a topic, you can also consider one of the following writing prompts:

  • Think of a time when you felt different in some important way from people around you. What characteristic or characteristics set you apart from the others? Write about what you observed and experienced, providing context for the situation and including relevant descriptive details.
  • Everyone understands the benefits of laughter. For example, someone once said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” Many other people believe that laughter is an important part of any relationship. Tell a true story in which laughter was one element or part.
  • Is it true that there is “no such thing as a stupid question”? Tell a story about a time when you were afraid that a question you wanted to ask might make you look foolish, inattentive, or rude. What happened?
  • Think of a vacation that really stands out. Write about the events that set it apart from other vacations. Be sure to include description details in your explanation of events.
  • Think about an accomplishment or experience in your life that stands out. Examples could be the first time you rode a bicycle, went out on a date, or had a job interview. Write about what you observed and experienced, providing context for the situation and including relevant descriptive details.
  • Which personal relationship is the most important in your life? What aspects of this relationship make it the most important to you at this time? Do you foresee this relationship changing over time? Tell a story explaining the importance of this particular relationship at this point in your life.
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