The Personal Narrative Essay


“Narratives” are another word for “story.” Narratives written for college or Personal Narratives, tell a story about the writer, usually to some point, to illustrate a truth or insight. In a narrative, a writer often uses 1st person words such as “I” and “Me” to tell their story.

Organization of a Narrative Essay:

Introduction: Attention Grabbing Hook + Hint

Body Paragraphs: Set the Scene + Beginning + Middle + End
(*Use sensory details, dialogue, figurative language, and internal monologue in these paragraphs; show, don’t tell!”)

Conclusion: Significance of the Whole Event (Greater Lesson Learned).

Hooks: What is an attention grabbing hook? It is a powerful sentence used to “hook” the reader into reading your essay. The hook is the writer’s opportunity to be creative! Just make sure your creativity connects to the focus of your paper.

Effective hook techniques include:

  • Topic: Overcoming Obstacles
  • Simile/Metaphor – Obstacles are like…
  • General Information –Almost everyone I know has faced a difficulty at some point in their lives.
  • Quotation– When I was a child, my mother often said, “Leave it to Leanne.” Oh, it wasn’t anything mean or evil.
  • Descriptive Lead– When I started down the hiking trail, the mid-summer sun was high in a clear yellow-brown sky. The morning’s filmy, blue clouds had dissipated.
  • Personal Anecdote– I was never allowed on rollercoasters when I was a kid; my mom would never allow me to go to Six Flags with the school. Perhaps that is why I freaked out the first time I found myself trapped sixty feet above the ground.

Whole class practice- Topic: Greatest Accomplishment
Simile/Metaphor:
Background Information:
Quotation:
Descriptive Lead:
Personal Anecdote:
Now it’s your turn! – Topic: A Teaching Moment (You taught someone else)
Simile/Metaphor:
Background Information:
Quotation:
Descriptive Lead
Personal Anecdote:
Topic: Overcoming Obstacles
Simile/Metaphor – Obstacles are like…
General Information –Almost everyone I know has faced a difficulty at some point in their lives.
Quotation- When I was a child, my mother often said, “Leave it to Leanne.” Oh, it wasn’t anything mean or evil.
Descriptive Lead- When I started down the hiking trail, the mid-summer sun was high in a clear yellow-brown sky. The morning’s filmy, blue clouds had dissipated.
Personal Anecdote- I was never allowed on rollercoasters when I was a kid; my mom would never allow me to go to Six Flags with the school. Perhaps that is why I freaked out the first time I found myself trapped sixty feet above the ground.
Now it’s your turn! – Being Unprepared
Simile/Metaphor:
Background Information:
Quotation:
Descriptive Lead:
Personal Anecdote:

Hints: At the end of your introduction, you want to give a hint about where your story is headed without giving away too much information. (*That is a day I will never forget; *Little did I know, everything was about to change; *Things went from bad to worse; *Perhaps that is why… *I couldn’t have been more wrong (or right)…*I was about to get the
greatest award/honor/etc. of my life. )

Sample Prompt: Conquering Your Fears

Everyone, well almost everyone, I have ever known has thought of their years in elementary school as their favorite. I, on the other hand, do not feel so fondly about elementary school. Especially third grade. That was a year I will never forget.

Sample Prompt: Overcoming Obstacles

Lead: When I started down the hiking trail, the mid-summer sun was high in a clear yellowbrown
sky. The morning’s filmy, blue clouds had dissipated.