Writing from Experience: Narrating an Event Assignment

Document created by Classroom Compass Administrator on Mar 24, 2016
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The assignment

A narrative re-creates an experience for a central purpose: usually to reveal an insight about the action or people involved. You might write about an experience in which you encountered people from a culture different from your own. You might write about a turning point in your life—perhaps a time when you were forced suddenly to grow up, a time when you faced a difficult challenge, or a time when you reassessed your values. You might describe an experience in which you learned to do something new: coaching a Little League team, designing stage sets for a play, forming a musical group. Or you might recount an adventure that tested you in some way. If you have experienced work in an emergency room, on an ambulance or fire truck, or as a police officer, you might describe in vivid detail one day or evening at work to give readers an inside view of a stressful job.


A narrative should focus on a central insight, but that insight is often presented indirectly as the story unfolds. In other words, an explicit thesis is often not necessary (unless your instructor requires one). This assignment should be based on your own experience (no fiction, please), and use of the word I is of course appropriate. Aim for an essay from 500 to 1,000 words long—two to four typed pages, double-spaced.


Tips on narrating an event


  • In your introduction, put readers on the scene and get right to the action. (If your instructor requires an explicit thesis, provide some background information that leads up to your thesis.)
  • Although you will probably choose to narrate events in chronological order, be open to other possibilities. For example, you may want to begin at a later point in the story and then "flash back" to an earlier time.
  • Use specific details to help readers visualize people and places.
  • Use active verbs to move the story along.
  • Consider using dialogue to develop the personalities of some of the characters in your narration.
  • In the conclusion, make the significance of the event clear to readers.


Michelle on Tape (attached)

Escaped Prisoner (attached)