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What are some tips for writing successful student personal narratives?

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Quick Answer

Some tips for creating an effective personal narrative include choosing a memorable event, showing not telling and including a strong opening. Personal narrative is a form of non-fiction writing that recounts events the writer experienced firsthand.

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Full Answer

Choosing an interesting event is one of the most important aspects of creating a personal narrative. Ideally, the writer should choose an event that has an emotional impact on readers, whether it is sad, joyful, humorous, exciting or scary. Writers looking for ideas can try thinking about particularly affecting memories, experiences from which they learned something important, times that were particularly surprising or anecdotes that are especially funny.

Showing not telling is a fundamental rule for creative writing, and it holds true for personal narratives as well. While a personal narrative typically is written in first person perspective, writers should try to let readers feel what they experienced, rather than just describing it. Saying, “I felt nervous,” for example, is not as effective as the writer actually narrating what was going through her mind at the time.

A personal narrative should also begin with an engaging opening scene that grabs the readers’ attention. While this type of writing typically is presented chronologically, writers may want to open with a particularly engaging scene that comes at some later point in the story. A gripping opening can then segue back into introductory details and set up the story.

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