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Essay I

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"It isn't necessarily what happens that is momentous--it's what happens as a result of the event. What did you learn? How did you change?" (85)


"Perhaps the event gave you insight into the type of person you want to be. It might have enlightened you intellectually, or it might have made you stronger. Some events change us immediately, while others affect us more gradually" (85).





Essay I: Narrative


WOW ch. 5


2-4 pages

MLA Style and Format


150 points




Essay I Rubric

Sample Narrative Essays

Excerpt from Douglass

"Road Trip"

"Momma's Encounter"


Student Samples

"A Declaration of Independence"

 "Caught You Caring" 

"Summer Trial"


Breakdown of Essay I Components (Due Dates listed on schedule)


Invention Exercise Assignment

Invention Exercise Workshop 

Rough Draft Workshop/PRI



Final Draft:

  1.  Rubric (filled out and paperclipped on top) 
  2. Final Draft
  3. Edited Rough Draft from PRI 
  4. PRI document (blue)
  5.  Signed Invention Paragraph




*In order to be accepted for grading, final drafts must contain all required documents

*All paragraphs/drafts/finals must be typed in MLA format

*You must be present in class and have the required documents in order to participate in the PR



MLA formatting instructions:






Narrative Conventions


  • It relates an event/experience (from your life--a story about YOU).
  •  Typically, short narratives focus on manageable events and time frames. They recreate a specific event.

relates events in sequence. 
The creation of specific scenes set at actual times and in actual places. Show, don't tell. Re-create an event by setting it in a specific time and space. 


  •  It uses the conventions of story-telling. It has a plot (a road map that takes your reader from point A to point B).


A story's plot is what happens in the story and the order it happens in.
For there to be story, something has to move, to change. Something goes from point A to point B. 
Think half-hour TV sitcom.  

A physical event (Point A = psycho killer is picking off everyone in town. Point B = police arrest the killer).

A decision (Point A = character wants to practice law like his father. Point B = character decides to be a ballet dancer).

A change in a relationship (Point A = They hate each other. Point B = They fall in love)

A change in a person (Point A = character is a selfish jerk. Point B = character has learned to be less of a selfish jerk.)

A change in the reader's understanding of a situation. (Point A = character appears to be a murderer. Point B = The reader realizes that character is actually innocent and made a false confession.)

This change could even be the realization that nothing will ever change. (Point A = your character dreams of escaping her small town. Point B = her dream escape is shown to be an hopeless.)




  • A narrative has a clear story line or structure (Narrative Arc) 


Freytag's Pyramid




  • It is driven by some sort of conflict (m/w vs. himself, m/w vs. nature, m/w vs. society, m/w vs. man/woman)
  • It makes a point or states a purpose that is revisited and illustrated throughout the essay. It can be directly thesis-driven, but it does not have to be as long as there is a traceable thread throughout the essay (WOW pg. 106). It makes a point, communicates a main idea or dominant impression.
    Your details, specific scenes, accounts of changes or conflicts, and connections between past and present should point to a single main idea or dominant impression for your paper as a whole. While not stating a flat "moral" of the story, the importance of your memory must be clear to your reader.
  • It is more than a mere recitation of events. It delves into the motives and effects of the event and sheds light on how a personal experience fits into a larger purpose--a purpose that the audience will find meaningful in some way. This is called Public Resonance.
  • It is written in first-person.
  • The tone and style are determined by the genre and purpose of the piece.
  • It may contain dialogue, but be careful to only include vital dialogue.
  • In a narrative, the writer carefully chooses the more important aspects to relate. It is structured around key events that adequately support the essay's purpose.
  • It employs figurative language and sensory details to create a vivid and unique story--it draws us in to your world and describes the event in a only a way that you can tell it. Your story may not be unique in itself, but the way that you tell it certainly should be unique/fresh.
  • It SHOWS rather than tells.  
  • It may employ flashback to include background information that helps readers better understand the meaning of the event. 
  • It uses artistic appeals (pathos, ethos, and logos) to entertain and express meaning.
  • The essay demonstrates the writer's understanding of the rhetorical situation. It enters a larger conversation and displays exigence.
  • The narrative contains a creative title that suggests the purpose and genre




Figurative language changes the literal meaning, to make a meaning fresh or clearer, to express complexity, to capture a physical or sensory effect, or to extend meaning. Figurative language is also called figures of speech. The most common figures of speech are these:









Topics and Composition


Choosing a topic: WOW pgs. 103-104


Oftentimes, the best short narratives (2-4 pages) are not about huge, life-altering events (life, death, accidents, etc.) but about important moments in an individual's life in which he/she learned something about him/herself or the world around him/her.


Think about the narrative examples we have read and discussed. They zero in on a very specific incident, and the action is limited to a short time frame. If necessary use flashback to provide background information relevant to your purpose.



flashback(flash-BAK): “an interruption of the chronological sequence (as of a film or literary work) of an event of earlier occurrence” (Merriam, 288). A flashback is a narrative technique that allows a writer to present past events during current events, in order to provide background for the current narration. By giving material that occurred prior to the present event, the writer provides the reader with insight into a character's motivation and or background to a conflict. This is done by various methods, narration, dream sequences, and memories (Holman et al, 197).








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