P ers onal or Biographical Narrative. Introduction A Writer’s Checklist Choosing an experience Relating the series of events Including descriptive details Reflecting on the meaning A Writer’s Model Your Turn: Write a personal or biographical narrative. Introduction.
A Writer’s Checklist
Choosing an experience
Relating the series of events
Including descriptive details
Reflecting on the meaning
A Writer’s Model
Your Turn: Write a personal or biographical narrative
All the world's a stage,And all the men and women merely players...
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
Every life has a thousand stories.
What story will yours tell?
All stories arenarratives.
A story you tell about yourself is an autobiographicalorpersonal narrative.
A story you tell about another person is a biographical narrative.
When you write a personal or a biographical narrative, you select one important or meaningful experience from your or someone else’s life and describe it for your readers.
When you write a personal or biographical narrative, you should
What will you write about? To find an experience—yours or someone else’s—try these suggestions:
Look for ideas in photo albums, diaries, and scrapbooks.
Talk with family members, neighbors, or friends about their memorable experiences.
Brainstorm with friends or family members about their memories of you, or about your memories of them.
Evaluate the experiencebefore making the final decision to write about it. Ask yourself:
Here is how Megan answered the evaluation questions to choose an experience to write about:
Fishing with Dad
Whatseries of eventsmade up the experience? List the individual events that readers will need to know in order to understand the experience you’ve chosen.
Fishing with Dad
My body ached.
The fish jumped out of the water.
The fish broke the line.
I was strapped in to a fishing chair so I wouldn’t go overboard.
Sort your list in chronological order—the order in which the events happened. You might create a time line or use note cards to sort the events.
fish jumped out of the water
fish brokethe line
my body ached
strapped in to the fishing chair
Next, gatherdescriptive detailsto help readers imagine and understand the experience more fully.
The descriptive details in your narrative should include specific information about
Here are some of the details that Megan came up with for her narrative.
Fishing with Dad
People: His already sunburned face grew an even brighter shade of red.
Places: There was a warm, tropical breeze, and the water rippled gently.
Thoughts: I thought I was going to be pulled overboard and dragged through the water.
Feelings: My arm muscles felt as if they were going to tear in half.
what you or your subject learned from the experience
what this experience can teach about the world or life in general
how the experience changed you or your subject
Why did you write about this experience? Let your readers know by reflecting on its meaning.Include thoughts and feelings about
Use this checklistas you look at the following Writer’s Model and as you evaluate and revise your personal or biographical narrative.
The first time my dad took me tarpon fishing, there was a warm, tropical breeze, and the water rippled gently. The best spot for tarpon was under the big bridge, where the fish swam around the cement pilings at sunset. Every so often, we saw a flash of silver break the surface of the water. My dad calmly got our rods and reels set up and ready to go. I, on the other hand, was getting a little intimidated by the idea of going after such big fish.
hint at meaning of experience
I could feel the live bait twitching on the end of the line as soon as I cast it into the water. It wasn’t long before I got a bite. In fact, it felt as if there were an elephant tugging on the other end of the line. I thought I was going to be pulled overboard and dragged through the water by this fish. My dad had to strap me into the chair so I wouldn’t go flying. He was excitedly yelling instructions about how to reel in the fish without losing it, his already sunburned face growing an even brighter shade of red.
His excitement reminded me of when I was eight and entered the local fishing derby. I remember how he grinned as he held the small, wriggling fish in his hand and placed it against a ruler. He motioned for the judge and whispered, “I think it’s the biggest one so far today!” The corners of his brown eyes squinted as he smiled.
My dad was beaming now, but my own pride was overwhelmed by my cramped body. I could tell the fish was getting tired, too, but I should have given it more credit.
Just as I almost had the tarpon up to the boat, it jerked the line, cut the wire on its sharp gill, and took off just as fast as the first time it had taken my line. My face must have dropped, and my eyes widened in disbelief. Dad just smiled and told me that he never really cared whether I caught the fish. He was just proud of the way I had stood my ground. I didn’t realize it then, but I didn’t need to land the tarpon to succeed—refusing to give up was an accomplishment in itself.
meaning of the experience
Write a personal or biographical narrative in response to one of the prompts below. Then, use the Writer’s Checklist as a guide to evaluating and revising your work.