personal narrative essay 4

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  • Your personal narrative must show your reasoning behind your opinions
  • It must provide specific examples from your personal experience, which will ultimately show your authority to write on your chosen topic.
  • All (or at least a great majority) of what you write must be based on what you already know and have experienced directly yourself.
  • By using specific examples of what happened to you directly or of what you personally observed happening to friends or family members, you’re providing your own unique, distinctive perspective on the topic.

Your Original Focus or “Slant”

First, you must decide on an original focus, or “slant,” by which to discuss your topic. For example, if you write about a vacation, you should make it a point to state or show, as a part of your introduction, your unique viewpoint on the experience in question. (Instead of simply stating, “I went to Hawaii,” it would be much more specific and descriptive to state, “My vacation to Hawaii was one of the most exciting times in my life.”) Next, you should use that “slant” or focus to guide you through choosing and organizing the details and examples you’ll include in your essay. Avoid giving only a list of general information or a diary account of what happened from the time you jumped out of bed, took a shower, and ate breakfast. That type of “catalog” approach lacks reader appeal and doesn’t help you to develop your personalized focus on the experience.

Your Personal Viewpoint Versus Facts

You should only research aspects of the narrative to verify facts or provide statistics to support ideas, and then only if necessary. You should keep in mind that factual information can’t be the main focus of your essay. By merely restating or paraphrasing what you’ve learned through research, you’re failing to provide your original thinking on the topic.

Use Only Your Own Opinions and Ideas

Your Own Words and Ideas

Remember that using others’ opinions or ideas in your own words is also not proper, even if you agree with them or feel that they best explain your own thoughts and feelings. If you choose to include some information obtained from research, you should carefully choose only one or two items that support your opinion or viewpoint, making certain that your opinion or viewpoint (not the researched information) is the main focus. The vast majority of your essay must come from your direct knowledge and experience.

Formatting Requirements

  • Please be sure to include your name, student number, and exam number on the very first page of your essay. You may include this information in a header if you wish to do so.
  • Using Microsoft Word, type your paper; it must be submitted in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format for grading purposes.
  • Use double-spacing, standard one-inch margins, and a font no larger than the equivalent of Times New Roman 12.
  • Your final draft should contain between 1350 and 2,500 words..

Final Review

Ask yourself all of the following questions before you even consider submitting your essay for grading. If your answer to even one of these questions is no, then you still have some work to do.

  • Does my introduction attempt to “hook” the reader?
  • Does my essay have a clear and specific thesis statement?
  • Does my essay accurately tell my story?
  • Does my essay indicate why I’m telling my story?
  • Have I described only my own experiences?
  • Have I used the first-person point of view (the pronoun “I”) throughout the essay?
  • Have I clearly indicated where paragraphs begin and end?
  • Does each of my paragraphs support my thesis statement?
  • Does my conclusion summarize and give closure to my essay?
  • Have I effectively proofread my essay?
  • Have I met the length requirement?
  • Is my essay formatted according to the instructions?

If you’ve answered yes to every question, you’re ready to submit!

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