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Instructions for the Personal Narrative


Instructions for the Personal Narrative
Objective: Write a 3 page paper about a specific story from your life. Focus is the key and so the story should aim to display the small details we often overlook when retelling stories and avoid explaining topics that span months or years. Events that happened in the course of a single day or week would be ideal.
Format: This paper will be written in MLA format following the guidelines in the textbook or from the following links: 
Link to video on setting up paper in MLA format

1st and 3rd person are allowed in this paper, but no 2nd person.

Introduction: This is your story, so it can be easy to start telling without establishing context. Use the introduction to grab the reader’s attention and establish any important context for the story. For example, if the story is all about a family relationship, make sure any people important to the story are identified early on. By the end of the introduction, the reader should have a clear grasp on where the story is set and who all is involved.

Body: Be sure to make sure your story follows some sort of structure. The most typical approach is to use chronological order where the writer tells events in the order that they occurred. Personal stories tend to connect with many important parts of our life, so it is crucial to stay on topic and not let yourself get sidetracked. Small details add a lot to the reader’s ability to see the story through your eyes, which is ultimately the goal. Think of the senses - taste, touch, hear, sight, and smell - and try to apply a variety of these to pull in your reader.

Conclusion: Drive home why this particular story is important to you in the conclusion. Many tend to think that only life changing stories are worth taking the time to re-tell, but sometimes recalling a single good day can be just as powerful and important as the story about some major life event. This is your chance to connect readers to the personal importance of your story and why it is significant to you. 

Why it Matters: While narratives are excellent starting points for those interested in creative or cathartic writing, the narrative is one of your most basic tools for succeeding in the professional world. Specifically, in a job interview, you will be asked questions where the interviewers are trying to get a feel for how well you would fit in their organization. The answers to the questions will very often be short narratives that need to be concise and to the point. For example, a common question is to tell about a conflict you may have had with a fellow employee or to recall a time where you, as an employee, went above and beyond to help your organization. The answers to these questions are both short narratives and the attention to detail an applicant can give reflects on that applicants’ abilities and appeal. Granted, to be effective these narratives will be supported with informative and argumentative components, but neither of those matters if the audience is not able to follow the basic narrative of what happened. 

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