Structure of Personal Narrative

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CLRC Writing Center

Structure of a Personal Narrative Essay

“Narrative” is a term more commonly known as “story.” Narratives written for college or personal narratives, tell a story, usually to some point, to illustrate some truth or insight. Following are some tools to help you structure your personal narrative, breaking it down into parts.
The “Hook” Start your paper with a statement about your story that catches the reader’s attention, for example: a relevant quotation, question, fact, or definition. Introduction

Set the Scene Provide the information the reader will need to understand the story: Who are the major characters? When and where is it taking place? Is it a story about something that happened to you, the
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Para. 1:
Beginning
Action

Topic sentence:
Detail 1.
Detail 2.
Detail 3.

Para. 2:
Middle
Action

Topic sentence:
Detail 1.
Detail 2.
Detail 3.

Para 3:
End
Action

Topic sentence:
Detail 1.
Detail 2.

Note:
Don’t forget to “Show,
Don’t Tell”:
List sounds, smells, sights, tastes, and textures that you remember. Your experience is your “evidence”.
Use
transition words to mark the passage of time. Detail 3.

Conclusion:
Analyze and reflect on the action of the story, including how the events are significant to you.

Writing Strategies to Consider
First Person vs. Third Person Narratives are a mode of writing in which writers often use first person perspective
(“I saw”, “I did”). Check with your instructor to determine whether you can use “I” when telling your story.

*Verb Tense: Reporting vs. Reflecting The events of most narratives are told in past tense: “As I hiked, I felt the warm sun on my back.” Use present tense when reflecting on the events: “Now I know how unprepared I was”. Notice the change in tense in this sentence as the writer reflects on the past event, from the
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