Writing about an important event in your life

Effective narrative tells a story to make a point. It has a focus. When the we are finished reading, we have a very clear impression of why you told us this.

Effective narrative leaves out things that don't contribute to the point. If your story is about scoring the points that won the big game, we don't need the name of your coach or the brand of your shoes, BUT if you couldn't find your lucky shoes and had to wear borrowed shoes to win the game, that might be a detail worth including.

Effective narrative has pace. Scoring the final basket only takes a moment, but it should be a large part of your story. If we have to wade through every play of the first quarter and every moment of the second quarter when you sat out, we lose track of what you think is important.

Effective narrative has a point of view. Whose eyes are we seeing through? Yours? Your little brother's? People in general?

Narrative pitfalls

Coming Up with Enough Words

School papers normally have a minimum assigned length, but many important events (scoring the touchdown, wrecking the car, etc.) take just a moment. Some students panic and throw in everything they can think of, from the brand of cereal they ate this morning to the name of their fourth-grade coach. All that extra baggage just distracts the reader, so when the big moment comes, we don't even notice it. Here are some suggestions for legitimate ways to expand your narrative:

Narrative Checklist

How to Write About The Big Touchdown

Often, when students are asked to write about an important event in their lives, they zero in on The Big Touchdown (or The Winning Basket or some other athletic success). Or they may write about The Big Car Wreck. Here are some suggestions for writing about this sort of event.

Begin with questions about your audience:

Now ask questions about time. Most of the big events in life take just a few seconds, but you are writing a fairly long paper. You need to focus on managing time.