This week you will submit the final draft of your first major writing assignment–the narrative essay. The essay should be clearly focused, have a meaningful theme, and be free of hindering mechanical problems. You must use the methods of narrative development covered in units 1-4 to tell your story and develop your theme.
As explained before, you will be telling a story with the following goals in mind: the story will concern a crucial event or experience in your life; the story will be true; the story will have a theme, lesson, or main idea that unites it and gives it significance; and you will bring scenes and characters sharply to life through vivid description and dialogue as explained in this week’s lecture and the textbook.
As with a fictional story, a non-fiction story should set up a problem or conflict and then resolve it, with you (the main character) experiencing some kind of climactic epiphany or turning point. This conflict can involve multiple characters, or it can be an internal conflict, a struggle with fate, a struggle to understand, etc.
The larger theme and the concrete details will balance and inform each other. Having a thematic idea will help you select the details that are most relevant by making sure they relate to your overall purpose. Using concrete detail will flesh out and illustrate the thematic idea, grounding it in real-life experience and helping the reader imagine it. As an example, think of Jesus’ parables, which are stories–complete with characters, conflicts, dialogue, and other details–but also illustrate a theme.
You will be using the topic of your narrative essay for both the short story and the free-verse poem assignments, so be sure to choose a topic you will want to explore in such depth.
The essay must be 6-8 pages long, double spaced, and using MLA format (1-inch margins, proper heading & page numbers, indented paragraphs, etc.).
I am available, as always, to discuss your essay over email or by appointment, and the Writing Center staff can also help with revision or editing, either online or in person.
Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, 10th ed. Burroway, Janet, and Stuckey-French, Elizabeth. Pearson Longman, 2014.