Personal Narrative Building Blocks
If you've ever built a house or watched one being built in your neighborhood, you realize that in order for a house to withstand the test of time, it must be built correctly. Building a house requires specific building materials, such as wood to build the frame, bricks and mortar to cover the frame, and shingles to cover the roof. Building a house requires a carpenter to follow a blueprint or plan as well as a sequentially ordered building process to make sure each step is completed at the appropriate time. Everyone agrees that building a house is a process that should result in a fine product just like the one you live in; however, it requires quality materials, good workmanship, and paying careful attention to the plan.
Writing a personal narrative can be compared with building a house. To begin, the author needs a blueprint or an organizational plan along with all the necessary quality materials – just like building a house. And, yes, writing a personal narrative is a process too-just like building a house; however, wood, brick, mortar, and shingles won't build you a strong story. First, you need a way to plan or organize your story. We advocate the use of a specific graphic organizer: our Blueprint. Using your notes to complete this Blueprint results in a plan for your story. What next? Writing my story requires that all the building blocks of a personal narrative be carefully assembled to produce a quality story. The final product will be a personal narrative that gives authors a unique opportunity to tell an audience about their special life and learning experiences. So, you may be wondering, what exactly are the specific materials needed for building a great personal narrative?
Building blocks for a personal narrative must include characters, a story line with substantial detail, a vividly described setting, and a plot with a story climax or problem resolution that results in personal growth for the author. Within the story there should be substantial character development and the characters should use dialogue. The story line should have a setting and should take place over time, yet include detailed events. Also, the writer should strive to incorporate voice and interesting vocabulary. In a personal narrative, the writer should draw the reader into the story so that the reader vicariously shares the same feelings experienced by the characters.
For young authors, rather than using a plot, the story may develop a sequence of events, but the author must reach a new level of enlightenment that result in a new learning experience. In either case, whether it's a suspenseful personal narrative with a well-defined plot or a description of a real-life sequence of events leading to a lesson well learned, the author must use the building blocks required for constructing a personal narrative selection.
Following these building blocks may seem like a mighty big order for young as well as older authors. However, when you teach process writing with BEW strategies, the elements of a personal narrative are brought into focus, leading to great student writing selections.
© ______ 2009, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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