NOTE: Since this is one of six major assignments in this course, all students must submit this assignment at least once to pass the course.

NOTE: After considering your revision plan, revise your essay, and submit your final draft here.

The assignment for your Personal Narrative Essay is to write about a specific event or experience from your own life — using action, dialogue, and specific, sensory details — in a way that helps your readers learn what you learned from the experience.

It should NOT be told in summary: “One time I went to a place that was really fun. It was really fun. You should go, too, because it’s really fun.” Instead, the Personal Narrative Essay should tell a story by using specific sensory details, including dialogue and action, so that your readers get to emotionally experience the event(s), metaphorically.

To do so, try to minimize the summaries, often found in narration, until the conclusion. Rely instead on dialogue and actions. Remember the storyteller’s maxim: “Show, don’t tell.” Having “experienced” what you did, by reading the specific, sensory details, now share what you learned from it, so they can understand the experience as well.

The narrative should tell of a meaningful experience — an experience you learned from, that others can learn from, too. As you consider what to write about, ask yourself, “What do I want my readers to learn from my story?” Readers share their time and attention with you. Reward them! Give them an engaging and rewarding experience to consider and remember!

So, in the conclusion of your narrative, offer an interpretation of your experience. Ideally, the conclusion should comprise 25% of the entire paper itself; in any case, it should be (much) more than a single sentence! Interpret the experience and show how it led to what you learned. Share your interpretation — and what you learned — with your readers.

In sum, your Personal Narrative Essay should offer a meaningful appeal to pathos — an emotional experience to your readers. The way to do that is by offering specific details, dialog, and meaning!


  • Two or more double-spaced pages (over 500 words)
    • Note: There is no such thing as “too much writing” in this collegiate writing course!
  • Follow MLA formatting guidelines:
    • At top right, set up automated page numbers, with your last name, a space, and the page number
    • At top left, put your name, then your instructor’s name, the course name, and the CURRENT date
    • Center your title, in the same font, which should be descriptive and engaging (not “Assignment Name”)
    • Indent the first line of each paragraph
    • If you aren’t sure how to set those up, there are thousands of “MLA How to…” tutorials online
  • Save the file name in this format: Your Last Name – Assignment Name – Draft (or Final)(1, 2, or 3)
  • Submit your narrative as an attachment, in .pdf format (or .doc/.docx)


  • Practice using exploration as a method of inquiry and using questions to challenge easy assumptions
  • Practice using dialectical thinking (considering multiple perspectives to arrive at a more comprehensive understanding, a mark of mature thought) and moving from the “here and now” to the “there and then,” from showing to telling, and from critical thought to creative thought
  • Learn that your own life experiences can provide the basis for good writing


You can use these evaluation questions (from your “peer review” assignments), as a checklist to appraise your work:

  1. Which specific ideas, words, phrases, or images struck you as particularly memorable and effective?
  2. Which specific things struck you as confusing or needing elaboration?
  3. Where does the writer use descriptions to show rather than tell? Where would more sensory description, dialogue, or detail help readers engage more with the narrative?
  4. As a reader, what do you want to hear more about?
  5. In your own words, what would you say the “idea” is of your peer’s essay?
  6. Is the idea significant and clear, and does it have a strong connection to the narrative? Is the reflection on the idea discussed at least 25% of the essay?
  7. What does this draft do especially well?
  8. What two or three things would most improve the draft in revision?