Narrative essay | English Composition

Touchstone 1: Narrative Essay

ASSIGNMENT: Write a narrative essay using the techniques and elements of narrative writing that you have learned in this unit. Your essay must be approximately 500-800 words long

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A. Instructions

Choose a topic that enables you to tell a short, interesting personal story. Your story can be funny, suspenseful, meaningful, or exciting, but it must focus on one event. For example, if you decide to write about traveling to Denmark, you should not write about the entire trip. Choose one event — for example, an afternoon you spent bicycling on an island, or your first taste of smoked herring, or visiting the childhood home of Hans Christian Anderson — and tell a detailed story that focuses on that event.

In order to foster learning and growth, all essays you submit must be newly written specifically for this course. Any recycled work will be sent back with a 0, and you will be given one attempt to redo the touchstone.

Following are some ideas that can help you to select a topic for your story:

  • Firsts — Think of a “first” in your life and describe that moment in detail.
  • Proud Moment — Choose a moment when you felt proud about an accomplishment.
  • Adversity — Describe a time when you had to think or act quickly to overcome a challenge.
  • Traveling — Recall a memorable experience you had while traveling.

B. Think About Your Writing

Below your completed narrative, include answers to all of the following reflection questions: 

1. Which narrative techniques did you use to bring your story to life? (2-3 sentences) Sophia says: Did you use vivid description, sensory details, and/or dialogue to engage readers? Provide two examples from your essay in which you “show” readers rather than “tell” them. EXAMPLE: A sentence such as “I glanced at the clock, grabbed my briefcase, and sprinted for the elevator” uses more descriptive language than simply saying “I was running late for the meeting.”

2. How did your purpose and audience shape the way in which you wrote your narrative? (3-4 sentences)Sophia says: Your hypothetical audience extends beyond the people who will evaluate your narrative. Which individuals or groups were you addressing when you wrote your narrative, and how did consideration of your audience and your purpose influence the way in which you wrote it?

3. Provide a concrete example from your narrative that shows how you have written specifically for this audience and purpose. (3-5 sentences) Sophia says: Consider including a quotation from your essay and explaining how it was written to appeal to your audience, and to accomplish your purpose. Alternatively, you might describe a theme, tone, or narrative technique that you used and explain how it was intended to appeal to your audience, and to achieve your purpose.

C. Narrative Guidelines

DIRECTIONS: Refer to the checklist below throughout the writing process. Do not submit your Touchstone until your essay meets all of the guidelines. Print this checklist!

Narrative Focus and Flow

❒ Are all of the details in your story relevant to your purpose?
❒ Are the events presented in a logical order that is easy to follow?
❒ Is your story 500-800 words in length? If not, which details do you need to add or subtract?

Narrative Structure

❒ Is there an opening paragraph that introduces the setting, characters, and situation?
❒ Are there middle paragraphs that describe the progression of events?
❒ Is there a closing paragraph that provides a thorough resolution to the story?

Narrative Language and Techniques

❒ Have you incorporated narrative language and techniques (e.g., figurative language, sensory details, dialogue, and vivid description)?
❒ Can examples of narrative language and techniques be found throughout your story, or are they only evident in some places?

Conventions

❒ Have you double-checked for correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, formatting, and capitalization?
❒ Have you proofread to find and correct typos?

Before You Submit

❒ Have you included your name, date, and course at the top left of the page?
❒ Have you answered all of the “Think About Your Writing” questions?
❒ Is your essay between 500 and 800 words in length (2-3 pages)?

D. Scoring

Your composition and reflection will be scored according to the Touchstone 1 Rubric, which evaluates the narrative focus, narrative flow, narrative structure, narrative language and techniques, use of conventions (grammar, punctuation, etc.), and your answers to the “Think About your Writing” questions above.

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