Personal narrative 1: a place story

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For this first personal narrative, you are going to write about a place that is meaningful for you. 

For Stephen King, it is the bedroom where he collected his rejection letters from publishers and later his acceptance letters.

You are not limited to rooms in your house. It could be a park, it could be school… One student wrote about the supermarket she used to go to as a child. She explained that her family was not well off and that the supermarket was the place where she could sample foods and pastries her family could not afford otherwise.

1. Warm-up exercise. Adapted from Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach. 

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Draw a map of the neighborhood or place that has significance for your story. Be as detailed as possible. The map could have your house, that of your friends and/or family, a specific room in your house, etc… Mark where good or bad things happened; were any places forbidden or secret? [see example below] 

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2. Place Story Narrative Free-Write/Draft. Now that you have your map with important places marked on it, it is time to start working on your story, or what the places mean for you. 

Remember that Stephen King describes his childhood room for us because this is where he became a writer, where he experienced many rejections and found his first successes. As you write your description of the place, focus on the senses: what you see, hear, smell, taste, feel/touch. Write a paragraph for each important place.

3. Place Story Narrative. Write your story focusing on the place. In a well-written narrative, the reader can be transported to the world of the story through descriptions and details. Use what you wrote in your free-write). You will not use all the details you wrote in your free-write but that is part of the editing process.

Handing in your Personal Narrative:

•    Post your place story, i.e. the first personal narrative in this assignment folder.

•    Your story must be 1.5-2 pages. 

•    Times New Roman 12 pt

•    double-spaced

•    1″ margins

•    MLA format

•    Word or RTF document. I cannot open .pages

Note that the assignment is quite short… I do not want you writing a novel! Be precise and to the point by using precise, evocative language; imagery that helps your reader visualize your place, but also understand what it means for you (think about Stephen King’s nail on the wall holding all of his rejection letters). Show rather than tell. 

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