Photo by Labor2008
How can we incorporate the tools authors use when writing fiction to improve students’ personal narratives?
Begin With Conflict
Students writing a personal narrative might not realize that conflict is essential even in a true story – and it doesn’t have to mean two guys fighting! Explore different types of conflict to get them thinking about how conflict will fuel their narrative:
- Character vs character
- Character vs society
- Character vs nature
- Character vs self
Perhaps the conflict is dealing with unjust rules at school, self-doubt when trying something new, or struggling against nature during a camping trip.
Include A Theme
Ask students to wrap their events in a literary theme such as:
- The Quest
- Coming of Age
Imagine a typical “first day at a new school” personal narrative refocused using an “alienation” theme.
The “I did something wrong and had to tell my parents” tale takes on a new dimension when a student knows about “redemption.”
An “I went on a vacation” narrative gains new meaning when told as a “quest.”
Structure The Events
Then, using a high-quality plot structure, students will shape their events to enhance the theme.
No more “then we did this, then we did this, then we went home.” By applying a five act plot structure, students use an exposition and denouement to highlight their own change throughout the story.
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