Writing Mini-Lessons: Personal Narrative Genre

Personal narratives are a form of writing in which the writer relates one event, incident, or experience from his/her life. Personal narratives allow you, the writer, to share your life with others, vicariously experiencing the things you describe. Your job as a writer is to put the readers in the midst of the action, letting them live through an event, incident, or experience. Personal narratives also incorporate vivid descriptive details, as well as the thoughts, feelings, and reactions of the writer.

A good personal narrative, like a good story, creates a dramatic effect, makes us laugh, gives us pleasurable fright, and/or gets us on the edge of our seats. Although personal narratives capture true events, sometimes writers embellish or use hyperbole to illustrate a point or for dramatic effect. A personal narrative has done its job effectively if the readers can say, “Yes, that captures what living with my mother feels like,” or “Yes, that’s what it felt like to lose the championship game.”

Note: A memoir is a specific type of personal narrative, one that examines the meaning of the writer’s life during a specific moment in time.