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Write Cook

           Writing tools, tips, and tricks!


Making It Personal

Posted on April 10, 2012 at 9:24 PM
Hi, writers and teachers,
I trust you all had a relaxing Spring Break and a joyous Easter/Passover celebration. We will begin our narrative experience by composing a personal narrative, step by step.
Teachers, feel free to use the following lesson and resources for educational purposes. And go to for more!

Teaching Tip: Students often have problems identifying a memory suited for the personal narrative. They need to understand that they are writing about a single memorable incident in their lives. I define an incident as a significant occurrence that contains a short beginning-middle-end sequence of events. Memorable incidents are those positive or negative experiences that leave a lasting impression in our minds. Cartoons/shorts are often about a single incident, so they are helpful in illustrating this concept. You could show students a single incident cartoon or short that has a clear plot mountain structure (beginning middle-end), and then ask them to plot the events on a graphic organizer. This will help students identify and plot their own stories, plus it's a fun exercise.
Students, your first assignment will be to brainstorm memorable incidents from your past and then choose one. Use the following graphic organizer to help you.
Incident Brainstorm (PDF — 52 KB)
In choosing your incident, see if you can answer “yes” to the following questions: Does my incident contain a problem of some kind? Will it interest my readers? Is it long enough for a three-page story? Is it a story I will enjoy writing and sharing with others?
Once you identify the personal incident you will be writing about, you will need to plan the general structure of your narrative. This plan will be a flexible guide to developing your story. As you write your first draft, you may want to make changes to your plan. That’s okay, as long as those changes help make your story better. For example: you may want to change your title for something more “catchy,” you may want to change your “hook” for something more “grabbing,” or you may want to add or remove events to make your story more suspenseful or exciting.
Use the following Plot Diagram Graphic Organizer to help you plan
PN Plot Diagram (PDF — 37 KB)
At the same time that we work on the personal narrative, we will be honing our stylistic skills. We will begin with the art of description. A writer must accurately describe the setting, the characters, and the action of his/her story so the reader is able to enter the story through his/her imagination. The use of sensory details (details that appeal to one or more of the five senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching) is one of the tools used for this purpose. Your third task for this week will be to practice writing a description that utilizes sensory details. 
Prompt: Write a one-paragraph description of a favorite family dish (use sensory details and artful adjectives).
Step 1- Choose your topic.
Step 2- Brainstorm details that appeal to the five senses (use the following Sensory Details Graphic Organizer -- choose words from the list and/or add your own).
Step 3- Plan your paragraph (you may use the following Planning a Paragraph Graphic Organizer). Hint: First, describe the ingredients of the dish, then, describe the cooking process, and finally, describe the experience of eating the meal.
Planning a Paragraph (PDF — 168 KB)
Step 4- Compose your paragraph following the writing process: first, write a rough draft (you may use the following Hamburger Paragraph Graphic Organizer), then, revise and edit, and last, write a final copy.
Note: If you use a computer, save your rough draft before you begin revising and editing. That way you and your teacher will be able to see the difference between the rough draft and the final copy. If you are using paper and pencil, make sure to skip lines when writing your rough draft. It will make revising and editing a lot easier.
Use the following checklist to help you revise your paragraph.
__ 1- Effective hook
__ 2- Focused topic sentence
__ 3- Elaborated sensory details
__ 4- Use of transitions
__ 5- Varied sentence structure
__ 6- Varied sentence length
__ 7- Appealing word choice 
__ 8- Powerful concluding sentence
__ 9- Engaging voice
__ 10- Few, if any, mistakes in mechanics and language usage
Here’s an  example of a description of my favorite family dish (Jamie Jones is my student pen name). Notice the sensory details. Yummy!
Our Favorite Dish (PDF — 192 KB)
Let’s review your assignments for this week:
1- Choose a topic (a memorable incident) for your personal narrative.
2- Plan your personal narrative using the Plot Mountain Graphic Organizer.
3- Practice the use of sensory details by composing a one-paragraph description of a favorite family dish.
Happy writing!
Talk to you later,
Write Cook

Categories: The Narrative

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