What is a sample of a personal narrative essay in 3-5 paragraphs?

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A personal narrative is especially fun to write because you get to draw from your own life experiences and explain how certain people, events, or memories have shaped or changed you. These narratives work best if you can really focus on one clear and specific memory. When I have my students write personal narratives, I encourage them to consider questions and prompts like this:

  • When have you felt especially proud of yourself?
  • On what day did you feel a profound sense of loss?
  • Describe a moment when you knew everything was about to change.
  • When have you had to let a person go?
  • Have you ever had to give up on a dream?
  • Tell me about a day when you felt especially alive.
  • Have you ever made a dream come true for another person?
  • What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?
  • Tell me about a moment when you were truly happy.
  • Describe an intense competition you were involved in.
  • Tell me about a moment when you realized you'd overcome a challenge.

These types of questions really engage your memory as you sort through defining moments and people in your life. Once you decide on a general topic, you want to tell the story in chronological order in as much detail as possible. Really engage the senses. Describe how the sunlight looked as it streamed through the window. Describe how the sweat felt as it rolled down your face. Describe the sound of the ocean in the background of the conversation. Whatever surrounded your scene, really strive to use as many of your five senses as possible to bring the moment to life.

Your introduction will need to engage the reader. You could start with a great quote that ties in to your story. You could begin with a vivid description of the person involved or place where the story happens. You could begin with a detailed sense of the emotions you were feeling as the story takes shape. Or you might consider a statistic that relates to the story you want to tell.

The body paragraphs will then explain, in detail and with incredible sensory descriptions, exactly what happened. Dialogue works beautifully here to bring the story to life. Use adjectives (thesaurus.com can work as a great friend to help you find better ones than you might otherwise choose) and adverbs to help breathe life into your story.

The conclusion is a great spot to explain the overall meaning of the event. Why is this important? Why is this memory meaningful to you? Explaining this typically brings significance to your narrative.

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