C. Horger

American University of Sharjah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
As a frequently first-assigned essay of the academic year at the American University of Sharjah, the personal narrative offers advantages to both students and teachers. For students, it is an infinitely do-able assignment, since most people are fairly competent storytellers, and the subject is something they know well: themselves. For teachers it offers the opportunity to learn something interesting about students that seldom surfaces in other writing assignments.

This paper closely examines the basic features of remembered event narratives as a legitimate and sophisticated academic writing assignment: from embedded conflict and tension, use of descriptive and sensory details, to the inclusion of dramatic dialogue. Considerations of students’ audience and purpose will be discussed, as well as how to use the three stages of the writing process to get the best possible product from students. Numerous examples of successful student writing from prewriting through final revision will be shared. Common obstacles and occasional pitfalls to be avoided will also be discussed.