Narratives, General Advice


Topic Ideas

  • Any “first”: first time learning something, going somewhere, meeting somebody, or encountering a situation 
  • Difficult situations: any time that you had to make a tough choice, when you let someone down, or when someone let you down 
  • Challenging incidents: an event that challenged your values and beliefs 
  • Humorous event: any humorous or embarrassing moment that changed you or the way you think 
  • Incident charged with strong emotion: any event filled with strong feelings like love, fear, passion, hate, guilt, frustration, or pride 

What Not to Write About

  • Clichés: when you learned not to lie, steal, cheat, etc. 
  • Overdone ideas: the big game, prom, coming to college, etc…try to make your topic unique so that the reader gets a sense of who you are as opposed to you just sounding like everyone else 

Working with a Topic

Focus your topic on a small event rather than a large span of time 

  • Large: my senior trip to Cancun 
  • Small: my first time wakeboarding 

Try writing your topic using different sequences 

  • Chronological: the order events happened 
  • Flashback: start with the ending in present tense and flashback to what led up to it in the past tense 
  • Daydream/memory: go back and forth from the present to recalling something from the past 

Find a significance in your story 

  • DO NOT use clichés 
  • DO NOT write “the significance of this story is…” or “the moral of the story is…” 
  • DO try to refer to the significance throughout the entire narrative and not just in the conclusion

To view or print our Helpful Handout, click here: Narratives, General Advice

To view or print our Helpful Handout, Illustrated version, click here: Narratives: Writing About Yourself

*comes with learning comic attached

Have other questions? Stop in and visit! Or call us at 331-2922.

writing center logo



Page last modified March 6, 2019