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ENGL 101 - Hoover: Narration

Narration Assignment

Narration: A True Turning Point




●Tell a true story about a turning point moment in your life.


●Instead of a thesis statement, you will have a “dominant impression” leading your audience to understand how you interpret and give meaning to your pivotal experience.


●This turning point may be big or small—not necessarily the most profound turning point in your life, but the one that is best for the assignment.


●Audience: You choose, and make note of audience in your drafting packet.


●Purpose: You choose, and make note of it in your drafting packet.


●Voice: Should be appropriate to your dominant impression, audience, and purpose.


●The paper is 3-5 pages. The presentation should be about 5 minutes.


●Note: if you would like to add difficulty to this project, you may make it a research paper, using source material to contextualize your experience.





--In your journal, prewrite and freewrite on possible topics.  If you have a hard time bringing stories to mind, start with your very first memory of being alive and move forward in time. Consider the ways in which you keep track of your timeline in life: By grade in school? Which house or town you lived in? Jobs you had? You might also consider important categories in your life where significant things may have happened, such as church, friends, family, pets, achievements, etc.  Make a list of at least fifteen stories you might tell, then prewrite on at least five of them.


--The story you write/tell should be true and be about an incident or moment that was a turning point in your life.  This turning point may be large or small.  It might be funny or serious.  The purpose of telling it might be to entertain or to instruct.  It is up to you. 


--Choose a story that will fit into both a 3-5 page paper and a 5 minute presentation.


--While you are writing, consider the speaking tools that you must compensate for when you are working with only the word on the page: you won’t have eye contact, voice inflection, gestures, dramatic pauses, comic timing, facial expressions or any other elements of personal physical charm.


--While you are preparing to tell your oral story, consider the writing tools that you must compensate for when speaking: your listeners will not be able to pace themselves or go back and reread sections that are unclear. They will be having a public experience rather than a private one.


--Anticipate the reactions of your audience.


--Prewrite your narrative in chronological order.  Then go back and decide if it would be more interesting to use flashback or flash-forward to construct your draft.


--Your story should be appropriate for a public audience and fairly easy to follow. You may use two different stories for writing/telling for privacy reasons if you wish.


--You should use plenty of description--use strong nouns and verbs instead of a lot of adjectives and adverbs.  Use both objective and subjective description.


--Know your purpose.


--Brainstorm, categorize and outline.  Write at least two drafts before the workshop.





--Keep all notes, outlines, drafts and prewriting in your portfolio.


--For the paper: requirements regarding form remain the same. Paper is 3-5 pages.


--For the oral story: The story should take 5 minutes to tell.  You may not read the story, but you may use a single index card for notes or an outline. You may also bring props when you tell your story in class. This is not a timed exercise, but practice telling your story, and keep it under 5 minutes.


--The introduction should provide a “way in” to your story. Set the emotional stage.


--The conclusion should provide resolution, and the audience should be able to understand the meaning of your story.


--Use the first person for both the written and the oral story.


--The story must be a memory that represents a turning point in your life.


--You will not have a thesis statement.  You will convey a “dominant impression” or “moral to the story.”


--Purpose, audience, and voice will be up to you, but you need to write these down in your drafting materials.







--Ask yourself this question: Why do I feel that this is an important story?

--Imagine how the story would sound if it hadn’t happened to you and you heard it for the first time.

--Take risks with language, and make your story sound beautiful.

--Write until you remember details you had forgotten.

--Your writing/speaking voice should have authority and personality.

--Think about how your story relates to the world outside yourself; consider using sources to create context for your experience.

--Keep in mind that this is your last evaluated project.  It should represent all your writing skills at their best.  Set your sights on technical perfection.

--Read the models and be inspired by other first person narratives.

--Do you have questions or stage fright?  Come talk to me.