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2.2: Autobiographical Narrative

  • Page ID
    6591
  • An autobiographical narrative is one of the most personal types of essays. Not only are you writing a paper that expresses your own views and thoughts, but autobiographical narratives are based upon your own life experiences. Thus, it follows that the organization of the paper will also be more personal in nature. Unlike a narrative essay based on another individual, an autobiographical narrative will always contain your personal thoughts, desires, and motivations. While it is hard to know the motives of other individuals when writing a biographical narrative, unless you know the individual well, you always have access to the motivations for your own personal development. Hence, when you organize your autobiographical narrative you must format your essay around the events that promote your personal growth and the feeling you experienced before, during, and after these events.

    There are several ways to incorporate your thoughts, feelings, and motivations into the organization of your paper. First, you can consider integrating your description of certain events with your motives and thoughts for the events. This way, you present the events and your motivations both in chronological order and simultaneously. This means that you are describing the events and your feelings as they occurred, or at the same time. Second, you can consider blocking your description of your events and your feelings, providing a paragraph describing the event followed by a paragraph describing your motivations. Also, you could also reverse this blocking format to first provide your motivations and then the description of the event.

    Below is a table containing examples of both table types.
    Integrated description and motivations Blocked descriptive and motivations
    My sixteenth birthday was when it all began. It was the first girl-boy party I had ever had. I had had to beg my parents for month to have that party. Once they said yes, I had worried for weeks about what I was going to wear. When the day came, I was so excited that my crush Brandon was coming. As I sat next to him during the movie, I could feel my heart race. We were sitting side by side, close enough to touch. I slowly moved my hand towards his, wondering if he wanted to hold my hand like I wanted to hold his and fearing that he didn’t.

    My sixteenth birthday was at my house on a Saturday during the summer, and it would be a boy-girl party. I had planned the whole day. First, we would swim in the pool in my backyard while my dad and mom prepared hamburgers. After we ate, we would watch a movie in my living room. At the end of the night, we would have cake, and I would open my presents.

    Since it took me weeks to convince my parents to have the party, I was very excited when it finally rolled around. My crush Brandon was going to come, and I hoped that he would finally make a move. I thought that the movie would be a perfect chance to show him that I wanted to be his girlfriend.

    How do these two examples compare? Although they both narrate the same event, is one more effective than the other? Generally, the first organizational scheme (when you integrate description and motivations together) is the most seamless. By incorporating the two together, you provide the reader with a more complete picture of the event – as if the reader is experiencing the event as it unfolds in your narration. However, sometimes this formatting does not work, specifically with complicated events. If you feel that the event you are narrating is too difficult to explain or clarify, then you should consider breaking your description and thoughts into two separate paragraphs. Although, you need to be aware of how this affects the story you are telling. Do you want the importance of the event to be at the end? In doing so, you make the event seem more suspenseful, and you can make the reader more compelled to finish your narrative. Nevertheless, organizing your paper in this way places more of a burden on you as a writer because you must clearly connect the separate ideas in the paragraphs.

    Regardless of the organizational scheme you choose, you must properly describe your personal growth. In order to do so, you must organize your essay around one significant event or a collection of interrelated specific events. Generally, the number of events you include defines the amount of detail you put into describing your events. If your paper centers around one main event that helped shape your personal growth, the majority of the body would describe the one event while the introduction and conclusion would include your thoughts and feelings from before and after the event to help clarify how the occurrence helped shape you. However, if your paper details a succession of events that culminate in your personal growth, the description of each event, including the insights and feelings associated with it, would be limited to a single body paragraph. In this case, the introduction and conclusion would still indicate how you felt and thought both before and after the transformation.