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2.3: Biographical Narrative

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    Unlike the much more personal autobiographical narrative, biographical narratives tend to be more formal and less personal. While you can easily include how you felt or what you thought during events in your own life, it is harder to indicate how others thought or felt during action in their own lives. Sometimes, if you are writing a biographical narrative about a close friend or relative, or if you have interviewed the individual you are writing about, you can include specific insights and motivations. If you do have access to the person's thoughts and feelings, you can easily organize your biographical narrative as you would an autobiographical one. However, usually, you will have to infer how a person felt or what they thought from their actions in certain events.

    If you must write a biographical narrative about someone you do not know or someone you cannot interview, you must suggest his or her motivations through analyzing his or her actions. For instance, if someone apologizes for past behavior, then you can infer that he or she feels regret about the incident. You could then analyze the events following this apology to see if the individual's apology was genuine. In other words, you could see if the individual's behavior changed after the apology or if the individual changed his or her actions in significant ways. In order to vocalize the analysis in your paper, you must suggest to your reader that the individual started acting and behaving differently because he or she was responding to a past experience. For example, you would need to stipulate that the good behavior following the apology means that the individual regrets his or her past actions. On the other hand, if an individual’s actions after an apology do not change (if the person continues to make the same mistake for instance), you can infer that he or she does not regret or feel sorry for his or her past actions.

    Review Questions

    1. What is the purpose of a narrative essay?
    2. How does a narrative essay differ from a descriptive essay?
    3. What are the two ways you can organize an autobiographical narrative?
    4. How do you show the feelings and thoughts of other individuals when writing a biographical narrative?
    5. Write an autobiographical narrative about your experience as a writer. Be sure to stress how you have grown as a writer by including both descriptions of past situations and your feelings and thoughts about these situations.

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