Writing Project 1: Narrative Encounters

First Draft Due for Peer Review: Tuesday, February 13
Final Draft Due: Tuesday, February 20
Length: 4-5 Pages


For this assignment, you will describe a situation where you were confronted with a public problem. You will narrate an experience in which your life was thrust into contact with a larger problem circulating in society. Narratives should make clear to readers the complexity of the situation, demonstrate strong critical thinking, and employ vivid detail and narrative style. Use the readings for this week as samples of this genre.

Narrative writing considers the order of events and ordering of details as evidence to illustrate your situation. You will have to consider the key figures in telling the story of your event. You will need to pay close attention to how you reveal the order of events in order to illustrate your situation. Narratives often deploy the use of “show don’t tell,” so consider painting the picture of your scene and using descriptive language to represent and characterize your key figures. In other words, creative writers sometimes say, the universal is specific; show your reader the details of your situation, as opposed to simply telling them.

Finally, these narratives can be fictional or non-fictional, and if you would like to complete this assignment in an alternative genre, come talk to me.

Pre-writing Questions:

  • Consider a time when you were provoked to respond to an action or event.
  • Where were you? What people were present? How did the actions unfold? What events happened before or during the event to catalyze something to happen?
  • Were you distantly or closely related to the action? In other words, were you directly involved or did you choose to involve yourself?
  • Describe your decision process concerning your response. What questions flooded your mind as you sifted through your choice to respond or not respond?
  • What did the resolution of the event look like?

Portfolio and Writer’s Memo:
You will complete the project in the form of a well-organized portfolio, which will include:

  • An author’s note
  • Any planning, brainstorming, revisions, and notes (clipped together)
  • Any revisions to the genre comparison
  • Any feedback you received from your peers
  • The final polished draft of your Writing Project 1.

Author’s Note: The Author’s Note serves as a cover letter to your project and should be no more than one page in length (double or single spaced). For this author’s note, you will tell me, your reader, what your point is in telling this story and composing this portfolio. In particular, after completing the narrative assignment, you will reflect upon what this story tells readers about how public problems affect individual people or communities more broadly. Essentially you are telling your reader what you wanted them to get out of your writing. Imagine that I don’t know the point you are trying to make. Tell me what you learned. Tell me what was difficult. Tell me what aspects of the project you want me to look at specifically. This is your opportunity to provide some context for the writing but also a chance to ask your reader (me) directly about the effectiveness of this piece.

Successful Papers Will:

  • Develop an insight or series of insights about the relationship among public problems and narrative writing.
  • Pay close attention to the organization and order of events as they unfold in the narrative.
  • Provide enough detail so that your reader can visualize the event in their mind. Show don’t tell!
  • Use effective transitions between sentences and paragraphs to guide the reader along with the writing.
  • Remain well written and free of grammatical errors.