Going to prison

Narrative/Memoir Guidelines

Objective: To write an essay inspired by a personal experience, using descriptive and narrative techniques supporting the essence of the experience. The topic should be memorable enough to motivate readers to read, as well as to enjoy, the essay. The writer will need to make clear the significance of the experience (purpose).


Possible Topics:

  • Important “first” or “last” event
  • Challenge
  • Unexpected situation (good or bad)
  • Humorous occurrence
  • Experience that changed you or your attitude
  • Incident that evoked a strong emotion in you



  • Paper should be about 1-2 typed written pages
  • Double-spaced, standard font and style

·         Essay needs a title – be creative

  • Standard Heading (Name, Date, Course, Instructor Name, Assignment)




Your writing should enter around the story line itself. A good technique to keep focused on the story is to try and answer the classic newspaper reporter questions: Who? What” Where? When? Why? How? Also, before the paper is handed in, check the following:


  • Put events in a clear, logical order
  • Center the narrative around one conflict or incident in learning
  • Create a definite setting; Limit the time frame (one snapshot in time)
  • Maintain one, consistent, point of view (First Person POV is preferable – use I for narration pattern of development)
  • Chronological Organization is recommended – time sequence
  • Communicate a sense of a thesis/message/main idea – tell what the point is
  • Address a specific audience
  • Use transitions to signal time shifts – first, next…


If you have issues on spelling, punctuation and/or grammar issues, you may want to make an appointment to conference or stop by the Writing Center to work with a writing tutor. Grammar and mechanics are factored into this grade. Please e-mail me via the college or Blackboard with any questions. Enjoy!

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