Personal Narrative Writing Prompt: My Blankest Moment
For years, I helped out in our church’s ten-year-old Sunday School class. High schoolers are more my style, but I found every Sunday quite amusing. No matter what the day’s lesson or Bible story was, at some point a hand would shoot into the air.
“One time, I caught a snake in my backyard, and…”
Before Kenny was two sentences into his snake adventure, at least three more hands would go up, trembling with eagerness.
“Thanks for that, Kenny. Charlotte, do you have something to share?”
“One time, I skinned my knee real bad, and…”
If the teacher didn’t yank the class back onto the topic at hand, this would go on for the full hour. And every kid started with the same two words: One time…
Kids love telling stories. In particular, stories about themselves and their fascinating encounters with the world. But of course, this inclination toward personal narrative doesn’t end with childhood. Adults learn to vary their opening lines and to at least give the impression of patient listening before telling their own stories, but most of us still have tales we are yearning to tell.
This is why the first writing assignment we give in our Composition 1 course is an autobiographical narrative. We call it “My _____est Moment” (pronounced my blankest moment).
My _____est Moment
Assignment: Your writing task is to tell a story about an event that stands out as the happiest, or the saddest, or the funniest, or the most embarrassing moment in your life. We call it My ______est Moment because you get to fill in the blank.
Sure, we could help you out by being more specific. We could ask, for example, for your most exciting moment. But we don’t want to limit your creativity, so we’ll let you decide. You can either make your reader laugh, cry, or be amazed. The only rule is that it should be a true story.
If you’re drawing a blank, here are two pre-writing activities that might help get you started:
- Talk to your parents and/or siblings about the assignment. Ask for their suggestions. You might even have a fun time talking about the funny, embarrassing, or exciting events in your family history.
- Look through a family photo album or two. Most likely lots of writing possibilities will emerge. If you have home videos, you might check out those as well.
As you get started, here are some tips on writing narratives:
- A story is simply a sequence of events. One event should follow another chronologically.
- Stories normally involve a problem or a conflict that is introduced near the beginning and is resolved by the end. Don’t worry too much about this—it comes naturally to most people when they tell a story.
- Take some time to give the story a setting—a clear time and place.
- Stories always involve some description to help the reader enter into the action. Keep your descriptions brief but vivid and clear. Details are important. Include sights, sounds, and smells.
- Include at least a couple characters and describe their specific actions, movements, gestures, and feelings.
- Be aware of the pace of your story. Don’t spend too much time on the first event and then rush through the end. For a brief narrative like this, it’s best to keep the action moving.
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