Writing Prompt: Triumph or Defeat


This prompt is for a short personal narrative or anecdote.

Narrative writing, remember,  means story-telling, and the story you will tell this time will be a true one about yourself.

Of all the kinds of writing assignments, one of the easiest and most fun are personal narratives. People like to tell stories, particularly stories about themselves. Here’s your chance.

This assignment is called Triumph or Defeat. The idea is to search your memory for a particular moment that was either a great success or a terrible failure. Pick one that stands out and tell the story. You can feel free to comment on the life lessons this experience taught you, but the emphasis should be on story-telling, not on the commentary.

Most of us know what it’s like to succeed gloriously, whether it’s on a state championship volleyball team or finally beating your big brother in checkers. And we are probably all familiar with disastrous defeat also, whether it’s the time we missed the game winning free throw, or when we blew our lines in the school play. The point of a good story like this is to help your reader feel what you felt at the moment — joyous exultation or gut-wrenching humiliation. See if you can share not only the tale, but the emotions too.

Be sure to describe the setting (time and place) and introduce any characters that may be important. Build your story to some kind of climax or resolution. Do your best to hold the interest and attention of your reader. Don’t forget to include concrete detail to help the story feel real.

If you’re drawing a blank about what to write about, let me recommend a few pre-writing activities that might get your mental juices flowing:

  1. Talk to your parents and siblings at dinner about the assignment. Ask for their suggestions.
  2. Look through a family photo album, or an old journal if you’ve kept one. Most likely lots of writing possibilities will reveal themselves as you spend time reminiscing.
  3. If you have old family videos, spend some time watching those.


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About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

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