I’m working on my final. For week 1-2 in composition, I want to address the following:
Week 1-2 Expressivism
Autobiographical sketch/memoir/topics that relate to the student in his or her community
Allow students to gain a sense of self and gain some confidence in their own writing as they begin their first week in college writing.
Personal narratives and observations provide students with a way in to the writing process. The teacher teaches prewriting techniques such as freewriting, mapping, clustering, and the use of journals.
I need your opinion on the two different approaches to the first writing assignment: Memoir. After discussing what it is and providing some samples of the good, the bad and the ugly (still to be determined), they will receive some handouts. What works? What doesn’t? Let me know.
Personal Memoir Writing Assignment
An autobiography is when a person tells the story of his or her life.
A personal memoir is a true story about just one very important incident in a person’s life.
A personal memoir is written in the first person, using the pronoun I. It has clear narrative structure – A beginning, middle, and an end. Because it is an important event, a memoir usually reveals something about the person’s personality. When writing a memoir, include information about the time and place as background to your story. Remember to write about an important moment or event in your life that reveals something about your personality and a “so what” moment.
memoir, n. a written record set down as material for a history or biography: a biographical sketch: a record of some study investigated by the writer: (in pl.) the transactions of a society. [Fr. mémoire — L. memoria, memory — memor, mindful.]
Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary, New Edition, 1972.
memoir, n. [Fr. mémoire, masc., a memorandum, memoir, fem., memory < L. memoria, MEMORY] 1. a biography or biographical notice, usually written by a relative or personal friend of the subject 2. [pl.] an autobiography, usually a full or highly personal account 3. [pl.] a report or record of important events based on the writer’s personal observation, special knowledge, etc. 4. A report or record of a scholarly investigation, scientific study, etc. 5. [pl.] the record of the proceedings of a learned society
Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition.
memoir, n. a fiction designed to flatter the subject and to impress the reader.
With apologies to Ambrose Bierce
When writing your memoir, include the following:
v Voice – voice is the personality and point of view that the writer wants to communicate to the reader. Voice is mostly communicated in the writer’s choice of words.
v Select an event that you could describe in a short personal narrative (minimum of five paragraphs long). This may be an important event in your life or something fun that you think other people might find interesting. Use your senses to recall this event. Think of the colors, smells, and sounds. How did you feel at the time? Express your ideas in your voice – use the words that come naturally to you.
v Use your graphic organizer to help you plan your memoir, and remember to emphasize the emotions. Also, remember to slow down the action with a lot of description on your selected section.
v Write in some dialogue; this will help show what people are like and how they’re feeling.
v Write your draft. Make your writing as clear as possible, buy don’t worry too much about correct spelling, punctuation, or grammar at this stage.
v Revise your draft by checking your paragraphs, making sure you’ve indented your sentences. Re-read your story to check for proper sentences and appropriate word choice, spelling, grammar, etc… in this revising stage, you move sentences, paragraphs, etc… to make sure your writing is clear.
v Edit your piece of writing by checking for last minute mistakes. Read it aloud to ensure that it has good flow. Re-write into good copy to be passed in.
Coming of Age
Personal Memoir ROUGH DRAFT
Remember, narrative writing is a true account of something that has happened in your life—it is your story.
Using all the pre-writing material you have created in the narrative writing technique worksheet packets, you are going to create a narrative essay based on a childhood event that you have learned something from.
1st person point of view
· Beginning: Introduction and Rising Action
· Middle: Climax
· Ending: Falling Action and Ending
1. Setting regarding current state of mind.
2. Flashback prompt: I remember when…
a. What are you like at first?
Then, the intro deals with dialogue between you and the other main character involved in this story as well as the setting. The audience must be introduced to the arising conflict. You must use said, but do not overuse it so please be sure to use dialogue tags similar to the ones listed below:
If we choose two words to use as descriptive dialogue tags, like spat and hacked, let’s see if we can create a scene where these tags would be appropriate to more accurately define the character.
Let’s say that a woman has just announced to her husband (Charlie) that she’s taken a lover and wants a divorce. He glares at her, and stomps toward her, waving his fist in the air.
“Who is he?” Charlie spat. “That cook at the diner?”
From using the word “spat,” we get a better picture of how angry Charlie is, and his words follow his nasty reaction.
Now let’s substitute the word “hacked” and see what type of response that evokes.
“Again?” Charlie hacked, reaching for his favorite bottle of scotch.
The word hacked used in this instance would imply a chronic smoker’s cough or a bark. Perhaps it’s his alcohol consumption that leaves him with a raspy voice. In either instance, aren’t those tags more effective than using said or asked? For example,
“Who is he?” Charlie asked. “That cook at the diner?
“Again?” Charlie said, reaching for his favorite bottle of scotch.
You don’t want to overuse tags, but in some scenes, a tag will heighten your character’s description and state of being.
The rising action will start with a narration devoid of any direct dialogue. You will capture the escalating conflict/problem arising with the description of the 3 pivotal events that lead to the climax.
Conflict is the essence of a good story. It creates plot. The conflicts we encounter can usually be identified as one of four kinds.
Man versus Man
Conflict that pits one person against another.
Man versus Nature
A run-in with the forces of nature. On the one hand, it expresses the insignificance of a single human life in the cosmic scheme of things. On the other hand, it tests the limits of a person’s strength and will to live.
Man versus Society
The values and customs by which everyone else lives are being challenged. The character may come to an untimely end as a result of his or her own convictions. The character may, on the other hand, bring others around to a sympathetic point of view, or it may be decided that society was right after all.
Man versus Self
Internal conflict. Not all conflict involves other people. Sometimes people are their own worst enemies. An internal conflict is a good test of a character’s values. Does he give in to temptation or rise above it? Does he demand the most from himself or settle for something less? Does he even bother to struggle? The internal conflicts of a character and how they are resolved are good clues to the character’s inner strength.
You must have at least 2 conflicts covered.
**********************After the rising action you will write a 5 line poem. **********************
Line 1 Write 1 word: your narrative theme (as represented in the intro)
Line 2 Write 2 actions that you do to exemplify the theme
Line 3 Write a 4-word phrase describing the lesson you learned—a life lesson
Line 4 Write 2 actions that you did at the beginning of the narrative and at the end of it
Line 5 Write 1 word that best captures how you changed from this event (cannot be the same word used in line 1
You will begin the climax off with heavy dialogue, descriptive details. The climax should be the MOST INTERESTING part of your story.
· This is when your story reaches a high point meaning when the conflict/problem is confronted. The audience should be able intrigued and wondering if the conflict will be resolved in the end.
· The climax is the turning point of your narrative. It is the most dramatic or exciting moment.
· The elements of a climax to a story can be a resolution, a decision, or recognition. You realize what has to be done, or understand what you had not seen before or finally make the decision to do whatever has to be done.
· Basically, you will have changed in some way as a result.
Climax is not the big-ending, but the point of highest conflict for the main character. Commonly, the point at which the plot’s major obstacle is revealed, or how the major obstacle may be defeated is revealed. The flow of action launched by the inciting incident has built in rising action, and culminates at the climax.
During the falling action, or resolution, which is the moment of reversal after the climax, the conflict between you and the other main character unravels, with you either winning or losing against him or her. The falling action might contain a moment of final suspense, during which the final outcome of the conflict is in doubt.
Falling action is events between climax and resolution. In a story that is anti-climactic the plot’s major obstacle resolves outside the protagonists actions, leaving only sub-plots.
The ending is involves tying up all the loose ends to the point that you will end with an emotional impact instead of a complete conflict resolution meaning don’t carry on about WHAT you did to end things, fix things or change things. Instead, focus on the impact. It leaves your readers wanting more and if you do it right, you’ll give them enough information and feeling to let them carry the story on in their mind.
· Ending with you experiencing an epiphany (a sudden understanding of something that inspires you) or discovering something is one way of achieving this result. Furthering this idea, is there a flaw embedded within the epiphany that you might have been unaware of at the time? (Remember this is a flashback!)
· Is your character expecting a happy turn of events on the next page that never comes when the reader knows full well that it’s a one way street towards disaster?
· As you’re aiming for an emotional high note to end on, your two best targets are hope and despair. They’re both make for huge targets and offer vast degrees of specificity, so do some exploring.
**********************After the ending you will write a post script. **********************
Post Script (P.S.):
The post script should include your final feelings on having written a piece about your coming of age memoir!