Build An Outline For A Personal Narrative

Make a list of all the story’s main elements on a notepad.

A personal narrative is a type of essay about an important experience in an author’s past. The author shares his experience, thoughts, emotions and the lessons he learned or knowledge he gained during the course of the events. Preparation is essential to recall facts, including the people involved and specific events. Designing a comprehensive outline beforehand helps make a personal narrative essay focused and complete.


1. Use a ruler to draw straight vertical lines, dividing a notepad page into five sections. Write “What happened?” on top of the first section, “Where did it happen?” on the second, “Who was involved?” on the third, “Emotions, Feelings and Reactions” on the fourth and “Lessons learned” on the fifth section.

2. Answer each of the five sections in no more than three sentences, creating a clear picture of the most vital elements of your narrative: plot, setting, characters, climax and ending. Tear off the notepad page.

3. Draw a long horizontal line on another notepad page; this is your narrative’s chronological line of events. Keep your five-column sheet next to the notepad for quick reference.

4. Place a dot on the left end of the chronological line and write “Introduction” below it. Write the basic elements of the introduction — the setting, the people involved and the incident — in parentheses.

5. Move slightly to the right on the chronological line, place a dot and write “Beginning” below it. Describe in no more that thee short sentences the start of the incident, your actions, your thoughts and others involved.

READ  3d Graphic Design Salaries

6. Add a third dot on the line and write “Middle” below it. Make bullet points of important events in order.

7. Move to the right on the chronological line, draw a dot and write “End.” Describe briefly how the event ended.

8. Place a dot at the right end of the line and write “Conclusion” below it. Write three sentences in parentheses about the lessons learned and the knowledge gained through that experience. Remove the chronological line page from the notepad and keep it next to you, along with the five-column page, while you are composing your personal narrative.