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Teacher Tips and Answers

Prewriting for Personal Narratives

Prewriting is your first step in writing a personal narrative. These prewriting activities will help you select a topic to write about, gather important details about the topic, and organize your thoughts before you begin a first draft.

Prewriting to Select a Topic

Explore topic ideas.

The goal for your narrative is to share a personal experience that taught you something or left a lasting impression. To help you think of topic ideas, complete as many of the sentence starters that follow as you can. Each complete sentence could become a topic for your narrative. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

  • My friendship was tested one time when . . .

    (Answers will vary.)

  • My worst day in school was . . .

    (Answers will vary.)

  • I had to stand up for myself once when . . .

    (Answers will vary.)

  • I remember the time I won . . .

    (Answers will vary.)

  • I told a secret, and . . .

    (Answers will vary.)

  • My most embarrassing moment in school happened when . . .

    (Answers will vary.)

  • I wanted to be part of a certain group, but . . .

    (Answers will vary.)

  • A neighbor helped me (scared me, surprised me), and . . .

    (Answers will vary.)

Choose your topic.

Choose a topic for your narrative. Pick from the topics suggested by the sentence starters above, or choose another topic you have in mind.

Prewriting to Gather Details

Before you can share a story, you need to remember all the important things that happened. Asking and answering the 5 W’s and H questions can activate your memory and help you record important details about your experience.

  • Who was involved in the experience?
  • What exactly happened? (the actions or events)
  • Where did it happen?
  • When did it happen?
  • Why did it happen? (the background)
  • How did you change because of the experience?

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