Revising Personal Narratives
After you've completed a first draft of your personal narrative, take a break before you begin revising. You need to see your work with a fresh perspective because when you revise, you make big improvements to your ideas, organization, and voice.
Revising to Show Instead of Tell
Study the two passages that follow. The “before” passage only explains the action, telling about it. The “after” passage uses action, dialogue, personal feelings, and details to develop the action, showing it. The second passage is much more interesting to read.
BEFORE (only explains the action)
Once when I was little, I got ready to ride on my dad’s motorcycle. Just as I was getting on the seat, I burnt myself on the cycle! It really hurt and I started to cry. My mom checked the burn. I didn’t want to go back on the motorcycle, but my dad took me anyway.
AFTER (develops the action with dialogue and personal feelings)
When I was little, one of my favorite things to do was riding on my dad’s motorcycle. It was always fun for me.
“Come on. Get up,” said my dad cheerfully.
“Okay,” I answered. But just as I was getting onto the seat, I burnt myself on one of the accelerator pipes!
“Ow!” I yelled as I started to cry.
“Are you all right?” asked my mom.
“No,” I answered.
“Come here,” said my mom. “Let’s take a look at that burn. It’s pretty red. I don’t think she should go for a ride on the motorcycle.”
I felt really glad that she had said that.
“Aw, come on. It won’t hurt her any more than she’s already hurtin’,” said my dad. I started to get really angry. I mean, I was only five years old. I hurt! Why should I have to ride a motorcycle?