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Today’s Learning Target:

By the end of this lesson, you'll be able to say, "I planned a personal narrative about an unprecedented moment that really mattered to me."

Welcome back!

Did you know that writers generate a bunch of ideas for their projects before choosing just one? I’m going to help you do this today.

Did you know that writers plan their stories bit by bit as well? You’ll finish today’s lesson with this kind of plan in place.

By the end of today’s session, you should be able to say, “I planned a personal narrative about an unprecedented moment that mattered to me.”

What is a personal narrative? A personal narrative is a story that a writer composes about their own experiences. You’ll find some of my favorite examples right here. Take a peek. Each one is about an unprecedented experience in the author’s life.

Unprecedented?

What makes a moment unprecedented? Let’s investigate this a bit.

NOW, compose a short response to this question:
how is this pandemic unprecedented? Use evidence from the article and the comic to support your answer.

You’re living through this pandemic right now, and that is unprecedented.

What feels different?

What feels the same?

Sometimes, unprecedented moments feel completely unlike all of the other moments of our lives. Sometimes, they feel very much the same. What makes a moment unprecedented is the fact that it hasn’t happened before. Unprecedented moments are first moments. It’s these moments that many writers choose to write about.

Believe it or not, you’ve had many unprecedented moments in your own life. Let’s think about them, together.

  • GRAB SOMETHING TO WRITE WITH.
  • THEN, WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE.
  • COME RIGHT BACK TO THIS PLACE WHEN YOU’RE FINISHED.
  • BRING YOUR LIST OF IDEAS WITH YOU.

Done? You should have at least a few ideas to choose from, and maybe more.

Now, review them, one at a time. Slowly. As you do, pay attention to your gut. Pay attention to your heart, too. How do you feel? More importantly: Which of those topics cause the strongest reaction?

Good or bad, the topics that cause the strongest feelings are usually the ones you should be writing about.

How might you choose the best one?

I find it helpful to run my ideas past other people: friends, family members, and members of my audience. They often tell me which of my ideas they find most interesting, and this helps me pick a topic that isn’t just meaningful to me but also of value to others. This helps me write stuff that other readers might actually like.

  • Take some time to think about your ideas.
  • Consider how you feel about them.
  • Share them with others.
  • Once you’ve chosen your idea, watch the next video, below.

In this mini-lesson, I model how to prototype a story plan. Now, you will use my example to create your own.

As I explained in the video, if you’re new to memoir writing, your story might have three parts. If you’re more experienced, it might have five.

Plan each part of your story, one bit at a time, using ANY of these approaches.

You will NOT have to share this planning work with anyone other than your teacher, if he or she requests it.

  • Dance it out: Choreograph each part of your story, turning it into a dance performance. Video record it.
  • Talk it out: Share the pieces of your story plan, one at a time, aloud. Audio record this plan or share it with someone who will listen.
  • Build it out: Use loose parts to build each bit of your story. Take a photo, or sketch it in a notebook or on a sheet of paper.
  • Act it out: Perform your story plan, one bit at a time. Video record it.
  • Sketch it out: Create a storyboard or comic that defines each piece of your story.

 

You’ve finished this lesson when: 
  1. You’ve read or listened to the NPR article.
  2. You’ve used three pieces of evidence from the article to describe how the Coronavirus is unprecedented.
  3. You’ve brainstormed a list of unprecedented moments from your own life.
  4. You chosen one topic from your list that you will write about.
  5. You’ve created a story plan.
  6. You’re able to say, “I planned a personal narrative about an unprecedented moment that mattered to me.”