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Here is an assignment from a CUNY campus that calls for the use of narration:


Hunter College
English 005: Composition/WAT Prep
Susan Ribner

Narrative Essay Assignment

We will be doing a narrative assignment — a story about your life or someone else's life — written mostly in the past tense, based on themes from The Color of Water.

This project will be done in several stages: one sentence topic, brainstorming, first draft, feedback from students, revision and second draft, feedback from teacher, another revision and third draft if necessary, editing for grammar, final draft, typing of final draft, proofreading, making a final copy for class book.

You should save all parts of the process--all drafts and feedback sheets--to hand in with the final draft.

You MUST include all of the following three elements in your narrative:
  1. At least 3 Direct Quotations (using the exact words of a conversation). Instead of saying something like, Then she yelled at him and he got very upset, you can say: Then she yelled at him, "Why don't you stay home and do your school work instead of hanging out with your friends so much!" He looked angrily at his sister and said, "Why do you pick on me so much? Why don't you just let me live my own life? Worry about your own life instead of mine. OK?"
  2. At least one description of a person and one description of a place. Instead of saying, "Then my sister came into the room," you can say, "Then my sister came into the room. She was wearing that blue fuzzy sweater that she wore all the time, and her long black hair was tied up with her old yellow scarf. I could tell from the way her teeth were clenched tightly that she was about to yell at me." Do the same with descriptions of place. Tell us what the room, the house, the street, the bed, the chairs, look like.
  3. A Good Title. Don't make your title simply, "My Grandmother's Story," or "A Conflict in My Family." Try for something more exciting, odd, interesting. For good examples, see some of John McBride's chapter titles: "Lost in Delaware"; "The Promise"; "Chicken Man." We are intrigued by these titles, and want to read to find out what the story is all about.


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