An image of a graphic that reads “”

Source:, heb, Wikimedia

Have you ever heard the expression “it’s all about you?” This might be said of someone who acts as if the world revolves around him or her. Well, in this lesson, these words are undeniably true. When you are writing a personal narrative, it is completely and entirely all about you.

A technical drawing of a human head with dots and lines

Source: dots, blu27, Flickr

What is a Personal Narrative?

Most likely, you already know what we mean when we say “personal.” This word means simply means “having to do with you in particular,” not your teacher, not the student next to you, but just you. What is a narrative? A narrative is a text that tells a story. Here is a short excerpt from a personal narrative called The Big Adventure.

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Superman! Thus began my favorite cartoon TV show, “The Adventures of Superman.” Of course, my friend Danny and I didn’t really think we were superheroes, but we decided to see how close we could come.

We planned our big adventure for the winter, one that turned out to be the worst either of us had ever seen. That way, the blinding snow and biting north winds would drive us to the very brink of our endurance. We might discover that we, too, were superheroes, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, bend steel with our bare hands, and other stuff like that. Just in case, though, we went ahead and packed a bunch of baloney and peanut butter sandwiches, a few comics for inspiration, and a pocketknife.

A photograph of two young men and a woman dressed up as the superheroes Wonder Woman, Superman, and the Flash

Source: Wonder Woman, Superman, Flash Cosplay, Dave & Margie Hill, Wikimedia

What you just read is an example of a personal narrative. Putting the two terms together (personal + narrative) gives you the definition of a personal narrative. It is a story you write about you.

All personal narratives are factual. You can think of them as short, autobiographical sketches, or slices of your life. These narratives contain writing about singular events, situations, issues, and people in your life—anything that is meaningful to you, including what an experience or event from the past means to you now. Personal narratives are written from a first-person perspective using I, me, my, mine. Your personal narrative is your story and, again, it’s all about you!

When you write a personal narrative, you are writing about something that happened to you in the past. You might reflect on lessons learned, or on an insight or life experience you gained from a situation, but the topic you choose will often be something meaningful, something that involves personally significant actions, decisions, and consequences.

A photographic collage titled “My Brilliant, Fresh Ideas.” There are numerous photos of people and other graphics.

Source: my brilliant fresh ideas, briedah, Flickr

In some ways, personal narratives are one of the most natural forms of written expression. We have all had meaningful experiences in our lives that have influenced us in one way or another. These important experiences usually contain many of the elements of a good short story: setting, people (characters), dialogue, and description. So, in many ways, your personal narrative can be thought of as a story. In this lesson, you will learn how to write your story—not your entire life story, but just a small slice of it.

To get started, you will need to do some brainstorming, an important part of writing a personal narrative. Open the graphic organizer for some guidance on how to use brainstorming to choose a topic. Be sure to save this graphic organizer as a reference for other sections in this lesson. When you are finished, go to the next section in this lesson. Graphic Organizer Instructions