People write about their experiences in various contexts, for different purposes and audiences. For example, you may keep a private diary, a Facebook page for friends, or a public blog where you write about important events in your life. The scenarios opening this chapter show people from different walks of life reflecting on events that have significance not only for them personally, but for their readers as well. For local history buffs, stories like the rancher’s reveal some the challenges of living in an earlier era. The manager uses what was undoubtedly a disturbing experience to convince colleagues that workplace safety procedures need to be revamped. The student turns an assignment into an opportunity to make sense of a family conflict. If you wrote about your personal experience in your college application, you may have tried to impress admissions officers with remembered events that show you at your best.

Not only can writing about your experiences serve different purposes, but im- mersing yourself in the sights, sounds, and sensations of memory can be pleasurable in itself. Even when the memories arouse mixed feelings, reflecting on the events and people important in your life can be deeply satisfying. Writing can help you understand and come to terms with the influences in your family and community that have helped shape who you are and what’s important to you.

Similarly, reading about other people’s experiences can be entertaining as well as challenging. As readers, we often take pleasure in seeing reflections of our own experience in other people’s stories, but encountering unfamiliar experiences can also be fascinating and lead us to question some of the ways we have learned to think about ourselves and others. For example, one of the writers in this chapter remembers that when she was arrested for shoplifting she felt excited, as if she were acting in a movie. Another writer makes the eye-opening discovery that her father’s cultural traditions are not her own.

From readings like these, you will learn how to make your own story interest- ing, even exciting to read. The Guide to Writing will support you as you compose your remembered event essay, showing you ways to use the basic features of the genre to tell your story vividly and dramatically, entertaining readers but also giv- ing them insight into the event’s significance — its meaning and importance — in your life.

Part 1. Take turns telling a story about an important event in your life. Each story should

take just a few minutes to tell. Prepare by choosing an event you feel comfortable describing

in this situation, and quickly plan how you will describe it. Then get together with two or

three other students, and take turns telling your stories.

Part 2. Discuss what happened when you told about a remembered event:

To think about your purpose and audience, see whether the students in your group

understand why the event is important to you. What in your story, if anything,

helped them identify with you?


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