Getting Started With the First Sentence of Your Personal Narrative

Getting started is the hardest part for most people. Here are two simple, proven ways to write that first sentence. Once you have that written, refer to your graphic organizer or timeline to keep the flow of words going.

  1. Your first sentence can describe the setting using sensory words.

Example from the chapter ‘Mean Streets’ from Under the Influence by Phil Hamman.

The day was hot and humid, one of those days when you can smell the tar from the road as it bakes in the sun.

Write an introductory sentence using sensory words to describe your classroom as the setting for a story.



  1. As an alternative, your first sentence can tell about an important character.

         Example from the chapter ‘Matthew’ in the book Under the Influence.

        Having been arrested 42 times, charged with multiple felonies, served four different sentences in the state penitentiary, suffered five broken hands from street fights, stabbed, outran the law in high-speed chases numerous times, and a long time friend of mine since we were young, Matt is a unique individual.

Write an introductory sentence for a story by describing something important about a friend.


Writing a Good Ending for a Personal Narrative

                     A good ending for a personal narrative tells the outcome and is reflective.

Your outcome should indicate why the story was important to you or why it was interesting.

  From the chapter ‘Dark Times’ in Under the Influence by Phil Hamman.

During this dark time, I reached a point where I just didn’t care what happened, and when you deal with someone who doesn’t care, you’re dealing with trouble.

This leaves the reader thinking about why it’s important to know when you’re dealing with someone who has reached his or her limit and doesn’t care anymore.

Your outcome should also indicate whether you or others learned something from the experience. This doesn’t always happen in a personal narrative, but it’s very common.

From the chapter ‘Building Bombs and Lessons From Big Jim’:

But then Easter came and Big Jim told them not to expect any Easter eggs or candy because he had shot and killed the Easter Bunny during hunting season. With the lessons we learned from role models like Big Jim, it’s not surprising that we built bombs and got into all kinds of trouble.

In the example above, the lesson is stated outright.

From the chapter ‘Bloody Halls’:

           If you didn’t have a lock they would pee all over your books and your jacket.   Junior high was a rough time for me, but as with all things in my life, I learned to deal with it as it was nothing compared to my home life.

This example is more subtle. The reader can draw the conclusion that the narrator did learn something: how to deal with the things that went on in junior high as well as all other things in life.