Narrative-Belief Essay Assignment For this topic, you will craft a 3-4 page essay that explains one of your life beliefs

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Narrative-Belief Essay Assignment

For this topic, you will craft a 3-4 page essay that explains one of your life beliefs. (You must have at least three FULL pages! This paper should be formatted with MLA headings and page numbers. You should double-space your essay in Times New Roman 12 point font.) 

To illustrate this belief in your life, you will share a story. Your story may be showing the belief in action or your story might be showing how you came to hold this personal belief. There must be a clear connection between the belief and the personal story (narrative / memoir) that you share.

You MUST write about something unique to you. (When you’re done writing your essay, you must feel confident that only YOU could have written that story. Make sure you really put yourself on paper!) In this essay, you'll be putting the elements of essay writing to work, and you’ll also be focusing on two additional elements: writing descriptively and using elements of narrative / memoir (personal storytelling) writing.

As you share your belief, make sure you support that belief with a story explaining how you came to hold that belief OR a story showing that belief in action in your life. Remember to incorporate description and dialogue!

No outside research or sources may be used; you are simply sharing a belief through storytelling.

Please do not share traumatic events! Often when we think of important beliefs, we gravitate to the serious ones. Please keep in mind that your paper does not need to be serious! I've read fantastic essays about a belief in the power of good coffee, the belief in sleeping in, and the belief in cooking a home-cooked meal. Do not write about traumatic or violent events. While these types of events often leave a big impression, graphic details may be hard for your readers-- plus you will be GRADED on your writing, as usual. It might be very hard to write about something traumatic and then receive a poor grade on it. Try to keep your topic important to you but be aware of the fact that this is a classroom environment where we are learning writing skills; this is not a therapeutic environment where we are exploring personal experiences.


  • Make sure your essay topic is something you are passionate about. If you’re bored, your audience will be bored.

  • Try to make your personal belief something that anyone could connect to or understand. That means you have to offer detail, so your reader can really see your viewpoint.

  • Think about your essay as focusing on both a personal life story and on the wider significance of that story. As you share a personal story to explain your belief, be clear about why the story and belief are so important. (Make sure you share something that you have personally experienced-- not something you've simply witnessed someone else experience.)

  • Use details and examples. Avoid generalizations. Make the emotions real by noting specifics.

  • Use the five senses! Describe sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch when possible.

  • The entire essay should support the belief that you are sharing. Be clear.

  • You can write a great essay on a lighter topic. There are a lot of silly or irreverent, but important, beliefs that you hold! (For instance, I believe running is the key to good mental health. An avid meat-lover could write an essay about a belief in the way a steak should be cooked--seared on the outside, but rare on the inside. Someone raised in the 1990s could write about the power of The New Kids on The Block; and yes, I'm being serious! There are tons of possibilities!)
  • If you choose to write about religion, it must be made into a personal essay. Some students choose to write about their religious beliefs, which can make a fine topic since faith is often the basis of all our other beliefs; however, if you choose to write about your religious beliefs, be sure you are writing about how those beliefs affect and shape you personally. Don't write a general overview of your religion and don't write about the rules and tenants of your faith.

  • All drafts of your paper should have an introduction, conclusion, clear thesis statement, and body paragraphs that cover only one idea each.

  • You may use “I” in this paper as much as you want - it's a personal essay! Please continue to avoid "you" and "your"

  • This essay is NOT a research essay. Do not use any outside information.

  • The sample essays we’ll read together in the next few weeks are imperfect! Some of them do not have a clear thesis. Please keep in mind that your essay must have a clear thesis.

Criteria: Drafts must be organized in MLA format. All drafts of each paper should be typed, double-spaced, and stapled. Draft credit will only be given if you meet the page requirement. Please use 12 point, Times New Roman font, and use 1’ margins for both drafts and your outline.

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