Autobiographical Incident

Personal Narrative Essay


Essay that highlights resiliency factors operating in an incident experienced by students

Writing Situation

Sometimes during our lives we are faced with injustices, hardships, and dangers. We change homes, experience people treating us unfairly, and feel threatened by the dangers of our communities. Think about a time when you successfully handled a very difficult situation.

Writing Directions

Write about an incident in which you experienced an injustice, hardship, or danger. This might include a family situation, a physical condition, or something personal. Include details that will help your reader visualize the situation, to see who was involved and what happened. Share how your personal resiliency helped you handle this situation. Let the reader know how you resolved your experience and how you felt at the time. Finally show how you feel about it now and why this is a memorable incident.

A first draft is written after each statement has been considered. This is followed by students reading it to peers who give feedback regarding ways to improve the essay. Next, students revise their initial draft and begin editing it for spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, grammar, etc. Finally a publishable draft is written and publicly shared.


Ask students to develop a draft of an autobiographical incident essay. In this essay, students share an important event in their life in which they showed resiliency in overcoming a hardship or injustice. The student writer should want the reader to experience the event as he/she did. The setting is established using vivid language establishing what could be seen, heard, smelled, etc. at the scene. The participants are introduced and roles explained. The reader is kept interested through details and conversation that elaborate what happened during the incident. The writer's feelings at the time are clearly related. The essay is completed with how the writer feels about the situation now and why it is memorable.

Teacher Tips

The following steps can be followed as you guide students in the writing of their autobiographical incident essay. Guide students through each consideration allowing sufficient time for ideas to be recorded before going on to the next statement.

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