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Personal experiences, memorable stories

Writing personal narrative non-fiction usually involves mining your own experiences to create memorable stories. Sometimes there are personal experiences that continue to resonate for us, but we find it hard to understand exactly why.

This exercise can help to reveal to you why there are some events in your life you never forget – events that you might feel compelled to write about.

The exercise

Think of an experience in your life history that you regret – something that involves at least one other person directly or indirectly.

Write a version of exactly what happened, in dot-point form – the bare bones of the story, as simply as you can tell it.

Next, write the story more fully, in two or three paragraphs, using a few vivid details to convey the experience to your reader.

Finally, write a version of that story (it may be quite fictional, or just adds a new ending) in which the thing you regret doesn’t happen or is reversed or resolved in some way so that you no longer have to regret it.

About Dr Sian Prior

Dr Sian Prior has been a writer and broadcaster for 25 years. She has written for newspapers, magazines and literary journals and won awards for her short stories. Sian has taught non-fiction at RMIT and for writers centres around Australia. Her book ‘Shy: A memoir’ was published in 2014.

Update: Join Dr Prior at Writers Victoria for our Refine Your Memoir course, beginning in September 2016 and running through to December.  


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