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UNIV 111: The Unit 1 Narrative

What is the Unit I project?

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The Unit I project will take the form of a narrative ranging from about 750-1000 words.

A narrative is a piece of writing that tells some sort of story. The Unit I narrative will be reflective and/or experiential in nature. You will serve as the narrator, the person who tells the story, in order to talk about an experience that you’ve had. You may then be asked to reflect on that experience to explore the effect it had on you and others.


Focused Inquiry is unique in that no two professors teach the course the same way. Because of this, the specifics of their Unit I projects will vary. The information in this guide is meant to help you approach the Unit I project in a general way, but always refer to your professor’s assignment sheet and ask them if you have any questions.

Why is this project assigned?

Focused Inquiry classes use a shared curriculum that focuses on specific educational goals, including improving your writing process. The following are the skills around which the curriculum is centered:

This project will strengthen several of the above skills as you craft a narrative using your own experiences, draw meaning from those experiences, organize your thoughts about a particular topic, and evaluate situations in which you’ve been involved.

The Unit I narrative is likely your first piece of major writing of the semester. It’s not only a graded assignment, but also an introduction to your professor, both of yourself and of your written work.

Choosing a subject

Ideally, the narrative you write will be both compelling and important to read. Why does what you’re writing about matter?

You may be invited or asked to share part or all of your narrative with others-- for example, in a one-on-one peer review session or a presentation. Keep this in mind if sharing personal or potentially sensitive information with someone other than your professor, such as other students, concerns you.

Techniques of narrative storytelling

Sequencing. Make sure your story is told in order (with a beginning, middle, and end), and that any background information needed to understand the story is told first. Who are your characters and what are their names? How are they related to you? Where is the story taking place? When? How old were you?

Dialogue. Something like, "Marie was really mad and yelled at me" sounds a lot better if you flesh out the moment with dialogue: Marie turned completely red and started to shake. “Why would you do that?” she yelled.

Semantics. Consider the meaning of the words you use. A good rule of thumb is to be as specific as possible with your descriptions. You can use a thesaurus to find more exact words-- for instance, rather than saying someone “went” somewhere, you can describe how they went-- did they walk, jog, run, limp, scurry?

Sensory details. Sensory details provide information about the event that comes from the senses, including smells, sounds, colors, expressions, and even feelings. Vivid details help bring the reader into the moment you’re describing. "We got in the car” has quite a different feel than, for instance, “We climbed into the rust-red, oilstained Toyota Camry."

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