Concluding Your Narrative with Reflection

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  • 0:01 Personal Reflections
  • 0:52 Why Reflect?
  • 1:24 How to Reflect
  • 4:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Cathy Wilson

Cathy Wilson has taught college literature and composition, junior-high and high-school English, and secondary art. She has a master's degree in American Literature.

Sometimes, after telling a story in our narrative essays, we need a little something more in the conclusion to help the reader understand our meaning. Personal reflections do this.

Personal Reflections

Do you remember when you were a little kid and heard stories from Aesop's fables, like 'The Tortoise and the Hare?' At the end of the tale, it always tells you the moral of the story, like, 'Slow and steady wins the race.'

When you end your own stories, which we call narratives in essay writing, with such a conclusion, we call it a personal reflection. Just as Aesop's fables tell a story, when you write a narrative essay, you are simply telling a story. Your story may have a plot; dialog, which means conversations; characters; setting, or where the story took place; and more. Sometimes, though, these elements may not be quite enough to communicate your true meaning. And that's when you need a personal reflection.

Why Reflect?

Writing a personal reflection in your conclusion gives you a chance to think and feel more deeply about your story. When you write a reflection, you may share a lesson you learned, like the example in Aesop's fable. You might draw some conclusions about your experience or reflect on how it changed your life. You might even take some time to explore your deepest feelings about your experience and come up with a fresh and surprising insight or two.

How to Reflect

How do you choose what to use for your reflection? You might choose a turning point, an image, or something that needs an explanation.

What do we mean by the turning point in a story? It is that moment where things seem to be going one way, and then suddenly, they change and turn into something else. For example, my son Sam is an avid rock climber. He and his friend, Sue, have taken many trips together in Red Rock Country doing ever-more-dangerous climbs. One day, however, Sue missed a toehold and plummeted to the ground. Fortunately, she was okay, but it made Sam pause and think. 'I have always been careful when climbing,' he says, 'but that day when Sue fell, I realized that we are more at risk than I ever thought. Now, we double check our equipment and climb more slowly and mindfully. We still take on difficult climbs, but from that day on, I've been much more thoughtful about what I'm doing.'

An image is usually a visual picture that we have in our minds, though in literature it can also include other sensory memories, such as smell and touch. As an example, one of my students remembered his last conversation with his grandmother before she passed on. He recalled the feathery, loving touch of her hand in his. This simple sensory image opened the door to many memories of his grandmother using her hands to make him cookies or work in her garden.

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