Read the following examples of a story written in both news format and as a personal story. Notice the details that have been added to the news article to make it a personal story.
News Article: A NOTE TO MESSY TEENAGERS
Mary French was hospitalized Monday, December 15th, after tripping over a stack of books that were piled by her bed in her room. She said that her mother had been scolding her for a long time about the untidiness of her room but that she was just too busy studying and going out with her friends to take the time to clean it. This messy teenager learned the hard way that it pays to be tidy. She vows to clean up the junk heap in her room as soon as she gets out of the hospital.
When I write in the first person, the same information could appear this way:
Personal Story: When I was a senior in high school, I had an accident that was very embarrassing to me, especially since it made the newspapers all over the country. I tripped over a stack of books that were piled by my bed in my room and broke my leg. Mom and my sister Jennifer came running when I screamed in pain. Both went with me in an ambulance to the nearest hospital.
Mom and Jennifer were so sweet and sympathetic until after the doctor had the cast on my leg and I was resting in my bed in a hospital room. As soon as I felt a little better, Mom started in on me. She sighed and in a low voice, said, "Mary, now that you?e actually fallen and injured yourself because there"s no room to walk, have you changed your mind about the importance of keeping your room tidy and clean?
Jennifer piped up and added, "Yeah, Mary, when are you going to clean up that junk heap in your room?
I tried to smile as I replied, "As soon as I get out of the hospital."
Unfortunately, a news reporter who had nothing better to do that day happened to be hanging around the emergency room waiting for something exciting to happen. Apparently I was the excitement for that day. I really can"t understand why he thought a story about a high school girl tripping and breaking her leg in her own room would be newsworthy, but apparently he was having a really dull day. I read about my self the next morning in the paper under a heading that said, "A Note to Messy Teenagers." After a beginning that gave my full name by a little cartoon of someone with a broken leg, the article went on to say things like, "Mary French learned the hard way that it pays to be tidy. She vows to clean up the junk heap in her room as soon as she gets out of the hospital."
I"ve never been a neat freak, but after what happened to me, I"ve learned that I at least have to consider basic safety in the future. You never know when the public is going to be invited into your bedroom.
Try the two ways of writing a story about something that happened to you or about something you did. First, use the news article format that answers the questions: who, what, when, where, how and why. Then write the same story again in the first person. Find ways to add specific examples like using dialogue and description of action. Make your writing come alive!