English 1010 Materials

Sample Memoir - BBQ Barbie Essay by Naomi Townsend

 Major Essay Two: Memoir 

Purpose: To entertain and inform or even inspire your readers with a specific narrative or story about a specific event in your life. More specifically, you will show specific significance in detailed language that your readers can understand and thus reveal something important about yourself to your readers. 

Description: Write an essay that focuses on a particular event as it relates to the role of your semester theme in your life for the purpose of telling a story and reflecting on its meaning. For example, members of the sports group might write about a particular game in the author’s athletic career or members in the pop culture/music group could compose an essay about their first and favorite concert experience.

Readings: NFG Read the Memoir chapter pages 216-223. Then pick one memoir from the following to read, study, and write about: Sedaris 849-856; Dubus 857-865; Kerman 866-875; Cofer 876-883.

Basic features of a successful memoir:

  • A good story with vivid details will create a narrative through dialogue, character, setting, sensual description, and visual detail.
  • Mature reflection on the story’s meaning will provide insight for the reader and demonstrate the clear significance of the event to the author.

Format & Word length: MLA format; Typed; double-spaced; 12-point font; 700-1000 words (3-4 pages)

Audience: Please specify an audience demographic; when in doubt, your default target audience can always be: American middle-class young people and college students, ages 15-25, living in the southeast.

Due Dates:

Reader Response Blog on Ning: Response to a memoir of your choice from the above, due at 11:59pm on 9/14    

Hard Copy Workshop Draft with audience-purpose statement: Thursday, September 21

Teacher’s Draft: At your midterm conference between October 2 and October 13.

TRAPS TO AVOID: You will want to avoid:

  1. Making the topic too broad; (My senior year instead of my senior prom, etc.)
  2. Failing to create a story with details; (all telling and no showing, using vague not specific nouns, lack of sensory details, etc.)
  3.  Failing to reflect on the significance; (missing the “why should we care about this” piece for your readers.)
  4. Oversimplifying or sentimentalizing the significance. (Cute, Hallmark endings need to be made more nuanced and creative with concrete “ah ha” moments instead of “the moral of this story is…”)

Name:                                 English 1010 - Memoir - Evaluation Sheet

Effort Points (12 possible)

__Has a completed coversheet including an appropriate audience & purpose statement (1)

__Paper is in a folder(1)

__Paper is turned in on time -- at the scheduled midterm conference, which the student attends. (1)

__Paper is 700-1000 words -- slightly longer is acceptable (1)

__Paper is in proper MLA format (title, name, date, etc.) (1)

__Student participated in the workshop draft class meeting with completed draft. (3)

__ Student attended a required revision workshop (after Workshop Draft and before Teacher’s Draft) with  

    Andrew Smith, Chelsea Mathes, Jesse Filoteo, or other TTU tutor/adviser mentor (4) (if not one of first 3,

    Tutor/reader please provide cell # with initials)


                                                                                                               of mentor/date of Session.

____Total Effort Points

Quality Points (8 possible)

__Excellent (8)                                                              

Student accomplishes these qualities in a successful manner:

  1. Memoir is organized around a central personal event or theme with a clear beginning and end. (Organization & Purpose) (2 points)

  2. Student includes thoughtful reflection on the meaning of the event. (Purpose & Development) (2 points)

  3. Student develops the story with dialogue, setting, and real life characters. (Development, Voice & Style) (1 point)

  4. Student includes adequate details and description to make the story come alive (Development, Voice & Style) (1 point)

  5. Student writes in a professional academic voice, uses correct grammar and punctuation, and respects the audience. (Grammar & Mechanics) (2 points)

__Very Good (6 or 7)

Student accomplishes most of the above qualities.  (circle/score qualities achieved)

__Satisfactory (4 or 5)

Student accomplishes some of the above qualities in a competent manner.  (circle/score qualities achieved)

__Needs Work (1 to 3)

Student fails to accomplish a majority of the above qualities or otherwise shows a  

           serious lack of personal investment in their story or its presentation.  

           (circle/score qualities achieved)

___Total Qualitiy Points

____Grade out of 20


Writing Practice!


Andrew Smith,
Oct 18, 2012, 7:25 AM
Andrew Smith,
Sep 6, 2017, 7:17 PM
Andrew Smith,
Sep 28, 2009, 3:44 AM
Andrew Smith,
Sep 13, 2012, 7:07 AM
Andrew Smith,
Sep 10, 2009, 9:14 AM
Andrew Smith,
Sep 20, 2011, 7:08 AM
Andrew Smith,
Dec 1, 2010, 2:11 PM
Andrew Smith,
Sep 2, 2014, 11:01 AM
Andrew Smith,
Nov 17, 2010, 3:43 PM
Andrew Smith,
Sep 13, 2012, 7:07 AM
Andrew Smith,
Sep 27, 2010, 10:27 AM
Andrew Smith,
Sep 7, 2009, 6:37 PM