Nature Memoir (60 points)
Students will compose a memoir that explores an event or experience that is connected to nature from your past. Choose a topic that is both engaging, and one that can be scrutinized for broader implications and meanings, as seen in the course readings. To do so, go beyond describing events; make sense of them for readers and/or connect them to broader ideas or themes. The course readings offer many examples of the nature memoir, which as we’ll see, is rather broad as a genre.
- Genre: Memoir
- Length: 1200+ words
- Timeline: see Schedule
Scoring Guide: Nature Memoir (60 points)
(10%) Writing Process
- Meets draft and revision deadlines, participates in peer review, completes self-evaluation.
(50%) Content of Nature Memoir
- Contains first person narrative of author in nature – in some capacity.
- Provides a detailed, if not exhaustive, nature component – with some specifics of location and identification of flora and fauna (i.e. not just a tree, but a willow).
- Develops a new understanding or broader significance of the experience (i.e. not a journal entry).
- May include photos, drawings, and other visuals.
(30%) Genre and Audience Awareness
- Develops a strong, engaging voice (e.g. humorous, urgent, sensual), mixing self-awareness of narrative with some contemplative distance from the experience.
- Demonstrates audience awareness: doesn’t read like an engineering report or technical field guide – accessibly written with a public audience of readers in mind.
- May ask something of the reader, perhaps connected to a new appreciation of environment or place, or a sense of advocacy or stewardship for environment.
(10%) Delivery and Structure
- Employs a meaningful title.
- Contains a beginning, middle, end – if loosely structured.
- Edits prose for polish and professionalism.
Peer Review Questions for Nature Memoir
Content of Nature Memoir
- How effectively does the author capture the narrative component of the nature memoir – the author’s experience in nature? What makes it compelling or interesting or provocative?
- In the author’s description of nature, which description is the strongest? Why?
- How effectively does the author connect the narrative component of the nature memoir to a broader significance or meaningfulness? Why?
- In terms of content, what should the author focus on when they revise? Why?
Genre and Audience Awareness
- How would you characterize the author’s voice in the piece? Describe it. How does it contribute to the memoir’s purpose and the reader’s engagement? It will help to point to a moment or two from the memoir.
- In your own words, what is the author trying to get the reader to consider – beyond recounting the author’s experience in nature?
- Eventually, the nature memoir will be published on the author’s website. What images, links, videos would be helpful to include for an online reader?
- What can be improved, further elaborated upon, more fully analyzed, etc. when the author revises?
Self-Evaluation for Nature Memoir
Answer the following questions and then submit your self-evaluation with your nature memoir.
- What’s the word count for your memoir?
- Why did you choose this nature experience(s) over others? What helped you make your final choice?
- What do you want your reader to take away from your memoir? Why?
- Of the nature memoirs we read in class, which two or three were most useful for you and why?
- What was challenging about writing the memoir? Enjoyable?
- Describe the peer feedback you received. What was the most helpful feedback you received, and why?
- What did you focus on when you revised?