How do I write an outline?
This outline will help you write a five paragraph essay for a narrative format. However, you can easily organize your question and answer format essay using this outline as well.
Start with a humorous or interesting anecdote or fact that the person told you.
Thesis statement: A thesis statement is one sentence that tells who was interviewed, his or her title, and why you interviewed the person. Basically, what do you plan to tell your reader about this person? This must be in the introduction, and you must spell the person's name correctly. Read this article on how to write a thesis statement for more help.
II. Body paragraph 1: One big idea you learned
III. Body paragraph 2: Second big idea you learned
IV. Body paragraph 3: Third big idea you learned
V. Conclusion: You need to wrap up your essay by summarizing and writing some concluding remarks about the person.
While doing an interview, pay careful attention to how the person is responding to your questions, and always be respectful of his/her privacy. If it seems like the person is uncomfortable discussing some aspect of his or her life, don't press for an answer. Move on to the next part of the interview.
Beginning the Interview
"I'd like to find out about your life history. Could you tell me about it? Describe it to me as if you were telling me your life story."
Most people will leave out certain details. If the details seem important, use open-ended questions to probe for more information, such as
"And then what happened?" or "What did you do after that?"
We also want to find out about how people thought and felt about what happened to them. If they omit this information, use such questions as
"How did you feel about that?" or "What did you think about that at the time?"
Areas to Inquire
1. The history of parents and grandparents:
- "Tell me about your parents' lives."
"What can you tell me about your grandparents' lives?"
(Inquire about their lives before and after marriage, including important events in their life, their childhood, education, occupation, ethnic and religious background. If they leave out a parent or grandparent, inquire about them)
2. Early childhood(before school):
- "What do you know about yourself as a baby."
"What was your mother's pregnancy like?"
"Were there any family stories or jokes about what you were like as a child?"
"What are your earliest childhood memories?"
"What do you remember or know about major early events in your life - like eating habits, walking, talking, and toilet training?"
"Were there any stresses in your family at that time?"
3. School Years:
- "What were your early years in school like?"
"Do you remember the very first day of school?"
"How did you do at school work through the years?"
"What were your relationships like with your teachers and schoolmates?"
"Who were your friends and what sorts of things did you do with them?"
- "What was your adolescence like?"
"How was your social and school life at that time?"
"When did you mature sexually, and what was that time of your life like for you?"
"What was your relationship with your friends like at that time?"
"What was your relationship with your family at that time?"
"When did you start to date, and what were those relationships like?"
5. Adult Life (including college):
- "What has been important about your adult life?"
"What have your adult relationships with friends and co- workers been like?"
"What has your relationship with your (husband/wife, fiance, boyfriend/girlfriend) been like?
"What types of jobs have you worked at, and what did you think about those jobs?"
"What was college like for you?"
"What hobbies or other interests do you have?"
6. Family Information (if you didn't already get this info):
- "What has your family been like over the years."
"Tell me about your brothers and sisters" (age, education, marital status, their relationship with the interviewee)
"How would you describe the personalities of the people in your family?"
"What role did each parent take in raising you?"
"Were there any emotional problems in the family, or conflicts between family members?"
"Did your family ever move? What was that like?"
"What is the ethnic background of your family?"
"What has been your religious upbringing, and your attitudes about religion?"
"Describe your own family." (relationship with children, how children relate to each other and spouse, typical activities, etc.)
The Importance of Reflection
Person: "My father and I used to play ball in the backyard. We had a lot of fun with that."
You: "You and your father had some fun times."
Person: "When he said that to me, it really annoyed me. I couldn't believe my best friend would say something like that."
You: "He could really get you angry with his remarks."
Other examples of open-ended reflections might be:
- "I guess you really enjoyed that time of your life."
"It sounds like it upset you when he said that."
"It seems like that was a very important event for you."