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How to Write a Narrative Essay: Topics, Outline, Examples

Feb 8, 2022

Feb 8, 2022 | Blog

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Narrative Essay

One of the most popular forms of essays to write as a student is a narrative essay.

Personal narrative essays are usually used for narratives or stories.

They’re very similar in form to a descriptive essay but carry the unique aspects that distinguish them from other writing styles.

To better understand what makes this type of academic paper special, we must dive into its intricacies so you can be prepared when your teacher asks you to!

What is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is an essay that tells a story, usually about one’s life, or part of one’s life. Many times narrative essays are anecdotal or personal. The main goal of the writer is to present his or her point of view to the audience.

A good narrative essay gives writers a chance to share their thoughts and feelings.

It’s like telling your own story, but you have creative license with the plot!

You might think that a story has to have some happy ending, but all it needs is an exciting and creative plot. For example, a story of your first big success.

There are so many plots out there for you to choose from: mystery stories where the protagonist tries their best to solve puzzles; tales about epic battles between good vs. bad guys; romance novels with swoon-worthy heroes who always get what they want the end.

The possibilities are endless!

The purpose of a good narrative essay is not merely telling a real-life or fictional story, and it also relies on personal experience, which is often written in forms like storytelling conventions such as climaxes, settings, plots, and endings.

Personal Narrative Essay

Writing a personal narrative is an opportunity to tell your best kind of story and share it with the rest of us. It’s usually written in the first person, from the writer sharing their own experience.

See this sample for more information on what that means!

personal-narrative-essay

How to Write a Narrative Essay

There are many types of essays you get to write in high school and college.

Some that might be familiar include the narrative essay, persuasive speech, expository essays, compare-contrast paper, or report on an experiment performed by classmates.

To start your journey into this vast pool of subject matter, there is one type that should come first: The Narrative Essay!

Let’s look at how to take these easy steps on how to write so we can make our stories even better than before.

The Five-Step Formula on how to Write a Narrative Essay

There are several methods for writing personal narrative essays.

The most effective is the five-step method, which is outlined below.

1 Brainstorming

In the brainstorming phase, a writer should recall the personal experiences that relate to the topic or theme of the assignment.

First, take some time to decide on a topic to write about.

After deciding on a topic, consider the personal experiences that relate to the topic.

Remember, it is easier to write about events that you connect to emotionally.

Still, you should consider even those experiences that seem unimportant as they might just be the avenue for a good narrative.

As you write the stories, dates, and people present are some important details you should not omit.

These details help you write a story with a good flow of events.

2. Outline your narrative

After brainstorming, first, create an outline before beginning writing.

An outline for a good narrative essay is more like a draft of the final copy.

Remember, a reader is more likely to enjoy a story with the use of the first person.

That is because first-person narration engages the reader.

As you write the draft, don’t omit the fine details of your story.

More importantly, paint a clear picture of the events as they occurred.

Therefore, you should embrace the use of descriptive words that enable your reader to visualize the events of your story.

The start of your story is very important, as it determines if your reader will continue with the rest of the essay.

The best way to start a good narrative essay is by using a provocative statement or rhetorical question that your reader will think about as they read your essay.

In the conclusion of your essay, remember to include some kind of tie or answer the question you posed in the introduction.

A narrative essay requires you to summon your story-telling ability – the essay should be captivating, engaging, and sound authentic.

3. Revise

Revise your draft to compose the best possible version of the essay.

When revising your paper, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the words I have used informative and descriptive?
  • Is the story relevant to the topic of the essay?
  • Has the composition effectively communicated the intended message? Make sure a reader can easily make the connection between the events of the story and the meaning.
  • Is the story written in a manner that is easy to understand?

It is up to you to decide when to reveal the significance of the experience you have narrated.

You can reveal the significance at the beginning or at the end.

Revealing the significance at the beginning helps readers understand your story as they read it.

Revealing the significance at the end leaves your reader with something to think about after reading your story – a reader might even reread your essay.

4. Editing

Editing involves correcting grammar and spelling errors.

Sometimes, we are not able to identify our own mistakes.

So, consider having someone else go over the story before you write the final copy.

When you revise this type of essay, focus on the standard writing concerns of structure and organization, grammar and style, and punctuation. To make sure that your narrative has a consistent tone, think about how your sentence structure, word choice, and punctuation work together to create that tone, that the argument and evidence you present are convincing, and that your essay is both interesting to read and well-organized.

4. Write the final copy

The final stage is writing the final copy that you will present.

The final copy of your own narrative essay should use college-level grammar. This means that you should be careful to use subject-verb agreement, parallel construction, and correct pronouns.

Narrative Essay Format

A simple five-paragraph essay has an introduction, three main body paragraphs, and one conclusion paragraph.

Each section will go through a different part of the story being conveyed to make an argument or point for the reader.

This appropriate narrative structure provides some flexibility so that you can change it around depending on your topic.

The purpose of the narrative essay format is to tell a compelling story. This means that it will have characters, a setting, rising action, plot, conflict, theme, and a climax. Though the plot may be simple, the story should be told in detail. It should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. It may even have dialogue.

Plot

The plot is the “meat” of your story or what makes it interesting.

The plot is comprised of the events or actions that make up the story.

It’s about how these events unfold and come together to form a cohesive narrative that will excitingly engage readers.

Setting

The setting of a narrative essay is where the story takes place. In most cases, this will be where you grew up or where you live. It could also be somewhere you visited that was important to you. Or it could be somewhere completely imaginary.

The setting helps to establish mood and atmosphere as well as provide background information for the reader. It also helps reveal who your protagonist is as well as how he or she became who they are today (if applicable).

Characters

Characters are the people involved in an incident.

A character is someone in the story who has something important to do or say, such as the narrator or protagonist.

You have to mention every person, whether it is the main character or just one of many side characters that happened during this event.

There are three main types of characters in an essay: protagonists, antagonists, and minor characters. The protagonist is typically the main character (Most likely, that’ll be you).

Conflict

The conflict defines the issues that arise in the course of the plot, which must be resolved before the climax can be reached.

The many conflicts that the characters face during these moments in time are what make up this incident.

Tension, obstacles, and more play an important role as they all need to be resolved before anything can happen again.

Theme

The theme refers to what message or main idea you want to convey through your story.

The essay’s theme elaborates on the story’s overarching purpose and the writer’s reasons for choosing this topic.

Here is a sample essay that will give you an in-depth understanding of the elements mentioned above.

All good narratives have a theme. A theme, which is the central idea behind a story, can be expressed directly or indirectly. In college-level essays, the theme can be stated or implied by telling what happened in the story instead of stating it directly.

narrative-essay-format

How to Start a Narrative Essay?

Studies show that the average person has an attention span of eight seconds, so you have to hook them from the beginning.

But how? Start with a mystery or quote; create intrigue for your reader and make it engaging by adding in sensory detail like color, texture, taste, or sound. Ask questions to keep your readers interested as well.

The introduction of an essay sets the scene for the story that follows. Interesting introductions—for the best kind of story writing—engage and draw readers in because they want to know more. A narrative essay is no exception. The first paragraph of your essay could be the most important you’ll write.

A good beginning involves a quote from a book or an author. I’m talking about taking a single sentence from a great author and using it as your opening line.

Good example: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859).

The point is that you don’t need to write long, complicated sentences to start your piece. You can quote someone famous or just give your own opinion on something. If you’re choosing to go with your own words, make sure they’re meaningful ones.

Narrative Essay Outline

The first thing you need to write a good essay is a well-written outline.

This will not only help you stay on the right track, but it’ll also give your reader an idea of what they should expect when reading your paper.

The introduction sets up how this piece of writing will be structured and why it’s meaningful. The body contains all those paragraphs that are going to make sense out of everything else in there. Finally, the conclusion wraps things up neatly by summing them altogether.

1 Introduction

The introduction is very important as it gives readers their first impression of the text, and therefore, holds a high degree of significance. In this part, you can use a hook sentence to attract readers more effectively. The hook can be funny, shocking, or intriguing – whatever suits your topic and personality best.

Later, mention where and when the story took place, provide some background information about characters (if any), and briefly explain what will be described further in the paper.

End your introductory paragraph with a thesis statement, which should tell what was the most crucial issue in your story and why it was so significant for you personally. Depending on your topic, it may be one or two sentences long (introductory paragraph).

2 Body Paragraphs

Once you have grabbed the attention of your audience, now you can start telling them a story. Gradually unfold events chronologically to keep readers interested and engaged in what is happening. Fundamental points that need to be included are:

Discuss one idea in each paragraph – this will allow for logical patterns to make it easier for audiences who read your essay to understand how everything fits together (i.e., tragedy vs. comedy).

Follow chronological order while emphasizing significant experiences or universal truths brought about by these different stories!

3 Conclusion

End your essay with a powerful conclusion.

Your writing can have a happy or sad ending, depending on your story.

Ensure that you remind readers of the central message to leave them something meaningful to consider when they close their eyes for the day.

Narrative Essay Topics

With so many essays out there, how do you know which topic is the right one for your story? The following are just a few of our favorite narrative essay ideas to help get your creative juices flowing.

Here are some best-of-the-best if we had to narrow down the list:

  • An unpleasant experience that helped me grow.
  • Your first experience with love and its impact on you.
  • A conflict with another person.
  • The most valuable childhood possession.
  • The most difficult decision I had to make.
  • A rebellious act from your life.
  • The most embarrassing event of my life.
  • A random act of kindness.
  • A time when you got lost somewhere.
  • An unpleasant personal experience.

Successful Narrative Essay Examples

If you ever find yourself needing an essay in a pinch, don’t worry. There are always narrative example essays to help get your creative juices flowing. In fact, they’re so good at getting things started that I’ve even got one for you right here:

narrative-essay-sample

 

Additional Tips On How to Write A Narrative Essay

  • Avoid slang.
  • Use transition words, such as then and after that, to improve the flow of the events.
  • Hook your reader by beginning the essay with a quote, a verifiable or thought-provoking fact, or a question.
  • The events of your story ought to be sequential; it makes it easy for readers to understand your story.
  • Create a vivid picture of the events by involving the five senses.

Explain what you heard, saw smelled, and so on.

Final Thoughts

That is how to write a narrative story.

Important points to remember are the story needs to be relevant to the topic and it should be based on something that actually happened, not fiction.

For a clearer idea of what a narrative essay is, check out our narrative essay samples.

Get Help From Expert Writers

Do you need help with your essay?

If the writing is giving you a headache, contact us. We will get you in touch with one of our expert writers to provide accurate narrative essays that will be sure to impress any English professor.

We have highly qualified people who can offer much guidance and write on all sorts of topics including a descriptive essay paper-making it easy for students at every level!

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