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Narrative Essay – A Complete Writing Guide with Examples

Every year when you went back to school, your teacher would have asked you to write about your summer vacation. That was narrative writing.

A narrative essay is quite similar to a descriptive essay but carries its unique aspects. These essays are a form of academic writing where the writer tells a story creatively.

Dive into the blog to know everything about narrative essay writing.

Table of Contents

What Is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay gives writers a chance to write about their personal experiences. It is just like a short story; the only difference is, it follows a proper structure.

When you write a narrative essay, you tell a story to your reader. The story could be real, or it could be fictional, but it is defined from a particular perspective.

Narrative essay definition:

“It is a type of essay in which the writer tells a story from his point of view or personal experience. It provides sensory details to grab readers’ attention and makes them understand the story.”

It should incorporate the following points:

  • Develop a particular viewpoint
  • Make and support your claim
  • Include precise information
  • Use vivid verbs and modifiers
  • Add conflict and sequences
  • Use dialogue

The purpose of a narrative essay is to tell a real-life or fictional story to the reader. It usually relies on personal experience and is often written in the form of a story. For writing a perfect narration, the writer must include the conventions of storytelling, climax, setting, plot, and ending.

Personal Narrative Essay

In a personal narrative essay, the writer gets a chance to share his own story. It is usually written in the first person, as the writer is telling about his personal experience. See the sample; it will give you a better understanding of a personal narrative.

Personal Narrative Essay (PDF)

How to Write a Narrative Essay?

There are numerous types of essays you get to write in high school and college. A narrative essay is the most simple type of academic essay among all kinds of essays. It is written just like a simple short story. Here is a step-by-step process to write an impressive essay.

Narrative Essay Format

A typical 5 paragraph narrative essay has one introduction, three paraghraphs in the main body, and one conclusion paragraph. If needed, you can change the number of body paragraphs according to the topic.

It usually has these five elements: plot, characters, setting, conflict, and theme.

The plot is the incident that you intend to share in the story. It is about the sequence of events that occurred in your story.

Setting

The setting is the location where the event occurred. It can be your house, your school, or any other place where you were at the time of the event.

Characters

Characters are the people involved in the incident. You have to mention every person involved, whether it is the main or a side character.

Conflict

Conflict is the problem faced by the characters during the incident. A moment of tension in the plot is considered a conflict that needs to be resolved.

Theme

The essay’s theme elaborates on the story’s overall purpose and the writer’s reasons to choose the topic.

Here is a sample essay that will give you a deep understanding of the elements mentioned above.

Narrative Essay Format (PDF)

How to Start a Narrative Essay?

Start the essay with an exciting hook and engaging sensory details. You must set your essay’s tone from the beginning to grab the readers’ attention.

Following are different ways to start the essay:

  • Start with a mystery.
  • Use a quote from someone famous to catch your reader’s attention.
  • Add a funny or moving anecdote.
  • Ask questions; in this way, your writing will feel direct and more personal.
  • Start with a shocking statement or statistics that makes readers curious.

Narrative Essay Outline

To write a good essay, the first thing you need is a good narrative essay outline. Creating an outline is an important part of a good essay.

Divide your essay into three parts.

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion

Introduction

Add everything briefly and tell about what you are going to discuss in the main body. Tell the reader a good story but with limited details. Keep in mind the following points for writing a great introduction.

  • Introduce the topic
  • Include supporting sentences
  • State the thesis statement

Body Paragraphs

Once you have grabbed the attention of your readers, now you can start your story. Gradually unfold the events of your story chronologically.

The main body is the section where your entire essay is concentrated. Incorporate the following points in it:

  • Discuss one idea in each paragraph
  • Follow logical patterns and chronological order so that the reader can easily understand the storyline
  • Emphasize the experience and tell the universal truth that the story brings to the audience

Conclusion

End your essay with a powerful and strong conclusion. Your essay can have a happy or sad ending, depending on your story. Make sure that your essay serves the purpose and conveys your message.

Here are the points to consider to leave the aftertaste.

  • Summarize the key points
  • Remind your readers about the central message
  • Give your readers something to think about

Narrative Essay Topics

Here are a few best narrative essay topics ideas for your successful narrative writing.

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

Narrative Essay Examples

The example essay helps you craft a perfect essay in no time. Here is a narrative essay example to let you know the essay structure.

Narrative Essay Sample (PDF)

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Write a Professional Narrative Essay

There are numerous kinds of essays you may be assigned to complete. Sometimes, it can be hard to understand the difference between two similar papers. Narrative essay is commonly confused with the descriptive one. This article will lead you through all necessary steps and help you write a successful piece adhering to the particular formatting rules.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

The main purpose of a narrative essay is to tell the reader about events, interactions, and experience that have happened to the author during the particular period of time. It always has a vivid plot. On the contrary, the descriptive essay is aimed at providing an image of a person, a place, some experience or an object without demonstrating a chain of events. The plot is absent or vague.

To write a breathtaking narrative essay quickly, let us introduce you the most compelling step-by-step sequence:

#1. Preparation

Before your creative process actually starts, you should learn a bit more about the general requirements inherent in this kind of the paper, choose the topic, and collect some relevant information to use it as the reference.

What to Write About?

Your potential theme should be interesting for both you and your audience. The topic of the narrative essay usually refers to the writer’s experience and there is no need to use any data from the outside sources. Besides, there are 3 signs of a successful title of your essay whether it is narrative or something else:

  1. You could barely see it on the web;
  2. It’s quite narrow than wide;
  3. It encourages reading the first sentence of the paper.

What is Required of Me?

Asking to compose such a specific kind of academic paper, professors don’t demand of their students to follow strict rules as for other writing assignments and only give them a basic structure. The idea is simple: you take a story from a real life and dwell upon the most vibrant points as far as events are unfolding. The narrative’s parts should be coherent and convey a particular mood.

Where to Search for Evidence?

You may take them from your own memories since you started writing it. Forget about the exhausting web-research and let your memories pour out on a paper.

#2. Writing Process

Obviously, this stage is the most time-consuming. It can be less if you take into account the following:

Making a Structure and Outlining

Divide your plot into three parts: a setup, the main part and a climax, and a thrilling conclusion. In the introduction, you should hook a reader and make them read the rest of your essay. Allocate the major points of the essay and describe each of them briefly in the body and end up your story with an unpredictable twist and a delightful punch line. In its turn, outlining helps you find the best details of the disclosed issues in the narrative essay.

Providing Information in First-Person

The narrative is very personal, so you should underline the significance of the ongoing events for your identity. That is why it is common to use “I” statements without switching a perspective in favor of another person.

Describing the Characters and Places

Even though it’s not a descriptive essay, try to adorn your story with vivid details of crucial objects mentioned in the plot. Especially, that goes for people who affected the outcome of the whole case; their personalities should be disclosed as comprehensive as possible.

Mention places serving as a location of where an action is held because it reflects the picture’s ambience. Background information which may change the reader’s attitude to characters or even to the meaning of your idea has to be also provided.

Adding a Little Spice

What a narrative without a zest! Dilute your smooth passages with a detail that will turn everything around. It may be antagonist character who is eagerly interfering with your purposes, an unpredictable twist and embarrassing ending or funny jokes and coincidences to break your audience out laughing.

#3. Editing

After crafting the first draft, revise it thoroughly. You will definitely find one, two or a few rough spots while looking through your essay. Make sure you didn’t miss any important points.

Tips for the successful editing:

  • Don’t start to search for mistakes right after finishing the essay. Have a rest and only then take a fresh look at it;
  • Transform big and complicated sentences into simple ones to make them compelling;
  • Avoid use of terms of many meanings;
  • Find all repeats of ideas or arguments and delete them;
  • Verify all citations and formatting in general with a guide;
  • Paraphrase where it is hard to grasp the sense;
  • Reconsider the structure of the essay.

#4. Proofreading

Many students deem that subtitles 3 and 4 in this guide are the same things. But it is not really so: when editing is all about content, style, and paragraph structure, proofreading is performed to detect misspellings and grammar errors. Also, it is the final phase of the writing.

What Should I Do During This Process?

  • Check grammar yourself or use some applications such as Grammarly.com or other services from Infographics below, but do not rely on them heavily;
  • Remove double spacing;
  • Replace misspellings with correct words.

It will be more effective if you entrust someone else to reread your piece: your friends, parents or college mates. They may notice mistakes you missed and share their general opinion on the essay.

As you can see, the narrative essay is not complicated at all. It is one of the most pleasant forms of writing assignments due to the great involvement of your personality in the paper’s body. Even the rules and requirement can’t get you down – they are practically absent or are as simple as a pie if professor mentions a structure. Turn on your imagination and start crafting a brilliant piece adhering to our recommendations.

Author: Patricia Jenkins

Patricia Jenkins is the senior writing advisor at FastEssay blog for international students that seek quick paper assistance. In her blog, Patricia shares useful tips on productivity, writing, research, references. Sometimes Patricia goes off topic by sharing her personal experience peppered with lively humor and healthy irony. View all posts by Patricia Jenkins