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How to Write a Narrative Essay | Example & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A narrative essay tells a story. In most cases, this is a story about a personal experience you had. This type of essay , along with the descriptive essay , allows you to get personal and creative, unlike most academic writing .

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Table of contents

What is a narrative essay for, choosing a topic, interactive example of a narrative essay, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about narrative essays.

When assigned a narrative essay, you might find yourself wondering: Why does my teacher want to hear this story? Topics for narrative essays can range from the important to the trivial. Usually the point is not so much the story itself, but the way you tell it.

A narrative essay is a way of testing your ability to tell a story in a clear and interesting way. You’re expected to think about where your story begins and ends, and how to convey it with eye-catching language and a satisfying pace.

These skills are quite different from those needed for formal academic writing. For instance, in a narrative essay the use of the first person (“I”) is encouraged, as is the use of figurative language, dialogue, and suspense.

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good intro for narrative essay

Narrative essay assignments vary widely in the amount of direction you’re given about your topic. You may be assigned quite a specific topic or choice of topics to work with.

  • Write a story about your first day of school.
  • Write a story about your favorite holiday destination.

You may also be given prompts that leave you a much wider choice of topic.

  • Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself.
  • Write about an achievement you are proud of. What did you accomplish, and how?

In these cases, you might have to think harder to decide what story you want to tell. The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to talk about a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.

For example, a trip where everything went according to plan makes for a less interesting story than one where something unexpected happened that you then had to respond to. Choose an experience that might surprise the reader or teach them something.

Narrative essays in college applications

When applying for college , you might be asked to write a narrative essay that expresses something about your personal qualities.

For example, this application prompt from Common App requires you to respond with a narrative essay.

In this context, choose a story that is not only interesting but also expresses the qualities the prompt is looking for—here, resilience and the ability to learn from failure—and frame the story in a way that emphasizes these qualities.

An example of a short narrative essay, responding to the prompt “Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself,” is shown below.

Hover over different parts of the text to see how the structure works.

Since elementary school, I have always favored subjects like science and math over the humanities. My instinct was always to think of these subjects as more solid and serious than classes like English. If there was no right answer, I thought, why bother? But recently I had an experience that taught me my academic interests are more flexible than I had thought: I took my first philosophy class.

Before I entered the classroom, I was skeptical. I waited outside with the other students and wondered what exactly philosophy would involve—I really had no idea. I imagined something pretty abstract: long, stilted conversations pondering the meaning of life. But what I got was something quite different.

A young man in jeans, Mr. Jones—“but you can call me Rob”—was far from the white-haired, buttoned-up old man I had half-expected. And rather than pulling us into pedantic arguments about obscure philosophical points, Rob engaged us on our level. To talk free will, we looked at our own choices. To talk ethics, we looked at dilemmas we had faced ourselves. By the end of class, I’d discovered that questions with no right answer can turn out to be the most interesting ones.

The experience has taught me to look at things a little more “philosophically”—and not just because it was a philosophy class! I learned that if I let go of my preconceptions, I can actually get a lot out of subjects I was previously dismissive of. The class taught me—in more ways than one—to look at things with an open mind.

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If you’re not given much guidance on what your narrative essay should be about, consider the context and scope of the assignment. What kind of story is relevant, interesting, and possible to tell within the word count?

The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to reflect on a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.

Don’t worry too much if your topic seems unoriginal. The point of a narrative essay is how you tell the story and the point you make with it, not the subject of the story itself.

Narrative essays are usually assigned as writing exercises at high school or in university composition classes. They may also form part of a university application.

When you are prompted to tell a story about your own life or experiences, a narrative essay is usually the right response.

The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.

Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.

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The Ultimate Narrative Essay Guide for Beginners

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A narrative essay tells a story in chronological order, with an introduction that introduces the characters and sets the scene. Then a series of events leads to a climax or turning point, and finally a resolution or reflection on the experience.

Speaking of which, are you in sixes and sevens about narrative essays? Don’t worry this ultimate expert guide will wipe out all your doubts. So let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Everything You Need to Know About Narrative Essay

What is a narrative essay.

When you go through a narrative essay definition, you would know that a narrative essay purpose is to tell a story. It’s all about sharing an experience or event and is different from other types of essays because it’s more focused on how the event made you feel or what you learned from it, rather than just presenting facts or an argument. Let’s explore more details on this interesting write-up and get to know how to write a narrative essay.

Elements of a Narrative Essay

Here’s a breakdown of the key elements of a narrative essay:

A narrative essay has a beginning, middle, and end. It builds up tension and excitement and then wraps things up in a neat package.

Real people, including the writer, often feature in personal narratives. Details of the characters and their thoughts, feelings, and actions can help readers to relate to the tale.

It’s really important to know when and where something happened so we can get a good idea of the context. Going into detail about what it looks like helps the reader to really feel like they’re part of the story.

Conflict or Challenge 

A story in a narrative essay usually involves some kind of conflict or challenge that moves the plot along. It could be something inside the character, like a personal battle, or something from outside, like an issue they have to face in the world.

Theme or Message

A narrative essay isn’t just about recounting an event – it’s about showing the impact it had on you and what you took away from it. It’s an opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings about the experience, and how it changed your outlook.

Emotional Impact

The author is trying to make the story they’re telling relatable, engaging, and memorable by using language and storytelling to evoke feelings in whoever’s reading it.

Narrative essays let writers have a blast telling stories about their own lives. It’s an opportunity to share insights and impart wisdom, or just have some fun with the reader. Descriptive language, sensory details, dialogue, and a great narrative voice are all essentials for making the story come alive.

The Purpose of a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is more than just a story – it’s a way to share a meaningful, engaging, and relatable experience with the reader. Includes:

Sharing Personal Experience

Narrative essays are a great way for writers to share their personal experiences, feelings, thoughts, and reflections. It’s an opportunity to connect with readers and make them feel something.

Entertainment and Engagement

The essay attempts to keep the reader interested by using descriptive language, storytelling elements, and a powerful voice. It attempts to pull them in and make them feel involved by creating suspense, mystery, or an emotional connection.

Conveying a Message or Insight

Narrative essays are more than just a story – they aim to teach you something. They usually have a moral lesson, a new understanding, or a realization about life that the author gained from the experience.

Building Empathy and Understanding

By telling their stories, people can give others insight into different perspectives, feelings, and situations. Sharing these tales can create compassion in the reader and help broaden their knowledge of different life experiences.

Inspiration and Motivation

Stories about personal struggles, successes, and transformations can be really encouraging to people who are going through similar situations. It can provide them with hope and guidance, and let them know that they’re not alone.

Reflecting on Life’s Significance

These essays usually make you think about the importance of certain moments in life or the impact of certain experiences. They make you look deep within yourself and ponder on the things you learned or how you changed because of those events.

Demonstrating Writing Skills

Coming up with a gripping narrative essay takes serious writing chops, like vivid descriptions, powerful language, timing, and organization. It’s an opportunity for writers to show off their story-telling abilities.

Preserving Personal History

Sometimes narrative essays are used to record experiences and special moments that have an emotional resonance. They can be used to preserve individual memories or for future generations to look back on.

Cultural and Societal Exploration

Personal stories can look at cultural or social aspects, giving us an insight into customs, opinions, or social interactions seen through someone’s own experience.

Format of a Narrative Essay

Narrative essays are quite flexible in terms of format, which allows the writer to tell a story in a creative and compelling way. Here’s a quick breakdown of the narrative essay format, along with some examples:

Introduction

Set the scene and introduce the story.

Engage the reader and establish the tone of the narrative.

Hook: Start with a captivating opening line to grab the reader’s attention. For instance:

Example:  “The scorching sun beat down on us as we trekked through the desert, our water supply dwindling.”

Background Information: Provide necessary context or background without giving away the entire story.

Example:  “It was the summer of 2015 when I embarked on a life-changing journey to…”

Thesis Statement or Narrative Purpose

Present the main idea or the central message of the essay.

Offer a glimpse of what the reader can expect from the narrative.

Thesis Statement: This isn’t as rigid as in other essays but can be a sentence summarizing the essence of the story.

Example:  “Little did I know, that seemingly ordinary hike would teach me invaluable lessons about resilience and friendship.”

Body Paragraphs

Present the sequence of events in chronological order.

Develop characters, setting, conflict, and resolution.

Story Progression : Describe events in the order they occurred, focusing on details that evoke emotions and create vivid imagery.

Example : Detail the trek through the desert, the challenges faced, interactions with fellow hikers, and the pivotal moments.

Character Development : Introduce characters and their roles in the story. Show their emotions, thoughts, and actions.

Example : Describe how each character reacted to the dwindling water supply and supported each other through adversity.

Dialogue and Interactions : Use dialogue to bring the story to life and reveal character personalities.

Example : “Sarah handed me her last bottle of water, saying, ‘We’re in this together.'”

Reach the peak of the story, the moment of highest tension or significance.

Turning Point: Highlight the most crucial moment or realization in the narrative.

Example:  “As the sun dipped below the horizon and hope seemed lost, a distant sound caught our attention—the rescue team’s helicopters.”

Provide closure to the story.

Reflect on the significance of the experience and its impact.

Reflection : Summarize the key lessons learned or insights gained from the experience.

Example : “That hike taught me the true meaning of resilience and the invaluable support of friendship in challenging times.”

Closing Thought : End with a memorable line that reinforces the narrative’s message or leaves a lasting impression.

Example : “As we boarded the helicopters, I knew this adventure would forever be etched in my heart.”

Example Summary:

Imagine a narrative about surviving a challenging hike through the desert, emphasizing the bonds formed and lessons learned. The narrative essay structure might look like starting with an engaging scene, narrating the hardships faced, showcasing the characters’ resilience, and culminating in a powerful realization about friendship and endurance.

Different Types of Narrative Essays

There are a bunch of different types of narrative essays – each one focuses on different elements of storytelling and has its own purpose. Here’s a breakdown of the narrative essay types and what they mean.

Personal Narrative

Description : Tells a personal story or experience from the writer’s life.

Purpose: Reflects on personal growth, lessons learned, or significant moments.

Example of Narrative Essay Types:

Topic : “The Day I Conquered My Fear of Public Speaking”

Focus: Details the experience, emotions, and eventual triumph over a fear of public speaking during a pivotal event.

Descriptive Narrative

Description : Emphasizes vivid details and sensory imagery.

Purpose : Creates a sensory experience, painting a vivid picture for the reader.

Topic : “A Walk Through the Enchanted Forest”

Focus : Paints a detailed picture of the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings experienced during a walk through a mystical forest.

Autobiographical Narrative

Description: Chronicles significant events or moments from the writer’s life.

Purpose: Provides insights into the writer’s life, experiences, and growth.

Topic: “Lessons from My Childhood: How My Grandmother Shaped Who I Am”

Focus: Explores pivotal moments and lessons learned from interactions with a significant family member.

Experiential Narrative

Description: Relays experiences beyond the writer’s personal life.

Purpose: Shares experiences, travels, or events from a broader perspective.

Topic: “Volunteering in a Remote Village: A Journey of Empathy”

Focus: Chronicles the writer’s volunteering experience, highlighting interactions with a community and personal growth.

Literary Narrative

Description: Incorporates literary elements like symbolism, allegory, or thematic explorations.

Purpose: Uses storytelling for deeper explorations of themes or concepts.

Topic: “The Symbolism of the Red Door: A Journey Through Change”

Focus: Uses a red door as a symbol, exploring its significance in the narrator’s life and the theme of transition.

Historical Narrative

Description: Recounts historical events or periods through a personal lens.

Purpose: Presents history through personal experiences or perspectives.

Topic: “A Grandfather’s Tales: Living Through the Great Depression”

Focus: Shares personal stories from a family member who lived through a historical era, offering insights into that period.

Digital or Multimedia Narrative

Description: Incorporates multimedia elements like images, videos, or audio to tell a story.

Purpose: Explores storytelling through various digital platforms or formats.

Topic: “A Travel Diary: Exploring Europe Through Vlogs”

Focus: Combines video clips, photos, and personal narration to document a travel experience.

How to Choose a Topic for Your Narrative Essay?

Selecting a compelling topic for your narrative essay is crucial as it sets the stage for your storytelling. Choosing a boring topic is one of the narrative essay mistakes to avoid . Here’s a detailed guide on how to choose the right topic:

Reflect on Personal Experiences

  • Significant Moments:

Moments that had a profound impact on your life or shaped your perspective.

Example: A moment of triumph, overcoming a fear, a life-changing decision, or an unforgettable experience.

  • Emotional Resonance:

Events that evoke strong emotions or feelings.

Example: Joy, fear, sadness, excitement, or moments of realization.

  • Lessons Learned:

Experiences that taught you valuable lessons or brought about personal growth.

Example: Challenges that led to personal development, shifts in mindset, or newfound insights.

Explore Unique Perspectives

  • Uncommon Experiences:

Unique or unconventional experiences that might captivate the reader’s interest.

Example: Unusual travels, interactions with different cultures, or uncommon hobbies.

  • Different Points of View:

Stories from others’ perspectives that impacted you deeply.

Example: A family member’s story, a friend’s experience, or a historical event from a personal lens.

Focus on Specific Themes or Concepts

  • Themes or Concepts of Interest:

Themes or ideas you want to explore through storytelling.

Example: Friendship, resilience, identity, cultural diversity, or personal transformation.

  • Symbolism or Metaphor:

Using symbols or metaphors as the core of your narrative.

Example: Exploring the symbolism of an object or a place in relation to a broader theme.

Consider Your Audience and Purpose

  • Relevance to Your Audience:

Topics that resonate with your audience’s interests or experiences.

Example: Choose a relatable theme or experience that your readers might connect with emotionally.

  • Impact or Message:

What message or insight do you want to convey through your story?

Example: Choose a topic that aligns with the message or lesson you aim to impart to your readers.

Brainstorm and Evaluate Ideas

  • Free Writing or Mind Mapping:

Process: Write down all potential ideas without filtering. Mind maps or free-writing exercises can help generate diverse ideas.

  • Evaluate Feasibility:

The depth of the story, the availability of vivid details, and your personal connection to the topic.

Imagine you’re considering topics for a narrative essay. You reflect on your experiences and decide to explore the topic of “Overcoming Stage Fright: How a School Play Changed My Perspective.” This topic resonates because it involves a significant challenge you faced and the personal growth it brought about.

Narrative Essay Topics

50 easy narrative essay topics.

  • Learning to Ride a Bike
  • My First Day of School
  • A Surprise Birthday Party
  • The Day I Got Lost
  • Visiting a Haunted House
  • An Encounter with a Wild Animal
  • My Favorite Childhood Toy
  • The Best Vacation I Ever Had
  • An Unforgettable Family Gathering
  • Conquering a Fear of Heights
  • A Special Gift I Received
  • Moving to a New City
  • The Most Memorable Meal
  • Getting Caught in a Rainstorm
  • An Act of Kindness I Witnessed
  • The First Time I Cooked a Meal
  • My Experience with a New Hobby
  • The Day I Met My Best Friend
  • A Hike in the Mountains
  • Learning a New Language
  • An Embarrassing Moment
  • Dealing with a Bully
  • My First Job Interview
  • A Sporting Event I Attended
  • The Scariest Dream I Had
  • Helping a Stranger
  • The Joy of Achieving a Goal
  • A Road Trip Adventure
  • Overcoming a Personal Challenge
  • The Significance of a Family Tradition
  • An Unusual Pet I Owned
  • A Misunderstanding with a Friend
  • Exploring an Abandoned Building
  • My Favorite Book and Why
  • The Impact of a Role Model
  • A Cultural Celebration I Participated In
  • A Valuable Lesson from a Teacher
  • A Trip to the Zoo
  • An Unplanned Adventure
  • Volunteering Experience
  • A Moment of Forgiveness
  • A Decision I Regretted
  • A Special Talent I Have
  • The Importance of Family Traditions
  • The Thrill of Performing on Stage
  • A Moment of Sudden Inspiration
  • The Meaning of Home
  • Learning to Play a Musical Instrument
  • A Childhood Memory at the Park
  • Witnessing a Beautiful Sunset

Narrative Essay Topics for College Students

  • Discovering a New Passion
  • Overcoming Academic Challenges
  • Navigating Cultural Differences
  • Embracing Independence: Moving Away from Home
  • Exploring Career Aspirations
  • Coping with Stress in College
  • The Impact of a Mentor in My Life
  • Balancing Work and Studies
  • Facing a Fear of Public Speaking
  • Exploring a Semester Abroad
  • The Evolution of My Study Habits
  • Volunteering Experience That Changed My Perspective
  • The Role of Technology in Education
  • Finding Balance: Social Life vs. Academics
  • Learning a New Skill Outside the Classroom
  • Reflecting on Freshman Year Challenges
  • The Joys and Struggles of Group Projects
  • My Experience with Internship or Work Placement
  • Challenges of Time Management in College
  • Redefining Success Beyond Grades
  • The Influence of Literature on My Thinking
  • The Impact of Social Media on College Life
  • Overcoming Procrastination
  • Lessons from a Leadership Role
  • Exploring Diversity on Campus
  • Exploring Passion for Environmental Conservation
  • An Eye-Opening Course That Changed My Perspective
  • Living with Roommates: Challenges and Lessons
  • The Significance of Extracurricular Activities
  • The Influence of a Professor on My Academic Journey
  • Discussing Mental Health in College
  • The Evolution of My Career Goals
  • Confronting Personal Biases Through Education
  • The Experience of Attending a Conference or Symposium
  • Challenges Faced by Non-Native English Speakers in College
  • The Impact of Traveling During Breaks
  • Exploring Identity: Cultural or Personal
  • The Impact of Music or Art on My Life
  • Addressing Diversity in the Classroom
  • Exploring Entrepreneurial Ambitions
  • My Experience with Research Projects
  • Overcoming Impostor Syndrome in College
  • The Importance of Networking in College
  • Finding Resilience During Tough Times
  • The Impact of Global Issues on Local Perspectives
  • The Influence of Family Expectations on Education
  • Lessons from a Part-Time Job
  • Exploring the College Sports Culture
  • The Role of Technology in Modern Education
  • The Journey of Self-Discovery Through Education

Narrative Essay Comparison

Narrative essay vs. descriptive essay.

Here’s our first narrative essay comparison! While both narrative and descriptive essays focus on vividly portraying a subject or an event, they differ in their primary objectives and approaches. Now, let’s delve into the nuances of comparison on narrative essays.

Narrative Essay:

Storytelling: Focuses on narrating a personal experience or event.

Chronological Order: Follows a structured timeline of events to tell a story.

Message or Lesson: Often includes a central message, moral, or lesson learned from the experience.

Engagement: Aims to captivate the reader through a compelling storyline and character development.

First-Person Perspective: Typically narrated from the writer’s point of view, using “I” and expressing personal emotions and thoughts.

Plot Development: Emphasizes a plot with a beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Character Development: Focuses on describing characters, their interactions, emotions, and growth.

Conflict or Challenge: Usually involves a central conflict or challenge that drives the narrative forward.

Dialogue: Incorporates conversations to bring characters and their interactions to life.

Reflection: Concludes with reflection or insight gained from the experience.

Descriptive Essay:

Vivid Description: Aims to vividly depict a person, place, object, or event.

Imagery and Details: Focuses on sensory details to create a vivid image in the reader’s mind.

Emotion through Description: Uses descriptive language to evoke emotions and engage the reader’s senses.

Painting a Picture: Creates a sensory-rich description allowing the reader to visualize the subject.

Imagery and Sensory Details: Focuses on providing rich sensory descriptions, using vivid language and adjectives.

Point of Focus: Concentrates on describing a specific subject or scene in detail.

Spatial Organization: Often employs spatial organization to describe from one area or aspect to another.

Objective Observations: Typically avoids the use of personal opinions or emotions; instead, the focus remains on providing a detailed and objective description.

Comparison:

Focus: Narrative essays emphasize storytelling, while descriptive essays focus on vividly describing a subject or scene.

Perspective: Narrative essays are often written from a first-person perspective, while descriptive essays may use a more objective viewpoint.

Purpose: Narrative essays aim to convey a message or lesson through a story, while descriptive essays aim to paint a detailed picture for the reader without necessarily conveying a specific message.

Narrative Essay vs. Argumentative Essay

The narrative essay and the argumentative essay serve distinct purposes and employ different approaches:

Engagement and Emotion: Aims to captivate the reader through a compelling story.

Reflective: Often includes reflection on the significance of the experience or lessons learned.

First-Person Perspective: Typically narrated from the writer’s point of view, sharing personal emotions and thoughts.

Plot Development: Emphasizes a storyline with a beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Message or Lesson: Conveys a central message, moral, or insight derived from the experience.

Argumentative Essay:

Persuasion and Argumentation: Aims to persuade the reader to adopt the writer’s viewpoint on a specific topic.

Logical Reasoning: Presents evidence, facts, and reasoning to support a particular argument or stance.

Debate and Counterarguments: Acknowledge opposing views and counter them with evidence and reasoning.

Thesis Statement: Includes a clear thesis statement that outlines the writer’s position on the topic.

Thesis and Evidence: Starts with a strong thesis statement and supports it with factual evidence, statistics, expert opinions, or logical reasoning.

Counterarguments: Addresses opposing viewpoints and provides rebuttals with evidence.

Logical Structure: Follows a logical structure with an introduction, body paragraphs presenting arguments and evidence, and a conclusion reaffirming the thesis.

Formal Language: Uses formal language and avoids personal anecdotes or emotional appeals.

Objective: Argumentative essays focus on presenting a logical argument supported by evidence, while narrative essays prioritize storytelling and personal reflection.

Purpose: Argumentative essays aim to persuade and convince the reader of a particular viewpoint, while narrative essays aim to engage, entertain, and share personal experiences.

Structure: Narrative essays follow a storytelling structure with character development and plot, while argumentative essays follow a more formal, structured approach with logical arguments and evidence.

In essence, while both essays involve writing and presenting information, the narrative essay focuses on sharing a personal experience, whereas the argumentative essay aims to persuade the audience by presenting a well-supported argument.

Narrative Essay vs. Personal Essay

While there can be an overlap between narrative and personal essays, they have distinctive characteristics:

Storytelling: Emphasizes recounting a specific experience or event in a structured narrative form.

Engagement through Story: Aims to engage the reader through a compelling story with characters, plot, and a central theme or message.

Reflective: Often includes reflection on the significance of the experience and the lessons learned.

First-Person Perspective: Typically narrated from the writer’s viewpoint, expressing personal emotions and thoughts.

Plot Development: Focuses on developing a storyline with a clear beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Character Development: Includes descriptions of characters, their interactions, emotions, and growth.

Central Message: Conveys a central message, moral, or insight derived from the experience.

Personal Essay:

Exploration of Ideas or Themes: Explores personal ideas, opinions, or reflections on a particular topic or subject.

Expression of Thoughts and Opinions: Expresses the writer’s thoughts, feelings, and perspectives on a specific subject matter.

Reflection and Introspection: Often involves self-reflection and introspection on personal experiences, beliefs, or values.

Varied Structure and Content: Can encompass various forms, including memoirs, personal anecdotes, or reflections on life experiences.

Flexibility in Structure: Allows for diverse structures and forms based on the writer’s intent, which could be narrative-like or more reflective.

Theme-Centric Writing: Focuses on exploring a central theme or idea, with personal anecdotes or experiences supporting and illustrating the theme.

Expressive Language: Utilizes descriptive and expressive language to convey personal perspectives, emotions, and opinions.

Focus: Narrative essays primarily focus on storytelling through a structured narrative, while personal essays encompass a broader range of personal expression, which can include storytelling but isn’t limited to it.

Structure: Narrative essays have a more structured plot development with characters and a clear sequence of events, while personal essays might adopt various structures, focusing more on personal reflection, ideas, or themes.

Intent: While both involve personal experiences, narrative essays emphasize telling a story with a message or lesson learned, while personal essays aim to explore personal thoughts, feelings, or opinions on a broader range of topics or themes.

5 Easy Steps for Writing a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is more than just telling a story. It’s also meant to engage the reader, get them thinking, and leave a lasting impact. Whether it’s to amuse, motivate, teach, or reflect, these essays are a great way to communicate with your audience. This interesting narrative essay guide was all about letting you understand the narrative essay, its importance, and how can you write one.

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How to Start a Narrative Essay

Last Updated: February 13, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 206,331 times.

A narrative essay tells a story, which allows you to flex your creative muscles. Your story may be fictional or nonfictional, depending on the requirements of your assignment. At first, starting your narrative essay might seem hard, but you can make your work simpler by narrowing down your topic and planning out your story. Then, you’ll be able to easily write your story’s introduction.

Choosing a Topic for Your Narrative

Step 1 Read your assignment to identify the prompt and expectations.

  • If your instructor provides a rubric, read over it thoroughly to identify the expectations for full credit. Later, you can measure your essay against the rubric before turning in the assignment.
  • If you have questions about the assignment, ask your instructor for clarification.

Step 2 Brainstorm...

  • List the first thoughts that come to mind when you think about the prompt or question.
  • Make a mind map to sort out your ideas.
  • Use freewriting to uncover story ideas. Simply write whatever comes to mind without worrying about grammar or making sense.
  • Make an outline to help put your ideas in order.

Step 3 Choose a single meaningful event to detail in the story.

  • Don’t try to cover too much in one essay, as this will be too hard for your reader to follow.
  • For example, let’s say the prompt reads: “Write about a setback that taught you perseverance.” You might want to write about an injury you overcame. To narrow down your story, you might focus on the first time you exercised your injured limb after the accident, as well as the difficulties you faced.

Step 4 Decide on a theme or message for your story.

  • For instance, the story about recovering from an injury might have a theme of overcoming hardships or persevering to reach a goal. You might want your reader to finish your story feeling inspired and uplifted. To achieve this feeling, you'd want to focus on your successes throughout the process and end the story with a positive thought.

Planning Your Story

Step 1 List and describe the characters in your story.

  • If you are a character in your story, you will still need to complete this step. It's up to you how much detail you want to write down about yourself. However, it's helpful to take note of your description, interests, and desires at the time the story takes place, especially if a lot of time has passed.
  • A main character description might look like this: “Kate, 12 - An athletic basketball player who suffers an injury. She wants to recover from her injury so she can return to the court. She’s the patient of Andy, a physical therapist who is helping her recover.”
  • A side character description might read like this: “Dr. Lopez is a friendly, fatherly middle-aged doctor who treats Kate in the emergency room.”

Step 2 Describe the setting of your story in a few brief statements.

  • For example, a story about overcoming a sports injury might include a few settings, such as the basketball court, the ambulance, the hospital, and a physical therapy office. Although you want to show your reader each setting, you'll spend the most time on the main setting of your story.
  • You might list the following descriptors about the basketball court: “squeaky floor,” “roar of the crowd,” “bright overhead lights,” “team colors in the stands,” “smell of sweat and sports drinks,” and “wet jersey sticking to my back.”
  • Your story may feature several different settings, but you don't need to provide the same level of detail about each one. For instance, you may be in an ambulance for a brief moment in the scene. You don't need to fully describe the ambulance, but you might tell the reader about "feeling cold and alone in the sterile ambulance."

Step 3 Map out the plot of your story with a beginning, middle, and end.

  • For example, you might introduce a young basketball player who is about to make a big play. The incident that kicks off the story might be her injury. Then, the rising action is the basketball player’s efforts to complete physical therapy and get back into the game. The climax might be the day of tryouts for the team. You might resolve the story by having her find her name on the team list, at which point she realizes she can overcome any obstacle.
  • It’s helpful to use Freytag’s triangle or a graphic organizer to plan your essay. Freytag's triangle looks like a triangle with a long line to its left and a short line to its right. It's a tool that helps you plan out your story's beginning (exposition), an incident that starts your story's events, the rising action, a climax, the falling action, and the resolution of your story.
  • You can find a Freytag's triangle template or a graphic organizer for your narrative essay online. [8] X Research source

Step 4 Write out the climax of your story either in detail or as an outline.

  • The most common types of conflict include person vs. person, person vs. nature, and person vs. self. Some stories will have more than one type of conflict.
  • In the story about the young athlete who gets injured, her conflict might be person vs. self, as she’s having to push through her pain and limitations.

Step 5 Choose a point-of-view for your story, such as 1st person or 3rd person.

  • In most cases, a personal narrative will use the 1st person “I” point-of-view. For example, “Over my last summer with my grandfather, I learned more than how to fish.”
  • If you’re telling a fictional story, you might use the 3rd person point of you. Use your character’s name, as well as the appropriate pronouns like “he” or “she.” For instance, “Mia picked up the locket and opened it.”

Writing Your Introduction

Step 1 Begin your essay with a hook to engage your reader.

  • Start your essay with a rhetorical question. For instance, “Have you ever faced losing something that’s important to you?”
  • Give a quote that fits your essay. You might write, “According to Rosa Gomez, ‘You don’t know how strong you are until a setback breaks you.”
  • Provide an interesting fact that’s related to your story. As an example, “About 70% of kids will stop playing sports by the age of 13, and I was almost one of them.”
  • Use a short anecdote that relates to the larger story. For your essay about overcoming an injury, you might include a short story about your best moment playing sports before your injury.
  • Start with a shocking statement. You might write, “As soon as they loaded me into the ambulance, I knew I might never play sports again.”

Step 2 Introduce the main characters in your story.

  • Let’s say your main character is you. You could write, “As a tall, lean 12-year-old, I easily outplayed the other girls on the court.” This gives the reader a picture about what you might look like, as well as your interest in sports and athletic ability.
  • If you’re telling a fictional story, you might introduce your character like this: “As she walked toward the high school debate podium, Luz exuded confidence from her Kate Spade headband down to her thrift shop Betsey Johnson pumps.” Not only does this help the audience picture Luz, but it also shows that she puts effort into her appearance. The fact that she shops at thrift stores might indicate that her family isn’t as wealthy as she portrays.

Step 3 Describe the setting to set the scene for your story.

  • You might write, “It was my 7th-grade year, and I knew I had to make varsity if I were going to get attention from the high school coaches.”
  • Sensory details trigger your senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. As an example, “My shoes squeaked across the court as I dribbled toward the goal line, the red basket in sight. Sweat made the ball feel slippery against my fingertips, and its salty taste coated my lips.”

Step 4 Include an overview of the story and its theme in the last sentence.

  • For instance, you might write, “I never expected that pass across the court to be my last for the season. However, recovering from my injury taught me I’m a strong person who can accomplish anything I set out to do.”

Sample Introduction and Outline

good intro for narrative essay

Expert Q&A

  • A narrative essay will always tell a story, so make sure your essay has a clear plot. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0

good intro for narrative essay

  • Don’t borrow someone else’s ideas for your story or copy someone else’s writing. This is plagiarism and can result in severe academic penalties, including loss of credit. Thanks Helpful 37 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ https://www.nova.edu/tutoring-testing/study-resources/forms/planning-narrative-essay.pdf
  • ↑ https://spcollege.libguides.com/c.php?g=254430&p=1697470
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/narrative_essays.html
  • ↑ https://human.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Literature_and_Literacy/Writing_and_Critical_Thinking_Through_Literature_(Ringo_and_Kashyap)/02%3A_About_Creative_Nonfiction/2.02%3A_Elements_of_Creative_Nonfiction
  • ↑ https://penandthepad.com/start-narrative-essay-english-7667341.html

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

If you’re struggling to start your narrative essay, find a way to encourage your reader to keep reading and introduce your main characters. Since opening lines can pull a reader in, choose something catchy that’s related to your story. For example, if your essay is about loss, you could open with a question like, “Have you ever faced losing something that’s important to you?” Then, add some details about your story’s setting that will interest the reader, such as describing how your trainers squeaked as you dribbled across the court if your story is about sports. You should also include enough information about the main character to peak the reader’s interest, like “She was a tall, lean 12-year-old,” but not too much so they know everything. For tips from our Writing co-author on how to plan out your entire narrative essay before you start writing, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Start a Narrative Essay: Engaging Techniques for a Strong Opening

By: Author Paul Jenkins

Posted on May 27, 2024

Categories Education , Writing

Crafting the beginning of a narrative essay sets the stage for the story you’re about to tell.

It requires choosing an engaging topic, which can be personal, fictional, or even autobiographical, and embedding a tone that captures and holds your reader’s attention.

An impactful introduction plays the crucial role of providing a glimpse into the setting, characters, and the overarching theme without giving away the entire plot.

A Blank Page With A Pencil Resting On Top, Surrounded By Scattered Brainstorming Notes And A Focused Expression

Establishing the right narrative structure is fundamental, as a clear sequence of events maintains reader interest and drives the essay forward.

Incorporating dialogue and various literary devices enhances the vividness of a narrative essay, allowing characters to come to life.

Writing a narrative essay is about telling a story that is compelling, coherent, and leaves a lasting impression on its audience.

Key Takeaways

  • The introduction of a narrative essay must captivate and set the premise for the story.
  • Effective storytelling in essays involves clarity, engagement, and a thorough narrative structure.
  • Revision and proofreading are essential processes in ensuring a polished final essay.

Introduction

When embarking on the crafting of a narrative essay , the introduction serves as the pivotal gateway for the reader .

It is the part of the essay where a writer has the opportunity to seize the reader’s attention and set the tone for the narrative that unfolds.

This section should encompass the beginning of the story arc while introducing the central theme in a manner that is both engaging and informative.

To captivate the reader , employ a hook —an intriguing opening line or an evocative question.

This hook could take the form of a striking statement, a vivid description, or a compelling anecdote. The goal is to pique curiosity and encourage further reading.

Structure of the Introduction:

  • Example : Start with a dialogue or a pivotal moment.
  • Example : Introduce the main characters and setting briefly.
  • Example : Foreshadow the core conflict or challenge.

The introduction should not only hook but also smoothly transition to the middle of the essay where the main events take place.

It must ensure a coherent flow towards the eventual end of the narrative, completing the story arc in a satisfying manner.

The art of beginning a narrative essay lies in striking a balance— capturing attention and laying the groundwork for the story to come.

The author is the architect of this delicate opening, designing it to be both alluring and informative, setting the stage for the narrative adventure.

Selecting a Topic and Setting the Tone

Before starting a narrative essay, one must select a topic that resonates with their personal experiences and decide upon the tone that will carry the narrative forward. These aspects set the foundation for a compelling essay.

Brainstorming Ideas

Brainstorming is a critical step for unlocking creative themes and potential essay topics .

Using methods such as mind maps or lists can help one to visually organize their thoughts and find connections between them.

Writers should consider prompts that inspire them and reflect on personal experiences for authentic and engaging stories.

  • List past experiences related to the essay’s purpose
  • Utilize prompt guidelines to steer the brainstorming process
  • Develop a mind map to explore different angles of a potential topic

Deciding on the Narrative’s Tone

The tone of a narrative essay shapes the reader’s perception and can vary from humorous to solemn. It should align with the theme and the writer’s intent.

When a writer has selected a topic , they must consider the emotional atmosphere they wish to create.

They ought to ask themselves what response they want to evoke in the reader.

Crafting a Compelling Opening

The beginning of a narrative essay sets the trajectory for the reader’s journey. It’s crucial to engage your audience with a powerful hook and a vivid setting.

Using a Hook

A narrative essay benefits from a hook that grabs the reader’s attention from the first sentence.

This could be a provocative question , a surprising fact , or an intriguing quote from a character.

For instance, opening with a rhetorical question invites the reader to ponder and engage directly with the essay’s theme.

Alternatively, a shocking statement can create immediate intrigue or conflict that compels the reader to continue.

  • Question : “Have you ever wondered where fear comes from?”
  • Quote : She whispered, “Dreams have a way of making a heart speak.”
  • Shocking Statement : They never told him that the price of his dreams would be his nightmares.

Setting the Scene

Establishing the scene is about more than just describing a location. It involves introducing the characters, the ambiance, and the time frame, which provides context and grounds the narrative.

Utilizing a first-person perspective can create intimacy, which can be a powerful way to immerse readers in the essay’s universe.

Detailed descriptions enable the audience to visualize the setting and form a connection with the characters.

Developing the Narrative Structure

When creating a narrative essay, it’s crucial to construct a clear and coherent narrative structure . This ensures that the plot unfolds in a deliberate manner, maintains the reader’s interest through controlled pace and suspense, and delivers a satisfying resolution.

Outlining the Plot

An effective narrative essay begins with a detailed outline .

This provides a framework to organize events in a logical sequence while addressing essential elements of the narrative such as conflict , climax , and resolution .

The plot should be outlined as follows:

  • Exposition : Introduce characters, setting, and background.
  • Rising Action : Develop the conflict or challenges that propel the story.
  • Climax : Bring the story to a turning point with the highest level of tension.
  • Falling Action : Resolve the tensions and lead toward the closure.
  • Resolution : Provide a satisfying conclusion to the story.

Carefully planning these elements enables the writer to maintain chronological order or apply a non-linear storytelling technique effectively.

Establishing Pace and Building Suspense

Manipulating the pace of a narrative essay is key to building suspense . Key strategies include:

  • Vary sentence length : Short, sharp sentences can accelerate pace, while longer ones can slow it down.
  • Timing of revelations : Disclose information at strategic points to keep readers intrigued.
  • Use of details : Descriptive details can create an atmosphere that heightens anticipation or foreboding.

By considering how each event impacts the tension of the narrative, writers can deftly control pace to emphasize the suspense leading up to the climax .

The writer’s goal should be to guide the reader through a roller coaster of emotions, culminating in a memorable impact.

Describing Characters and Setting

To captivate readers from the start, a narrative essay needs to paint a picture of its characters and setting in vivid detail. This section will cover how to craft characters that feel alive and create a setting that immerses readers in your story’s world.

Crafting Vivid Characters

Character creation begins with descriptive language that outlines key traits and qualities.

First, consider their physical appearance, incorporating details like hair color, posture, and clothing, which can imply personality without stating it directly.

For example, a character with scruffy clothes and untamed hair might suggest a carefree or rugged lifestyle.

It’s also essential to include dialogue that reflects their unique voice, which can reveal their education level, background, and temperament.

Writers often use first-person or third-person perspectives to provide insight into thoughts and motivations, enriching the reader’s understanding of characters’ complexities.

Utilize personal anecdotes and figurative language , such as similes or subtle metaphors, to create memorable impressions of characters.

Creating an Immersive Setting

An immersive setting draws readers into the world where the narrative unfolds.

Begin by pinpointing the time period and location , whether it’s a modern city or a historical backdrop.

Use descriptive language to highlight sensory details like sounds, smells, and textures.

For instance, describing an urban setting might include the cacophony of city traffic and the aroma of street food .

Integrate vivid details that evoke the atmosphere, perhaps contrasting the warmth of a soft blanket against the chill of a dimly lit room.

Employing figurative language aids in connecting readers emotionally to the space, whether it’s through a simile describing the oppressive heat of a room as “like being wrapped in a thick blanket” or a metaphor likening the forest’s silence to a deserted cathedral.

Incorporating dialogue can also reveal the setting, such as characters commenting on their environment or reacting to changes around them.

Conveying the Theme and Message

When composing a narrative essay, the theme should serve as the compass guiding every paragraph. An effective theme is both universal and personal, resonating with the reader while offering insight into the writer’s unique perspective. It is essentially the main idea or moral of the story.

Message in narrative essays translates the writer’s personal statement and central argument into the fabric of the narrative.

As one constructs the narrative, it’s crucial to interweave the message subtly yet consistently to keep the reader engaged and impart the intended lesson.

To effectively communicate the message and theme, an author can employ various literary devices with symbolism being particularly potent. For example:

  • A character’s journey may represent life’s challenges.
  • Objects can hold significant meaning, enlightening the reader about the narrative’s deeper layers.

Literature is ripe with examples where authors seamlessly blend theme and message, making both an inseparable part of the reader’s experience. Writers should aspire to this balance, ensuring that neither overwhelms the other, but instead, they complement each other to enhance the story.

Writers should consider the following points:

  • Identify the core: What is the heart of the story?
  • Consistency is key: The theme should be evident throughout the narrative.
  • Subtlety in delivery: Overstating the theme can be jarring.

Writing Body Paragraphs

When constructing the body paragraphs of a narrative essay, the writer must focus on advancing the story while ensuring emotional resonance and factual accuracy.

The narrative should unfold from one paragraph to the next with a clear purpose in support of the central theme.

Building the Narrative

The body paragraphs serve as the building blocks of the narrative essay. They should each contribute a unique scene or idea, while still connecting smoothly to form a cohesive story.

A reliable technique is to provide compelling facts and details that breathe life into the narrative.

This can be achieved by implementing a first-person point of view that adds personal depth, making the narrative more immersive.

For example, if the paragraph describes an event, the writer should include sensory details:

  • Sight : “As the sunrise painted the sky in hues of gold and pink…”
  • Sound : “The rustling leaves whispered secrets of the forest…”

Creating Emotional Impact

Emotion is the heartbeat of a narrative essay, and body paragraphs should evoke feelings that are fitting for the story’s events.

The writer’s choice of words and the rhythm of sentences can significantly influence the reader’s emotional experience.

For instance, short, abrupt sentences can create tension or surprise, while longer, flowing sentences may establish a serene or nostalgic mood.

A sentence like “She watched the last train leave, a heavyweight of loss settling on her shoulders,” can encapsulate a profound emotional moment within a paragraph.

Incorporating Dialogue and Literary Devices

In narrative essays, dialogue serves as a powerful tool to enhance storytelling. Not only does it develop characters and move the plot, but it also grants readers access to the characters’ thoughts and emotions.

Effective dialogue should mirror authentic speech yet remain concise and purposeful.

Literary devices deepen the reader’s experience. For instance, metaphors create vivid imagery by making indirect comparisons, which enrich the narrative and offer deeper insights.

A metaphor, such as “life is a journey,” symbolizes the comparison without using “like” or “as,” as one would with a simile.

A descriptive essay utilizes a variety of literary devices.

One such device, the anecdote , grounds the reader in a specific moment, often used at the beginning of the essay to hook the reader’s interest. An anecdote might describe a brief, impactful moment that sets the stage for the main narrative.

Additionally, comparisons —such as analogies and similes—help to clarify and relate experiences to the reader, often leading to a better understanding and connection with the essay’s themes.

Literary DevicePurpose in Narrative Essay
DialogueAdds realism, character development, and advances the plot.
MetaphorCreates symbolic comparisons that enrich narrative imagery.
AnecdoteOffers a compelling opening or illustrates a point succinctly.
ComparisonClarifies and relates experiences to the reader.

Fostering Engagement and Empathy

When starting a narrative essay, the writer’s goal is to engage the audience by creating an emotional connection. To achieve this, they should consider integrating elements of empathy that resonate with readers.

  • Personal Stories : These are powerful tools. A relatable personal story can immediately draw readers in, making them invested in the outcomes and challenges faced by the characters.
  • Hardships and Resilience : Describing obstacles and the character’s resilience encourages readers to empathize. They should see the struggles as part of a shared human experience.

Writers can cultivate empathy by allowing their audience to walk in the shoes of the protagonist. This connection is deepened when they:

  • Use descriptive language to paint a vivid picture of the character’s situation.
  • Share inner thoughts and emotions to showcase the character’s humanity and vulnerability.

Finally, it is crucial to maintain a neutral and clear voice. Over-dramatization can alienate readers, while a well-crafted narrative stirs genuine emotion.

Concluding the Narrative Essay

In completing a narrative essay, one must ensure that the conclusion reaffirms the essay’s core theme and leaves the reader with a sense of resolution and reflection.

Bringing Closure to the Story

A successful conclusion serves as the final piece of the narrative puzzle. It should not introduce new information but instead, connect back to the essay’s main message or theme.

This can be achieved with:

  • Summarization of Key Points : Briefly recap the primary events to remind the reader of the journey.
  • Reiteration of the Theme : Clearly express how the events reinforce the central theme of the narrative.

When one wraps up their story, clarity and consistency with the established narrative are crucial to avoid confusing their audience.

Reflecting on the Journey

The conclusion is where one can offer reflection, illuminating how the narrative journey has influenced characters or the writer themselves.

Reflection should focus on:

Growth or Change :

  • Discuss how characters have evolved or what lessons they may have learned.
  • Illustrate the success or transformation to underscore the narrative’s impact.

Personal or Broader Implications :

  • Share insights on how the story’s events extend beyond the narrative to resonate with a larger truth or societal message.

Revising and Proofreading

Revising and proofreading are critical final steps in the essay writing process. They fine-tune one’s writing skills and ensure that the narrative essay conveys its message effectively and clearly.

Revising involves evaluating the overall structure, content, and flow of the essay.

Writers should check if the story is complete, engaging, and makes a point.

They should consider the following aspects:

  • Organization : Does the essay follow a logical order?
  • Clarity : Are the ideas clear and well-explained?
  • Consistency : Are the characters and settings consistent throughout?

Proofreading is the last step and focuses on correcting grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors.

It’s essential to carefully comb through every line to catch and rectify mistakes that could detract from the essay’s professionalism.

Tips for effective proofreading:

  • Take a break after revising to approach the essay with fresh eyes.
  • Read aloud to identify awkward phrasing or errors that might be missed when reading silently.
  • Use digital tools, but still do a manual check, as tools may not catch everything.

Incorporating feedback from peers can be invaluable for both revising and proofreading.

Fresh perspectives can help identify areas for improvement that the writer might overlook.

Revising and proofreading should not be rushed.

They require time and attention to detail to elevate the quality of the narrative essay.

Remember, these steps may seem demanding, but they are crucial in refining writing skills and producing a polished, publishable narrative essay.

Differences from Other Essay Types

When writing an essay, it’s important to understand how the goal and structure differ among various types. A narrative essay’s primary purpose is to tell a story, in contrast to other types which aim to describe, argue, or explain.

Narrative vs. Descriptive Essays

Narrative Essays :

  • Purpose : To tell a chronological story with a clear point.
  • Structure : Includes characters, a setting, a climax, and a resolution.

Descriptive Essays :

  • Purpose : To create a vivid image of a person, place, thing, or event.
  • Structure : Focuses on sensory details without necessarily following a chronological order.

In narrative essays, the chronological flow is central, while descriptive essays do not require a story’s progression but rather elaborate on details to paint a picture.

Narrative vs. Argumentative Essays

  • Focus : Shares a personal experience or story.
  • Perspective : Can be subjective, offering a personal viewpoint.

Argumentative Essays :

  • Focus : Presents a position on an issue with supporting arguments.
  • Evidence : Utilizes facts, data, and logical reasoning to persuade.

Unlike narrative essays, argumentative essays advance a thesis through well-substantiated arguments, aiming to convince the reader of a particular stance.

Narrative vs. Expository Essays

  • Approach : Utilizes storytelling elements to convey a narrative.
  • Connection : Engages emotions and personal connections.

Expository Essays :

  • Approach : Provides information or explains a topic in a structured manner.
  • Connection : Focused on delivering facts and logical explanations.

Expository essays are informational and rely less on an emotional connection with the audience, as opposed to the more personal and emotionally driven narratives.

Adhering to Essay Requirements

When a student begins a narrative essay, understanding and following the specific requirements is crucial. Whether for high school assignments or college essays , including those for the Common App , the format and guidelines are the foundation for a well-structured essay.

High School Requirements:

  • Narrative essays typically adhere to a standard five-paragraph format , consisting of an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • The emphasis is usually on creative writing and storytelling.

College Essay Considerations:

  • College applications may have more specific prompts and a focus on personal reflection.
  • Colleges often require adherence to style guides such as APA, MLA, or Chicago.

Common App Instructions:

  • Essays should recount a student’s personal experiences, detailing how they have grown or overcome obstacles.
  • The narrative must fit within the stated word count, typically 250-650 words.

Formatting Tips:

  • Use clear, legible fonts like Times New Roman or Arial, sized to 12 pt.
  • Double-space text to improve readability.

Students should always review the essay prompt thoroughly and consider any provided rubrics or examples, which outline the expected criteria for the narrative.

One should never underestimate the importance of editing and proofreading; even minor formatting errors can detract from the content’s impact.

Tips for First-Time Writers

When first-time writers approach a narrative essay, they should focus on cultivating a habit that encourages writing exercises to strengthen their creative muscles .

  • Begin with Brainstorming : Allocate time to ponder different life experiences, which can be employed as the backbone of a narrative essay. These reflections assist in finding a meaningful topic.
  • Outline Your Story : Constructing an outline helps in organizing thoughts methodically. It serves as a roadmap and ensures the narrative includes a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Persistence is Key : Novice writers must remember that perseverance in the face of challenges is crucial.

  • Seek Feedback : Whether from peers or an instructor , constructive criticism can be invaluable. They offer fresh perspectives that can enhance the essay’s clarity and impact.
  • Read and Analyze : Studying well-crafted narrative essays can serve as a great educational tool. One can learn a lot about pacing, character development, and dialogue.

Incorporating these tips, first-time writers can navigate the nuances of a narrative essay more effectively, creating engaging and clear stories imbued with personal flair and authenticity.

Advanced Techniques in Narrative Essays

In the crafting of narrative essays, writers can employ a repertoire of advanced techniques to enhance the storytelling experience.

One of the key elements is the strategic use of literary devices .

Metaphors, similes, and personification add depth to the narrative, allowing readers to connect on a more emotional level.

Writers may also integrate dialogue, carefully punctuated with action, to bring characters to life.

An effective narrative essay outline includes a climax , the pinnacle of tension or conflict upon which the story turns.

Building up to this zenith with escalating events not only hooks the reader but also paves the way for a satisfying resolution.

In the realm of details , specificity is crucial.

Rather than broad brushstrokes, successful narratives zoom in on the small, peculiarities that render scenes vivid.

The smell of rain on pavement, the stutter in a character’s speech, and the particular shade of twilight are the types of details that create authenticity.

Narrative ElementTechniquePurpose
SettingUse precise wordsGround readers in time and place
CharactersDevelop through dialogue and actionsFoster reader-character connection
PlotForeshadowing and flashbacksBuild suspense and depth

Leveraging Personal Challenges

Leveraging personal challenges in a narrative essay can powerfully showcase resilience and personal growth. A writer may choose to share insights on how they’ve navigated through a difficult time, providing a rich backdrop for a compelling story.

Selecting the Right Challenge: It is crucial to pick a personal hurdle that has significantly impacted one’s life.

This could be a setback , failure , injury , or a difficult situation where a passion was put to the test.

The chosen challenge should serve as a catalyst for growth or change, revealing the individual’s capacity to adapt and persevere.

  • Setbacks can demonstrate tenacity.
  • Failures offer a path to introspection and improvement.
  • Injuries might highlight physical and mental recovery and determination.
  • A stifled passion can illustrate the process of overcoming barriers to pursue a dream.

Incorporating the Challenge: When writing about personal challenges, the essay should start with a clear depiction of the issue.

He or she should employ vivid descriptions that paint a picture of the circumstances surrounding the challenge. This creates empathy and allows the reader to understand the gravity of the situation.

For example:

  • The exact moment an injury occurred during a pivotal game.
  • The intense emotions felt after a significant failure or setback .

Transition to Overcoming: The narrative should smoothly transition from the challenge itself to the actions taken to overcome it.

This includes the steps the individual took, the resources they capitalized on, and the support systems they leaned on. Throughout this journey, the internal transformation should become evident.

Reflection on Growth: Finally, reflecting on how the challenge was pivotal in shaping one’s character is essential.

It should illustrate what was learned, how the individual changed, and how they have since applied that knowledge or strength in other areas of life. This reflection conveys the resilience and adaptability that personal challenges can foster.

Incorporating Historical Narratives

Incorporating historical narratives into a narrative essay enriches the content, offering readers a bridge to the past through vivid storytelling.

To effectively integrate historical narratives, an essay writer must follow several key steps:

Choose Relevant History : Select a historical period or event that aligns with the essay’s theme. It should enhance the story, not detract from the narrative’s primary focus.

Research Thoroughly : Gather accurate details from reliable sources, such as historical archives, to lend authenticity to the narrative.

Create a Connection : Clearly draw lines between the historical context and the personal story. Explain the chosen history’s impact on the events or the individual experience being described.

Balance Story and Fact : Ensure the historical narrative does not overshadow the personal narrative. Use historical elements to support the story rather than overwhelm it.

Depict with Sensitivity : When handling delicate historical subjects, one must approach them with sensitivity and respect for the people and cultures involved.

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The narrative essay is a unique and creative form of academic writing. It tests your ability to narrate personal anecdotes in a structured, meaningful, and engaging manner. This type of writing vastly differs from other academic writing types, which rely more on facts and statistics. 

In this article, we’re going to understand what is a narrative essay, how to write one, and its various types with the help of plenty of examples. We have also provided a narrative essay outline to help you craft a foolproof essay. But before we get into all of that, let’s start with something simple: what’s a narrative essay in the first place?

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What is a narrative essay?

A narrative essay is a highly creative form of academic writing which involves recounting personal anecdotes in an organized and climactic format. Although not as frequently used as expository essays or argumentative essays , this type of essay is a common requirement in high schools and creative writing courses in colleges. A personal statement is also a common requirement for many college admissions. 

A narrative essay uses literary devices such as similes, metaphors, and alliteration that add depth and character to your essay. The objective is to express yourself in a creative and compelling way, and not just convey information.

Now that you understand the narrative essay definition, it’s time to look at some common topics you may have to write on.

Topics for a narrative essay

Narrative essay topics can range from a personal narrative and specific essay topics to loose open-ended prompts. Let’s better understand this with the help of a few good narrative essay topics.

Here are a few topics. 

1. Write about your last day of school.

2. Write about your favorite book and your interpretation of its message.

3. An awkward encounter that led to a long-lasting friendship.

4. Your favorite vacation.

5. The moment you realized, you’re finally an adult.

Here are a few narrative essay examples of open-ended prompts.

1. Describe a life changing event and how it impacted you.

2. What is your favorite childhood memory? 

3. A personal accomplishment that you are proud of and how it has shaped you as a person.

4. The time when you overcame a fear or obstacle and how it helped you grow as a person.

5. A moment of personal growth and reflection that helped you realize something important about yourself.

Here are a few personal narrative essay topics.

1. The moment you realized what you wanted to do with your life.

2. A time when you felt like an outsider and how you dealt with it.

3. A moment when you had to make a difficult moral decision.

4. An experience that changed your perspective on a particular issue.

5. A personal passion or interest and how it has impacted your life.

Narrative essay structure

Although less formulaic than an expository or argumentative essay, your narrative essay format still needs to be well-structured and cohesive for it to be impactful. Like all essay types, the narrative format essay consists of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. However, this structure is less rigid than most essay types and mainly serves as a guideline. 

Let’s look at the main components of the structure of a narrative essay.

1. Introduction

In order to write a well-structured narrative essay, you need to know how to start it. The introduction of a narrative essay plays a crucial role in capturing the reader’s attention and setting the stage for the story that follows. 

A good introduction should include three key elements. First, an attractive, eye-catching opening statement that intrigues the reader and creates suspense. Second, background information that provides context for the story. Finally, a central idea or narrative that serves as a foundation of the story. 

Here are examples of a narrative essay introduction:

  • Background information
  • Central idea

As I stepped off the plane and took my first breath of the humid air, I knew my life was about to change forever. The next few weeks would be filled with new experiences, new people, and a new perspective that would stay with me for a long time. My study trip to Costa Rica was an unforgettable experience that had a significant impact on me.

2. Body paragraph

You can showcase most of your creative writing skills in the body paragraphs of your narrative essay. Use a topic sentence to introduce each experience, provide detailed elaboration, and conclude with a key takeaway or moral.

The body paragraphs of a narrative essay are also used to showcase numerous artistic elements. These elements may include the introduction of fresh characters, vivid descriptions of settings, subtle hints toward the conclusion, and the build-up of a pivotal event or a climactic situation. You can use these elements to transform a boring piece of writing into an impactful and captivating essay. 

Here’s an example of a vivid and highly descriptive body paragraph:

  • Topic sentence with descriptions of setting
  • Sensory descriptors elaborating the topic sentences
  • Key takeaway

The moment I set foot on Central American soil, I was welcomed by the tropical rainforest, the vibrant colors of the flowers, and the sounds of exotic birds. The air was filled with the sweet scent of fresh fruits, and I could feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. This trip was not only a cultural and educational experience, but it was also an adventure of a lifetime.

3. Conclusion

When writing the conclusion of a narrative essay, it’s important to include three essential elements: an updated version of your thesis statement, reflections on all your experiences, and your final thoughts and key takeaways. 

You can remind your readers of the central idea you explored throughout your essay, by revisiting your thesis statement. Reflecting on your experiences allows you to explore the personal impact of your narrative. Whereas, your final thoughts help in providing a cohesive and impactful summary of your message.

Here’s an example of a strong conclusion:

  • Updated thesis statement
  • Reflections on experiences
  • Final thought

My study trip to Costa Rica was certainly a transformative experience. This trip taught me how to approach the world with an open mind and strive in the face of difficulties. It also inspired me to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Experiencing the rich culture of Costa Rica is something I would highly recommend to all students. It’s an opportunity to break free from our comfort zones, challenge our perspectives, and immerse ourselves in a world of stunning natural beauty.  

Now that we’ve looked at how to structure a narrative essay, let’s move on to writing a narrative essay.

How to write a narrative essay

Writing narrative essays is not just about telling a captivating story, but also about communicating a message to the reader. Although less formal than other types of essays, it still requires a coherent sequence of events, a clear central idea, a moral or message, and a structured outline.

Let’s understand how to write a narrative essay step by step. 

1. Choose an appropriate topic.

While essay topics are often predetermined, certain classes may give you the freedom to select your own topic. When choosing a topic for your narrative essay, it is crucial to consider the message that you want to convey. 

Simply recounting a one-dimensional, uneventful story can bore the reader. It is necessary to keep the reader in mind and choose an engaging story topic. This topic should encompass surprising plot twists, a recurring theme, and a significant takeaway or moral.

Here are a few examples of narrative essay topics for college:

Describe a moment in your life that challenged your beliefs or values and forced you to reconsider your perspective.

Describe a time in your life when you faced a difficult decision that required you to choose between two equally compelling options.

2. Form a central idea.

Your narrative essay should revolve around a central idea or theme, which is similar to a thesis statement. This idea should be unique and have a moral or message that sets the tone for your entire essay. Keep in mind that the central idea is crucial to your essay, so choose one carefully and make sure it’s unique and impactful.

Here are a few examples of central ideas:

Growing up as a first-generation immigrant, I faced several setbacks. But these setbacks motivated me to overcome language barriers and also taught me the value of hard work, and determination.

My journey of learning a new language in a foreign country challenged me in ways I never imagined. However, it also taught me the importance of persistence, adaptability, and embracing discomfort to achieve personal growth and success.

3. Construct an essay outline. 

While a narrative essay allows for a great deal of creative expression, it still sticks to a loose structure that includes a clear beginning, middle, and end. A well-organized narrative allows readers to follow and understand your story. Before writing your essay it’s crucial to answer key questions in your narrative essay outline. 

Here are a few questions you need to answer before starting your essay:

  • What central idea or message do I want to convey through my essay?
  • Which personal experiences and anecdotes will best support my central idea?
  • In what ways can I incorporate dialogues or other creative expressions to enhance my essay?
  • How can I effectively structure my essay to ensure it flows cohesively and logically?
  • What techniques can I use to build up to a climactic end that leaves a lasting impression on the reader?
  • What key takeaway do I want my audience to have after reading my essay?

4. Begin writing your essay.

The narrative essay differs from other forms of essay writing and typically follows a chronological order. Hence, it’s advisable to start by fleshing out your introduction and providing sufficient background information to give relevance to your central idea.

Written in the first-person point of view, the narrative essay shares several similarities with a short story. These include a clear plot structure with a beginning, middle, and end, vivid and detailed settings, a climactic point or peak, dialogues, and a key takeaway or moral. These elements can be incorporated to add depth and dimension to your essay.

Narrative essay outline

An outline for a narrative essay differs significantly from that of an evidence-based essay. The narrative essay outline provides structure and coherence to your essay, helping you map out a clear and logical flow of your ideas. This can guide your writing and help ensure that your story is well-organized, engaging, and effectively conveys your central message.

Here’s an example of a personal narrative essay outline that focuses on the challenges of low self-esteem and the ways to overcome them.

Journey to Self-Acceptance

I. Introduction

A. Hook: Start with an anecdote or a shocking statistic that highlights the rampantness of low self-esteem.

B. Background information: Explain what low self-esteem is, how it affects people, and how it can manifest in different ways.

C. Thesis statement: Describe your challenges with low self-esteem and how you overcame them.

II. Tackling Challenges

A. Describe the situation that challenged your self-esteem, such as a particular event or a persistent feeling.

B. Explain how it affected your life, such as your relationships, academic and professional performance, or your mental health.

C. Share your thoughts and feelings about the situation, and how they contributed to your low self-esteem.

III. Seeking Help

A. Describe how you recognized that you needed help, and what motivated you to seek it.

B. Discuss the steps you took, such as talking to a friend or therapist.

C. Explain the challenges you faced, such as stigma, fear of judgment, or financial barriers.

IV. Building Self-Esteem

A. Describe the strategies you used to build your self-esteem, such as positive self-talk, affirmations, or therapy.

B. Share your progress, and how you measured it, such as tracking your thoughts, feelings, or behaviors.

C. Explain how these strategies helped you, and how they impacted your life, such as improved relationships, academic or professional success, or mental health.

V. Maintaining Self-Esteem

A. Describe how you maintain your self-esteem on a daily basis, and what routines or habits you have developed.

B. Share your challenges and setbacks, and how you cope with them.

C. Explain the importance of self-care in maintaining self-esteem, and what self-care practices you use.

VI. Conclusion

A. Summarize the key points of your essay, and what you have learned from them.

B. Restate your thesis, and how you successfully overcame the challenge of low self-esteem.

C. Discuss how the experience has impacted your life, and what advice you would give to someone who is struggling with low self-esteem.

Narrative essay examples

To guide you in writing a foolproof narrative essay, we’ve constructed an example of a narrative essay. The following is a personal narrative essay example that explores the challenges faced by a student who was bullied in school. This personal narrative essay example will guide you on how you write a personal narrative essay.

Beyond the Shadows

Starting high school as a timid and shy kid was a daunting experience for me. I craved new opportunities and friendships but was overcome by the fear of being judged. Unfortunately, my fears soon became a reality as I found myself being relentlessly bullied.

It began with verbal abuse but soon escalated to physical aggression. Consulting my teachers was of no help since they did not understand the gravity of the situation. The only option was to ignore the bullies and concentrate on my classes, but the constant harassment made it difficult.

The bullying soon took its toll on my mental health, and I spiraled into a pit of anxiety and depression. I lost faith in myself and I believed I was undeserving of happiness. I retreated from my loved ones and spent my days battling my inner demons.

Despite the pain and anguish, I still decided to hold onto hope. I realized that standing up for myself and others was the only way to combat the bullying. I began speaking out against the harassment and also spoke up for those who were scared to raise their voice.

In an attempt to break out of my shell, I made a conscious effort to socialize with my fellow students and offered support to those going through a tough time. As a result, I encountered several friends who had shared experiences with mine. We bonded over our shared struggles and formed a tight-knit community of support and solidarity. Together, we worked to raise awareness of the devastating impact of bullying.

With time and effort, I began to heal from the trauma of my experiences. I learned to embrace my unique qualities and appreciate myself for who I am. The challenges I faced made me stronger and more resilient. As a result, I became more outgoing and confident, which allowed me to forge genuine friendships with my peers.

The bullying I experienced during high school transformed me in ways I could never have imagined. It instilled in me the value of empathy and courage and compelled me to use my voice to create positive change in the world.

Once you’re done writing your narrative essay, the process of editing and proofreading still remains. You can either choose to do this on your own or consider working with an essay editing service .  

Keep reading with more resources from your loyal editors and proofreaders:

  • What is an Expository Essay?
  • What are the Different Types of Essays
  • What is an Essay and What are the Parts of an Essay
  • How to Write an Essay Header
  • How to Write an Argumentative Essay 

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How to write a narrative essay [Updated 2023]

How to write a narrative essay

A narrative essay is an opportunity to flex your creative muscles and craft a compelling story. In this blog post, we define what a narrative essay is and provide strategies and examples for writing one.

What is a narrative essay?

Similarly to a descriptive essay or a reflective essay, a narrative essay asks you to tell a story, rather than make an argument and present evidence. Most narrative essays describe a real, personal experience from your own life (for example, the story of your first big success).

Alternately, your narrative essay might focus on an imagined experience (for example, how your life would be if you had been born into different circumstances). While you don’t need to present a thesis statement or scholarly evidence, a narrative essay still needs to be well-structured and clearly organized so that the reader can follow your story.

When you might be asked to write a narrative essay

Although less popular than argumentative essays or expository essays, narrative essays are relatively common in high school and college writing classes.

The same techniques that you would use to write a college essay as part of a college or scholarship application are applicable to narrative essays, as well. In fact, the Common App that many students use to apply to multiple colleges asks you to submit a narrative essay.

How to choose a topic for a narrative essay

When you are asked to write a narrative essay, a topic may be assigned to you or you may be able to choose your own. With an assigned topic, the prompt will likely fall into one of two categories: specific or open-ended.

Examples of specific prompts:

  • Write about the last vacation you took.
  • Write about your final year of middle school.

Examples of open-ended prompts:

  • Write about a time when you felt all hope was lost.
  • Write about a brief, seemingly insignificant event that ended up having a big impact on your life.

A narrative essay tells a story and all good stories are centered on a conflict of some sort. Experiences with unexpected obstacles, twists, or turns make for much more compelling essays and reveal more about your character and views on life.

If you’re writing a narrative essay as part of an admissions application, remember that the people reviewing your essay will be looking at it to gain a sense of not just your writing ability, but who you are as a person.

In these cases, it’s wise to choose a topic and experience from your life that demonstrates the qualities that the prompt is looking for, such as resilience, perseverance, the ability to stay calm under pressure, etc.

It’s also important to remember that your choice of topic is just a starting point. Many students find that they arrive at new ideas and insights as they write their first draft, so the final form of your essay may have a different focus than the one you started with.

How to outline and format a narrative essay

Even though you’re not advancing an argument or proving a point of view, a narrative essay still needs to have a coherent structure. Your reader has to be able to follow you as you tell the story and to figure out the larger point that you’re making.

You’ll be evaluated on is your handling of the topic and how you structure your essay. Even though a narrative essay doesn’t use the same structure as other essay types, you should still sketch out a loose outline so you can tell your story in a clear and compelling way.

To outline a narrative essay, you’ll want to determine:

  • how your story will start
  • what points or specifics that you want to cover
  • how your story will end
  • what pace and tone you will use

In the vast majority of cases, a narrative essay should be written in the first-person, using “I.” Also, most narrative essays will follow typical formatting guidelines, so you should choose a readable font like Times New Roman in size 11 or 12. Double-space your paragraphs and use 1” margins.

To get your creative wheels turning, consider how your story compares to archetypes and famous historical and literary figures both past and present. Weave these comparisons into your essay to improve the quality of your writing and connect your personal experience to a larger context.

How to write a narrative essay

Writing a narrative essay can sometimes be a challenge for students who typically write argumentative essays or research papers in a formal, objective style. To give you a better sense of how you can write a narrative essay, here is a short example of an essay in response to the prompt, “Write about an experience that challenged your view of yourself.”

Narrative essay example

Even as a child, I always had what people might call a reserved personality. It was sometimes framed as a positive (“Sarah is a good listener”) and at other times it was put in less-than-admiring terms (“Sarah is withdrawn and not very talkative”). It was the latter kind of comments that caused me to see my introverted nature as a drawback and as something I should work to eliminate. That is, until I joined my high school’s student council.

The first paragraph, or introduction, sets up the context, establishing the situation and introducing the meaningful event upon which the essay will focus.

The other four students making up the council were very outspoken and enthusiastic. I enjoyed being around them, and I often agreed with their ideas. However, when it came to overhauling our school’s recycling plan, we butted heads. When I spoke up and offered a different point of view, one of my fellow student council members launched into a speech, advocating for her point of view. As her voice filled the room, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I wondered if I should try to match her tone, volume, and assertiveness as a way to be heard. But I just couldn’t do it—it’s not my way, and it never has been. For a fleeting moment, I felt defeated. But then, something in me shifted.

In this paragraph, the writer goes into greater depth about how her existing thinking brought her to this point.

I reminded myself that my view was valid and deserved to be heard. So I waited. I let my fellow council member speak her piece and when she was finished, I deliberately waited a few moments before calmly stating my case. I chose my words well, and I spoke them succinctly. Just because I’m not a big talker doesn’t mean I’m not a big thinker. I thought of the quotation “still waters run deep” and I tried to embody that. The effect on the room was palpable. People listened. And I hadn’t had to shout my point to be heard.

This paragraph demonstrates the turn in the story, the moment when everything changed. The use of the quotation “still waters run deep” imbues the story with a dash of poetry and emotion.

We eventually reached a compromise on the matter and concluded the student council meeting. Our council supervisor came to me afterward and said: “You handled that so well, with such grace and poise. I was very impressed.” Her words in that moment changed me. I realized that a bombastic nature isn't necessarily a powerful one. There is power in quiet, too. This experience taught me to view my reserved personality not as a character flaw, but as a strength.

The final paragraph, or conclusion, closes with a statement about the significance of this event and how it ended up changing the writer in a meaningful way.

Narrative essay writing tips

1. pick a meaningful story that has a conflict and a clear “moral.”.

If you’re able to choose your own topic, pick a story that has meaning and that reveals how you became the person your are today. In other words, write a narrative with a clear “moral” that you can connect with your main points.

2. Use an outline to arrange the structure of your story and organize your main points.

Although a narrative essay is different from argumentative essays, it’s still beneficial to construct an outline so that your story is well-structured and organized. Note how you want to start and end your story, and what points you want to make to tie everything together.

3. Be clear, concise, concrete, and correct in your writing.

You should use descriptive writing in your narrative essay, but don’t overdo it. Use clear, concise, and correct language and grammar throughout. Additionally, make concrete points that reinforce the main idea of your narrative.

4. Ask a friend or family member to proofread your essay.

No matter what kind of writing you’re doing, you should always plan to proofread and revise. To ensure that your narrative essay is coherent and interesting, ask a friend or family member to read over your paper. This is especially important if your essay is responding to a prompt. It helps to have another person check to make sure that you’ve fully responded to the prompt or question.

Frequently Asked Questions about narrative essays

A narrative essay, like any essay, has three main parts: an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Structuring and outlining your essay before you start writing will help you write a clear story that your readers can follow.

The first paragraph of your essay, or introduction, sets up the context, establishing the situation and introducing the meaningful event upon which the essay will focus.

In the vast majority of cases, a narrative essay should be written in the first-person, using “I.”

The 4 main types of essays are the argumentative essay, narrative essay, exploratory essay, and expository essay. You may be asked to write different types of essays at different points in your education.

Most narrative essays will be around five paragraphs, or more, depending on the topic and requirements. Make sure to check in with your instructor about the guidelines for your essay. If you’re writing a narrative essay for a college application, pay close attention to word or page count requirements.

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A narrative essay is a type of essay that tells a story about a particular experience or event, often from the writer's own perspective. The purpose of a narrative essay is to engage the reader and create an emotional connection through a well-crafted storyline.

Today we will learn how to write a narrative essay fast and easy. This type of paper requires you to share your experiences in an entertaining and creative way. A writer has to tell the original story and make it interesting to the reader. This task is not that complicated if you know the key points and the logic of the text. In the present blog, we will learn how to write a truly powerful narrative paper starting from the initial concept and ending with a fabulous conclusion. So, let’s get down to business right away!  

What Is a Narrative Essay

According to narrative essay definition, it is a type of writing that requires telling a personal story. It can be either about your personal experiences, funny incident, or any other notable event. Teachers assign such tasks to test students' abilities in storytelling. Firstly, a good story has to be interesting for a potential reader. Secondly, it has to be understandable to the general audience. Finally, it has to follow the regular structure of essay . In many other regards, it can be very creative and even experimental. Unlike many other essay types, narrative essays are action-driven. The main goal is to tell the story in a creative way. In view of its purpose, a great essay requires the following elements:  

  • An intriguing personal story to tell
  • The right choice of words to highlight key points
  • Good hook to get the reader’s attention
  • Smooth flow and original style
  • Truly valuable experience to share

A narrative essay is widely regarded as one of the most creative writing essay types. A writer can afford more expressive language and a more unusual style of writing. Use some metaphors, figurative language, dialog or bold examples. Also, the first-person perspective is appreciated in narrative writing. Which is not really typical for academic writing, as you probably know. However, it is not obligatory and you can tell a story from a third-person perspective as well.   You may need a step-by-step guide for  explanatory writing  for your future assignments. You will find it in our database.  

Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay structure is very similar to that of other academic papers. It features 3 major parts - introduction, body and conclusion. Regularly, this essay is about five paragraph essay long - one for intro, 3 paragraphs in body and one to sum up your thoughts.

  • Introduction - introduces the story, explains the purpose of the story and attracts reader’s attention
  • Body paragraph #1 - developing action, raising the tension
  • Body paragraph #2 - the climax of the story
  • Conclusion - in which way this story was cautionary and useful

However, this number of paragraphs is not fixed, and you can expand it if you want. Still, do not fill your essay with watery text, it will be regarded as a negative factor during the review.

How to Write a Narrative Essay Step by Step

Essay structure is an important thing to keep in mind when you are thinking over the outline of your future work. So it will be definitely helpful to see what it will be for the narrative essay format. So, let’s see how it should be done! 

How to Start a Narrative Essay

Narrative essay introduction is where you describe the setting, the characters and introduce the mood of the story. A good introduction always deserves a good hook in essay or even several good hooks. You can ask theoretical questions and outline the mystery that will be uncovered further in your story. Just like in other essay types, narrative essay thesis statements are featured in the intro section.

Thesis Statement

Many professional writers believe that a thesis statement is the first thing you need to come up when writing an essay. Your paper thesis always has to sum up the main points of your writing, so this writing tip actually makes sense. Make your working thesis clear, informative and short. The finest thesis can be no longer than a single sentence. Make it brief, attractive and meaningful. Sounds a bit mind-boggling? Buy personal narrative essay done for you from scratch to avoid any hassle.

Create Main Body

All the action in a good narrative paper happens in the body part. In most essays, you uncover your key points in the classic three body paragraphs. However, a more action-driven paper of this kind is more about facts, and emotions. That’s why it’s a rare essay type where your body part would probably require chronological order of narration. Think well about how to separate your story into logical segments and don’t get too much into detail. An essay is not about length but always about the quality of writing .

How to End a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay conclusion is very similar to any other paper ending. In this part, you sum up your experiences and the outcomes of the story. Indicate what exactly had changed in your life during its course. Because if nothing had changed, then it’s not an essay-worthy story after all. Feel free to use quotations and examples to compare your experience. A narrative essay is a metaphor-friendly and figurative language-friendly format. So don’t miss your chance to enrich your text with additional expression.  

Tips to Writing a Narrative Paper

Now, when you know how to write a personal narrative paper, you are almost there. However, there are also several tips that we wanted to give you to facilitate success. So, here they are:

  • Read various personal narrative ideas .
  • Choose the best story that you got - choice of the story is essential to the success.
  • Think over how you spread facts and arguments along the paper.
  • Write an introduction with a strong hook and clear thesis statement.
  • Write an action-driven body part.
  • Make sure your conclusion includes really valuable experiences and implications.
  • Review and rewrite the parts that you don’t like.
  • Proofread the text, use special tools to save your time and effort.

If you follow all the steps mentioned above, it will be much easier to maintain control over your writing and create a powerful text. Also, we have prepared several great writing tips. If you have some stylistic questions or you are puzzled about how reliable you need to be as a narrator, consider the following tips:  

  • Alter the story a little if it will make it more entertaining. Don’t stick to the facts so hard.
  • Write from a first-person perspective first. Change it if you want later.
  • Be a reader-oriented writer, don’t make it too subjective and personal.
  • Check out such texts by famous writers for inspiration.

This type of paper is a fun and creative form of academic writing. If you have enough time, you can easily enjoy this assignment and even learn something new about yourself. Just in case, a site that writes essays  would also do great for your GPA.

Narrative Essay Examples

A good narrative essay example may be hard to find. Luckily, we have prepared it for you in advance. It will help you understand the style and flow of narrative writing and give some inspiration for your own masterpiece. Check out the top-notch narrative essay sample below.

Narrative Essay: Bottom Line

Now you know how to write narrative essays. This type of paper is easy to write when you know the main aspects of it. So use this guide to make the essay writing process fast, interesting and fun! However, sometimes there is just not enough time to meet the deadlines. Many students face this issue on a daily basis looking for fast and practical solutions. Hiring a narrative writer is perhaps the optimal choice.

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Our professional academic writing service may be a great idea! If you need some help with a paper, order a narrative essay or any other kind of academic writing from our finest writing team.  

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FAQ about Narrative Essay

1. how to write a personal narrative essay.

A personal narrative essay is written from the first-person perspective. It should contain strong personal opinions and stories of the narrator. This type of writing is predominantly action-driven and narrates the writer’s personal experiences.

2. How to write a literacy narrative essay?

In a literacy narrative paper, you need to share your personal experience of language, reading and writing. In this paper type, the narrator has to detail the personal experiences and attitude towards language. It can be dedicated to a certain book, writer or part of the language.

3. How long is the narrative paper?

A regular narrative essay is between 500 and 1000 words. It features a standard 3-part, 5-paragraph paper structure.

How to Write a Narrative Essay A Step by Step Guide Featured

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How to Write a Narrative Essay — A Step-by-Step Guide

N arrative essays are important papers most students have to write. But how does one write a narrative essay? Fear not, we’re going to show you how to write a narrative essay by breaking down a variety of narrative writing strategies. By the end, you’ll know why narrative essays are so important – and how to write your own.

How to Write a Narrative Essay Step by Step

Background on narrative essays.

Narrative essays are important assignments in many writing classes – but what is a narrative essay? A narrative essay is a prose-written story that’s focused on the commentary of a central theme .

Narrative essays are generally written in the first-person POV , and are usually about a topic that’s personal to the writer.

Everything in a narrative essay should take place in an established timeline, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

In simplest terms, a narrative essay is a personal story. A narrative essay can be written in response to a prompt or as an independent exercise.

We’re going to get to tips and tricks on how to write a narrative essay in a bit, but first let’s check out a video on “story.” 

How to Start a Narrative Essay  •  What is a Story? by Mr. Kresphus

In some regards, any story can be regarded as a personal story, but for the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on prose-written stories told in the first-person POV.

How to Start a Narrative Essay

Responding to prompts.

Many people wonder about how to start a narrative essay. Well, if you’re writing a narrative essay in response to a prompt, then chances are the person issuing the prompt is looking for a specific answer.

For example: if the prompt states “recount a time you encountered a challenge,” then chances are the person issuing the prompt wants to hear about how you overcame a challenge or learned from it.

That isn’t to say you have to respond to the prompt in one way; “overcoming” or “learning” from a challenge can be constituted in a variety of ways.

For example, you could structure your essay around overcoming a physical challenge, like an injury or disability. Or you could structure your essay around learning from failure, such as losing at a sport or performing poorly on an important exam.

Whatever it is, you must show that the challenge forced you to grow. 

Maturation is an important process – and an essential aspect of narrative essays... of course, there are exceptions to the rule; lack of maturation is a prescient theme in narrative essays too; although that’s mostly reserved for experienced essay writers.

So, let’s take a look at how you might respond to a series of narrative essay prompts:

How successful are you?

This prompt begs the writer to impart humility without throwing a pity party. I would respond to this prompt by demonstrating pride in what I do while offering modesty. For example: “I have achieved success in what I set out to do – but I still have a long way to go to achieve my long-term goals.”

Who is your role model?

“My role model is [Blank] because ” is how you should start this narrative essay. The “because” is the crux of your essay. For example, I’d say “Bill Russell is my role model because he demonstrated graceful resolve in the face of bigotry and discrimination. 

Do you consider yourself spiritual?

For this prompt, you should explain how you came to the conclusion of whether or not you consider yourself a spiritual person. Of course, prompt-givers will differ on how much they want you to freely express. For example: if the prompt-giver is an employee at an evangelizing organization, then they probably want to see that you’re willing to propagate the church’s agenda. Alternatively, if the prompt-giver is non-denominational, they probably want to see that you’re accepting of people from various spiritual backgrounds.

How to Write Narrative Essay

What makes a good narrative essay.

You don’t have to respond to a prompt to write a narrative essay. So, how do you write a narrative essay without a prompt? Well, that’s the thing… you can write a narrative essay about anything!

That’s a bit of a blessing and a curse though – on one hand it’s liberating to choose any topic you want; on the other, it’s difficult to narrow down a good story from an infinite breadth of possibilities.

In this next video, the team at Essay Pro explores why passion is the number one motivator for effective narrative essays.

How to Write a Narrative Essay Step by Step  •  Real Essay Examples by Essay Pro

So, before you write anything, ask yourself: “what am I passionate about?” Movies? Sports? Books? Games? Baking? Volunteering? Whatever it is, make sure that it’s something that demonstrates your individual growth . It doesn’t have to be anything major; take a video game for example: you could write a narrative essay about searching for a rare weapon with friends.

Success or failure, you’ll be able to demonstrate growth.

Here’s something to consider: writing a narrative essay around intertextuality. What is intertextuality ? Intertextuality is the relationship between texts, i.e., books, movies, plays, songs, games, etc. In other words, it’s anytime one text is referenced in another text.

For example, you could write a narrative essay about your favorite movie! Just make sure that it ultimately reflects back on yourself. 

Narrative Writing Format

Structure of a narrative essay.

Narrative essays differ in length and structure – but there are some universal basics. The first paragraph of a narrative essay should always introduce the central theme. For example, if the narrative essay is about “a fond childhood memory,” then the first paragraph should briefly comment on the nature of the fond childhood memory.

In general, a narrative essay should have an introductory paragraph with a topic sentence (reiterating the prompt or basic idea), a brief commentary on the central theme, and a set-up for the body paragraphs.

The body paragraphs should make up the vast majority of the narrative essay. In the body paragraphs, the writer should essentially “build the story’s case.” What do I mean by “build the story’s case?”

Well, I mean that the writer should display the story’s merit; what it means, why it matters, and how it proves (or refutes) personal growth.

The narrative essay should always conclude with a dedicated paragraph. In the “conclusion paragraph,” the writer should reflect on the story.

Pro tip: conclusion paragraphs usually work best when the writer stays within the diegesis. 

What is a Video Essay?

A video essay is a natural extension of a narrative essay; differentiated only by purpose and medium. In our next article, we’ll explain what a video essay is, and why it’s so important to media criticism. By the end, you’ll know where to look for video essay inspiration.

Up Next: The Art of Video Analysis →

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Narrative Essays

Narrative: The spoken or written account of connected events; a story

Narrative Introductions

The introduction of a narrative essay sets the scene for the story that follows. Interesting introductions—for any kind of writing—engage and draw readers in because they want to know more.

Since narratives tell a story and involve events, the introduction of a narrative quite often starts in the middle of the action in order to bring the reader into the story immediately, as shown in examples 1, 3, and 5 below. Other effective introductions briefly provide background for the point of the story—often the lesson learned—as in 4 below and the first example on the reverse side.

Below are some strategies for writing effective openings. Remember your introduction should be interesting and draw your reader in. It should make your audience want to read more. If it's a person , begin with a description of the person and then say why that person mattered. If it's an event , begin with the action or begin by reflecting back on why the event mattered, then go into the narrative.

  • "Potter...take off!" my coach yelled as I was cracking yet another joke during practice.
  • Why do such a small percentage of high school athletes play Division One sports?
  • It was a cold, rainy night, under the lights on the field. I lined up the ball on the penalty line under the wet grass. After glancing up at the tied score, I stared into the goalkeeper's eyes.
  • My heart pounds in my chest. My stomach full of nervous butterflies. I hear the crowd talking and names being cheered.
  • Slipping the red and white uniform over my head for the first time is a feeling I will never forget.
  • "No football." Those words rang in my head for hours as I thought about what a stupid decision I had made three nights before.
  • "SNAP!" I heard the startling sound of my left knee before I ever felt the pain.
  • According to the NCAA, there are over 400,000 student-athletes in the United States.

Narrative Story

  • Unified: Ensure all actions in your story develop a central idea or argument.
  • Interesting: Draw your readers into your scene(s), making them feel as if they're experiencing them first-hand.
  • Coherent: Indicate changes in time, location, and characters clearly (even if your story is not chronological).
  • Climactic: Include a moment (the climax) when your ending is revealed or the importance of events is made clear.
  • Remember the 5 W's : Who? What? When? Where? Why?
  • Write vividly : Include significant sensory information in the scene (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) to make readers feel they are there
  • Develop " Thick Descriptions "

Clifford Geertz describes thick descriptions as accounts that include not only facts but also commentary and interpretation . The goal is to vividly describe an action or scene, often through the use of metaphors, analogies, and other forms of interpretation that can emote strong feelings and images in your readers' minds.

"The flatness of the Delta made the shack, the quarters, and the railroad tracks nearby seem like some tabletop model train set. Like many Mississippi shacks, this one looked as if no one had lived there since the birth of the blues. Four sunflowers leaned alongside a sagging porch. When the front door creaked open, cockroaches bigger than pecans scurried for cover [...] walls wept with mildew."

—from Bruce Watson's Freedom Summer

Narrative Checklist

  • Does the story have a clear and unifying idea? If not, what could that idea be?
  • If the story doesn't include a thesis sentence, is the unifying idea of the story clear without it?
  • Is the story unified, with all the details contributing to the central idea?
  • Is the story arranged chronologically? If not, is the organization of ideas and events still effective and clear?
  • Do the transitions show the movement from idea to idea and scene to scene?
  • Are there enough details?
  • Is there dialogue at important moments?
  • Is there a climax to the story—moment at which the action is resolved or a key idea is revealed?

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 3 great narrative essay examples + tips for writing.

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A narrative essay is one of the most intimidating assignments you can be handed at any level of your education. Where you've previously written argumentative essays that make a point or analytic essays that dissect meaning, a narrative essay asks you to write what is effectively a story .

But unlike a simple work of creative fiction, your narrative essay must have a clear and concrete motif —a recurring theme or idea that you’ll explore throughout. Narrative essays are less rigid, more creative in expression, and therefore pretty different from most other essays you’ll be writing.

But not to fear—in this article, we’ll be covering what a narrative essay is, how to write a good one, and also analyzing some personal narrative essay examples to show you what a great one looks like.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

At first glance, a narrative essay might sound like you’re just writing a story. Like the stories you're used to reading, a narrative essay is generally (but not always) chronological, following a clear throughline from beginning to end. Even if the story jumps around in time, all the details will come back to one specific theme, demonstrated through your choice in motifs.

Unlike many creative stories, however, your narrative essay should be based in fact. That doesn’t mean that every detail needs to be pure and untainted by imagination, but rather that you shouldn’t wholly invent the events of your narrative essay. There’s nothing wrong with inventing a person’s words if you can’t remember them exactly, but you shouldn’t say they said something they weren’t even close to saying.

Another big difference between narrative essays and creative fiction—as well as other kinds of essays—is that narrative essays are based on motifs. A motif is a dominant idea or theme, one that you establish before writing the essay. As you’re crafting the narrative, it’ll feed back into your motif to create a comprehensive picture of whatever that motif is.

For example, say you want to write a narrative essay about how your first day in high school helped you establish your identity. You might discuss events like trying to figure out where to sit in the cafeteria, having to describe yourself in five words as an icebreaker in your math class, or being unsure what to do during your lunch break because it’s no longer acceptable to go outside and play during lunch. All of those ideas feed back into the central motif of establishing your identity.

The important thing to remember is that while a narrative essay is typically told chronologically and intended to read like a story, it is not purely for entertainment value. A narrative essay delivers its theme by deliberately weaving the motifs through the events, scenes, and details. While a narrative essay may be entertaining, its primary purpose is to tell a complete story based on a central meaning.

Unlike other essay forms, it is totally okay—even expected—to use first-person narration in narrative essays. If you’re writing a story about yourself, it’s natural to refer to yourself within the essay. It’s also okay to use other perspectives, such as third- or even second-person, but that should only be done if it better serves your motif. Generally speaking, your narrative essay should be in first-person perspective.

Though your motif choices may feel at times like you’re making a point the way you would in an argumentative essay, a narrative essay’s goal is to tell a story, not convince the reader of anything. Your reader should be able to tell what your motif is from reading, but you don’t have to change their mind about anything. If they don’t understand the point you are making, you should consider strengthening the delivery of the events and descriptions that support your motif.

Narrative essays also share some features with analytical essays, in which you derive meaning from a book, film, or other media. But narrative essays work differently—you’re not trying to draw meaning from an existing text, but rather using an event you’ve experienced to convey meaning. In an analytical essay, you examine narrative, whereas in a narrative essay you create narrative.

The structure of a narrative essay is also a bit different than other essays. You’ll generally be getting your point across chronologically as opposed to grouping together specific arguments in paragraphs or sections. To return to the example of an essay discussing your first day of high school and how it impacted the shaping of your identity, it would be weird to put the events out of order, even if not knowing what to do after lunch feels like a stronger idea than choosing where to sit. Instead of organizing to deliver your information based on maximum impact, you’ll be telling your story as it happened, using concrete details to reinforce your theme.

body_fair

3 Great Narrative Essay Examples

One of the best ways to learn how to write a narrative essay is to look at a great narrative essay sample. Let’s take a look at some truly stellar narrative essay examples and dive into what exactly makes them work so well.

A Ticket to the Fair by David Foster Wallace

Today is Press Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, and I’m supposed to be at the fairgrounds by 9:00 A.M. to get my credentials. I imagine credentials to be a small white card in the band of a fedora. I’ve never been considered press before. My real interest in credentials is getting into rides and shows for free. I’m fresh in from the East Coast, for an East Coast magazine. Why exactly they’re interested in the Illinois State Fair remains unclear to me. I suspect that every so often editors at East Coast magazines slap their foreheads and remember that about 90 percent of the United States lies between the coasts, and figure they’ll engage somebody to do pith-helmeted anthropological reporting on something rural and heartlandish. I think they asked me to do this because I grew up here, just a couple hours’ drive from downstate Springfield. I never did go to the state fair, though—I pretty much topped out at the county fair level. Actually, I haven’t been back to Illinois for a long time, and I can’t say I’ve missed it.

Throughout this essay, David Foster Wallace recounts his experience as press at the Illinois State Fair. But it’s clear from this opening that he’s not just reporting on the events exactly as they happened—though that’s also true— but rather making a point about how the East Coast, where he lives and works, thinks about the Midwest.

In his opening paragraph, Wallace states that outright: “Why exactly they’re interested in the Illinois State Fair remains unclear to me. I suspect that every so often editors at East Coast magazines slap their foreheads and remember that about 90 percent of the United States lies between the coasts, and figure they’ll engage somebody to do pith-helmeted anthropological reporting on something rural and heartlandish.”

Not every motif needs to be stated this clearly , but in an essay as long as Wallace’s, particularly since the audience for such a piece may feel similarly and forget that such a large portion of the country exists, it’s important to make that point clear.

But Wallace doesn’t just rest on introducing his motif and telling the events exactly as they occurred from there. It’s clear that he selects events that remind us of that idea of East Coast cynicism , such as when he realizes that the Help Me Grow tent is standing on top of fake grass that is killing the real grass beneath, when he realizes the hypocrisy of craving a corn dog when faced with a real, suffering pig, when he’s upset for his friend even though he’s not the one being sexually harassed, and when he witnesses another East Coast person doing something he wouldn’t dare to do.

Wallace is literally telling the audience exactly what happened, complete with dates and timestamps for when each event occurred. But he’s also choosing those events with a purpose—he doesn’t focus on details that don’t serve his motif. That’s why he discusses the experiences of people, how the smells are unappealing to him, and how all the people he meets, in cowboy hats, overalls, or “black spandex that looks like cheesecake leotards,” feel almost alien to him.

All of these details feed back into the throughline of East Coast thinking that Wallace introduces in the first paragraph. He also refers back to it in the essay’s final paragraph, stating:

At last, an overarching theory blooms inside my head: megalopolitan East Coasters’ summer treats and breaks and literally ‘getaways,’ flights-from—from crowds, noise, heat, dirt, the stress of too many sensory choices….The East Coast existential treat is escape from confines and stimuli—quiet, rustic vistas that hold still, turn inward, turn away. Not so in the rural Midwest. Here you’re pretty much away all the time….Something in a Midwesterner sort of actuates , deep down, at a public event….The real spectacle that draws us here is us.

Throughout this journey, Wallace has tried to demonstrate how the East Coast thinks about the Midwest, ultimately concluding that they are captivated by the Midwest’s less stimuli-filled life, but that the real reason they are interested in events like the Illinois State Fair is that they are, in some ways, a means of looking at the East Coast in a new, estranging way.

The reason this works so well is that Wallace has carefully chosen his examples, outlined his motif and themes in the first paragraph, and eventually circled back to the original motif with a clearer understanding of his original point.

When outlining your own narrative essay, try to do the same. Start with a theme, build upon it with examples, and return to it in the end with an even deeper understanding of the original issue. You don’t need this much space to explore a theme, either—as we’ll see in the next example, a strong narrative essay can also be very short.

body_moth

Death of a Moth by Virginia Woolf

After a time, tired by his dancing apparently, he settled on the window ledge in the sun, and, the queer spectacle being at an end, I forgot about him. Then, looking up, my eye was caught by him. He was trying to resume his dancing, but seemed either so stiff or so awkward that he could only flutter to the bottom of the window-pane; and when he tried to fly across it he failed. Being intent on other matters I watched these futile attempts for a time without thinking, unconsciously waiting for him to resume his flight, as one waits for a machine, that has stopped momentarily, to start again without considering the reason of its failure. After perhaps a seventh attempt he slipped from the wooden ledge and fell, fluttering his wings, on to his back on the window sill. The helplessness of his attitude roused me. It flashed upon me that he was in difficulties; he could no longer raise himself; his legs struggled vainly. But, as I stretched out a pencil, meaning to help him to right himself, it came over me that the failure and awkwardness were the approach of death. I laid the pencil down again.

In this essay, Virginia Woolf explains her encounter with a dying moth. On surface level, this essay is just a recounting of an afternoon in which she watched a moth die—it’s even established in the title. But there’s more to it than that. Though Woolf does not begin her essay with as clear a motif as Wallace, it’s not hard to pick out the evidence she uses to support her point, which is that the experience of this moth is also the human experience.

In the title, Woolf tells us this essay is about death. But in the first paragraph, she seems to mostly be discussing life—the moth is “content with life,” people are working in the fields, and birds are flying. However, she mentions that it is mid-September and that the fields were being plowed. It’s autumn and it’s time for the harvest; the time of year in which many things die.

In this short essay, she chronicles the experience of watching a moth seemingly embody life, then die. Though this essay is literally about a moth, it’s also about a whole lot more than that. After all, moths aren’t the only things that die—Woolf is also reflecting on her own mortality, as well as the mortality of everything around her.

At its core, the essay discusses the push and pull of life and death, not in a way that’s necessarily sad, but in a way that is accepting of both. Woolf begins by setting up the transitional fall season, often associated with things coming to an end, and raises the ideas of pleasure, vitality, and pity.

At one point, Woolf tries to help the dying moth, but reconsiders, as it would interfere with the natural order of the world. The moth’s death is part of the natural order of the world, just like fall, just like her own eventual death.

All these themes are set up in the beginning and explored throughout the essay’s narrative. Though Woolf doesn’t directly state her theme, she reinforces it by choosing a small, isolated event—watching a moth die—and illustrating her point through details.

With this essay, we can see that you don’t need a big, weird, exciting event to discuss an important meaning. Woolf is able to explore complicated ideas in a short essay by being deliberate about what details she includes, just as you can be in your own essays.

body_baldwin

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

On the twenty-ninth of July, in 1943, my father died. On the same day, a few hours later, his last child was born. Over a month before this, while all our energies were concentrated in waiting for these events, there had been, in Detroit, one of the bloodiest race riots of the century. A few hours after my father’s funeral, while he lay in state in the undertaker’s chapel, a race riot broke out in Harlem. On the morning of the third of August, we drove my father to the graveyard through a wilderness of smashed plate glass.

Like Woolf, Baldwin does not lay out his themes in concrete terms—unlike Wallace, there’s no clear sentence that explains what he’ll be talking about. However, you can see the motifs quite clearly: death, fatherhood, struggle, and race.

Throughout the narrative essay, Baldwin discusses the circumstances of his father’s death, including his complicated relationship with his father. By introducing those motifs in the first paragraph, the reader understands that everything discussed in the essay will come back to those core ideas. When Baldwin talks about his experience with a white teacher taking an interest in him and his father’s resistance to that, he is also talking about race and his father’s death. When he talks about his father’s death, he is also talking about his views on race. When he talks about his encounters with segregation and racism, he is talking, in part, about his father.

Because his father was a hard, uncompromising man, Baldwin struggles to reconcile the knowledge that his father was right about many things with his desire to not let that hardness consume him, as well.

Baldwin doesn’t explicitly state any of this, but his writing so often touches on the same motifs that it becomes clear he wants us to think about all these ideas in conversation with one another.

At the end of the essay, Baldwin makes it more clear:

This fight begins, however, in the heart and it had now been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair. This intimation made my heart heavy and, now that my father was irrecoverable, I wished that he had been beside me so that I could have searched his face for the answers which only the future would give me now.

Here, Baldwin ties together the themes and motifs into one clear statement: that he must continue to fight and recognize injustice, especially racial injustice, just as his father did. But unlike his father, he must do it beginning with himself—he must not let himself be closed off to the world as his father was. And yet, he still wishes he had his father for guidance, even as he establishes that he hopes to be a different man than his father.

In this essay, Baldwin loads the front of the essay with his motifs, and, through his narrative, weaves them together into a theme. In the end, he comes to a conclusion that connects all of those things together and leaves the reader with a lasting impression of completion—though the elements may have been initially disparate, in the end everything makes sense.

You can replicate this tactic of introducing seemingly unattached ideas and weaving them together in your own essays. By introducing those motifs, developing them throughout, and bringing them together in the end, you can demonstrate to your reader how all of them are related. However, it’s especially important to be sure that your motifs and clear and consistent throughout your essay so that the conclusion feels earned and consistent—if not, readers may feel mislead.

5 Key Tips for Writing Narrative Essays

Narrative essays can be a lot of fun to write since they’re so heavily based on creativity. But that can also feel intimidating—sometimes it’s easier to have strict guidelines than to have to make it all up yourself. Here are a few tips to keep your narrative essay feeling strong and fresh.

Develop Strong Motifs

Motifs are the foundation of a narrative essay . What are you trying to say? How can you say that using specific symbols or events? Those are your motifs.

In the same way that an argumentative essay’s body should support its thesis, the body of your narrative essay should include motifs that support your theme.

Try to avoid cliches, as these will feel tired to your readers. Instead of roses to symbolize love, try succulents. Instead of the ocean representing some vast, unknowable truth, try the depths of your brother’s bedroom. Keep your language and motifs fresh and your essay will be even stronger!

Use First-Person Perspective

In many essays, you’re expected to remove yourself so that your points stand on their own. Not so in a narrative essay—in this case, you want to make use of your own perspective.

Sometimes a different perspective can make your point even stronger. If you want someone to identify with your point of view, it may be tempting to choose a second-person perspective. However, be sure you really understand the function of second-person; it’s very easy to put a reader off if the narration isn’t expertly deployed.

If you want a little bit of distance, third-person perspective may be okay. But be careful—too much distance and your reader may feel like the narrative lacks truth.

That’s why first-person perspective is the standard. It keeps you, the writer, close to the narrative, reminding the reader that it really happened. And because you really know what happened and how, you’re free to inject your own opinion into the story without it detracting from your point, as it would in a different type of essay.

Stick to the Truth

Your essay should be true. However, this is a creative essay, and it’s okay to embellish a little. Rarely in life do we experience anything with a clear, concrete meaning the way somebody in a book might. If you flub the details a little, it’s okay—just don’t make them up entirely.

Also, nobody expects you to perfectly recall details that may have happened years ago. You may have to reconstruct dialog from your memory and your imagination. That’s okay, again, as long as you aren’t making it up entirely and assigning made-up statements to somebody.

Dialog is a powerful tool. A good conversation can add flavor and interest to a story, as we saw demonstrated in David Foster Wallace’s essay. As previously mentioned, it’s okay to flub it a little, especially because you’re likely writing about an experience you had without knowing that you’d be writing about it later.

However, don’t rely too much on it. Your narrative essay shouldn’t be told through people explaining things to one another; the motif comes through in the details. Dialog can be one of those details, but it shouldn’t be the only one.

Use Sensory Descriptions

Because a narrative essay is a story, you can use sensory details to make your writing more interesting. If you’re describing a particular experience, you can go into detail about things like taste, smell, and hearing in a way that you probably wouldn’t do in any other essay style.

These details can tie into your overall motifs and further your point. Woolf describes in great detail what she sees while watching the moth, giving us the sense that we, too, are watching the moth. In Wallace’s essay, he discusses the sights, sounds, and smells of the Illinois State Fair to help emphasize his point about its strangeness. And in Baldwin’s essay, he describes shattered glass as a “wilderness,” and uses the feelings of his body to describe his mental state.

All these descriptions anchor us not only in the story, but in the motifs and themes as well. One of the tools of a writer is making the reader feel as you felt, and sensory details help you achieve that.

What’s Next?

Looking to brush up on your essay-writing capabilities before the ACT? This guide to ACT English will walk you through some of the best strategies and practice questions to get you prepared!

Part of practicing for the ACT is ensuring your word choice and diction are on point. Check out this guide to some of the most common errors on the ACT English section to be sure that you're not making these common mistakes!

A solid understanding of English principles will help you make an effective point in a narrative essay, and you can get that understanding through taking a rigorous assortment of high school English classes !

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Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

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Narrative Essay Guide

Narrative Essay Outline

Last updated on: Feb 9, 2023

How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline - Tips & Examples

By: Nathan D.

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Jun 2, 2020

Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay is a type of academic essay in which the writer narrates a story. It is the most commonly assigned form of academic writing. Students have to face the narrative essay writing task quite often, so it is essential to know how to handle it. 

A narrative essay is a story, so it's important to know how to write one. The best way to start your outline is by brainstorming ideas.

Who are the characters? What do they want? How does this conflict with their goals and who wins in the end?

There are many different types of essays you can write about, but all will have some sort of conflict. Once you've figured out the basics, be creative! You could explore an event that happened in your life or tell a fictional story.

In this blog, you’ll learn to write an outline for a narrative essay with examples. Start reading!

Narrative Essay Outline

On this Page

A  narrative essay  is a type of academic essay in which the writer narrates a story. It is the most commonly assigned form of academic writing. Students have to face the narrative essay writing task quite often, so it is essential to know how to handle it.

Narrative Essay Outline Format

The narrative essay outline follows the standard structure. Like other types of essays, this essay normally follows a typical 5 paragraph essay format. The 5 paragraph outline includes one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and one conclusion paragraph.

However, unlike other essays, the paragraphs of the narrative essay have specifically designated purposes:

1. Introduction Paragraph:  Gives an insight into the story

2. First Body Paragraph:  Discuss the rising action

3. Second Body Paragraph:  Present the climax of the story

4. Third Body Paragraph:  Provide the falling action

5. Conclusion Paragraph:  Discussion of the lesson learned from the story

Paragraph Narrative Essay Outline Template

Let's look at the detailed 5 paragraph narrative essay outline for college students.

How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline?

A narrative essay is all about sharing the stories. Therefore, you need to organize your story into an essay format. As a writer, you are supposed to tell a story from your personal experience and why you are sharing that specific experience. Later, you need to discuss why this story or experience is important to share.

Let's look at how to craft an outline for a narrative essay. Follow the steps in the same sequence, and at the end, you’ll get a perfect outline. The writing process will become less stressful and daunting if you follow the steps given below.

1. Write the Introduction

The introduction paragraph is meant to engage the reader with the story. The first paragraph plays the most crucial role in making an impression on the reader’s mind. It allows you to share your perspective and how it relates to you. The following elements are involved in writing a strong narrative essay introduction.

  • Create a Hook Statement  Draw the reader in with an intriguing and attention-grabbing hook statement. Create a strong hook that makes your reader want to read further. You can use a quote, rhetorical question, or fact to create a persuasive hook statement.
  • Set the Scene:  Give your reader an idea of what is going to happen. Do not tell the whole story; just give a glimpse into it and keep your reader intrigued. Tell the reader how the points of the story relate to you.
  • Define the Thesis Statement:  Finally, tell your reader what your story is all about with the help of a thesis statement. Give a sneak peek of what is about to come but avoid telling the lesson you have learned from the situation yet; just give a hint.

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2. Draft the Body Paragraphs

The main body of a narrative essay is the most important part because it tells the whole story. This is where you state the facts, provide examples, give details, and guide the reader through the plot. According to the five paragraphs essay structure, it has three body paragraphs, but it can depend on the length and word count.

Below elements must be kept in mind while writing the narrative essay body paragraphs:

  • Write Chronologically:  The timelines of a story should be presented in chronological order. Otherwise, the reader will get confused, and it becomes hard for them to understand the story. To keep your paper organized, you should present things in sequential order.
  • Share the Relevant and Vivid Details:  As a narrative essay is all about creating a mood and scene to follow, do that creatively. Set up the story with descriptive and concise language. Provide the reader with the most important details of your story. These details may include the characters, setting, plot, and the onset of the story.
  • Avoid Narration Deviation:  The narrative essay is usually written in the first person unless you share someone else’s story. The third-person narrative only works best when you are telling a story you heard from someone else.

3. Write a Compelling Conclusion

The conclusion paragraph is the final section of the essay where you give some final comments about the story. Summarize your essay and connect your reader back to the story. Follow these steps to write an impressive conclusion.

  • Restate Some Key Details:  Restate the thesis statement and some key details you have shared in the body. It will help you connect your reader with your story.
  • Share the Lesson:  Stress the lesson you have learned from the story and leave the reader with something to think about.
  • Call to Action:  In the end, provide a call to action that convinces the reader to think more about the topic.

Narrative Essay Outline Worksheet

Use the given worksheet below to write a narrative essay with ease.

Narrative Essay Outline Example

Here are some  narrative essay examples  and samples for your convenience. Use these templates and learn to write a good narrative essay easily.

Narrative Essay Outline for Middle School

College Narrative Essay Outline

Personal Narrative Essay Outline Template

Descriptive Narrative Essay Outline

Literacy Narrative Essay Outline

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Literature, College Essay

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How to Write a Narrative Essay Step by Step

good intro for narrative essay

Essay writing comes in various styles, many of which do not demand extensive research. One such style is the narrative essay, which combines personal storytelling with academic reflection. Unlike other essay types, narrative essays are not bound by strict requirements or the need for a bibliography. They feature a more flexible structure, creative language, and a singular focus: to tell a story.

This genre provides a special opportunity for writers to connect with readers on a personal level. By sharing personal experiences and reflections, authors engage their audience emotionally while imparting meaningful messages or lessons. In the sections that follow, our custom term paper writing experts will delve into different aspects of narrative writing, from selecting a topic to structuring your essay effectively.

What Is a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay, as the name suggests, is characterized by the presence of a narrative. Unlike argumentative essays, which present and defend a position, or analytical essays, which dissect another text, narrative essays tell a coherent story. Their goal is to convey a point or impart a lesson through personal experiences. These essays are frequently assigned in high school and for college admissions.

An effective narrative essay generally follows a chronological sequence of events and exhibits three main traits:

  • Centers on one main idea.
  • Utilizes specific details to illustrate that idea.
  • Adheres to a clear sequence of events.

Structurally, a narrative essay resembles short stories, featuring vivid descriptions, plots, characters, and discussions. However, there are key differences. These essays focus on a central theme or argument and conclude decisively, whereas short stories often leave readers with a more abstract moral or message.

A narrative essay is typically written in the first person and follows a standard format with an introduction, body, and conclusion. In contrast, short stories can adopt various formats and may not adhere to the same structured approach.

What is the Purpose of a Narrative Essay

No matter what you write — fiction, non-fiction, memoir, biography — grasping narrative writing helps you connect with your reader, giving them a glimpse of your world. Here, we outline its key purposes:

What is the Purpose of a Narrative Essay

  • Academic Assignments: They fulfill requirements for school assignments, allowing students to demonstrate their understanding and creativity.
  • Self-Reflection: As a key purpose of a narrative essay, this type of writing enables individuals to reflect on personal achievements or significant events, fostering introspection and self-awareness.
  • Professional Endeavors: They are used when applying for jobs or scholarships, showcasing one's communication skills, experiences, and character.
  • Literary Analysis: Narrative storytelling is employed in analyzing literature, providing a medium to explore themes, characters, and storytelling techniques.
  • Cultural Exploration: They facilitate the exploration of different cultures, allowing individuals to share insights and experiences from diverse perspectives.
  • Creative Expression: These essays offer a means of expressing oneself creatively, weaving personal narratives into compelling stories.
  • Communication of Messages: Through storytelling, narrative writing conveys messages or lessons, engaging readers and imparting wisdom or insights.
  • Engagement: Above all, these essays connect with the audience on a personal level, fostering empathy, understanding, and emotional resonance.

Meanwhile, if you’re willing to describe your life in greater depth, our guide on how to write an autobiography might be just what you need!

How to Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps

Writing a narrative essay is a unique process compared to other types of school essays. Rather than analyzing topics or defending a position, it focuses on sharing personal experiences through storytelling. By following a few straightforward steps, you can transform your ideas into an engaging narrative.

How to Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps

Step 1: Start with a Topic Selection

When crafting a narrative essay, begin by selecting a topic that either relates to your personal experiences or aligns with a given prompt. If a prompt is provided, consider its requirements and brainstorm ideas that fit within its scope.

As you brainstorm, jot down key moments or points you want to include in your essay. Evaluate how each point will fit into the overall structure of your narrative and ensure it adheres to any word count limits.

Think about the tone and style you wish to adopt. Will your essay be reflective, humorous, or something else? Consider incorporating specific stylistic elements, such as repeated phrases or cliffhanger endings, to enhance your storytelling and engage your reader.

Remain flexible throughout this process. As you explore different ideas, be open to tweaking your topic, tone, and style to better suit your narrative.

For more inspiration and to skip the brainstorming phase, check out a ready-made Narrative Essay Topic list!

Step 2: Make a Clear Outline

Once you have your topic, it's time to draft your narrative essay outline. This outline serves as a blueprint, guiding you in crafting a coherent and engaging story. Start by pinpointing the main points you wish to address, such as pivotal moments or insights gained, and allocate each to a separate paragraph to maintain a clear sequence.

Your outline should help you structure the flow of your narrative, planning out the sequence of events and the level of detail to include. For example, if your essay is about a memorable trip, your outline might start with a paragraph setting the scene, followed by paragraphs describing key experiences and interactions, and concluding with reflections on how the trip impacted you.

When outlining your conclusion, think about how to effectively wrap up your story by summarizing the main events and the significance they hold. For a more systematic approach, make sure to check out how to write an essay conclusion .

Topic:
Introduction
Challenge Description
Perseverance and Action
Reflection and Growth
Conclusion

Step 3: Write Your Narrative Essay

Using your outline as a guide, now, it's time to start writing a narrative essay.  Remember that narrative essays provide you with a creative outlet, so feel free to break away from the constraints of traditional academic writing styles. Captivating the reader and giving your narrative life should be your main goals.

Tip 💡 Use first-person : Infuse your essay with personal authenticity and engagement by embracing pronouns like 'I' and 'me'.

Tip 💡 Employ storytelling techniques : Draw upon the techniques employed in fiction and creative nonfiction, such as dialogue and symbolism, to enrich your narrative and captivate your audience.

Tip 💡 Demonstrate, don't merely state : Instead of blandly presenting facts, immerse your reader in your narrative by employing vivid descriptions and sensory details.

Tip 💡 Remain authentic: Preserve the integrity of your voice and experiences. Candidly share your thoughts and emotions to ensure your narrative essay resonates as genuine and relatable.

Step 4: Don't Forget to Revise

After completing your initial draft, it's essential to revise and polish your essay. Begin by taking a break to refresh your perspective before returning with a clear mind - this is one of the best tips for writing a narrative essay!

When revisiting your essay, carefully review it to ensure logical coherence and flow. Address any inconsistencies or narrative gaps, refining your essay for improved clarity. Pay attention to elements such as tense, point of view, and narrative voice throughout.

Step 5: Proofread Your Writing

Now that you understand how to end a narrative essay, don’t forget to dedicate time to meticulous proofreading to catch any lingering errors or typos. Pay close attention to formatting and citation style, if applicable.

Sharing your essay with trusted individuals such as friends, family, or educators can provide valuable feedback and fresh insights. Incorporate the feedback received, along with your own observations from the revision process, to strengthen the impact and effectiveness of your essay. 

Narrative Essay Topics: The List 

Let's go back to the topics and give you some handy, ready-made options. Sure, you can think of ideas on your own, but we can lend a hand with these suggestions before you commit to the writing process.

  • Reflecting on earning my first degree: a pivotal milestone in my life.
  • The most awful dish I’ve ever tasted: my unforgettable tale.
  • How a personal experience changed my attitudes and actions.
  • The worst exam experience I’ve ever had: a harrowing tale.
  • Encountering something eerie: a chilling moment in my life.
  • Fond memories of summer vacations during my childhood.
  • The story of a heroic act that saved someone's life.
  • My top tunes: songs that resonate deeply with me.
  • The origins and meanings of my nicknames.
  • The superpower I wish I had and why.
  • A lecture that profoundly changed my perspective.
  • Does my school prioritize digital skills for students?
  • Great summer reads for book lovers: my top suggestions.
  • The music genres and melodies that reflect my tastes and emotions.
  • Passions and interests that drive my aspirations.
  • My ultimate guide to spending Sundays efficiently.
  • Questions and curiosities about how the world works.
  • Values and principles I'd risk my life for.
  • How much do I follow global current events?
  • Steps I’ve taken to achieve my dream job.

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Narrative Essay Examples

For inspiration on your upcoming essay, check out these excellent samples from our essay writer . Use them as a guide to help craft your own story, ensuring that your unique voice and experiences come through in your work.

If sharing your personal stories is not your cup of tea, you can buy essays online from our expert writers, who will customize the paper to your particular writing style and tone.

Final Recap

Now that you understand what makes a narrative essay tick, you're probably itching to write your own standout piece. Let our skilled research paper writing service lend you a hand! We're here to offer personalized services tailored to your needs. By providing value with flexible pricing and quick turnaround times, we'll bring your narrative to life together!

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What Is A Narrative Essay?

How to start a narrative essay, how to write a good narrative essay.

Daniel Parker

Daniel Parker

is a seasoned educational writer focusing on scholarship guidance, research papers, and various forms of academic essays including reflective and narrative essays. His expertise also extends to detailed case studies. A scholar with a background in English Literature and Education, Daniel’s work on EssayPro blog aims to support students in achieving academic excellence and securing scholarships. His hobbies include reading classic literature and participating in academic forums.

good intro for narrative essay

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

Added new info on narrative essay

How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay

How to Write a Good Narrative Essay: Tips, Examples, & Step-by-Step Guide

How to write a narrative essay? To do that, you need to know what a narrative essay is. It is an academic text usually written as a story and containing all the usual elements of a story. Narrative essays are often personal, experiential, and creative. Still, they should be made according to the rules of academic writing.

Want to know how to write a good narrative essay for college or middle school? In this guide by Custom Writing experts, you’ll find a step-by-step guide, narrative essay examples, advice on choosing a topic, outlining and writing your text, as well as useful narrative essay tips.

❔ What Makes a Good Narrative Essay?

  • 👣 Narrative Writing Guide
  • 💡 Writing Tips

🔗 References

A narrative essay is usually a story about your own or somebody’s experience. We tell stories every day. So, when you ask “How to write a narrative essay,” you should think of a story you want to write about. Stories don’t need to be very accurate. They should be engaging, that is their most important quality. If written as a story, your narrative essay should contain all the necessary parts of it: an introduction, a rising action, a climax, a falling action, and a denouement.

The Main Elements of a Narrative Essay Are: Introduction, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, & Lessons Learned.

Check out information below to learn what each part of a good narrative essay includes:

📌 Introduction

The introduction of a narrative essay consists of exposition and conflict:

  • The exposition presents the setting (time and place), characters, and mood.
  • The conflict is the main problem that drives the plot. It is an internal or external challenge the main character faces.

📌 Rising action

The rising action includes the events that lead up to the climax. They usually make the issue worse.

The climax is a turning point in the plot. It is the moment when opposing forces confront each other, make significant decisions, or take action.

📌 Falling action

The falling action refers to the events that occur after the climax, such as character development, answers to key questions, etc.

📌 Denouement

The denouement, also known as resolution, reveals how things turn out in the end, leaving readers with questions, answers, frustration, or satisfaction.

👣 How to Write a Good Narrative Essay

Below are five simple writing steps for a narrative essay. Here are simple things you should do before you start writing your story:

  • Think about your narrative essay topic and how your life experience correlates with it. Even a small fact, idea, or goal can become a good story idea.
  • Think about your emotions. The more passionate you will be – the more effective your assignment.
  • Recall your story’s details : people and objects, setting, and season. Think about the sequence of events and remember; no detail is too small. Remember: the small details reveal big ideas!

Step 1. Choose Your Narrative Essay Topic

If you are free to select your own topic for a narrative essay, you still need to read what is expected from you carefully and to follow the requirements stated in the assignment. These are the most common characteristics of a narrative essay for college students to mind when choosing a topic:

  • A challenge or conflict: an exciting or dangerous incident that creates suspense.
  • A protagonist: a character facing the challenge or conflict as mentioned above. If you are not the protagonist and the story is a third-person, it is better to choose a relatable character.
  • Evolution, growth, and change: when protagonists live through a conflict or challenge, their personality changes. Difficulties spark insights that may be used as a moral of the story.

To come up with a successful narrative topic, brainstorm the following directions of thought:

  • Think of a problem that bothers you and you’d like to share
  • Have you had any memorable experiences that have changed your view on life?
  • What kind of stories raises your interest? You can invent something similar.

Step 2. Make Your Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay is a less formal kind of academic paper. Still, it shall also conform with arrangement rules. This outline template will help you structure a narrative essay according to the traditional format.

Narrative Essay Outline

  • Background information about the protagonist
  • Thesis statement
  • Setting (place and time)
  • Preceding events
  • Secondary characters
  • Action and culmination
  • Outcome or morale
  • Summary of main events
  • Thesis restatement

Narrative Essay Introduction

The components of an introduction are:

  • Hook. Your narration needs to be moving, personal, and reflective. But in the first place, you shall engage your reader with the story. A hook sets the necessary tone from the beginning. An intriguing revelation or confession is the best choice here.
  • Background. Who is the protagonist of your story? Additional information helps the reader to put themselves into your shoes.
  • Thesis . It is an argumentative sentence where you specify the point of the piece of writing.

Narrative Essay Body

The components of a body are:

  • Setting. Make a visual and emotional description that suggests what experiences you will share. State when and where the action takes place.
  • Preceding events. In continuation of the previous point, sketch the circumstances under which the scenario unfolds.
  • Characters. Describe the secondary characters of your story.
  • Action and climax. Use the chronological order format throughout the main part. All the events shall culminate with a climax, the most emotional point of the plot.
  • Morale. What was the result of everything described above? What lessons can be learned from your story?

Narrative Essay Conclusion

The components of a conclusion are:

  • Summarizing paragraph . List the key points of your narration.
  • Thesis restatement. Reiterating your purpose in different words relating to the content of the main body finalizes your paper.

Step 3. Write Your Narrative Essay Introduction

Well, you have chosen the topic of your future writing and created your narrative essay outline. What’s next? Start writing your narrative essay with an introduction.

The introduction is an important part of your essay paper as it grabs the reader’s attention. And here are some basic guidelines for a narrative essay introduction.

  • Start with an introductory phrase. It has to be short and catchy. An unexpected point of view is always interesting to get acquainted with.
  • State the thesis. It doesn’t need to be as formal as in other types of academic papers. However, it’s worth saying a couple of words on why you decided to tell this particular story to the reader.
  • Write supporting sentences. Give reasons why the story you are sharing is significant.
  • Remember that the reader was not there when the story happened. He (or she)  is trying to catch up with it while reading. Be polite and thoughtful, don’t get into useless details or get swept away by the story, leaving your reader wondering and wandering.

Step 4. Create Your Narrative Essay Body

Your entire story is concentrated in body paragraphs: from three to as many as you wish.

Check the general guidelines on how to write a good narrative body!

  • Provide one idea per paragraph. Don’t try to put too many details in each of the logical parts.
  • Follow some logical pattern when presenting your narrative. Chronological is the easiest one.
  • Search for your personal writing style. It can be philosophical (careful! That requires specific knowledge), ironical, critical, romantic. Whatever you choose, it has to be you from top to bottom. The writing style is like an autograph. Work on it.

Step 5. Make a Narrative Essay Conclusion

You’re almost there. You just need to write good concluding sentences for your essay.

The conclusion is as important as an introduction. It leaves the aftertaste. Here you should make some final comments about your narrative. Restate some of the essential ideas and details and mention the most important lessons learned from your shared experience.

How to End a Narrative Essay?

  • Summarize. If you don’t like summarizing, or it doesn’t fit the style of the story, wrap it up with a rhetorical question or plans for the future.
  • Give your readers an idea. Think about the central message of the story and remind them of it.
  • Leave your readers experiencing a pleasant aftertaste. Give them a feeling that they need to sit back and think about the problems you brought up.

Step 6. Revise & Format Your Narrative Essay

Huh! You’ve done it. You finished the assignment. Now take a deep breath, go for a walk, or have some sleep. And then revise it. Here are some questions you should keep in mind when you review, reorganize, and modify your narrative essay to make it the best possible.

If you have any questions on how to format your narrative essay in MLA or APA, use our complete citation style guidebook .

Narrative Essay Checklist

  • Does the reader easily understand the progression of events? Do the transitions confuse or facilitate your readers?
  • Do I involve my readers in my experience? Should I add some details or remove extraneous ones that distract the attention?
  • How adequately did I convey the primary message of the essay? Does the experience described and its significance to me have a connection?

By the way, do you know which part of the writing process is usually the most underestimated? Proofreading . At this point, you should check and correct punctuation and grammar mistakes, improve clarity, and writing style. Ask your friend to read your narrative paper. You’ll get a fresh look at your writing.

📚 Narrative Essay Topics

If you need specific ideas to write your story about, explore the following narrative essay topics:

  • The most exciting day of your life.
  • A serious life lesson you learned. 
  • A rebellious act that made a change. 
  • A revelation that made you a different kind of person. 
  • A moment you took a stand for yourself.
  • A situation when you protected someone.
  • An exciting discovery.
  • A moment when you had to overcome fear .
  • A dangerous situation you managed to escape.
  • What type of learner are you?
  • Detail how you used to handle stress at high school.
  • Describe the situation that helped you to understand the notion of race and ethnicity.
  • Discuss your experience of keeping to a financial plan .
  • Outline the day you attended court and how it influenced you.
  • Describe your experience of riding a bicycle .
  • Detail the parenting style of your parents and its impact on your personality.
  • Tell about the day you or your friend tried challenging gender norms.
  • Discuss your experience with writing.
  • Describe your traveling experience and the lessons you learned thanks to it.
  • Narrate how getting a degree changed your life.
  • Give details about your visit to a jazz concert.
  • What was the most embarrassing episode in your life?
  • Describe the peculiarities of the celebration of the traditional Thai New Year.
  • Tell a story that illustrates the influence of culture on human life.
  • Discuss the challenges you’ve faced when buying your first laptop .
  • Specify the situation when you faced racism.
  • What was the most memorable event in your childhood?
  • Write about your experience of trying dance movement therapy and its results. 
  • Describe the case when you had a conflict and how you managed to resolve it.
  • Your experience of learning English.
  • Tell about your high school challenges and how you overcame them.
  • Give details about your experience of a cover conflict .
  • Recall and describe the moment of happiness .
  • Depict the last live concert you visited and the impression it made.   
  • Write about your job experience.
  • Describe your visit to Australia and what you’ve learned from it.
  • Detail your experience of starting college and how it changed your life.
  • Tell about your first date .
  • Explain how a vacation in Mexico City added to your life experience.
  • Discuss the effect of the logic course on your life.
  • Describe your experience of bullying and its impact on your life.
  • Give details about your experience of global lockdown and how it changed your life values.
  • Tell a story that shows the role of technology in your life.
  • How was your first day at college?
  • Describe the most memorable event that had a positive impact on your life .
  • Narrate the story that happened to you on Christmas. 
  • How did you meet your best friend ?
  • Write about the case of jealousy in friendship and how you managed to cope with it.
  • Describe your experience of adopting a cat from Humane Society.
  • Tell the story that shows how practicing mindfulness changed your life.

😸 Narrative Essay Examples

Example #1: live-saving experience.

In this essay, I would like to narrate a story that occurred with me and my friend when we were visiting a large shopping mall. It was the weekends, and our meeting in the café was planned in advance, but my friend suggested that we can go to the mall as she needed a new dress. I agreed with her and arrived a little earlier than it was arranged. I took a seat on the bench near the mall, sipping my cappuccino and looking around while waiting for my friend. The next 20 minutes were one of the most stressful and important in my life as I significantly contributed to saving a human life.

Example #2: Creating a Business with a Friend

I have been in business for more than ten years. I have seen crises, success, failures, tears, sweat, and hard work everywhere. Nevertheless, each time it was also about opportunities to grow both as an individual and as an entrepreneur. But I had one that was particularly memorable emotionally. This is a story about creating a business with a friend. I worked in various fields, and I started four of my companies with friends.

💡 Narrative Essay Tips

Do you need more tips for narrative writing? Keep reading!

  • Keep it clear. Avoid complex words and syntax.
  • Search for the balance when describing details . Don’t go into them too deeply. At the same time, even a single lost detail can skew the reader’s understanding.
  • Use the first-person narrative . Good narrative stories are usually written in the first person. When you use “I”, you’re engaging your readers with an immediacy of the story.
  • Use dynamic words and active voice . Think about your writing as it was the speech: what words, idioms, slang, and turns of phrase would you use? Try not to sound too clinical – no passive constructions.
  • Limit references . When you look through citation style guides, you’ll find the recommendations to include citations into your assignment. But not in a narrative essay – it is disruptive. When you find a useful piece of content, just cite it in the reference list after the essay.

Thank you for reading! Whenever you feel that you could use some help in writing your paper, take a closer look at these tips – you’ll definitely be able to develop your own signature style once you start following them. Keep up the good work!

  • Essay Writing: Purdue Online Writing Lab
  • How to Write an Making an Argument: Creating a Thesis (BMCC Writing Center)
  • Beginning the Academic Essay: Harvard College Writing Center
  • Conclusions: University of North Carolina Writing Center
  • Editing and Revision Tips: Indiana University Northwest
  • Narrative Essays // Purdue Writing Lab
  • Narrative Essay: Definition, Examples & Characteristics
  • Narrative Essays – National Geographic Learning – Cengage
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I will comment as soon as i finish reading your samples

Thanks guys it helped alot. i have my exam in 2 hours!

Thanks for sharing this 🙂

Thanks alot

Thank u so much… your tips have really helped me to broaden my scope on the idea of a narrative. This is so thoughtful of you… Thanks again!❤

This passage is really good, it helps me a lot. I think I can get a good result in my next exam if I follow these tips. I hope you can give some more other examples of essay writing. Thank you.

Thanx for the tips. Tomorrow I’m writing p3 pre-exam n ur tips are superb

good intro for narrative essay

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How to Write an Essay Introduction (with Examples)   

essay introduction

The introduction of an essay plays a critical role in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. It sets the stage for the rest of the essay, establishes the tone and style, and motivates the reader to continue reading. 

Table of Contents

What is an essay introduction , what to include in an essay introduction, how to create an essay structure , step-by-step process for writing an essay introduction , how to write an introduction paragraph , how to write a hook for your essay , how to include background information , how to write a thesis statement .

  • Argumentative Essay Introduction Example: 
  • Expository Essay Introduction Example 

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction Example

Check and revise – checklist for essay introduction , key takeaways , frequently asked questions .

An introduction is the opening section of an essay, paper, or other written work. It introduces the topic and provides background information, context, and an overview of what the reader can expect from the rest of the work. 1 The key is to be concise and to the point, providing enough information to engage the reader without delving into excessive detail. 

The essay introduction is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire piece and provides the reader with a roadmap of what to expect. Here are key elements to include in your essay introduction: 

  • Hook : Start with an attention-grabbing statement or question to engage the reader. This could be a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or a compelling anecdote. 
  • Background information : Provide context and background information to help the reader understand the topic. This can include historical information, definitions of key terms, or an overview of the current state of affairs related to your topic. 
  • Thesis statement : Clearly state your main argument or position on the topic. Your thesis should be concise and specific, providing a clear direction for your essay. 

Before we get into how to write an essay introduction, we need to know how it is structured. The structure of an essay is crucial for organizing your thoughts and presenting them clearly and logically. It is divided as follows: 2  

  • Introduction:  The introduction should grab the reader’s attention with a hook, provide context, and include a thesis statement that presents the main argument or purpose of the essay.  
  • Body:  The body should consist of focused paragraphs that support your thesis statement using evidence and analysis. Each paragraph should concentrate on a single central idea or argument and provide evidence, examples, or analysis to back it up.  
  • Conclusion:  The conclusion should summarize the main points and restate the thesis differently. End with a final statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Avoid new information or arguments. 

good intro for narrative essay

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write an essay introduction: 

  • Start with a Hook : Begin your introduction paragraph with an attention-grabbing statement, question, quote, or anecdote related to your topic. The hook should pique the reader’s interest and encourage them to continue reading. 
  • Provide Background Information : This helps the reader understand the relevance and importance of the topic. 
  • State Your Thesis Statement : The last sentence is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and directly address the topic of your essay. 
  • Preview the Main Points : This gives the reader an idea of what to expect and how you will support your thesis. 
  • Keep it Concise and Clear : Avoid going into too much detail or including information not directly relevant to your topic. 
  • Revise : Revise your introduction after you’ve written the rest of your essay to ensure it aligns with your final argument. 

Here’s an example of an essay introduction paragraph about the importance of education: 

Education is often viewed as a fundamental human right and a key social and economic development driver. As Nelson Mandela once famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is the key to unlocking a wide range of opportunities and benefits for individuals, societies, and nations. In today’s constantly evolving world, education has become even more critical. It has expanded beyond traditional classroom learning to include digital and remote learning, making education more accessible and convenient. This essay will delve into the importance of education in empowering individuals to achieve their dreams, improving societies by promoting social justice and equality, and driving economic growth by developing a skilled workforce and promoting innovation. 

This introduction paragraph example includes a hook (the quote by Nelson Mandela), provides some background information on education, and states the thesis statement (the importance of education). 

This is one of the key steps in how to write an essay introduction. Crafting a compelling hook is vital because it sets the tone for your entire essay and determines whether your readers will stay interested. A good hook draws the reader in and sets the stage for the rest of your essay.  

  • Avoid Dry Fact : Instead of simply stating a bland fact, try to make it engaging and relevant to your topic. For example, if you’re writing about the benefits of exercise, you could start with a startling statistic like, “Did you know that regular exercise can increase your lifespan by up to seven years?” 
  • Avoid Using a Dictionary Definition : While definitions can be informative, they’re not always the most captivating way to start an essay. Instead, try to use a quote, anecdote, or provocative question to pique the reader’s interest. For instance, if you’re writing about freedom, you could begin with a quote from a famous freedom fighter or philosopher. 
  • Do Not Just State a Fact That the Reader Already Knows : This ties back to the first point—your hook should surprise or intrigue the reader. For Here’s an introduction paragraph example, if you’re writing about climate change, you could start with a thought-provoking statement like, “Despite overwhelming evidence, many people still refuse to believe in the reality of climate change.” 

Including background information in the introduction section of your essay is important to provide context and establish the relevance of your topic. When writing the background information, you can follow these steps: 

  • Start with a General Statement:  Begin with a general statement about the topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific focus. For example, when discussing the impact of social media, you can begin by making a broad statement about social media and its widespread use in today’s society, as follows: “Social media has become an integral part of modern life, with billions of users worldwide.” 
  • Define Key Terms : Define any key terms or concepts that may be unfamiliar to your readers but are essential for understanding your argument. 
  • Provide Relevant Statistics:  Use statistics or facts to highlight the significance of the issue you’re discussing. For instance, “According to a report by Statista, the number of social media users is expected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025.” 
  • Discuss the Evolution:  Mention previous research or studies that have been conducted on the topic, especially those that are relevant to your argument. Mention key milestones or developments that have shaped its current impact. You can also outline some of the major effects of social media. For example, you can briefly describe how social media has evolved, including positives such as increased connectivity and issues like cyberbullying and privacy concerns. 
  • Transition to Your Thesis:  Use the background information to lead into your thesis statement, which should clearly state the main argument or purpose of your essay. For example, “Given its pervasive influence, it is crucial to examine the impact of social media on mental health.” 

good intro for narrative essay

A thesis statement is a concise summary of the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, or other type of academic writing. It appears near the end of the introduction. Here’s how to write a thesis statement: 

  • Identify the topic:  Start by identifying the topic of your essay. For example, if your essay is about the importance of exercise for overall health, your topic is “exercise.” 
  • State your position:  Next, state your position or claim about the topic. This is the main argument or point you want to make. For example, if you believe that regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good health, your position could be: “Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good health.” 
  • Support your position:  Provide a brief overview of the reasons or evidence that support your position. These will be the main points of your essay. For example, if you’re writing an essay about the importance of exercise, you could mention the physical health benefits, mental health benefits, and the role of exercise in disease prevention. 
  • Make it specific:  Ensure your thesis statement clearly states what you will discuss in your essay. For example, instead of saying, “Exercise is good for you,” you could say, “Regular exercise, including cardiovascular and strength training, can improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.” 

Examples of essay introduction 

Here are examples of essay introductions for different types of essays: 

Argumentative Essay Introduction Example:  

Topic: Should the voting age be lowered to 16? 

“The question of whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 has sparked nationwide debate. While some argue that 16-year-olds lack the requisite maturity and knowledge to make informed decisions, others argue that doing so would imbue young people with agency and give them a voice in shaping their future.” 

Expository Essay Introduction Example  

Topic: The benefits of regular exercise 

“In today’s fast-paced world, the importance of regular exercise cannot be overstated. From improving physical health to boosting mental well-being, the benefits of exercise are numerous and far-reaching. This essay will examine the various advantages of regular exercise and provide tips on incorporating it into your daily routine.” 

Text: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee 

“Harper Lee’s novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ is a timeless classic that explores themes of racism, injustice, and morality in the American South. Through the eyes of young Scout Finch, the reader is taken on a journey that challenges societal norms and forces characters to confront their prejudices. This essay will analyze the novel’s use of symbolism, character development, and narrative structure to uncover its deeper meaning and relevance to contemporary society.” 

  • Engaging and Relevant First Sentence : The opening sentence captures the reader’s attention and relates directly to the topic. 
  • Background Information : Enough background information is introduced to provide context for the thesis statement. 
  • Definition of Important Terms : Key terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar to the audience or are central to the argument are defined. 
  • Clear Thesis Statement : The thesis statement presents the main point or argument of the essay. 
  • Relevance to Main Body : Everything in the introduction directly relates to and sets up the discussion in the main body of the essay. 

good intro for narrative essay

Writing a strong introduction is crucial for setting the tone and context of your essay. Here are the key takeaways for how to write essay introduction: 3  

  • Hook the Reader : Start with an engaging hook to grab the reader’s attention. This could be a compelling question, a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or an anecdote. 
  • Provide Background : Give a brief overview of the topic, setting the context and stage for the discussion. 
  • Thesis Statement : State your thesis, which is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be concise, clear, and specific. 
  • Preview the Structure : Outline the main points or arguments to help the reader understand the organization of your essay. 
  • Keep it Concise : Avoid including unnecessary details or information not directly related to your thesis. 
  • Revise and Edit : Revise your introduction to ensure clarity, coherence, and relevance. Check for grammar and spelling errors. 
  • Seek Feedback : Get feedback from peers or instructors to improve your introduction further. 

The purpose of an essay introduction is to give an overview of the topic, context, and main ideas of the essay. It is meant to engage the reader, establish the tone for the rest of the essay, and introduce the thesis statement or central argument.  

An essay introduction typically ranges from 5-10% of the total word count. For example, in a 1,000-word essay, the introduction would be roughly 50-100 words. However, the length can vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the overall length of the essay.

An essay introduction is critical in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. To ensure its effectiveness, consider incorporating these key elements: a compelling hook, background information, a clear thesis statement, an outline of the essay’s scope, a smooth transition to the body, and optional signposting sentences.  

The process of writing an essay introduction is not necessarily straightforward, but there are several strategies that can be employed to achieve this end. When experiencing difficulty initiating the process, consider the following techniques: begin with an anecdote, a quotation, an image, a question, or a startling fact to pique the reader’s interest. It may also be helpful to consider the five W’s of journalism: who, what, when, where, why, and how.   For instance, an anecdotal opening could be structured as follows: “As I ascended the stage, momentarily blinded by the intense lights, I could sense the weight of a hundred eyes upon me, anticipating my next move. The topic of discussion was climate change, a subject I was passionate about, and it was my first public speaking event. Little did I know , that pivotal moment would not only alter my perspective but also chart my life’s course.” 

Crafting a compelling thesis statement for your introduction paragraph is crucial to grab your reader’s attention. To achieve this, avoid using overused phrases such as “In this paper, I will write about” or “I will focus on” as they lack originality. Instead, strive to engage your reader by substantiating your stance or proposition with a “so what” clause. While writing your thesis statement, aim to be precise, succinct, and clear in conveying your main argument.  

To create an effective essay introduction, ensure it is clear, engaging, relevant, and contains a concise thesis statement. It should transition smoothly into the essay and be long enough to cover necessary points but not become overwhelming. Seek feedback from peers or instructors to assess its effectiveness. 

References  

  • Cui, L. (2022). Unit 6 Essay Introduction.  Building Academic Writing Skills . 
  • West, H., Malcolm, G., Keywood, S., & Hill, J. (2019). Writing a successful essay.  Journal of Geography in Higher Education ,  43 (4), 609-617. 
  • Beavers, M. E., Thoune, D. L., & McBeth, M. (2023). Bibliographic Essay: Reading, Researching, Teaching, and Writing with Hooks: A Queer Literacy Sponsorship. College English, 85(3), 230-242. 

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  • Introduction to Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay

Reflect for a moment on the last memorable story you heard, told, or read. What made the story remain with you? Was it a compelling character or participant in the action? An interesting set of circumstances? Was it told in an amusing or serious manner, and did it make you react emotionally?

Everyone loves a good story, and each day we seek out good stories in a variety of media: novels, short stories, newspapers, works of fine art, blogs, even notes and posts on social media pages.

Narration is the art of storytelling, and in this module, you will investigate the ways in which writers employ common narration strategies to engage readers from the beginning to the end of a significant event. You will also look critically at some examples of effective narration as you draft your narrative essay.

Module Outcomes

After successfully completing this module, you should be able to:

  • Describe the purpose, basic components, characteristics, and structure of narrative writing
  • Demonstrate writing techniques of a narrative essay
  • Provided by : Lumen Learning. Located at : http://lumenlearning.com/ . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Authored by : Daryl Smith O' Hare and Susan C. Hines. Provided by : Chadron State College. Project : Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Table of Contents

Instructor Resources (Access Requires Login)

  • Overview of Instructor Resources

An Overview of the Writing Process

  • Introduction to the Writing Process
  • Introduction to Writing
  • Your Role as a Learner
  • What is an Essay?
  • Reading to Write
  • Defining the Writing Process
  • Videos: Prewriting Techniques
  • Thesis Statements
  • Organizing an Essay
  • Creating Paragraphs
  • Conclusions
  • Editing and Proofreading
  • Matters of Grammar, Mechanics, and Style
  • Peer Review Checklist
  • Comparative Chart of Writing Strategies

Using Sources

  • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Formatting the Works Cited Page (MLA)
  • Citing Paraphrases and Summaries (APA)
  • APA Citation Style, 6th edition: General Style Guidelines

Definition Essay

  • Definitional Argument Essay
  • How to Write a Definition Essay
  • Critical Thinking
  • Video: Thesis Explained
  • Effective Thesis Statements
  • Student Sample: Definition Essay
  • Student Sample: Narrative Essay
  • "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell
  • "Sixty-nine Cents" by Gary Shteyngart
  • Video: The Danger of a Single Story
  • How to Write an Annotation
  • How to Write a Summary
  • Writing for Success: Narration

Illustration/Example Essay

  • Introduction to Illustration/Example Essay
  • "She's Your Basic L.O.L. in N.A.D" by Perri Klass
  • "April & Paris" by David Sedaris
  • Writing for Success: Illustration/Example
  • Student Sample: Illustration/Example Essay

Compare/Contrast Essay

  • Introduction to Compare/Contrast Essay
  • "Disability" by Nancy Mairs
  • "Friending, Ancient or Otherwise" by Alex Wright
  • "A South African Storm" by Allison Howard
  • Writing for Success: Compare/Contrast
  • Student Sample: Compare/Contrast Essay

Cause-and-Effect Essay

  • Introduction to Cause-and-Effect Essay
  • "Cultural Baggage" by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • "Women in Science" by K.C. Cole
  • Writing for Success: Cause and Effect
  • Student Sample: Cause-and-Effect Essay

Argument Essay

  • Introduction to Argument Essay
  • Rogerian Argument
  • "The Case Against Torture," by Alisa Soloman
  • "The Case for Torture" by Michael Levin
  • How to Write a Summary by Paraphrasing Source Material
  • Writing for Success: Argument
  • Student Sample: Argument Essay
  • Grammar/Mechanics Mini-lessons
  • Mini-lesson: Subjects and Verbs, Irregular Verbs, Subject Verb Agreement
  • Mini-lesson: Sentence Types
  • Mini-lesson: Fragments I
  • Mini-lesson: Run-ons and Comma Splices I
  • Mini-lesson: Comma Usage
  • Mini-lesson: Parallelism
  • Mini-lesson: The Apostrophe
  • Mini-lesson: Capital Letters
  • Grammar Practice - Interactive Quizzes
  • De Copia - Demonstration of the Variety of Language
  • Style Exercise: Voice

Examples

Narrative Essay

Ai generator.

good intro for narrative essay

A narrative essay is a form of storytelling where the writer shares a personal experience in a detailed and engaging manner. Crafting a Short Narrative Essay allows the author to focus on a specific event or moment, making it concise and impactful. Writing a Beneficial Narrative Essay helps readers connect with the author’s journey, providing insight and reflection. The Thesis Statement for Narrative Essay serves as the guiding idea, encapsulating the main point or lesson learned. A well-crafted Narrative Summary ensures the story is coherent and compelling, leaving a lasting impression on the audience.

What is Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is a form of writing that tells a story from the writer’s personal experience, using vivid details and a clear sequence of events. It aims to engage readers by making them feel a part of the journey, often imparting a meaningful lesson or insight.

Examples of Narrative Essay

Examples-of-Narrative-Essay

  • A Memorable Family Vacation – Recount a family trip that left a lasting impression.
  • My First Day at School – Describe the emotions and experiences of your first school day.
  • An Unexpected Adventure – Share a surprising and exciting experience you had.
  • Overcoming a Fear – Narrate the story of how you faced and conquered a fear.
  • A Life-Changing Event – Detail an event that significantly impacted your life.
  • A Lesson Learned the Hard Way – Explain a situation where you learned an important lesson through a challenging experience.
  • My Favorite Childhood Memory – Describe a cherished memory from your childhood.
  • A Time I Helped Someone – Share a story where you helped someone in need and what you learned from it.
  • A Day I Will Never Forget – Narrate a day that stands out vividly in your memory.
  • My First Job Experience – Recount your experiences and lessons learned from your first job.
  • The Best Decision I Ever Made – Explain a decision that positively changed your life.
  • A Time I Stood Up for Myself – Describe an instance where you confidently defended your beliefs or actions.
  • A Significant Challenge I Faced – Narrate how you dealt with a major challenge in your life.
  • My Favorite Holiday Celebration – Share your experiences and traditions during a special holiday.
  • A Friendship That Changed Me – Describe a friendship that had a profound impact on you.
  • A Moment of Personal Growth – Explain a situation where you experienced significant personal development.
  • A Funny Incident from My Life – Recount a humorous event that still makes you laugh.
  • A Time I Felt Truly Happy – Describe an experience that brought you immense joy and fulfillment.
  • My Experience Moving to a New Place – Share your feelings and experiences about relocating to a new environment.
  • A Mistake That Taught Me a Valuable Lesson – Narrate a mistake you made and the lessons you learned from it.

Narrative Essay Examples for Students

  • My First Day at High School : My first day at high school was a mix of excitement and nervousness. Walking through the crowded halls, I felt lost but eager to start a new chapter.
  • Overcoming Stage Fright : In eighth grade, I was chosen to lead the school play. Though terrified, I practiced tirelessly and eventually overcame my stage fright.
  • A Memorable Family Vacation : Last summer, my family and I went on a trip to the Grand Canyon. The breathtaking views and the bonding moments we shared made it an unforgettable experience.
  • The Day I Got My First Pet : Getting my first pet, a golden retriever named Max, was a day filled with joy. I vividly remember the feeling of holding him for the first time and the instant bond we formed.
  • Learning to Ride a Bike : Learning to ride a bike was a significant milestone in my childhood. My dad spent countless hours running beside me, encouraging me not to give up.

Narrative Essay Topics

  • A Life-Changing Experience
  • My First Day at a New School
  • An Unforgettable Family Reunion
  • The Day I Overcame a Fear
  • A Time I Got Lost
  • The Best Birthday Party Ever
  • A Lesson Learned from a Mistake
  • The Moment I Realized I Was Growing Up
  • A Memorable Road Trip
  • An Unexpected Act of Kindness
  • A Funny Incident in My Life
  • A Time I Stood Up for Myself
  • A Significant Challenge I Faced
  • My First Job Experience
  • A Time When I Felt Truly Happy
  • A Difficult Decision I Had to Make
  • The Day I Met My Best Friend
  • An Adventure in Nature
  • A Family Tradition That Means a Lot to Me
  • The First Time I Tried Something New

Narrative Essay Format

Introduction.

From a young age, I was terrified of public speaking. The very thought of standing in front of an audience made my palms sweat and my heart race. However, my journey to overcome this fear taught me valuable lessons about courage and perseverance.

In eighth grade, I was unexpectedly chosen to play the lead role in our school play. At first, I wanted to decline the offer, but my teacher encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. With her support and my parents’ encouragement, I reluctantly agreed.

As the day of the performance approached, my nerves intensified. However, I remembered my teacher’s advice: “Focus on the story you’re telling, not on the audience.” On the night of the play, I took a deep breath and stepped onto the stage, my heart pounding in my chest.

To my surprise, as I delivered my first lines, the fear began to fade. I became immersed in my character, and the audience’s presence seemed to disappear. By the end of the play, I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride that I had never experienced before.

Overcoming my stage fright was a pivotal moment in my life. It taught me that facing my fears head-on and persevering through challenges can lead to personal growth and unexpected rewards.

How to write Narrative Essay

Choose a Topic : Pick a story or experience from your life that you can describe in detail and that has a clear point or lesson.

Create an Outline : Outline the main events of your story in the order they happened. This will help you organize your thoughts and ensure your essay flows smoothly.

Write the Introduction:

  • Hook : Start with an interesting opening sentence to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Setting the Scene : Provide background information about where and when the story takes place.
  • Thesis Statement : Briefly explain the main point or lesson of your story.

Write the Body Paragraphs :

  • Paragraph 1: Beginning of the Story
  • Paragraph 2: Rising Action
  • Paragraph 3: Climax
  • Paragraph 4: Falling Action
  • Write the Conclusion : Summarize the lesson or main point of your story.

Tips for Narrative Essay Writing

  • Start with a Strong Hook
  • Use Vivid Descriptions and Sensory Details
  • Show, Don’t Just Tell
  • Reflect on the Significance

How does a narrative essay differ from a biography?

Unlike a Biography Narrative Essay , a narrative essay focuses on a specific event or experience.

Can a narrative essay include fictional elements?

Yes, a narrative essay can blend fact and fiction for creative storytelling.

What is a narrative history essay?

A narrative history essay recounts historical events in a story-like format.

How do you start a narrative essay?

Begin with an engaging hook, setting the scene or introducing key characters.

What are the key components of a narrative essay?

Introduction, plot, characters, climax, and conclusion are essential.

How should a narrative essay be structured?

Follow a chronological order or a logical progression of events.

What tone should a narrative essay have?

The tone can vary but should suit the story’s context and audience.

How do you end a narrative essay?

Conclude by reflecting on the story’s significance or lessons learned.

How important is the setting in a narrative essay?

A well-described setting enhances the story’s mood and context.

What is the purpose of a narrative essay?

To entertain, inform, or convey personal experiences and insights.

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Narrative Essay Examples

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20+ Top Narrative Essay Examples by Experts

12 min read

Published on: Apr 12, 2020

Last updated on: Mar 24, 2024

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How to Write a Narrative Essay in Simple Steps

Interesting Narrative Essay Topics and Ideas

Personal Narrative Essay - Easy Guide & Examples

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Narrative essays are a common assignment in school, but many students struggle to write them. 

The problem with narrative essays is that they can be difficult to write. They require students to think about their own experiences and to put those experiences into words. This can be a challenge, especially for students who are not used to writing about themselves.

The solution to the problem of writing narrative essays is to provide students with examples. By reading examples of narrative essays, students can see how other students have successfully written about their own experiences. 

In this blog post, we will provide you with examples of narrative essays.By the end of this blog post, you will have a better understanding of how to write a narrative essay.

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Before writing, go through narrative essay examples to ensure that outlining and formatting are done correctly. Moreover, looking at examples will allow the writer to understand sensory details and vocabulary to describe events, settings, characters, and emotions.

Here are some famous narrative essays that you can consider adding to your reading wishlist:

“A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift

“Once More to the Lake” by EB White

“The Fourth of July” by Audre Lorde

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

“The Crisis” by Thomas Paine

But it doesn't end here! To help our students, CollegeEssay.org has gathered many other narrative essay sample. These examples will help you learn the correct formation of a narrative essay.

Read on to discover!

Personal Narrative Essay Example

Are you looking for a sample to draft a personal narrative essay ? Go through the example provided below to understand how the first-person and third-person perspectives are used in a narrative essay.

Sample Personal Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay Example for Middle School

A narrative essay is frequently assigned to middle school students to assess their writing and creative skills. If you are a student looking for a sample narrative essay for your middle school assignment, go through the example provided below.

Narrative Essay Example: 7th Grade

Narrative Essay Example for Grade 8

Grade 9 Narrative Essay Example

Sample Narrative Essay Grade 12

Narrative Essay Example for High School

When drafting assignments for high school, professional writing is essential. Your essays and papers should be well structured and written in order to achieve better grades. If you are assigned a narrative essay, go through the sample provided to see how an effective essay is written.

Sample Narrative Essay For High School

Good Narrative Essay Examples for College

College essays are more complex in nature than other academic levels. They require a better understanding of the concept, following a proper writing procedure, and an outline.

Although you are to draft a narrative essay for your college assignment, make sure it is professionally written. Read the sample narrative essay provided below.


Descriptive Narrative Essay Example

If you are to draft a document on the recreation of an event, a descriptive narrative essay is written. It presents an incident that happened to the writer and the backed-up information that supports the story.

The following is a perfect example of a descriptive narrative essay.

Sample Descriptive Narrative Essay

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Literacy Narrative Essay Example

Academic assignments often require students to draft essays on education. Education is the most significant topic of discussion, and for this purpose, almost every essay type and research paper studies it.

If you are drafting a narrative essay on literacy, go through the sample provided.

Fictional Narrative Essay Example

Drafting a fictional piece of document requires a more vivid description and detail. If you are assigned a narrative essay to draft on a fictional theme, read the example provided below.

Sample Fictional Narrative Essay

The Essentials of Narrative Essays

In a narrative essay, the goal is to write a story from one person's perspective. To do this well requires incorporating all of these aspects: 

Below are some golden points that you should keep in mind when writing a narrative essay.

  • Chronological order is the most common way to present information.
  • A thesis statement has a function in an essay. This is typically evident in the opening paragraph.
  • The writer's argument is clearly communicated through the use of sensory details and vivid language.
  • This draws the reader in and makes them interested in what the writer has to say. Everything in the passage is somehow related to the main point.

How to Start a Narrative Essay?

When you start writing the narrative essay, you should follow some steps and make your writing process easy.

For your help, we gathered some steps that you should follow when starting writing the essay.

  • Choose a narrative essay topic that is engaging and interesting.
  • Do some research and then start writing the essay.
  • Create an outline.
  • Start writing the essay. The way you describe things should be creative and colorful. Thus, the reader can feel as if they are right there with what's happening.
  • Proofread the essay before submitting it.

Watch the video below for tips on how to write a narrative essay:

Narrative Essay Writing Tips 

Professional essay writers of CollegeEssay.org have gathered some tips and tricks for you to follow to make your narrative essay remarkable. Even if you are aware of the writing procedure, it is advised to use expert tips to make your documents flawless. 

Follow the tips provided below to draft an exceptional narrative essay.

  • Clear Content: The narrative essay content should be clear. All the details and descriptions provided should be readable and understandable by the audience. Avoid using complex words and distribute content into paragraphs.
  • Keep it concise: Avoid describing every minor detail or movement. Provide only explanations that are important for the readers to imagine. 
  • Use first-person perspective: To make something believable and interesting for the readers, state it from the first-person perspective. Share your personal experiences, stories, and opinions to make the content impactful. 
  • Use limited referencing: When drafting an essay, according to the instructed format, avoid using frequent in-text citations. 
  • Use Clear Stance: Write your point of view clearly, so the readers feel that it is a genuine piece of writing. 

Keep in mind that a narrative essay is different from an expository essay but the same as a descriptive essay .  

In conclusion,

Using the tips provided by the professionals and going through the narrative essay examples will let you draft an effective paper. 

Looking for top-tier essay writing help online ?

Our narrative essay writing service offers unparalleled expertise to bring your stories to life with clarity and creativity.

Also, elevate your writing journey with the best essay writer , our AI-driven tool that combines cutting-edge technology with user-friendly functionality. Experience the blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern innovation in your next essay. Try it now!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a narrative paragraph.

Paragraphs vary in length depending on the content, but a standard 5-sentence paragraph usually isn't enough to tell an interesting story. 

How do I write a narrative essay?

Here are some steps that will help you to write a great narrative essay. 

  • Consider the topic 
  • Start writing the draft 
  • Provide supporting facts 
  • Revise your essay 

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Telling the Story of Yourself: 6 Steps to Writing Personal Narratives

Jennifer Xue

Jennifer Xue

writing personal narratives

Table of Contents

Why do we write personal narratives, 6 guidelines for writing personal narrative essays, inspiring personal narratives, examples of personal narrative essays, tell your story.

First off, you might be wondering: what is a personal narrative? In short, personal narratives are stories we tell about ourselves that focus on our growth, lessons learned, and reflections on our experiences.

From stories about inspirational figures we heard as children to any essay, article, or exercise where we're asked to express opinions on a situation, thing, or individual—personal narratives are everywhere.

According to Psychology Today, personal narratives allow authors to feel and release pains, while savouring moments of strength and resilience. Such emotions provide an avenue for both authors and readers to connect while supporting healing in the process.

That all sounds great. But when it comes to putting the words down on paper, we often end up with a list of experiences and no real structure to tie them together.

In this article, we'll discuss what a personal narrative essay is further, learn the 6 steps to writing one, and look at some examples of great personal narratives.

As readers, we're fascinated by memoirs, autobiographies, and long-form personal narrative articles, as they provide a glimpse into the authors' thought processes, ideas, and feelings. But you don't have to be writing your whole life story to create a personal narrative.

You might be a student writing an admissions essay , or be trying to tell your professional story in a cover letter. Regardless of your purpose, your narrative will focus on personal growth, reflections, and lessons.

Personal narratives help us connect with other people's stories due to their easy-to-digest format and because humans are empathising creatures.

We can better understand how others feel and think when we were told stories that allow us to see the world from their perspectives. The author's "I think" and "I feel" instantaneously become ours, as the brain doesn't know whether what we read is real or imaginary.

In her best-selling book Wired for Story, Lisa Cron explains that the human brain craves tales as it's hard-wired through evolution to learn what happens next. Since the brain doesn't know whether what you are reading is actual or not, we can register the moral of the story cognitively and affectively.

In academia, a narrative essay tells a story which is experiential, anecdotal, or personal. It allows the author to creatively express their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and opinions. Its length can be anywhere from a few paragraphs to hundreds of pages.

Outside of academia, personal narratives are known as a form of journalism or non-fiction works called "narrative journalism." Even highly prestigious publications like the New York Times and Time magazine have sections dedicated to personal narratives. The New Yorke is a magazine dedicated solely to this genre.

The New York Times holds personal narrative essay contests. The winners are selected because they:

had a clear narrative arc with a conflict and a main character who changed in some way. They artfully balanced the action of the story with reflection on what it meant to the writer. They took risks, like including dialogue or playing with punctuation, sentence structure and word choice to develop a strong voice. And, perhaps most important, they focused on a specific moment or theme – a conversation, a trip to the mall, a speech tournament, a hospital visit – instead of trying to sum up the writer’s life in 600 words.

In a nutshell, a personal narrative can cover any reflective and contemplative subject with a strong voice and a unique perspective, including uncommon private values. It's written in first person and the story encompasses a specific moment in time worthy of a discussion.

Writing a personal narrative essay involves both objectivity and subjectivity. You'll need to be objective enough to recognise the importance of an event or a situation to explore and write about. On the other hand, you must be subjective enough to inject private thoughts and feelings to make your point.

With personal narratives, you are both the muse and the creator – you have control over how your story is told. However, like any other type of writing, it comes with guidelines.

1. Write Your Personal Narrative as a Story

As a story, it must include an introduction, characters, plot, setting, climax, anti-climax (if any), and conclusion. Another way to approach it is by structuring it with an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should set the tone, while the body should focus on the key point(s) you want to get across. The conclusion can tell the reader what lessons you have learned from the story you've just told.

2. Give Your Personal Narrative a Clear Purpose

Your narrative essay should reflect your unique perspective on life. This is a lot harder than it sounds. You need to establish your perspective, the key things you want your reader to take away, and your tone of voice. It's a good idea to have a set purpose in mind for the narrative before you start writing.

Let's say you want to write about how you manage depression without taking any medicine. This could go in any number of ways, but isolating a purpose will help you focus your writing and choose which stories to tell. Are you advocating for a holistic approach, or do you want to describe your emotional experience for people thinking of trying it?

Having this focus will allow you to put your own unique take on what you did (and didn't do, if applicable), what changed you, and the lessons learned along the way.

3. Show, Don't Tell

It's a narration, so the narrative should show readers what happened, instead of telling them. As well as being a storyteller, the author should take part as one of the characters. Keep this in mind when writing, as the way you shape your perspective can have a big impact on how your reader sees your overarching plot. Don't slip into just explaining everything that happened because it happened to you. Show your reader with action.

dialogue tags

You can check for instances of telling rather than showing with ProWritingAid. For example, instead of:

"You never let me do anything!" I cried disdainfully.
"You never let me do anything!" To this day, my mother swears that the glare I levelled at her as I spat those words out could have soured milk.

Using ProWritingAid will help you find these instances in your manuscript and edit them without spending hours trawling through your work yourself.

4. Use "I," But Don't Overuse It

You, the author, take ownership of the story, so the first person pronoun "I" is used throughout. However, you shouldn't overuse it, as it'd make it sound too self-centred and redundant.

ProWritingAid can also help you here – the Style Report will tell you if you've started too many sentences with "I", and show you how to introduce more variation in your writing.

5. Pay Attention to Tenses

Tense is key to understanding. Personal narratives mostly tell the story of events that happened in the past, so many authors choose to use the past tense. This helps separate out your current, narrating voice and your past self who you are narrating. If you're writing in the present tense, make sure that you keep it consistent throughout.

tenses in narratives

6. Make Your Conclusion Satisfying

Satisfy your readers by giving them an unforgettable closing scene. The body of the narration should build up the plot to climax. This doesn't have to be something incredible or shocking, just something that helps give an interesting take on your story.

The takeaways or the lessons learned should be written without lecturing. Whenever possible, continue to show rather than tell. Don't say what you learned, narrate what you do differently now. This will help the moral of your story shine through without being too preachy.

GoodReads is a great starting point for selecting read-worthy personal narrative books. Here are five of my favourites.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen, the author of 386 books, wrote this poetic story about a daughter and her father who went owling. Instead of learning about owls, Yolen invites readers to contemplate the meaning of gentleness and hope.

Night by Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. This Holocaust memoir has a strong message that such horrific events should never be repeated.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

This classic is a must-read by young and old alike. It's a remarkable diary by a 13-year-old Jewish girl who hid inside a secret annexe of an old building during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1942.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

This is a personal narrative written by a brave author renowned for her clarity, passion, and honesty. Didion shares how in December 2003, she lost her husband of 40 years to a massive heart attack and dealt with the acute illness of her only daughter. She speaks about grief, memories, illness, and hope.

Educated by Tara Westover

Author Tara Westover was raised by survivalist parents. She didn't go to school until 17 years of age, which later took her to Harvard and Cambridge. It's a story about the struggle for quest for knowledge and self-reinvention.

Narrative and personal narrative journalism are gaining more popularity these days. You can find distinguished personal narratives all over the web.

Curating the best of the best of personal narratives and narrative essays from all over the web. Some are award-winning articles.

Narratively

Long-form writing to celebrate humanity through storytelling. It publishes personal narrative essays written to provoke, inspire, and reflect, touching lesser-known and overlooked subjects.

Narrative Magazine

It publishes non,fiction narratives, poetry, and fiction. Among its contributors is Frank Conroy, the author of Stop-Time , a memoir that has never been out of print since 1967.

Thought Catalog

Aimed at Generation Z, it publishes personal narrative essays on self-improvement, family, friendship, romance, and others.

Personal narratives will continue to be popular as our brains are wired for stories. We love reading about others and telling stories of ourselves, as they bring satisfaction and a better understanding of the world around us.

Personal narratives make us better humans. Enjoy telling yours!

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Jennifer Xue is an award-winning e-book author with 2,500+ articles and 100+ e-books/reports published under her belt. She also taught 50+ college-level essay and paper writing classes. Her byline has appeared in Forbes, Fortune, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Business.com, Business2Community, Addicted2Success, Good Men Project, and others. Her blog is JenniferXue.com. Follow her on Twitter @jenxuewrites].

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5 Students’ Examples of a Narrative Essay Introduction

Examples of narrative essay introductions are important because they serve as a model and guide for writers, especially those new to writing such essays.

The introduction sets the tone for the essay, provides context, and outlines what the essay will cover. A well-written introduction can grab the reader’s attention and make them interested in the rest of the paper.

On the other hand, a weak or poorly written introduction can detract from the essay’s overall quality and cause the reader to lose interest.

By looking at examples, writers can learn how to effectively craft an introduction that sets the stage for a compelling and engaging narrative essay.

What is a Narrative essay?

good intro for narrative essay

A narrative essay is a type of writing that tells a story, usually from the writer’s point of view. It often includes characters, a setting, and a plot that unfolds over time.

A narrative essay is meant to entertain, inform, or inspire the reader and typically focuses on a specific event, experience, or moment in the writer’s life.

The purpose of a narrative essay is to illustrate a particular theme or message through vivid and descriptive language, and to engage the reader’s imagination.

Unlike other essays, such as argumentative or expository essays, narrative essays allow for more creativity and self-expression and often have a more personal tone.

Narrative essays on descriptive topics, such as the importance of sleep for overall health, can be written in a personal or story-telling style but still needs to include a clear theme or message related to the topic.

In this case, the theme would be the significance of getting enough sleep for one’s health.

The essay might describe a personal experience of the writer or someone they know who struggled with sleep and its impact on their health. It could also include the writer’s insights and observations on the importance of sleep and the steps they take to prioritize it in their own life.

The narrative should be engaging and descriptive and use vivid language to illustrate the importance of sleep for overall health, making the reader understand why this topic is relevant and essential.

Examples of a Narrative Essay Introduction

Example of a narrative essay introduction 1: the impact of social media on society.

Social media has become integral to our daily lives in the past decade. From staying connected with friends and family to following the latest news and trends, social media has changed how we communicate and share information. While it has brought us closer together, it has created several societal challenges.  Despite its widespread use and influence, the impact of social media on society remains a complex and controversial issue, requiring further examination and discussion.

Justification:

The introduction provides context and background information on the topic, making it easier for the reader to understand it and the author’s argument. The non-descriptive thesis statement at the end sets up the essay’s focus and provides a clear direction for the discussion.

Narrative Essay Introduction Example 2: The Importance of Sleep for Overall Health

Everyone has heard the saying, “a good night’s sleep is essential for good health.” While this may seem like a simple idea, the truth is that sleep plays a much more complex role in our lives than many people realize. Sleep is critical to our overall health and well-being, from regulating our moods and energy levels to helping our bodies heal and recover.   Sleep is a crucial aspect of our health and well-being that should not be neglected or overlooked. It affects our mood, energy levels, and overall health and significantly impacts our ability to function effectively in our daily lives.

The introduction establishes the importance of sleep by using a well-known saying, making it relevant and relatable to the reader. It then sets the stage for the discussion by discussing the complexity of the topic and the importance of exploring it further. The thesis statement provides clear and concise information about the author’s argument, which will be explored in greater detail in the rest of the essay.

 Narrative Essay Introduction Sample 3:  The Negative Impact of Technology on Relationships

Technology has revolutionized the way we live, work, and interact with one another. Technology has made it easier to stay connected with others, from smartphones and social media to video conferencing and instant messaging. But while it has brought us closer together in many ways, it has also created several challenges for our relationships and social interactions.  Technology has profoundly impacted our relationships and social interactions, but it has not always been positive. In some cases, technology can harm our connections with others, leading to a loss of intimacy, communication, and trust.

The introduction provides background information on the topic and sets the stage for the discussion by establishing the importance of technology in our lives and its impact on relationships. The thesis statement is clear and concise, providing a clear direction for the essay and outlining the author’s argument.

Example of a Narrative Essay Introduction 4: Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking

For many people, speaking in front of a large audience can be a source of great anxiety and fear. For me, this was especially true throughout much of my life. I was always nervous and self-conscious when speaking in public, and I often struggled to get my words out. But despite these challenges, I was determined to overcome my fear and become a confident and effective speaker. By facing my fear head-on and embracing the challenges that came with it, I was able to grow as a person and become a more confident and effective speaker.

The narrative essay introduction sets the stage for the essay by introducing the topic of public speaking and the challenges many people face. It also provides a personal connection to the reader by sharing the author’s struggles with public speaking. The thesis statement is clear and concise, outlining the author’s argument and the direction of the essay.

Narrative Essay Introduction Example 5: Finding My Passion in Life

For many people, finding their true passion in life can be a challenging and often difficult journey. For me, this was certainly the case. Growing up, I felt lost and unsure of what I wanted to do with my life. I tried many things, from jobs to hobbies, but nothing seemed to stick. It wasn’t until I discovered my love for writing that I finally found my true calling. By exploring different interests and taking risks, I discovered my true passion and found a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

The above sample introduction sets the stage for the narrative essay by discussing the challenges many people face when trying to find their passion in life. It also provides a personal connection to the reader by sharing the author’s journey and struggles. The thesis statement is clear and concise, outlining the author’s argument and the direction of the essay.

Narrative Essay Introduction Final Remarks

Here are additional points about writing narrative essay introductions:

  • Start with a hook: The introduction should start with a captivating sentence that draws the reader in and makes them want to keep reading. This could be a quote, a surprising statistic, a vivid description, or a personal story.
  • Provide context: Give the reader background information about the topic or event you will discuss in the essay. This helps to set the stage for the story and gives the reader a better understanding of what to expect.
  • Establish a tone: The essay’s tone should be established in the introduction, whether profound, humorous, nostalgic or anything else. The style sets the mood for the entire paper and helps the reader understand what kind of story they are about to read.
  • Identify the theme: Make it clear what the essay will be about and the main message. This can be done directly or through a hint or implication.
  • Be concise: The introduction should be brief and to the point, giving the reader enough information to be intrigued but not so much that they feel overwhelmed.
  • Avoid cliches: Don’t use overused phrases or cliches in the introduction. Instead, strive for originality and creativity.
  • Preview the story: Give a brief outline of the events that will unfold in the essay, and let the reader know what to expect. This helps to create a roadmap for the paper and gives the reader a sense of direction.

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How to Write an Introductory Paragraph for a Narrative

26 sep 2017.

Every narrative needs a purpose for telling that particular story.

The term “narrative” can refer to a type of essay, a short story or a novel. Although these types of works have slightly different elements, they all serve to tell a story. When you work with narrative writing, the introductory paragraph of your work can have an important impact on your reader. Understanding the components of the first paragraph, as well as narrative writing in general, will help you create an effective opening to your story.

Explore this article

  • First Sentence
  • Middle Sentences
  • Fiction Components

1 First Sentence

In a narrative essay, you tell a true, personal story about an event, person or other aspect of your life. A short story or novel tells a fictional account of a series of events. However, whether writing an essay, short story or novel, the opening sentence of your narrative should grab your readers' attention. You want them to read this line and feel compelled to continue reading to the end. How you choose to open your narrative depends on your personal style of writing and the story you tell in your work. Try to use vivid language that sets the tone for the rest of the story. For example, whether an essay or work of fiction, you may have a first line that appears as: “The moment my sister got married, I was on the other side of the world.” This type of statement will raise questions that encourage your reader to continue reading your paper.

In a narrative, you have a theme or purpose that runs through your story. With a short story or novel, the theme is not stated directly. Instead, your characters, setting and plot help develop the theme throughout the story. When you begin a narrative essay, you should know the purpose of your story and create a thesis statement in the first paragraph. Typically, you place your thesis as the last or next to last sentence in the introduction.

3 Middle Sentences

After your opening sentence and before your thesis statement, you need to begin setting up the narrative essay. You can build off the first sentence and start giving your reader some background information before you dive into telling the story. For example, “The moment my sister got married, I was on the other side of the world. We hadn’t spoken in three years, and no one bothered to tell me Susan was planning on walking down the aisle for the seventh time in as many years.” With that background information, you can then move into your thesis statement and show how this moment impacted you.

4 Fiction Components

In a short story or novel, your first paragraph should begin to introduce the main character and what lies at the heart of the story. You may have action taking place from the first line or start creating the setting. Some writers choose to begin a story with dialogue, but this can sometimes confuse the reader since she doesn’t know the characters yet or how to react to the character’s words. However you choose to open your story, make sure you build tension from the beginning so your reader will stay connected.

  • 1 Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft
  • 2 Purdue Online Writing Lab: Narrative Essays
  • 3 Appalachian State University: Creating a Thesis Statement

About the Author

Kate Beck started writing for online publications in 2005. She worked as a certified ophthalmic technician for 10 years before returning to school to earn a Masters of Fine Arts degree in writing. Beck is currently putting the finishing touches on a novel.

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Start a Narrative Essay

    A narrative, quite simply, is a story. Unlike other essays in which you may need to argue or prove something, a narrative essay is about telling a story. Quite often, of course, this will be a story from your life. We all have stories. We tell them often. However, not all of those stories in your brain will make for a good narrative essay.

  2. How to Write a Narrative Essay

    Interactive example of a narrative essay. An example of a short narrative essay, responding to the prompt "Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself," is shown below. Hover over different parts of the text to see how the structure works. Narrative essay example.

  3. A Complete Narrative Essay Guide

    Purpose: Reach the peak of the story, the moment of highest tension or significance. Elements: Turning Point: Highlight the most crucial moment or realization in the narrative. Example: "As the sun dipped below the horizon and hope seemed lost, a distant sound caught our attention—the rescue team's helicopters.".

  4. 4 Ways to Start a Narrative Essay

    3. Map out the plot of your story with a beginning, middle, and end. A narrative essay usually follows a typical story arc. Begin your story by introducing your characters and setting, followed by the incident that hooks readers into the action of the story. Next, present the rising action and climax of your story.

  5. How to Start a Narrative Essay: Engaging Techniques for a Strong

    Writers should consider prompts that inspire them and reflect on personal experiences for authentic and engaging stories. List past experiences related to the essay's purpose. Utilize prompt guidelines to steer the brainstorming process. Develop a mind map to explore different angles of a potential topic.

  6. Narrative Essay

    The introduction of a narrative essay plays a crucial role in capturing the reader's attention and setting the stage for the story that follows. A good introduction should include three key elements. First, an attractive, eye-catching opening statement that intrigues the reader and creates suspense. Second, background information that ...

  7. How to write a narrative essay [Updated 2023]

    1. Pick a meaningful story that has a conflict and a clear "moral.". If you're able to choose your own topic, pick a story that has meaning and that reveals how you became the person your are today. In other words, write a narrative with a clear "moral" that you can connect with your main points. 2.

  8. How to Write a Narrative Essay (Step-By-Step Guide and Examples)

    Regularly, this essay is about five paragraph essay long - one for intro, 3 paragraphs in body and one to sum up your thoughts. Introduction - introduces the story, explains the purpose of the story and attracts reader's attention. Body paragraph #1 - developing action, raising the tension. Body paragraph #2 - the climax of the story.

  9. How to Write a Narrative Essay

    Narrative essays are generally written in the first-person POV, and are usually about a topic that's personal to the writer. Everything in a narrative essay should take place in an established timeline, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. In simplest terms, a narrative essay is a personal story. A narrative essay can be written in ...

  10. Narrative Essays

    The introduction of a narrative essay sets the scene for the story that follows. Interesting introductions—for any kind of writing—engage and draw readers in because they want to know more. Since narratives tell a story and involve events, the introduction of a narrative quite often starts in the middle of the action in order to bring the ...

  11. PDF Unit 2 Narrative Essays

    ca. have two functions:1. It can deliver the moral of the story by telling the reader what the character(s) lear. ed. rom the experience.2. It can make a prediction or a revelation (disclosure of something that was not known before) about future actions that will happen as a result of. Unit 2 • Narrative Essays.

  12. 3 Great Narrative Essay Examples + Tips for Writing

    A narrative essay delivers its theme by deliberately weaving the motifs through the events, scenes, and details. While a narrative essay may be entertaining, its primary purpose is to tell a complete story based on a central meaning. Unlike other essay forms, it is totally okay—even expected—to use first-person narration in narrative essays.

  13. Narrative Essay Outline

    However, unlike other essays, the paragraphs of the narrative essay have specifically designated purposes: 1. Introduction Paragraph: Gives an insight into the story. 2. First Body Paragraph: Discuss the rising action. 3. Second Body Paragraph: Present the climax of the story. 4.

  14. EssayPro Blog

    A narrative essay is typically written in the first person and follows a standard format with an introduction, body, and conclusion. In contrast, short stories can adopt various formats and may not adhere to the same structured approach. ... To write a good narrative essay, focus on creating a compelling story with a clear beginning, middle ...

  15. How to Write a Good Narrative Essay: Tips, Examples, & Step-by-Step Guide

    The more passionate you will be - the more effective your assignment. Recall your story's details: people and objects, setting, and season. Think about the sequence of events and remember; no detail is too small. Remember: the small details reveal big ideas! Step 1. Choose Your Narrative Essay Topic.

  16. How to Write an Essay Introduction (with Examples)

    Here are the key takeaways for how to write essay introduction: 3. Hook the Reader: Start with an engaging hook to grab the reader's attention. This could be a compelling question, a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or an anecdote. Provide Background: Give a brief overview of the topic, setting the context and stage for the discussion.

  17. Introduction to Narrative Essay

    Narration is the art of storytelling, and in this module, you will investigate the ways in which writers employ common narration strategies to engage readers from the beginning to the end of a significant event. You will also look critically at some examples of effective narration as you draft your narrative essay.

  18. Narrative Essay

    A narrative essay is a form of storytelling where the writer shares a personal experience in a detailed and engaging manner. Crafting a Short Narrative Essay allows the author to focus on a specific event or moment, making it concise and impactful. Writing a Beneficial Narrative Essay helps readers connect with the author's journey, providing insight and reflection.

  19. 20+ Easy Narrative Essay Examples and Writing Tips

    Go through the example provided below to understand how the first-person and third-person perspectives are used in a narrative essay. The Day I Learned to Swim. I was 10 years old when I learned to swim. I had always been afraid of water, but my parents decided it was time for me to learn how to swim.

  20. How to Write a Personal Narrative: Steps and Examples

    However, like any other type of writing, it comes with guidelines. 1. Write Your Personal Narrative as a Story. As a story, it must include an introduction, characters, plot, setting, climax, anti-climax (if any), and conclusion. Another way to approach it is by structuring it with an introduction, body, and conclusion.

  21. 5 Students' Examples of a Narrative Essay Introduction

    Narrative Essay Introduction Example 5: Finding My Passion in Life. For many people, finding their true passion in life can be a challenging and often difficult journey. For me, this was certainly the case. Growing up, I felt lost and unsure of what I wanted to do with my life.

  22. How to Write an Introductory Paragraph for a Narrative

    When beginning a narrative, whether an essay, short story or novel, you want to intrigue your readers and make them want to find out what happens.

  23. How To Write a Perfect Narrative Essay

    "How to write an introduction and conclusion for a narrative essay?" is one of the common questions that students have in their mind. It is the most confusin...