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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 .

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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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.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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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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Narrative Essays

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The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the widespread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.

What is a narrative essay?

When writing a narrative essay, one might think of it as telling a story. These essays are often anecdotal, experiential, and personal—allowing students to express themselves in a creative and, quite often, moving ways.

Here are some guidelines for writing a narrative essay.

  • If written as a story, the essay should include all the parts of a story.

This means that you must include an introduction, plot, characters, setting, climax, and conclusion.

  • When would a narrative essay not be written as a story?

A good example of this is when an instructor asks a student to write a book report. Obviously, this would not necessarily follow the pattern of a story and would focus on providing an informative narrative for the reader.

  • The essay should have a purpose.

Make a point! Think of this as the thesis of your story. If there is no point to what you are narrating, why narrate it at all?

  • The essay should be written from a clear point of view.

It is quite common for narrative essays to be written from the standpoint of the author; however, this is not the sole perspective to be considered. Creativity in narrative essays oftentimes manifests itself in the form of authorial perspective.

  • Use clear and concise language throughout the essay.

Much like the descriptive essay, narrative essays are effective when the language is carefully, particularly, and artfully chosen. Use specific language to evoke specific emotions and senses in the reader.

  • The use of the first person pronoun ‘I’ is welcomed.

Do not abuse this guideline! Though it is welcomed it is not necessary—nor should it be overused for lack of clearer diction.

  • As always, be organized!

Have a clear introduction that sets the tone for the remainder of the essay. Do not leave the reader guessing about the purpose of your narrative. Remember, you are in control of the essay, so guide it where you desire (just make sure your audience can follow your lead).

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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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37 Student Narrative Essay Examples

The pot calling the kettle black….

“You aren’t acting normal,” my dad said with a dopy, concerned look on his face. He was a hard-working, soft and loving man. He was smaller than my mother, physically and figuratively. She sat beside him. She had a towering stature, with strong, swimmers’ shoulders, but she was hunched often. She didn’t really have eyebrows, but she didn’t need them. She had no problem conveying emotion on her face, especially negative ones.

“What’s wrong?” my mother asked. She took my hand frantically. Not the way one might take someone’s hand to connect with or comfort them. She needed reassurance more than I did.

My parents were sitting across from me on cushioned, bland-colored chairs in my dad’s office, while I sat on a rickety, torturous wooden chair. My dad’s office generally utilized natural light due to the expansive glass windows that allowed the light to drown the room, enclosing us in the chamber. I felt like an inmate being prepped for lethal injection. The weather was particularly gray and dismal. Perhaps it was the ambiguous, gray, confusing feelings I was breathing through. My parents had somewhat regular “interventions” to address my somewhat regular (sometimes public) emotional breakdowns, my self-medicating habits, and my general shitty attitude.

This week in particular, I had purposely destroyed two of my mother’s collectible horses. She had a maniacal obsession for them. She also maniacally collected sunflower artwork, which was the one obsession, of many, I found endearing. My old babysitter noted at one point there were 74 collectible horses in the house. After my outburst, there were 72.

I could see behind my parents, through the glass-paned door, my two younger sisters were secretly observing the altercation from the dining room, hiding under the table. They were illuminated by the ominous weather, which was also watching in on the dismal conversation through the windows. I was envious, jealous even, of my spectating sisters. My sisters didn’t have overflowing, excessive emotions. They didn’t have emotions that were considered “excessive.” I felt like an offender being put at the stocks: my parents were the executioners, and my sisters were the jesters.

“I’m angry.”

“What about?” my dad asked, puzzled. “Did someone do something to you?”

“Honey, were you—” my mother looked to my dad, then concealed her mouth slightly with the other hand, “ raped ?”

I couldn’t help but raise my voice. “No, Mom, I wasn’t raped, Jesus.” I took a moment to grind on my teeth and imagine the bit I was chomping at. Calm, careful, composed, I responded. “I’m just angry. I don’t feel—”

“What don’t you feel?” She practically jumped on me, while yanking my imprisoned hand toward her. She yanked at my reins.

“I don’t feel understood!” My mind was bucking. I didn’t know why I needed to react by raising my voice. It felt instinctive, defensive. Shouting forcefully, I jerked my hand away from her, but it remained in her clutches. I didn’t feel satisfied saying it, though what I said was the truth.

“What are you talking about?” my dad asked mournfully. I knew he felt betrayed. But he didn’t understand. He didn’t know what it’s like for things to be too much. Or to be too much. My dad looked at me longingly, hoping I would correct what I had said. He looked lost, incapable of understanding why I was doing what I was doing. My mother interjected, cutting off my dad’s hypnotic, silent cry for connection.

“You’re crazy!” she said, maintaining eye contact. My mother then let go of my hand, flipped it back to me. She reclined in her chair, retracting from me and the discussion entirely. She crossed her legs, then her arms. She turned her head away, toward the glass windows, and (mentally) left.

I was and am not “too much.”

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18 years old.

I had just stepped off a squealing MAX line onto a broken sidewalk slab, gnarled from tree roots, when I felt my phone buzz rhythmically.

“I need you to come to the hospital. Mom had a little accident.” My dad’s voice was distant and cracking, like a wavering radio signal, calling for help.

“What’s going on? Is she okay?” I asked while making my way to campus.

“Where are you?” He wasn’t going to tell me anything over the phone. Adrenaline set in. I let him know I was downtown and headed to campus, but that I would catch a Lyft to wherever they were. “We’re at Milwaukie Providence. How soon can you get here?

“I’ll let you know soon.” My assumption was that my parents had been in an argument, my mother left the house in a rage, and crashed her car. She’d been an erratic driver for as long as I could remember, and my parents had been arguing more than usual recently, as many new “empty-nesters” do. The lack of information provided by my dad, however, was unsettling. I don’t really recall the ride to the hospital. I do remember looking over the river while riding from the west to east side of town. I remember the menacing, dark clouds rolling in faster than the driver could transport me. I remember it was quick, but it was too much time spent without answers.

When I arrived at Providence, I jumped out of the sedan and galloped into the lobby of the emergency room like a race horse on its final lap. My younger sister and Dad were seated on cushioned, bland-colored chairs in the waiting room. There were expansive glass windows that allowed the light to drown the room. The weather was particularly gray and dismal. Perhaps it was the ambiguous, gray, confusing feelings I was breathing through. I sat down beside my dad, in a firmer-than-anticipated waiting room chair beside him. He took my hand frantically. He took it in the way one might take someone’s hand to connect with or comfort them. He needed reassurance more than I did.

“Where did she get in the accident?” I asked.

My sister, sitting across from me with her head in her knees, looked up at me with aquamarine, tear-filled eyes. She was staring through me, an unclouded window. “Mom tried to kill herself.”

“What?” My voice crescendoed from a normal volume to a shriek in the span of a single word. My mind felt like it was bucking. I grabbed at my hair, pulling it back tight with my spare hand. The tears and cries reared, no matter how hard I yanked my mane.

“We got in another argument this morning, and she sent me a message saying she didn’t want to be in pain anymore. She told me to tell you girls she’s sorry. I’m so sorry.” I’d never seen my dad cry before; I didn’t know he could. I didn’t know his tears would stream like gushing water from a broken dam. He looked lost, incapable of understanding why she was doing what she was doing. I looked from my dad to my sister to my hands. One hand remained enveloped by my dad’s gentle palm. At this point in life, I had not yet learned to be gentle with myself, or others. I cut off my dad’s hypnotic, silent cry for connection.

“She’s crazy!” I let go of my dad’s hand, flipped it back to him. I reclined in the

chair, retracting from the situation entirely. I crossed my legs, then my arms. I turned my head away, toward the glass windows, and (mentally) left.

“Crazy” is a term devised to dismiss people.

My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 50 years old.

Teacher Takeaways

“This essay makes excellent use of repetition as a narrative strategy. Throughout the essay, terms and phrases are repeated, generally with slight alterations, drawing the reader’s attention to the moment in question and recontextualizing the information being conveyed. This strategy is especially powerful when used to disclose the separate diagnoses of bipolar disorder, which is central to the narrative. I also appreciate the use of dialogue, though it mostly serves an expository function here. In itself that’s effective, but this narrative would be strengthened if that dialogue could serve to make some of the characters, especially the mother, more rounded.”

– Professor Dunham

My College Education

The following essay, “My College Education” is from Chapter 15.2 – Narrative Essay , Writing for Success , University of Minnesota Libraries.

The first class I went to in college was philosophy, and it changed my life forever. Our first assignment was to write a short response paper to the Albert Camus essay “The Myth of Sisyphus.” I was extremely nervous about the assignment as well as college. However, through all the confusion in philosophy class, many of my questions about life were answered.

I entered college intending to earn a degree in engineering. I always liked the way mathematics had right and wrong answers. I understood the logic and was very good at it. So when I received my first philosophy assignment that asked me to write my interpretation of the Camus essay, I was instantly confused. What is the right way to do this assignment, I wondered? I was nervous about writing an incorrect interpretation and did not want to get my first assignment wrong. Even more troubling was that the professor refused to give us any guidelines on what he was looking for; he gave us total freedom. He simply said, “I want to see what you come up with.”

Full of anxiety, I first set out to read Camus’s essay several times to make sure I really knew what was it was about. I did my best to take careful notes. Yet even after I took all these notes and knew the essay inside and out, I still did not know the right answer. What was my interpretation? I could think of a million different ways to interpret the essay, but which one was my professor looking for? In math class, I was used to examples and explanations of solutions. This assignment gave me nothing; I was completely on my own to come up with my individual interpretation.

Next, when I sat down to write, the words just did not come to me. My notes and ideas were all present, but the words were lost. I decided to try every prewriting strategy I could find. I brainstormed, made idea maps, and even wrote an outline. Eventually, after a lot of stress, my ideas became more organized and the words fell on the page. I had my interpretation of “The Myth of Sisyphus,” and I had my main reasons for interpreting the essay. I remember being unsure of myself, wondering if what I was saying made sense, or if I was even on the right track. Through all the uncertainty, I continued writing the best I could. I finished the conclusion paragraph, had my spouse proofread it for errors, and turned it in the next day simply hoping for the best.

Then, a week or two later, came judgment day. The professor gave our papers back to us with grades and comments. I remember feeling simultaneously afraid and eager to get the paper back in my hands. It turned out, however, that I had nothing to worry about. The professor gave me an A on the paper, and his notes suggested that I wrote an effective essay overall. He wrote that my reading of the essay was very original and that my thoughts were well organized. My relief and newfound confidence upon reading his comments could not be overstated.

What I learned through this process extended well beyond how to write a college paper. I learned to be open to new challenges. I never expected to enjoy a philosophy class and always expected to be a math and science person. This class and assignment, however, gave me the self-confidence, critical-thinking skills, and courage to try a new career path. I left engineering and went on to study law and eventually became a lawyer. More important, that class and paper helped me understand education differently. Instead of seeing college as a direct stepping stone to a career, I learned to see college as a place to first learn and then seek a career or enhance an existing career. By giving me the space to express my own interpretation and to argue for my own values, my philosophy class taught me the importance of education for education’s sake. That realization continues to pay dividends every day.

Model Student Essay

Innocence again.

Imagine the sensation of the one split second that you are floating through the air as you were thrown up in the air as a child, that feeling of freedom and carefree spirit as happiness abounds. Looking at the world through innocent eyes, all thoughts and feelings of amazement. Being free, happy, innocent, amazed, wowed. Imagine the first time seeing the colors when your eyes and brain start to recognize them but never being able to name the shade or hue. Looking at the sky as it changes from the blackness with twinkling stars to the lightest shade of blue that is almost white, then the deep red of the sunset and bright orange of the sun. All shades of the spectrum of the rainbow, colors as beautiful as the mind can see or imagine.

I have always loved the sea since I was young; the smell of saltiness in the air invigorates me and reminds me of the times spent with my family enjoying Sundays at the beach. In Singapore, the sea was always murky and green but I continued to enjoy all activities in it. When I went to Malaysia to work, I discovered that the sea was clear and blue and without hesitation, I signed up for a basic diving course and I was hooked. In my first year of diving, I explored all the dive destinations along the east coast of Malaysia and also took an advanced diving course which allowed me to dive up to a depth of thirty meters. Traveling to a dive site took no more than four hours by car and weekends were spent just enjoying the sea again.

Gearing up is no fun. Depending on the temperature of the water, I might put on a shortie, wetsuit or drysuit. Then on come the booties, fins and mask which can be considered the easiest part unless the suit is tight—then it is a hop and pull struggle, which reminds me of how life can be at times. Carrying the steel tank, regulator, buoyancy control device (BCD) and weights is a torture. The heaviest weights that I ever had to use were 110 pounds, equivalent to my body weight; but as I jump in and start sinking into the sea, the contrast to weightlessness hits me. The moment that I start floating in the water, a sense of immense freedom and joy overtakes me.

Growing up, we have to learn the basics: time spent in classes to learn, constantly practicing to improve our skills while safety is ingrained by our parents. In dive classes, I was taught to never panic or do stupid stuff: the same with the lessons that I have learned in life. Panic and over-inflated egos can lead to death, and I have heard it happens all the time. I had the opportunity to go to Antarctica for a diving expedition, but what led to me getting that slot was the death of a very experienced diver who used a drysuit in a tropic climate against all advice. He just overheated and died. Lessons learned in the sea can be very profound, but they contrast the life I live: risk-taker versus risk-avoider. However, when I have perfected it and it is time to be unleashed, it is time to enjoy. I jump in as I would jump into any opportunity, but this time it is into the deep blue sea of wonders.

A sea of wonders waits to be explored. Every journey is different: it can be fast or slow, like how life takes me. The sea decides how it wants to carry me; drifting fast with the currents so that at times, I hang on to the reef and corals like my life depends on it, even though I am taught never to touch anything underwater. The fear I feel when I am speeding along with the current is that I will be swept away into the big ocean, never to be found. Sometimes, I feel like I am not moving at all, kicking away madly until I hyperventilate because the sea is against me with its strong current holding me against my will.

The sea decides what it wants me to see: turtles popping out of the seabed, manta rays gracefully floating alongside, being in the middle of the eye of a barracuda hurricane, a coral shelf as big as a car, a desert of bleached corals, the emptiness of the seabed with not a fish in sight, the memorials of death caused by the December 26 tsunami—a barren sea floor with not a soul or life in sight.

The sea decides what treasures I can discover: a black-tipped shark sleeping in an underwater cavern, a pike hiding from predators in the reef, an octopus under a dead tree trunk that escapes into my buddy’s BCD, colorful mandarin fish mating at sunset, a deadly box jellyfish held in my gloved hands, pygmy seahorses in a fern—so tiny that to discover them is a journey itself.

Looking back, diving has taught me more about life, the ups and downs, the good and bad, and to accept and deal with life’s challenges. Everything I learn and discover underwater applies to the many different aspects of my life. It has also taught me that life is very short: I have to live in the moment or I will miss the opportunities that come my way. I allow myself to forget all my sorrow, despair and disappointments when I dive into the deep blue sea and savor the feelings of peacefulness and calmness. There is nothing around me but fish and corals, big and small. Floating along in silence with only the sound of my breath— inhale and exhale . An array of colors explodes in front of my eyes, colors that I never imagine I will discover again, an underwater rainbow as beautiful as the rainbow in the sky after a storm. As far as my eyes can see, I look into the depth of the ocean with nothing to anchor me. The deeper I get, the darker it turns. From the light blue sky to the deep navy blue, even blackness into the void. As the horizon darkens, the feeding frenzy of the underwater world starts and the watery landscape comes alive. Total darkness surrounds me but the sounds that I can hear are the little clicks in addition to my breathing. My senses overload as I cannot see what is around me, but the sea tells me it is alive and it anchors me to the depth of my soul.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.” … In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man in spite of real sorrows….” The sea and diving have given me a new outlook on life, a different planet where I can float into and enjoy as an adult, a new, different perspective on how it is to be that child again. Time and time again as I enter into the sea, I feel innocent all over again.

Write What Matters Copyright © 2020 by Liza Long; Amy Minervini; and Joel Gladd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ! 

Need more help with this topic? Check out Tutorbase!

Our vetted tutor database includes a range of experienced educators who can help you polish an essay for English or explain how derivatives work for Calculus. You can use dozens of filters and search criteria to find the perfect person for your needs.

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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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When writers set down the facts of their lives into a compelling story , they’re writing a narrative essay. Personal narrative essays explore the events of the writer’s own life, and by crafting a nonfiction piece that resonates as storytelling, the essayist can uncover deeper truths in the world.

Narrative essays weave the author’s factual lived experiences into a compelling story.

So, what is a narrative essay? Whether you’re writing for college applications or literary journals , this article separates fact from fiction. We’ll look at how to write a narrative essay through a step-by-step process, including a look at narrative essay topics and outlines. We’ll also analyze some successful narrative essay examples.

Learn how to tell your story, your way. Let’s dive into this exciting genre!

What is a Narrative Essay?

The narrative essay is a branch of creative nonfiction . Also known as a personal essay, writers of this genre are tasked with telling honest stories about their lived experiences and, as a result, arriving at certain realizations about life.

Think of personal narrative essays as nonfiction short stories . While the essay and the short story rely on different writing techniques, they arrive at similar outcomes: a powerful story with an idea, theme , or moral that the reader can interpret for themselves.

Now, if you haven’t written a narrative essay before, you might associate the word “essay” with high school English class. Remember those tedious 5-paragraph essays we had to write, on the topic of some book we barely read, about subject matter that didn’t interest us?

Don’t worry—that’s not the kind of essay we’re talking about. The word essay comes from the French essayer , which means “to try.” That’s exactly what writing a narrative essay is: an attempt at organizing the real world into language—a journey of making meaning from the chaos of life.

Narrative essays work to surface meaning from lived experience.

Narrative Essay Example

A great narrative essay example is the piece “Flow” by Mary Oliver, which you can read for free in Google Books .

The essay dwells on, as Mary Oliver puts it, the fact that “we live in paradise.” At once both an ode to nature and an urge to love it fiercely, Oliver explores our place in the endless beauty of the world.

Throughout the essay, Oliver weaves in her thoughts about the world, from nature’s noble beauty to the question “What is the life I should live?” Yet these thoughts, however profound, are not the bulk of the essay. Rather, she arrives at these thoughts via anecdotes and observations: the migration of whales, the strings of fish at high tide, the inventive rescue of a spiny fish from the waterless shore, etc.

What is most profound about this essay, and perhaps most amusing, is that it ends with Oliver’s questions about how to live life. And yet, the stories she tells show us exactly how to live life: with care for the world; with admiration; with tenderness towards all of life and its superb, mysterious, seemingly-random beauty.

Such is the power of the narrative essay. By examining the random facts of our lives, we can come to great conclusions.

What do most essays have in common? Let’s look at the fundamentals of the essay, before diving into more narrative essay examples.

Narrative Essay Definition: 5 Fundamentals

The personal narrative essay has a lot of room for experimentation. We’ll dive into those opportunities in a bit, but no matter the form, most essays share these five fundamentals.

  • Personal experience
  • Meaning from chaos
  • The use of literary devices

Let’s explore these fundamentals in depth.

All narrative essays have a thesis statement. However, this isn’t the formulaic thesis statement you had to write in school: you don’t need to map out your argument with painstaking specificity, you need merely to tell the reader what you’re writing about.

Take the aforementioned essay by Mary Oliver. Her thesis is this: “How can we not know that, already, we live in paradise?”

It’s a simple yet provocative statement. By posing her thesis as a question, she challenges us to consider why we might not treat this earth as paradise. She then delves into her own understanding of this paradise, providing relevant stories and insights as to how the earth should be treated.

Now, be careful with abstract statements like this. Mary Oliver is a master of language, so she’s capable of creating a thesis statement out of an abstract idea and building a beautiful essay. But concrete theses are also welcome: you should compel the reader forward with the central argument of your work, without confusing them or leading them astray.

You should compel the reader forward with the central argument of your work, without confusing them or leading them astray

2. Personal Experience

The personal narrative essay is, shockingly, about personal experience. But how do writers distill their experiences into meaningful stories?

There are a few techniques writers have at their disposal. Perhaps the most common of these techniques is called braiding . Rather than focusing on one continuous story, the writer can “braid” different stories, weaving in and out of different narratives and finding common threads between them. Often, the subject matter of the essay will require more than one anecdote as evidence, and braiding helps the author uphold their thesis while showing instead of telling .

Another important consideration is how you tell your story . Essayists should consider the same techniques that fiction writers use. Give ample consideration to your essay’s setting , word choice , point of view , and dramatic structure . The narrative essay is, after all, a narrative, so tell your story how it deserves to be told.

3. Meaning from Chaos

Life, I think we can agree, is chaotic. While we can trace the events of our lives through cause and effect, A leads to B leads to C, the truth is that so much of our lives are shaped through circumstances beyond our control.

The narrative essay is a way to reclaim some of that control. By distilling the facts of our lives into meaningful narratives, we can uncover deeper truths that we didn’t realize existed.

By distilling the facts of our lives into meaningful narratives, we can uncover deeper truths that we didn’t realize existed.

Consider the essay “ Only Daughter ” by Sandra Cisneros. It’s a brief read, but it covers a lot of different events: a lonesome childhood, countless moves, university education, and the trials and tribulations of a successful writing career.

Coupled with Cisneros’ musings on culture and gender roles, there’s a lot of life to distill in these three pages. Yet Cisneros does so masterfully. By organizing these life events around her thesis statement of being an only daughter, Cisneros finds meaning in the many disparate events she describes.

As you go about writing a narrative essay, you will eventually encounter moments of insight . Insight describes those “aha!” moments in the work—places in which you come to deeper realizations about your life, the lives of others, and the world at large.

Now, insight doesn’t need to be some massive, culture-transforming realization. Many moments of insight are found in small interactions and quiet moments.

For example, In the above essay by Sandra Cisneros, her moments of insight come from connecting her upbringing to her struggle as an only daughter. While her childhood was often lonely and disappointing, she realizes in hindsight that she’s lucky for that upbringing: it helped nurture her spirit as a writer, and it helped her pursue a career in writing. These moments of gratitude work as insight, allowing her to appreciate what once seemed like a burden.

When we reach the end of the essay, and Cisneros describes how she felt when her father read one of her stories, we see what this gratitude is building towards: love and acceptance for the life she chose.

5. Literary Devices

The personal narrative essay, as well as all forms of creative writing, uses its fair share of literary devices . These devices don’t need to be complex: you don’t need a sprawling extended metaphor or an intricate set of juxtapositions to make your essay compelling.

However, the occasional symbol or metaphor will certainly aid your story. In Mary Oliver’s essay “Flow,” the author uses literary devices to describe the magnificence of the ocean, calling it a “cauldron of changing greens and blues” and “the great palace of the earth.” These descriptions reinforce the deep beauty of the earth.

In Sandra Cisneros’ essay “Only Daughter,” the author employs different symbols to represent her father’s masculinity and sense of gender roles. At one point, she lists the few things he reads—sports journals, slasher magazines, and picture paperbacks, often depicting scenes of violence against women. These symbols represent the divide between her father’s gendered thinking and her own literary instincts.

More Narrative Essay Examples

Let’s take a look at a few more narrative essay examples. We’ll dissect each essay based on the five fundamentals listed above.

Narrative Essay Example: “Letting Go” by David Sedaris

Read “Letting Go” here in The New Yorker .

Sedaris’ essay dwells on the culture of cigarette smoking—how it starts, the world it builds, and the difficulties in quitting. Let’s analyze how this narrative essay example uses the five fundamentals of essay writing.

  • Thesis: There isn’t an explicitly defined thesis, which is common for essays that are meant to be humorous or entertaining. However, this sentence is a plausible thesis statement: “It wasn’t the smoke but the smell of it that bothered me. In later years, I didn’t care so much, but at the time I found it depressing: the scent of neglect.”
  • Personal Experience: Sedaris moves between many different anecdotes about smoking, from his family’s addiction to cigarettes to his own dependence. We learn about his moving around for cheaper smokes, his family’s struggle to quit, and the last cigarette he smoked in the Charles de Gaulle airport.
  • Meaning from Chaos: Sedaris ties many disparate events together. We learn about his childhood and his smoking years, but these are interwoven with anecdotes about his family and friends. What emerges is a narrative about the allure of smoking.
  • Insight: Two parts of this essay are especially poignant. One, when Sedaris describes his mother’s realization that smoking isn’t sophisticated, and soon quits her habit entirely. Two, when Sedaris is given the diseased lung of a chain smoker, and instead of thinking about his own lungs, he’s simply surprised at how heavy the lung is.
  • Literary Devices: Throughout the essay, Sedaris demonstrates how the cigarette symbolizes neglect: neglect of one’s body, one’s space, and one’s self-presentation.

 Narrative Essay Example: “My Mother’s Tongue” by Zavi Kang Engles

Read “My Mother’s Tongue” here in The Rumpus .

Engles’ essay examines the dysphoria of growing up between two vastly different cultures and languages. By asserting the close bond between Korean language and culture, Engles explores the absurdities of growing up as a child of Korean immigrants. Let’s analyze how this narrative essay example uses the five fundamentals of essay writing.

  • Thesis: Engles’ essay often comes back to her relationship with the Korean language, especially as it relates to other Korean speakers. This relationship is best highlighted when she writes “I glowed with [my mother’s] love, basked in the warm security of what I thought was a language between us. Perhaps this is why strangers asked for our photos, in an attempt to capture a secret world between two people.”This “secret world” forms the crux of her essay, charting not only how Korean-Americans might exist in relation to one another, but also how Engles’ language is strongly tied to her identity and homeland.
  • Personal Experience: Engles writes about her childhood attachment to both English and Korean, her adolescent fallout with the Korean language, her experiences as “not American enough” in the United States and “not Korean enough” in Korea, and her experiences mourning in a Korean hospital.
  • Meaning from Chaos: In addition to the above events, Engles ties in research about language and identity (also known as code switching ). Through language and identity, the essay charts the two different cultures that the author stands between, highlighting the dissonance between Western individualism and an Eastern sense of belonging.
  • Insight: There are many examples of insight throughout this essay as the author explores how out of place she feels, torn between two countries. An especially poignant example comes from Engles’ experience in a Korean hospital, where she writes “I didn’t know how to mourn in this country.”
  • Literary Devices: The essay frequently juxtaposes the languages and cultures of Korea and the United States. Additionally, the English language comes to symbolize Western individualism, while the Korean language comes to symbolize Eastern collectivism.

Narrative Essay Example: 3 Rules for Middle-Age Happiness by Deborah Copaken

Read “3 Rules for Middle-Age Happiness” here in The Atlantic .

Copaken’s essay explores her relationship to Nora Ephron, the screenwriter for When Harry Met Sally . Let’s analyze how this narrative essay example uses the five fundamentals of essay writing.

  • Thesis: This essay hands us the thesis statement in its subtitle: “Gather friends and feed them, laugh in the face of calamity, and cut out all the things—people, jobs, body parts—that no longer serve you.”
  • Personal Experience: Copaken weaves two different threads through this essay. One thread is her personal life, including a failing marriage, medical issues, and her attempts at building a happy family. The other is Copaken’s personal relationship to Ephron, whose advice coincides with many of the essay’s insights.
  • Meaning from Chaos: This essay organizes its events chronologically. However, the main sense of organization is found in the title: many of the essayist’s problems can be perceived as middle-aged crises (family trouble, divorce, death of loved ones), but the solutions to those crises are simpler than one might realize.
  • Insight: In writing this essay, Copaken explores her relationship to Ephron, as well as Copaken’s own relationship to her children. She ties these experiences together at the end, when she writes “The transmission of woes is a one-way street, from child to mother. A good mother doesn’t burden her children with her pain. She waits until it becomes so heavy, it either breaks her or kills her, whichever comes first.”
  • Literary Devices: The literary devices in this article explore the author’s relationship to womanhood. She wonders if having a hysterectomy will make her “like less of a woman.” Also important is the fact that, when the author has her hysterectomy, her daughter has her first period. Copaken uses this to symbolize the passing of womanhood from mother to daughter, which helps bring her to the above insight.

How to Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps

No matter the length or subject matter, writing a narrative essay is as easy as these five steps.

1. Generating Narrative Essay Ideas

If you’re not sure what to write about, you’ll want to generate some narrative essay ideas. One way to do this is to look for writing prompts online: Reedsy adds new prompts to their site every week, and we also post writing prompts every Wednesday to our Facebook group .

Taking a step back, it helps to simply think about formative moments in your life. You might a great idea from answering one of these questions:

  • When did something alter my worldview, personal philosophy, or political beliefs?
  • Who has given me great advice, or helped me lead a better life?
  • What moment of adversity did I overcome and grow stronger from?
  • What is something that I believe to be very important, that I want other people to value as well?
  • What life event of mine do I not yet fully understand?
  • What is something I am constantly striving for?
  • What is something I’ve taken for granted, but am now grateful for?

Finally, you might be interested in the advice at our article How to Come Up with Story Ideas . The article focuses on fiction writers, but essayists can certainly benefit from these tips as well.

2. Drafting a Narrative Essay Outline

Once you have an idea, you’ll want to flesh it out in a narrative essay outline.

Your outline can be as simple or as complex as you’d like, and it all depends on how long you intend your essay to be. A simple outline can include the following:

  • Introduction—usually a relevant anecdote that excites or entices the reader.
  • Event 1: What story will I use to uphold my argument?
  • Analysis 1: How does this event serve as evidence for my thesis?
  • Conclusion: How can I tie these events together? What do they reaffirm about my thesis? And what advice can I then impart on the reader, if any?

One thing that’s missing from this outline is insight. That’s because insight is often unplanned: you realize it as you write it, and the best insight comes naturally to the writer. However, if you already know the insight you plan on sharing, it will fit best within the analysis for your essay, and/or in the essay’s conclusion.

Insight is often unplanned: you realize it as you write it, and the best insight comes naturally to the writer.

Another thing that’s missing from this is research. If you plan on intertwining your essay with research (which many essayists should do!), consider adding that research as its own bullet point under each heading.

For a different, more fiction-oriented approach to outlining, check out our article How to Write a Story Outline .

3. Starting with a Story

Now, let’s tackle the hardest question: how to start a narrative essay?

Most narrative essays begin with a relevant story. You want to draw the reader in right away, offering something that surprises or interests them. And, since the essay is about you and your lived experiences, it makes sense to start your essay with a relevant anecdote.

Think about a story that’s relevant to your thesis, and experiment with ways to tell this story. You can start with a surprising bit of dialogue , an unusual situation you found yourself in, or a beautiful setting. You can also lead your essay with research or advice, but be sure to tie that in with an anecdote quickly, or else your reader might not know where your essay is going.

For examples of this, take a look at any of the narrative essay examples we’ve used in this article.

Theoretically, your thesis statement can go anywhere in the essay. You may have noticed in the previous examples that the thesis statement isn’t always explicit or immediate: sometimes it shows up towards the center of the essay, and sometimes it’s more implied than stated directly.

You can experiment with the placement of your thesis, but if you place your thesis later in the essay, make sure that everything before the thesis is intriguing to the reader. If the reader feels like the essay is directionless or boring, they won’t have a reason to reach your thesis, nor will they understand the argument you’re making.

4. Getting to the Core Truth

With an introduction and a thesis underway, continue writing about your experiences, arguments, and research. Be sure to follow the structure you’ve sketched in your outline, but feel free to deviate from this outline if something more natural occurs to you.

Along the way, you will end up explaining why your experiences matter to the reader. Here is where you can start generating insight. Insight can take the form of many things, but the focus is always to reach a core truth.

Insight might take the following forms:

  • Realizations from connecting the different events in your life.
  • Advice based on your lived mistakes and experiences.
  • Moments where you change your ideas or personal philosophy.
  • Richer understandings about life, love, a higher power, the universe, etc.

5. Relentless Editing

With a first draft of your narrative essay written, you can make your essay sparkle in the editing process.

Remember, a first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to exist.

Remember, a first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to exist. Here are some things to focus on in the editing process:

  • Clarity: Does every argument make sense? Do my ideas flow logically? Are my stories clear and easy to follow?
  • Structure: Does the procession of ideas make sense? Does everything uphold my thesis? Do my arguments benefit from the way they’re laid out in this essay?
  • Style: Do the words flow when I read them? Do I have a good mix of long and short sentences? Have I omitted any needless words ?
  • Literary Devices: Do I use devices like similes, metaphors, symbols, or juxtaposition? Do these devices help illustrate my ideas?
  • Mechanics: Is every word spelled properly? Do I use the right punctuation? If I’m submitting this essay somewhere, does it follow the formatting guidelines?

Your essay can undergo any number of revisions before it’s ready. Above all, make sure that your narrative essay is easy to follow, every word you use matters, and that you come to a deeper understanding about your own life.

Above all, make sure that your narrative essay is easy to follow, every word you use matters, and that you come to a deeper understanding about your own life.

Next Steps for Narrative Essayists

When you have a completed essay, what’s next? You might be interested in submitting to some literary journals . Here’s 24 literary journals you can submit to—we hope you find a great home for your writing!

If you’re looking for additional feedback on your work, feel free to join our Facebook group . You can also take a look at our upcoming nonfiction courses , where you’ll learn the fundamentals of essay writing and make your story even more compelling.

Writing a narrative essay isn’t easy, but you’ll find that the practice can be very rewarding. You’ll learn about your lived experiences, come to deeper conclusions about your personal philosophies, and perhaps even challenge the way you approach life. So find some paper, choose a topic, and get writing—the world is waiting for your story!

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How to Start a Narrative Essay

Last Updated: May 26, 2023 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 194,915 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

write a narrative essay on your school

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

write a narrative essay on your school

  • 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://spcollege.libguides.com/c.php?g=254430&p=1697470
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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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Narrative Essay Writing

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How to Write a Narrative Essay - Beginner’s Guide

Published on: Mar 31, 2020

Last updated on: Jul 21, 2023

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A narrative essay, unlike other essay writing, provides a chance for the writers to present themselves. Though they are written in accordance with your personal experiences and stories, students find it hard to write.

Adding a personal touch to your writing and narrating your stories and inspiring lessons from your life is fun but presenting them in a format and a prompt can be crucial.

Students with poor writing skills always feel dreadful when given a narrative essay to write in their academics. They always need a guide and help to show them the right track to follow for their explanation of thoughts and experiences.

What is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is a type of essay about your personal experiences and compelling stories of your life that left a major significance on you. It is not just the narration of stories from your life but you have to make a point as well.

A narrative essay usually has a single motive and a key idea on which the entire essay revolves. All the characters in your story, happenings, and incidents serve one motive.

Narrative essays are written from a defined point of view of the writer with feelings and few sensory details. This is to grab your reader and involve them to have a glimpse of your experience.

Now that the definition of a narrative essay is clear to the readers, we shall now discuss the elements that make up a narrative essay.

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Elements of a Narrative Essay

The plot of this essay is the main idea around which the narrative essay revolves. All of the points you make in your essay about your life story help make the climax of the piece exciting and engaging.

A basic narrative essay has three elements:

Let's discuss them in detail.

  • Characters - they are the main part of your narrative essay. Even if your topic is an autobiography, it includes a character that is you and some other characters that play their roles in your life in different ways.
  • Theme - there is always a theme that a narrative essay follows. This theme is presented in the thesis statement and the entire body of your essay to follow this theme by providing relevant and supporting information.
  • Dialogue - Dialogues help to portray the conversations held between the characters. A character totally loses his worth if dialogues are not presented.

Difference Between a Narrative Essay and a Short Story

As the narrative essay includes characters and a story, students often confuse it with short stories.

In order to begin with, a narrative essay follows a certain format, an aspect to reveal and discover, and a specific motive. It orbits around the basic motive of the writer that he decides prior to writing that essay.

In contrast to this, a short story has nothing to do with the pre-set motive of the writing. In addition, a short story doesn't even follow a specific format. A short story often leaves its readers in suspense and hungry to discover what happened to the story and its characters.

While a narrative essay makes sure that the audience is satisfied and clear of the story and incidents presented in the essay.

How to Start a Narrative Essay

The very first line of an essay decides its fate. The target of an essay is to be read by readers with interest and attention. The opening statement of an essay should be the charm of your essay.

It is the first line defines whether the reader will remain glued till the end or not. If the beginning of your narrative essay is interesting and appealing, the readers will surely enjoy reading your essay.

In order to make the starting and the entire essay impactful and catchy, use a hook to take a grip on your reader’s interest. A hook is an amusing opening line of your essay, written in different forms to make your introduction intriguing.

Following are the types of hooks that can be used as openers for the essay:

  • Funny statement

Note, that relevant and appropriate hooks should be used according to the topic sentence and essay type.

Narrative Essay Outline

Like other essays, a narrative essay follows a traditional and basic outline with the minor changes. It is very important to give your essay an outline, as the purpose of the essay is lost if it isn't presented in a structured form with a proper outline.

After you have come up with a topic and brainstorming phase, the next important step is to structure them according to the outline. An outline is formed to give meaning to your ideas and to maintain a logical and smooth flow in your essay.

An example of a narrative essay outline is provided for the help of the students.

Narrative Essay Outline Template (PDF)

The narrative writing structure is simple and easy. A strong narrative essay has the following structure or outline:

  • Introduction - An introduction of a narrative essay contains a hook statement, which is used as an attention grabber. The purpose of an introduction is to make your audience familiar with the topic.
  • Thesis Statement - Apart from the hook, an introduction carries a thesis statement that comes in the last lines of an introductory paragraph. A thesis statement is a narrative essay that presents the main story or confession of the writer.
  • Body - The body of a narrative essay includes the incidents, experiences, lessons, logical statements, etc that revolve around the thesis statement leading up to a conclusion. The body of the essay is written in paragraphs in which every paragraph has a new idea to introduce but the transition is maintained.
  • Conclusion - A conclusion of a narrative essay summarizes the whole essay highlighting the essay's main idea and present that the argument and statement made in the introduction are proved.

How to Write a Narrative Essay

In order to make your narrative essay impactful, follow the correct essay writing procedure. If you carry out all the steps carefully, your document will be well structured. Follow the writing steps provided below:

To do your narrative writing correctly and effectively follow the steps below:

The very first step is to think of an engaging and impressive topic for your essay. While thinking of topics, make sure to select a topic on which you can open up about your personal life experiences and stories that would inspire the readers.

As this is a personal narrative essay, make sure to give it your tone and sensory details.

For your ease and making the essay effective, draft an outline. The outline will provide you a guide on what are the important things that should go in your essay and what are the irrelevant information that needs to be discarded.

At this point, only a rough outline is drafted and it can be changed according to the preference of a writer.

People consider writing rough drafts as a major component of the writing process.

In a narrative essay, everything is written from the writer’s perspective. This characteristic makes the narrative essay different from essays like argumentative essays and descriptive essays.

Because you are sharing your personal experience and your life’s inspirational and good story, write in the past tense. Make your readers understand the worth significance or your story by stating what you have been through.

The tone of your essay matters a lot. Readers cannot see you. They can only read the essay and to make them understand the concept of your essay, you have to choose a relevant tone with your topic.

If anything matters to you, show how passionate you are about it by choosing the related words and sentences.

Add elements like a firm plot, characters, and setting to your essay to give it a personal and a lively feel.

Including different characters and settings are important to give better details to your narrative essay.

The best part of narrative essays is that you can add your opinion freely. It is totally up to the requirement of the topic that you can include strong narrations and descriptions in your essay.

If you are presenting an argument or a statement, you have to provide evidence and reasons to support it.

In order to keep your audience intact with your essay, the language should be simple and appropriate so that the audience does not lose interest.

Not every reader has a rich vocabulary and a professional, use a language that is understandable by everyone. Use compelling words that perfectly match your emotions.

Before you start writing your narrative essay it is recommended to first go through some examples and samples for a better understanding of the concept and outline.

Always follow the guidelines provided by our instructor. Make sure you have provided everything that was required. If you have quoted or added information from other links, provide sources.

Make sure you always revise and recheck your essay before submitting it. Proofread and check for mistakes and errors. Take feedback about your essay from the people around you.

Narrative Essay Examples

In order to make your life easier, experts have provided some examples of a narrative essay.

Narrative Essay Example (PDF)

Narrative Descriptive Essay Example (PDF)

Personal Narrative Essay Example (PDF)

Follow these examples to write the best and winning narrative essays and score higher grades.

Narrative Essay Topics

Writing about an experience can be challenging but giving a title to it is even harder. If you are looking for some topics to start your essay, we have gathered some interesting topics for your guide.

  • The happiest day of your life.
  • Your favorite field trip
  • Your favorite summer vacation memory
  • A day that left a mark on you forever
  • Most frightening experience in high school
  • A moment you realize you cannot change anything
  • First day of you with your pet
  • Most embarrassing memory
  • A most influential incident that changed your life
  • Worst birthday
  • Your experience living without your family
  • A moment you realized how great life is
  • A blessing you are most grateful of
  • First day at the job
  • The most dreadful experience in life
  • How it feels like losing a loved one
  • A disease or illness that was a lesson
  • Your first fight with your best friend
  • How heroes of the movies you see influenced you
  • A moment you realized you are a grown-up

It is important to follow the basic guidelines in order to write a  college essay  impressive enough to achieve top academic levels. You can also seek professional help if you feel you need assistance with your writing.

CollegeEssay.org is a professional writing company that provides custom essay and paper writing services. It provides assistance for all kinds of essays and academic writings. Hire an ai essay writer by placing an order  at the most reasonable price.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the narrative format look like.

The essay format is standard; it follows the 5 paragraph essay outline: one introductory, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. 

What are the five parts of a narrative essay?

The five parts of the narrative essay are: 

  • Characters 
  • Theme 
  • Setting 
  • Conflict 

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Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay Examples

Caleb S.

10+ Interesting Narrative Essay Examples Plus Writing Tips!

Published on: Jun 23, 2018

Last updated on: Nov 29, 2023

Narrative Essay Examples

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Narrative Essay - A Complete Writing Guide with Examples

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Crafting a Winning Narrative Essay Outline: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Many students struggle with crafting engaging and impactful narrative essays. They often find it challenging to weave their personal experiences into coherent and compelling stories.

If you’re having a hard time, don't worry! 

We’ve compiled a range of narrative essay examples that will serve as helpful tools for you to get started. These examples will provide a clear path for crafting engaging and powerful narrative essays.

So, keep reading and find our expertly written examples!

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Narrative Essay Definition

Writing a narrative essay is a unique form of storytelling that revolves around personal experiences, aiming to immerse the reader in the author's world. It's a piece of writing that delves into the depths of thoughts and feelings. 

In a narrative essay, life experiences take center stage, serving as the main substance of the story. It's a powerful tool for writers to convey a personal journey, turning experiences into a captivating tale. This form of storytelling is an artful display of emotions intended to engage readers, leaving the reader feeling like they are a part of the story.

By focusing on a specific theme, event, emotions, and reflections, a narrative essay weaves a storyline that leads the reader through the author's experiences. 

The Essentials of Narrative Essays

Let's start with the basics. The four types of essays are argumentative essays , descriptive essays , expository essays , and narrative essays.

The goal of a narrative essay is to tell a compelling tale from one person's perspective. A narrative essay uses all components you’d find in a typical story, such as a beginning, middle, and conclusion, as well as plot, characters, setting, and climax.

The narrative essay's goal is the plot, which should be detailed enough to reach a climax. Here's how it works:

  • It's usually presented in chronological order.
  • It has a function. This is typically evident in the thesis statement's opening paragraph.
  • It may include speech.
  • It's told with sensory details and vivid language, drawing the reader in. All of these elements are connected to the writer's major argument in some way.

Before writing your essay, make sure you go through a sufficient number of narrative essay examples. These examples will help you in knowing the dos and don’ts of a good narrative essay.

It is always a better option to have some sense of direction before you start anything. Below, you can find important details and a bunch of narrative essay examples. These examples will also help you build your content according to the format. 

Here is a how to start a narrative essay example:

Sample Narrative Essay

The examples inform the readers about the writing style and structure of the narration. The essay below will help you understand how to create a story and build this type of essay in no time.

Here is another narrative essay examples 500 words:

Narrative Essay Examples for Students

Narrative essays offer students a platform to express their experiences and creativity. These examples show how to effectively structure and present personal stories for education.

Here are some helpful narrative essay examples:

Narrative Essay Examples Middle School

Narrative Essay Examples for Grade 7

Narrative Essay Examples for Grade 8

Grade 11 Narrative Essay Examples

Narrative Essay Example For High School

Narrative Essay Example For College

Personal Narrative Essay Example

Descriptive Narrative Essay Example

3rd Person Narrative Essay Example

Narrative Essay Topics

Here are some narrative essay topics to help you get started with your narrative essay writing.

  • When I got my first bunny
  • When I moved to Canada
  • I haven’t experienced this freezing temperature ever before
  • The moment I won the basketball finale
  • A memorable day at the museum
  • How I talk to my parrot
  • The day I saw the death
  • When I finally rebelled against my professor

Need more topics? Check out these extensive narrative essay topics to get creative ideas!

Narrative Essay Writing Tips

Narrative essays give you the freedom to be creative, but it can be tough to make yours special. Use these tips to make your story interesting:

  • Share your story from a personal viewpoint, engaging the reader with your experiences.
  • Use vivid descriptions to paint a clear picture of the setting, characters, and emotions involved.
  • Organize events in chronological order for a smooth and understandable narrative.
  • Bring characters to life through their actions, dialogue, and personalities.
  • Employ dialogue sparingly to add realism and progression to the narrative.
  • Engage readers by evoking emotions through your storytelling.
  • End with reflection or a lesson learned from the experience, providing insight.

Now you have essay examples and tips to help you get started, you have a solid starting point for crafting compelling narrative essays.

However, if storytelling isn't your forte, you can always turn to our essay writing service for help.

Our writers are specialists that can tackle any type of essay with great skill. With their experience, you get a top-quality, 100% plagiarism free essay everytime.

So, let our narrative essay writing service make sure your narrative essay stands out. Order now!

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Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.

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Narrative Essays: Examples And Topic Ideas For Students

Writing a narrative essay is a great way to share your life with others. Here, we’ll explore topics that will set you up to write a great narrative essay.

If you’re searching for a list of personal narrative essay topics, you’re likely writing a middle school, high school, or college essay. A personal narrative describes your life experience, usually from the first-person point of view.

There are many different approaches to take to writing a narrative essay. Good narrative essay topics are engaging and can be either serious or silly. A personal narrative is not an argument essay or a persuasive essay; rather, it tells a story from your point of view.

Narrative essay writers are constantly on the lookout for things that happen in their lives that teach a lesson, make a point, or tell a funny story. When brainstorming for the best topic for your narrative essay, think about something that happened in your life that you love sharing with others, and work to translate your story into written prose that will hook your readers.

Here, we’ll explore some of the best narrative essay topic examples and ideas, helping you get your writing started right.

For help with your essays, check out our round-up of the best essay checkers

Narrative Essay Examples

1. the power of potstickers by lauren brown, 2. everyone should have a best friend 30 years older than them by lucy holden, 3. all it takes is a small act of kindness by maddie huiras, 4. a reflection on working in labor & delivery by dr. amos grunebaum, md, 5. pressures of being a first generation american-born citizen by helen bezikyan, narrative essay topic ideas, 1. your first day of high school, 2. how you met your best friend, 3. your best birthday party, 4. your favorite (or most difficult) childhood memory, 5. your most embarrassing moment, 6. how you made a difficult decision, 7. an act of kindness, 8. a tribute to your first pet.

Although I find the exact measurements of recipes comforting, I do my best to add a pinch of this and a dash of that in my meals every so often. It’s how I get to go outside my comfort zone every day. And I see in myself a newfound wisdom: it’s ok to go off the beaten path, you can experiment, compromise can lead to something new and beautiful. My mother’s cooking taught me that and I expect to bring that with me wherever I may go.

In this food-based tribute to her mother’s ingenuity, Brown discusses important family memories while sharing lessons from her mother that she now carries through everyday life. The combination of rich descriptive language with an explanation of how the experience of cooking with her mother shaped her life draws the reader in, helping them to feel like they’re in the kitchen with Brown and her mother.

In short, we adopted each other as confidants and met regularly to discuss life in general. He was more supportive than anyone else I met during the whole three years and stepped out of his remit to give me tailored advice that definitely helped me to get a job in journalism. It was clear from the start that he cared more about what was right for me than what was right for the university league tables, perhaps because he actually knew me. When I told him I was worried that the long days I was doing in the student newspaper office would take a toll on my degree, he told me I could get a first if I wanted one, but thought the student paper stuff would help my career much more. 

It can be hard to find a friend who knows you better than yourself, and Holden discusses that phenomenon in their essay on friendship. She discusses how her friend affected her life during their time together and how he affected her after being separated by distance. In this narrative essay, the author works to describe the feelings she experienced through the ups and downs of their friendship, writing about universal truths that all humans experience in relationships. 

Throughout his life, he had gotten used to dealing with Dyskeratosis congenita, and as life went on, he eventually developed cancer; but even while battling cancer, my dad showed kindness. In fact, on the night before he passed away, even though he knew he wouldn’t be with us for much longer, he tried his best to focus on the positive stuff. 

In this essay, Huiras reflects on the life and death of her father and celebrates his commitment to kindness to others throughout his life. While Huiras narrates the events that led to her father’s death, she also describes how his actions and character significantly affect her life, helping her grow into the woman she wants to be.

Labor & Delivery is getting tears in your eyes when you watch a couple you’ve connected with welcome their baby into the world. Even though you’ve just met and will likely never see each other again, there’s something special about sharing that experience that makes you feel like you’ve known each other forever. Labor & Delivery is a place full of opposites. A woman grieving a devastating loss can be in the room next door to a family celebrating a new addition and 14-year-old mother can be in the room next door to a 45-year-old mother. Regardless of the circumstances, each family that walks through the L&D doors will be forever changed.

In this essay on life behind the doors of the delivery room, Dr. Grunebaum shares what it’s like to both celebrate and grieve with families and how difficult it can be to manage both the chaos and joy that comes with the birth process. If you choose to write an essay about a process so personal as birth, leave out any details that could identify the people involved, as Grunebaum does in this essay. 

The struggles that come with having immigrant parents may include constant seeking of approval, always having to be responsible, as well as immigrant parents discussing the future that they may have already planned for their child. More often than not, immigrant parents constantly remind their child, or children that they expect big and great things from them in the future, which is part of why they came to this country.

In this essay, Bezikyan discusses the unique pressures of being a first-generation American-born citizen. In addition to offering her perspective, she also offers the opinions of others in similar circumstances. This helps to support her opinion and help others see the shared experience of people born to immigrant parents.

Narrative Essay Topics: Your first day of high school

Whether you’re a college or high school student, you likely remember your first day of high school—stepping away from middle school and becoming a young adult. The first day of high school is rife with emotion, and describing your experience can provide your reader with an interesting perspective on how you deal with transition and change.

When describing the big day, use details. Explain how you felt as you walked toward the door, how you felt when you struggled to find your classes, and what it was like opening your new locker for the first time. As you write, you may find it helpful to avoid technical details (like the minute-to-minute scheduling of your classes) and instead focus on unique or tough moments or how accomplished you felt by the end of the day.

Your best friend has been there for you through thick and thin, and writing about how the two of you met can be a fun narrative essay topic, no matter your age or writing level.

As you tell the story of how you met your best friend, describe how your connection grew over time. Perhaps you were thick as thieves right away, or you needed some time to realize that you’d met a lifelong friend. For some inspiration, reach out to your best friend and ask them what they remember from the day you met—it can be fun and fresh to get their perspective on how your first meeting went.

Birthdays are a time to celebrate, and writing about a particularly excellent birthday can be a great topic for your narrative essay. When discussing your best birthday party, include all details, including who you invited, what you ate, and how you celebrated with family and friends.

You may also want to talk about why that particular birthday was so meaningful to you. If it was a landmark birthday (like your sweet 16) or a special event (like your last birthday party at home before you left for college), be sure to mention this, so your reader understands why this event was so significant in your life.

There’s no way around it: traumatic things happen in childhood, and wonderful things happen. Writing about childhood memories can be relatable and provide an instant connection with your readers.

When choosing a favorite childhood memory to write about, think back to memorable times in your life because they’re connected with strong emotions. Perhaps you want to write about when your baby sibling came home from the hospital or your first baseball game.

If you choose to write about a difficult childhood memory, the process for choosing a topic is still the same. Think back to a childhood memory that evokes strong emotion. While writing about a negative childhood memory can be an excellent way to write a compelling personal essay, it can also bring up challenging thoughts and may feel traumatic.

Have a particular time that made you red in the face? Writing about an embarrassing moment is relatable and can provide a humorous topic for your narrative essay.

When writing about your embarrassing moment, it can be helpful if you’re willing to laugh at yourself and find the humor in the situation you went through. Be sure to describe what happened from start to finish, painting a clear picture of the moment for your readers. Describe your emotions as the embarrassing moment occurred, and talk about what happened after the moment was over.

Wrestling with a difficult decision can feel impossible at the moment, and reflecting on the experience of making a difficult decision to your readers can make for an excellent narrative essay topic.

When you’re talking about a difficult decision in your narrative essay, give plenty of background information so that the reader fully understands why you’re wrestling with a tough choice. Don’t give away your decision at the start of the essay; rather, take the reader through your thought process as you had to decide what to do.

Sharing an act of kindness you did with someone else—or a random act of kindness that someone did for you—can provide a warm, fuzzy topic for your narrative essay. When writing about an act of kindness, focus on how the act made you feel, whether you were the giver or the receiver of the act.

Much like writing about meeting your best friend for the first time, it can be helpful to talk about your state of mind before and after the act of kindness occurred. Perhaps you were going through a tough time, and the act of kindness helped to boost your mood. Explaining the emotions that came with the act of kindness and the facts of the situation can help your reader feel connected to your story.

Narrative Essay Topics: A Tribute To Your First Pet

Whether you have a dog, a cat, or something more exotic, many readers will be able to connect with the love that a kid has for their first pet. When writing a narrative essay about your first pet, please explain how you felt the first time you laid eyes on them. This may mean describing when they were first presented to you as a kitten or a puppy or the first time you saw your older rescue pet.

Talk about the qualities you loved most about your pet, whether that was their ability to comfort you after a bad day or how they were never too old or tired to go outside and play frisbee. Focus both on the descriptive qualities of your pet that allow your reader to imagine what they looked like and the emotional qualities that keep your first pet near and dear to your heart to this day.

If you have a pet currently, you can mention them in your narrative essay about your first pet, talking about their qualities that remind you of your first pet. While it can tug at your heartstrings to describe the memory of your first pet, writing about the love you have for an animal is nearly universally relatable, and your readers will love hearing about your fond memories of your furry friend.

Tip: If writing an essay sounds like a lot of work, simplify it. Write a simple 5 paragraph essay instead.

If you’re still stuck, check out our available resources for  essay writing topics .

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Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.

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  • How To Write a Narrative Essay: Guide With Examples
  • Learn English
  • James Prior
  • No Comments
  • Updated December 12, 2023

Welcome to the creative world of narrative essays where you get to become the storyteller and craft your own narrative. In this article, we’ll break down how to write a narrative essay, covering the essential elements and techniques that you need to know.

Writing a narrative essay

Table of Contents

What is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is a form of writing where the author recounts a personal experience or story. Unlike other types of essays, a narrative essay allows you to share a real-life event or sequence of events, often drawing from personal insights and emotions.

In a narrative essay, you take on the role of a storyteller, employing vivid details and descriptive language to transport the reader into the world of your story. The narrative often unfolds in chronological order, guiding the audience through a journey of experiences, reflections, and sometimes, a lesson learned.

The success of a narrative essay lies in your ability to create a compelling narrative arc. This means establishing a clear beginning, middle, and end. This structure helps build suspense, maintain the reader’s interest, and deliver a cohesive and impactful story. Ultimately, a well-crafted narrative essay not only narrates an event but also communicates the deeper meaning or significance behind the experience, making it a powerful and memorable piece of writing and leaving a lasting impression on the reader.

Types of Narrative Essays

Narrative essays come in various forms, each with unique characteristics. The most common type of narrative essay are personal narrative essays where you write about a personal experience. This can cover a whole range of topics as these examples of personal narrative essays illustrate. As a student in school or college, you’ll often be asked to write these types of essays. You may also need to write them later in life when applying for jobs and describing your past experiences.

However, this isn’t the only type of narrative essay. There are also fictional narrative essays that you can write using your imagination, and various subject specific narrative essays that you might have come across without even realizing it.

So, it’s worth knowing about the different types of narrative essays and what they each focus on before we move on to how to write them.

Here are some common types of narrative essays:

  • Focus on a personal experience or event from the author’s life.
  • Use the first-person perspective to convey the writer’s emotions and reflections.
  • Can take many forms, from science fiction and fantasy to adventure and romance.
  • Spark the imagination to create captivating stories.
  • Provide a detailed account of the author’s life, often covering a significant timespan.
  • Explore key life events, achievements, challenges, and personal growth.
  • Reflect on the writer’s experiences with language, reading, or writing.
  • Explore how these experiences have shaped the writer’s identity and skills
  • Document the author’s experiences and insights gained from a journey or travel.
  • Describe places visited, people encountered, and the lessons learned during the trip.
  • Explore historical events or periods through a personal lens.
  • Combine factual information with the writer’s perspective and experiences.

The narrative essay type you’ll work with often depends on the purpose, audience, and nature of the story being told. So, how should you write narrative essays?

How To Write Narrative Essays

From selecting the right topic to building a captivating storyline, we explore the basics to guide you in creating engaging narratives. So, grab your pen, and let’s delve into the fundamentals of writing a standout narrative essay.

Before we start, it’s worth pointing out that most narrative essays are written in the first-person. Through the use of first-person perspective, you get to connect with the reader, offering a glimpse into your thoughts, reactions, and the significance of the story being shared.

Let’s get into how to create these stories:

Write your plot

If you want to tell a compelling story you need a good plot. Your plot will give your story a structure. Every good story includes some kind of conflict. You should start with setting the scene for readers. After this, you introduce a challenge or obstacle. Readers will keep reading until the end to find out how you managed to overcome it.

Your story should reach a climax where tension is highest. This will be the turning point that leads to a resolution. For example, moving outside of your comfort zone was difficult and scary. It wasn’t easy at first but eventually, you grew braver and more confident. Readers should discover more about who you are as a person through what they read.

A seasoned writer knows how to craft a story that connects with an audience and creates an impact.

Hook readers with your introduction

In your introduction, you will introduce the main idea of your essay and set the context. Ways to make it more engaging are to:

  • Use sensory images to describe the setting in which your story takes place.
  • Use a quote that illustrates your main idea.
  • Pose an intriguing question.
  • Introduce an unexpected fact or a statement that grabs attention.

Develop your characters

You need to make readers feel they know any characters you introduce in your narrative essay. You can do this by revealing their personalities and quirks through the actions they take. It is always better to show the actions of characters rather than giving facts about them. Describing a character’s body language and features can also reveal a great deal about the person. You can check out these adjectives to describe a person to get some inspiration.

Use dialogue

Dialogue can bring your narrative essay to life. Most fiction books use dialogue extensively . It helps to move the story along in a subtle way. When you allow characters to talk, what they have to say seems more realistic. You can use similes , metaphors, and other parts of speech to make your story more compelling. Just make sure the dialogue is written clearly with the right punctuation so readers understand exactly who is talking.

Work on the pace of the story

Your story must flow along at a steady pace. If there’s too much action, readers may get confused. If you use descriptive writing, try not to overdo it. The clear, concise language throughout will appeal to readers more than lengthy descriptions.

Build up towards a climax

This is the point at which the tension in your story is the highest. A compelling climax takes readers by surprise. They may not have seen it coming. This doesn’t mean your climax should come out of left field. You need to carefully lead up to it step by step and guide readers along. When you reveal it they should be able to look back and realize it’s logical.

Cut out what you don’t need

Your story will suffer if you include too much detail that doesn’t move your story along. It may flow better once you cut out some unnecessary details. Most narrative essays are about five paragraphs but this will depend on the topic and requirements.

In a narrative essay, you share your experiences and insights. The journey you take your readers on should leave them feeling moved or inspired. It takes practice to learn how to write in a way that causes this reaction. With a good plot as your guide, it’s easier to write a compelling story that flows toward a satisfying resolution.

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  • How To Write A Narrative Essay: Definition, Tips, And A Step-by-Step Guide

May 25, 2022

Do you have a narrative essay assignment, but it is proving a hard nut to crack? It often sounds simple because students are asked to narrate something unique about their lives, but most of them end up getting stuck even before starting or midway. For some, the difficulty results from poor writing skills, but others simply lack enough time. No matter what reason is making the process challenging, we have the best solution on how to write narrative essay like a pro.

how to write a narrative essay

This post is a step-by-step guide on writing a narrative essay. It differentiates narrative essays from other categories of essays and provides the best structure for quality papers. It also lists expert tips to help you craft a high quality essay that will impress your school teachers or professor. Do not get content with standard or failing grades; use this guide to prepare a high-quality narrative paper.

Table of Contents

Whats a narrative essay, goal of writing a narrative essay, different types of narrative essays, how to write a narrative essay step by step, best narrative writing format, how do you start a narrative essay, how long is a narrative essay, expert tips on how to write a good narrative essay.

A narrative essay is a form of academic writing, where you tell a story about yourself. The papers are often experimental, anecdotal, and personal, allowing the student to express himself/herself in a creative and moving way.

It is used in both fictional and non-fictional writing, where you have to communicate a story with settings, characters, and conflicts.

In any narrative form of writing, you need to have a clear central point/ theme around which the entire story revolves about. To put it differently: consider a narrative essay to be like other simple essays, but differs fundamentally in that it is a narration with incidents and dialogues.

When your class teacher asks your class to write a narrative essay, you need to be able to establish the purpose before starting the assignment.

Whether the story is fiction or factual, narrative writing focuses on showcasing a series of events in the most engaging manner. This means that you want the reader to get moved by the story, which can be achieved by showing anger, sympathy, laughter, or fear, among other expressions.

The best advice to make your narration stand out is making it as vivid as possible. Narrate the events from a personal point of view. So, ensure to employ storytelling elements, including a beginning, middle, and end. The plot and character should also be employed in the narrative essay structure.

Narrative writing is often confused with short stories because they share the same characteristics, such as plot and characters. However, they differ fundamentally in that narrative essays require you to use facts to tell a story, mainly based on personal memory. However, short stories require you to make up everything, from characters to the setting.

It is important to appreciate that narrative essays can fall into three categories:

Poetry: This type of writing can be either fictional or non-fictional, and requires you to express ideas and feelings in a unique style and rhythm. The commonest are the sonnets and epics. Fiction: This is an imaginary type of narrative writing, which is based on the student/ writer’s feelings, ideas, and thoughts. Then, they are presented in a series of events. Non-fiction: A non-fiction type of essay is classified as a narration if it is based on real happenings and facts. A good example is a journal or diary.

The best way to write a narrative essay is to create a good structure and follow it closely to stitch a story that will move your readers. Here are the main steps to follow:

  • Meeting a famous person.
  • Traveling to Ireland for the first time.
  • My secret place.
  • Near-death experience.
  • Select Your Story Once you have selected the preferred topic, the next step is picking a good story. Ensure that it relates well to the theme or topic. Also, try to make the story realistic without exaggeration.
  • Bring Out the Story’s Antagonist It is prudent to get the story’s antagonist and a sort of a conflict. If your narrative lacks an antagonist, it is likely to become boring. In most cases, the writer (you in this case) is the protagonist. The antagonist (character) tries to stand in the way of the protagonist from achieving his/her mission.
  • Explain the Scene You also have to explain the story’s scenes as clearly as possible. This is crucial to ensure readers are able to imagine the setting. Often, students lose marks for not describing the scenes. Detailing the scene also helps to make the story more interesting.
  • Make the Essay’s Events Chronological As you prepare the narration, make sure that the events are presented in a chronological manner. So, take your time to determine what happens first and link it carefully with the subsequent scenes. Take the example of a narrative essay on a topic such as “Meeting an Influential Person.” In such a case, you should start by describing the scene that preceded the meeting, perhaps you had “just gone to the mall” and then “bumped into the influential person.” From there, you probably went to the coffee shop, held a conversation, and proceeded to his famous mansion.
  • Make the Final Copy From steps one to eight, you were working on the draft, and it is time to move to the next level. So, you need to comprehensively revise it, check the theme and storyline. Finally, proofread and edit the essay to make the final copy that will be submitted to your professor.

To make your work even more outstanding, here are more details on how to write a great narrative essay:

As we indicated already, you need to craft a good format to serve as a guide for your narrative essay. Here is a sample writing format that you can use to prepare a narrative report.

  • The topic of the narrative essay.
  • Introduction of the essay: Here, you should provide an overview of the narrative essay in only a few sentences.
  • The main body of the narrative essay: Like in other types of essays, you should structure the assignment into paragraphs and use them to bring out facts, details, and supporting arguments.
  • Conclusion: This is the last part of the essay, and you need to sum up the writing. Make sure to wrap up the essay well, mainly by highlighting the moral of the story.

To start writing a narrative essay, you need to carefully read the assignment prompt from your college teacher. Go ahead and brainstorm the ideas on what the essay might be about, and let the imagination take over. At this early point, you should take notes of possible characters, locations, and the preferred conversations These are the ideas that you might build on to finally decide what to write a narrative essay about using the nine steps we described earlier on.

As you learn how to start a narrative essay, make sure to also establish the different ways of bringing out your thesis statement that comes at the start of the essay. The thesis will be evident all through the essay as you develop your story.

A good narrative essay is usually five pages long, but this can vary depending on your school professor.

For example, there are some schools that require the essays to be 500 words only. So, make sure to stick to the word limit recommended by your professor.

The bottom line about narrative essays is that they should be short, precise, and informative. So, put the points directly in a concise way and follow the right format.

Here are some tips from the best essay writers on how to write a good narrative essay:

Keep your essay as concise as possible. Make sure to have a clear outline of events before starting to write. Only describe the important characters. For the less important characters, make the description brief. Include vibrant details to spice the story, but stay true to the course. Stay consistent and avoid mixing up the tenses. Write the paper in the first person. Make sure to support your essay with appropriate details. Highlight the important moments of your story. Hone your skills by reading other writers’ narrative essays.

Seek Help From Assignment Writing Service

Now that we have provided the guideline for writing a narrative essay, are you ready to get started and work on the assignment? If you find it challenging, perhaps because there are dozens of other things to do or the topic is tough, consider using expert writers and to buy custom essays .

Our professional writers have the skills and experience to prepare top grade papers for students. Even if your assignment has a tight deadline, our writers are fast and will be able to close the task on time. Again, you can count on our affordable online service to prepare even other types of custom essays, such as descriptive and compare & contrast papers. All that you need is to visit our site and say, “write my 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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Love writing? ProWritingAid will help you improve the style, strength, and clarity of your stories.

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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50 Engaging Narrative Essay Topics for High Schoolers

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What’s Covered:

Narrative essays vs. analytical essays, how to pick the right narrative essay topic, elements of a strong narrative essay, engaging narrative essay topics for high schoolers, where to get your narrative essay edited for free.

Narrative essays are an extensive form of writing that gives readers the opportunity to follow along as a person goes through a journey or sets of experiences. Rather than providing analytic insight, narrative essays simply share a story and offer a first-person account. These essays may seem easy to write at first, but it takes a certain finesse to write a narrative essay that is interesting, cohesive, and well-researched. Whether you’re looking for a unique topic to write about, or just want some new inspiration, CollegeVine is here to help! These 50 narrative essay topics are engaging, unique and will have you writing in no time.

A narrative essay is a great way to express your personal experiences and opinions, but it is important to remember that this type of essay is different from an analytical paper. In a narrative essay, you do not need to provide background information or explain your thoughts and feelings; instead, you simply tell a story. It’s important to avoid too much telling in your writing; instead, use creative details and vivid imagery to make readers feel as if they are actually right there with you.

Where You Will Encounter Narrative Essays

This type of essay is typically encountered in high school, where students may be required to write personal statements to prepare for their Common App essay . Narrative essays are also commonly seen in AP Language and Composition. Therefore, it’s important you are aware of the style because you are bound to have a narrative essay assignment.  

Of course, before you start writing, it is important to pick the right essay topic. There are many factors involved in the process of picking the perfect narrative essay topic for your story.

You should always choose a topic that you are passionate about, since writing on something you care about will make the process much easier. Not only will it be more interesting to create your paper around something that truly interests you, but it will also allow you to fully express yourself in your essay. You also want to be sure that the topic has enough material to work with. If your chosen topic is too short, you will not have enough content to write a complete paper. For example, if you are writing about your experience getting lost at the mall, make sure that you have enough information to work with to craft an engaging narrative. 

The best topic for an engaging narrative essay is one that focuses on showing versus telling, has a clear structure, and provides a dialogue. These elements come together to form an engaging narrative essay. Regardless of what subject you pick, any topic may be turned into a fascinating, A+ worthy narrative using the tips below.

Show, Don’t Tell

To write a good narrative essay, it’s important to show, not tell. Instead of simply informing your audience, show them what you mean. For example, instead of saying “I was nervous,” you could say “My heart began to race and my stomach filled with butterflies.” Also make sure to use sensory details, such as sights, sounds and tastes, and include a personal reflection at the end of your narrative. 

Begin with a Strong Opening Line

A good narrative essay will begin with an attention-grabbing opening line. But make sure to avoid common clichés, such as “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Instead, come up with something original and specific to you and your situation. For example: “My pre-calc teacher was obsessed with circles. I mean, he even used circular note cards.” Or, “It all started the day my mom brought home a guinea pig.”

Follows a Three-Act Structure

A strong narrative essay follows the same three-act structure as other essays. But in order to make it interesting, you’ll need to come up with a creative way to break things down into sections. For example, using the guinea pig example from above, you could write the following:

  • Act 1 – Introduction: The day my mom brought home a guinea pig.
  • Act 2 – Conflict: The day I had to say goodbye to my beloved pet.
  • Act 3 – Conclusion: Looking back at how much I miss him now that he’s gone.

Conclude with Personal Reflection

To conclude your narrative essay, you’ll want to explain what this specific experience taught you or how you’ve changed. For example, upon realizing that her pre-calc teacher was obsessed with circles, the writer of the previous example begins to notice circular shapes everywhere. Another way to conclude your narrative essay is by touching on how this experience impacted you emotionally. For example, after losing his guinea pig, the writer explains how much he missed it.

Use Dialogue

Include a conversation in your essay to make it come alive. For example, instead of simply saying that you met a new friend, talk about how you introduced yourselves or what they were wearing when you met them.

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The following list of 50 narrative essay topics is divided into categories. This will make it easier to find a topic that fits your writing style.

1. What is a childhood song that still sticks with you today?

2. Your first day of Kindergarten

3. Talk about a time when you’re siblings looked up to you

4. Describe the best birthday party you’ve ever had

5. Talk about the best day you ever spent with a childhood friend

6. Explain your first childhood hobby

7. Describe your first halloween costume

8. A family vacation gone wrong

9. Your first family reunion

10. Describe a tradition that is unique to your family

11. Describe your family to a person who’s never met them before

12. What frustrates you most about your family

13. If you could only keep one memory of your family, what would it be and why?

14. Describe a time your family embarrassed you in public

15. The most beautiful place in the world

16. Your favorite season and why

17. If you were a part of nature, what element would you be? Why?

18. When you go outside, which of your senses are you most thankful to have?

19. Describe the first time you witnessed a tornado 

20. Write a poem about your favorite season

21. Describe yourself as one of the four seasons

22. Describe a time in which you felt connected with nature

23. Describe the first time you played an instrument and how you felt

24. What major event would be much worse if music was removed, and why?

25. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

26. What would a life without music look like?

27. If you could master one instrument, what would it be and why?

Relationships

28. What if you had never met your best friend?

29. Describe a time when you fixed a broken relationship

30. Talk about a movie that defined a relationship for you

31. Describe your first date

32. Describe the first time you made a friend

33. Describe your relationship with your parents

Self Reflection

34. Have you ever fooled someone? If so, describe what happened and how you felt about it

35. What is the worst thing you’ve done to someone else?

36. Write about the difference between how things seem and how they really are. 

37. Have you ever been embarrassed in some way? If so, describe the situation and how it affected you as well as those around you

38. Have you ever witnessed something really beautiful? Describe it

39. Is your glass half empty or half full?

Overcoming Adversity 

40. Have you ever been very afraid of something but tried your hardest to appear fearless? If so, describe that experience

41. When have you ever succeeded when you thought you might fail

42. What are your secret survival strategies?

43. Describe the last time you were stressed and why?

44. Describe a time when you were discriminated against

45. The most memorable class you’ve had and why

46. Your favorite study abroad memory

47. Describe your kindergarten classroom

48. Describe your first teacher

49. The first time you experienced detention

50. Your first field trip

Hopefully these topics will get you thinking about a personal experience that could make for a thoughtful and engaging narrative essay. Remember, a strong narrative essay must contain relatable details and a clear flow that keeps the reader entertained and engaged to read all the way to the end.

If you need some additional guidance on your narrative essay, use CollegeVine’s free peer review essay tool to get feedback for free!

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write a narrative essay on your school

Essay on My School for Students and Children

500+ words essay on my school.

Education is an essential part of our lives. We are nothing without knowledge, and education is what separates us from others. The main step to acquiring education is enrolling oneself in a school. School serves as the first learning place for most of the people. Similarly, it is the first spark in receiving an education. In this essay on my school, I will tell you why I love my school and what my school has taught me.

We have all been to school and we have loved each and every moment we have spent over there as those were the building blocks of our lives. A school is a place where students are taught the fundamentals of life, as well as how to grow and survive in life. It instils in us values and principles that serve as the foundation for a child’s development.

My school is my second home where I spend most of my time. Above all, it gives me a platform to do better in life and also builds my personality. I feel blessed to study in one of the most prestigious and esteemed schools in the city. In addition, my school has a lot of assets which makes me feel fortunate to be a part of it. Let us look at the essay on my school written below.

essay on my school

Why I Love My School?

From kindergarten through primary and secondary school, and subsequently, to faculty, school is a place where we always study, grow, and establish ourselves, socialize, be a friend, help others, and love and be loved. School is a buddy that will accompany us from the beginning of our youth till the conclusion of our lives. At school, we share all of our pleasures and sorrows, and we constantly rely on one another. This is made possible through the friendships we share. They assist us in effortlessly overcoming difficulties, sharing moments of enjoyment together, and looking forward to new paths.

My school strikes the perfect balance between modern education and vintage architecture. The vintage buildings of my school never fail to mesmerize me with their glorious beauty. However, their vintage architecture does not mean it is outdated, as it is well-equipped with all the contemporary gadgets. I see my school as a lighthouse of education bestowing knowledge as well as ethical conduct upon us.

Teachers have the power to make or break a school. The teaching staff is regarded as the foundation of any educational society. It is their efforts to help kids learn and understand things that instil good habits and values in their students. While some concepts are simple to grasp, others necessitate the use of a skilled teacher to drive the home the idea with each pupil.

In contrast to other schools, my school does not solely focus on academic performance. In other words, it emphasizes on the overall development of their students. Along with our academics, extra-curricular activities are also organized at our school. This is one of the main reasons why I love my school as it does not measure everyone on the same scale. Our hardworking staff gives time to each child to grow at their own pace which instils confidence in them. My school has all the facilities of a library , computer room, playground, basketball court and more, to ensure we have it all at our disposal.

For me, my school is more than simply an educational institution; it is also my second family, which I established during my childhood. A family of wonderful friends, outstanding teachers, and fond school memories. I adore my school because it is where I learn how to be a good citizen and how to reach my goals. School is the only place where we make friends without judging them. We feel comfortable spending time with those close friends no matter what the situation.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

What has My School Taught Me?

If someone asked me what I have learned from my school, I won’t be able to answer it in one sentence. For the lessons are irreplaceable and I can never be thankful enough for them. I learned to share because of my school. The power of sharing and sympathy was taught to me by my school. I learned how to be considerate towards animals and it is also one of the main reasons why I adopted a pet.

write a narrative essay on your school

School is an excellent place to learn how to be an adult before entering the real world. Those abilities pay dividends whether you choose to be the bigger person in an argument or simply complete your domestic tasks. When you open your mind to new ideas, you gain a lot of influence in society. Picking up unexpected hobbies on your own will teach you more about what you like to do than simply completing things for a grade.

A school is a place where I developed my artistic skills which were further enhanced by my teachers. Subsequently, it led me to participate in inter-school completions through which I earned various awards. Most importantly, my school taught me how to face failures with grace and never give up on my ambitions, no matter what happens.

Schools also offer a variety of extracurricular activities such as Scouts and Guides, sports, N.C.C., skating, school band, acting, dancing, singing, and so on. Our principal also used to give us a short lecture every day for about 10 minutes about etiquette, character development, moral education, respecting others, and gaining excellent values. As a result, I can claim that what I am today is solely due to my school, which is the best institution in my opinion.

Teamwork is an important ability that schools teach. Schools are frequently the first places where youngsters have the opportunity to collaborate with children who are different from them. Collaboration is essential for the team and individual success. Students are taught that the success of a team depends on each individual component functioning together.

To sum it up, studying in one of the respected schools has helped me a lot personally. I will always be indebted to my school for shaping my personality and teaching me invaluable lessons. It has given me friends for life and teachers that I will always look up to. I aspire to carry on the values imbibed by my school to do well in life and make it proud.

Here is the list of Top Schools in India! Does Your School Tops the List?

FAQs on School

Q.1 Why must every child go to school?

A.1 It is essential for every child to go to school as the school teaches us lessons that cannot be acquired anywhere else. The experience is one a kind and along with education, we learn many other things like socializing, extra-curricular activities and more.

Q.2 What does school teach us?

A.2 School teaches us some of the great things like first of all, it gives us basic education. It teaches us to develop our skills like art, dance, public speaking and more. Most importantly, it teaches us discipline.

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Narrative Essay Topics: 200 Best Ideas for You

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Envision being enclosed in a time capsule with an AI chauffeur posing the question, "Which of your memories would you like to revisit?” This scenario perfectly aligns with the essence of a narrative essay, where your story, voice, and writing style set it apart. 

In this article, you will get a proper definition of a narrative essay, as well as a list of 200 narrative essay topics for college to get your creative juices flowing abundantly! If you’re in a hurry or overloaded with other tasks, feel free to consult our essay service – expert writers know how to help.

Bring your stories to life with EssayPro . Select from a vast array of narrative essay topics and let our professionals help you weave your tales into captivating essays. Whether it's adventure, reflection, or imagination, we're here to assist.

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Best Narrative Essay Topics: How to Choose the One That Resonates 

A narrative essay is a form of writing that recounts a personal experience or tells a story, often incorporating elements like characters, plot, setting, and a chronological sequence of events. The primary purpose of a narrative essay is to engage the reader emotionally and convey a specific message or insight through the retelling of a significant experience.

Students engage in writing narrative essays as part of their academic curriculum for various reasons. First and foremost, this type of essay serves as a means for personal expression, allowing students to convey their unique experiences, thoughts, and emotions creatively. Additionally, the process of crafting a narrative essay contributes to the development of essential writing skills, such as structuring ideas coherently and organizing thoughts effectively. 

How to Choose Narrative Essay Topics

Selecting compelling narrative essay ideas involves considering personal experiences, interests, and the potential for engaging storytelling. Here's a guide on how to choose narrative essay topics:

  • Reflect on Personal Experiences: Identify significant experiences in your life that have had a lasting impact. Consider moments of personal growth, challenges overcome, or lessons learned.
  • Explore Interests and Passions: Choose topics related to your hobbies, interests, or areas of expertise. Writing about something you are passionate about can make the narrative more captivating.
  • Consider Audience Interest: Think about the interests and preferences of your intended audience. Choose topics that resonate with a broader audience if the essay is for a class or publication.
  • Focus on a Specific Event or Detail: Narrow down your topic to a specific event or detail to make the narrative more focused and impactful. Avoid overly broad topics that may be challenging to cover thoroughly in a short essay.
  • Look for Universal Themes: Explore themes that have universal appeal, such as love, resilience, or personal transformation. Connecting with readers on a universal level enhances the relevance of your narrative.
  • Brainstorm and Freewrite: Generate a list of potential topics through brainstorming. Freewriting, where you write without constraints for a set period, can help unearth compelling ideas.
  • Consider Narrative Techniques: Think about the storytelling techniques you want to employ (e.g., flashback, foreshadowing) and choose a topic that complements those techniques.
  • Seek Feedback: Share your ideas with friends, peers, or instructors to get feedback on the potential impact and interest of your chosen topics.
  • Evaluate Emotional Significance: Assess the emotional significance of each potential topic. Topics that evoke strong emotions, whether joy, sadness, or excitement, often make for compelling narratives.
  • Ensure Personal Connection: Select a topic that you can connect with on a personal level. Your enthusiasm and connection to the subject matter will enhance the authenticity of the narrative.

Once you've discovered a topic that aligns with your mood, engage in brainstorming. Jot down all conceivable scenarios on paper and structure them into a distinctive outline for your narrative essay. Adhere to your professor's instructions diligently, as they likely address most of your inquiries. For added assistance, you can always turn to our narrative essay writing service and receive timely support. 

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Ideas for Narrative Essay Topics

Having examined the writing experiences of students in crafting narrative paragraphs, we have curated a collection of narrative essay topics tailored for both college and school students. This comprehensive list encompasses a diverse array of subjects, so feel free to choose one that resonates with you! If you’d like to see how to develop a topic in written form, please consult our narrative essay example guide. 

Literacy Narrative Essay Topics for College Students

What about exploring intriguing literacy narrative essay topics tailored for college-level writing? Sounds great!

  • Discovering the transformative power of literature during a challenging period in my life.
  • Navigating the complexities of multilingualism and its impact on my identity.
  • The profound influence of a childhood book that ignited my love for reading.
  • Overcoming dyslexia and finding my unique voice in the world of written expression.
  • Exploring the cultural significance of storytelling within my family heritage.
  • The evolution of my writing style through encounters with diverse literary genres.
  • Unraveling the mysteries of decoding language as a non-native English speaker.
  • The role of digital technology in shaping my approach to reading and writing.
  • The empowering journey of embracing academic literacy in a foreign language.
  • Capturing the essence of my academic growth through reflective writing assignments.
  • The intersection of personal and academic literacies in shaping my worldview.
  • The impact of a memorable teacher on my development as a critical reader.
  • Confronting stereotypes through literacy: Redefining narratives about my culture.
  • How my relationship with writing evolved through participation in online communities.
  • The role of literature in fostering empathy and understanding diverse perspectives.
  • Unveiling the hidden narratives in everyday life through observational writing.
  • The challenges and triumphs of maintaining a personal writing practice in college.
  • Exploring the connection between literacy and social justice advocacy.
  • Reflecting on the influence of literature on my personal and professional aspirations.
  • The unexpected lessons learned from failed attempts at creative writing projects.

Personal Narrative Essay Topics on Relationships

Reflect on your past experiences and share compelling personal narratives through these essay ideas. 

  • Navigating the complexities of a long-distance relationship: How did distance shape our connection?
  • The transformative impact of a friendship that withstood the test of time.
  • Lessons learned from a mentor-mentee relationship that transcended professional boundaries.
  • The role of sibling dynamics in shaping my understanding of interpersonal relationships.
  • Exploring the impact of cultural differences on friendships and romantic connections.
  • How did a childhood friendship influence my views on trust and loyalty in relationships?
  • The evolving dynamics of a family relationship during a significant life transition.
  • Unveiling the complexities of parent-child relationships through moments of conflict and resolution.
  • The unique challenges and rewards of maintaining relationships in a digital age.
  • Investigating the influence of societal expectations on romantic relationships.
  • The unexpected connections forged during a group travel experience.
  • How did a challenging breakup contribute to personal growth and self-discovery?
  • The role of shared hobbies and interests in building meaningful connections.
  • Reflecting on the impact of past relationships on my present-day perspectives.
  • Navigating workplace relationships and the balance between professionalism and camaraderie.
  • How have my experiences with peer relationships shaped my sense of belonging?
  • The significance of forgiveness and reconciliation in repairing strained relationships.
  • The influence of role models on my understanding of healthy and fulfilling relationships.
  • Exploring the complexities of friendships that transition into romantic involvement.
  • How do online interactions and social media influence the nature of modern relationships?

Best Narrative Essay Topics on Education and Learning

Think about sharing your personal experiences and emotions in a captivating manner with these ideas for personal narrative essays.

  • How overcoming academic challenges in high school shaped my approach to learning.
  • The transformative impact of a teacher who inspired a lifelong love for a particular subject.
  • Investigating the role of extracurricular activities in shaping a well-rounded educational experience.
  • How a cultural exchange program broadened my understanding of global education.
  • The challenges and rewards of navigating a bilingual education environment.
  • Exploring the influence of technology on modern classroom dynamics.
  • The role of peer collaboration in fostering a positive learning environment.
  • How did a personal learning style assessment impact my study habits and academic performance?
  • The importance of inclusive education in fostering empathy and understanding.
  • Reflecting on the impact of a particular book or literary work on my educational journey.
  • The role of mentors and role models in guiding educational and career aspirations.
  • Investigating the impact of standardized testing on students' mental health and academic success.
  • How do study abroad experiences contribute to a well-rounded education?
  • The challenges and triumphs of pursuing a non-traditional educational path.
  • The role of community service and volunteerism in shaping a sense of social responsibility.
  • How has the integration of technology changed the landscape of classroom learning?
  • The impact of cultural diversity on classroom discussions and collaborative projects.
  • Exploring the role of education in fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • The influence of socioeconomic factors on educational opportunities and outcomes.
  • How can experiential learning enhance traditional classroom education?

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Personal Narrative Essay Ideas on Reflection on Life

We recommend sparking your creativity with a variety of narrative essay topics, ranging from special moments to everyday experiences.

  • How a personal setback became a catalyst for self-discovery and resilience.
  • Reflecting on the impact of a major life decision and the lessons learned.
  • Exploring the role of cultural heritage in shaping my identity and worldview.
  • The significance of small, everyday moments in fostering gratitude and mindfulness.
  • How facing a fear transformed my perspective on courage and personal growth.
  • Investigating the influence of family traditions on personal values and beliefs.
  • What does success mean to me, and how has that definition evolved over time?
  • Reflecting on the role of friendships in providing support during challenging times.
  • The impact of travel experiences on broadening my understanding of the world.
  • How personal hobbies and passions contribute to a sense of fulfillment.
  • Exploring the relationship between self-love and mental health.
  • How adversity can lead to unexpected opportunities for personal development.
  • Reflecting on the importance of setting and achieving personal goals.
  • What have been the defining moments in my journey toward self-acceptance?
  • Investigating the role of forgiveness in overcoming personal conflicts.
  • How do cultural or societal expectations influence my perception of success?
  • Reflecting on the role of self-care in maintaining physical and emotional well-being.
  • Exploring the impact of technology on the way I connect with others and the world.
  • The lessons learned from navigating a crossroads in life and making a tough decision.
  • How do personal beliefs and values guide my decision-making and life choices?

Ideas for a Narrative Essay on Culture and Society

It’s always a smart move to engage your readers with narrative essays on culture and society, exploring captivating ideas.

  • How cultural diversity in my community has enriched my perspective on the world.
  • Exploring the impact of technology on communication within contemporary society.
  • The role of traditional customs in preserving cultural identity amid globalization.
  • How social media has influenced societal perceptions of beauty and self-worth.
  • Investigating the effects of popular culture on shaping individual values and beliefs.
  • What cultural traditions and rituals contribute to a sense of belonging in my life?
  • Reflecting on the intersection of art and culture in shaping societal narratives.
  • How does socioeconomic status impact individuals' access to education and opportunities?
  • The evolving role of gender norms and equality in today's changing society.
  • Exploring the impact of immigration on cultural exchange and adaptation.
  • What role does storytelling play in preserving and passing down cultural heritage?
  • The influence of historical events on the collective memory of a community.
  • How do language and communication styles reflect cultural diversity?
  • Investigating the effects of globalization on local cultures and traditions.
  • The impact of social movements on challenging societal norms and fostering change.
  • How does media representation influence perceptions of different cultural groups?
  • Reflecting on the role of education in promoting cultural awareness and tolerance.
  • What challenges do individuals face in navigating a multicultural society?
  • Exploring the role of fashion and trends in expressing cultural identity.
  • How do cultural stereotypes affect interpersonal relationships and understanding?

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Narrative Writing Topics on Hobbies and Interests

Impress your readers by transforming your passions and hobbies into thought-provoking narrative essay topics.

  • How my passion for photography has shaped the way I perceive the world.
  • Exploring the joy of discovering new recipes and the art of culinary experimentation.
  • What challenges have I faced and overcome in pursuing my favorite outdoor activities?
  • Reflecting on the transformative power of literature in my life.
  • How has my interest in astronomy influenced my perspective on the universe?
  • What life lessons have I learned through my dedication to martial arts?
  • The role of music in capturing and expressing the essence of personal experiences.
  • How does my love for hiking connect me with nature and promote well-being?
  • Investigating the world of gaming and its impact on my problem-solving skills.
  • What role do artistic expressions, such as painting or drawing, play in my self-discovery?
  • The thrill and challenges of exploring different styles of dance as a form of self-expression.
  • How has my interest in technology and coding opened new possibilities for creativity?
  • What motivates my commitment to environmental sustainability and eco-friendly practices?
  • Exploring the excitement and camaraderie of participating in team sports.
  • The journey of cultivating a green thumb and finding joy in gardening.
  • How do travel and exploration contribute to my personal growth and worldview?
  • Reflecting on the satisfaction derived from building and creating with hands-on crafts.
  • Investigating the cultural and historical aspects of collecting unique artifacts or memorabilia.
  • What sparks my curiosity in the world of science and scientific inquiry?
  • How does my dedication to a specific hobby foster a sense of discipline and dedication?

Narrative Essay Titles on Life-Changing Moments

Life's unpredictability often leads to transformative moments. Consider these narrative essay titles for stories that forever changed your life.

  • Unearthing a hidden passion that illuminated my world.
  • Choosing courage over comfort: A pivotal day in my life.
  • Navigating unexpected turns: Embracing life's spontaneous changes.
  • Can a solitary decision truly reshape the trajectory of a lifetime?
  • Embracing transformative opportunities: The power of saying 'yes'.
  • A chance encounter that forever altered my perspective.
  • Confronting fears head-on: Discovering the strength within.
  • Resilience in adversity: Rising above setbacks with determination.
  • Defining moments that reshaped the very core of my identity.
  • At life's crossroads: Choosing destinies beyond expectations.
  • The ripple effect of decision-making: Small choices, big changes.
  • Losing and finding myself: A journey to rediscover my true identity.
  • Breaking free from self-imposed limitations: The sweet taste of liberation.
  • Piecing together a new narrative amidst life's intricate challenges.
  • Finding silver linings in heartbreak: Transformative growth revealed.
  • Harmony amid chaos: Gracefully dancing through life's constant changes.
  • Thriving beyond comfort zones: Exploring uncharted territories.
  • The journey to success: Failure as a vital stepping stone.
  • Letting go and embracing fresh beginnings: The art of renewal.
  • Discovering purpose in the unpredictable moments of life.

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Good Narrative Topics on Travel and Adventure

Compose captivating personal narrative essay ideas titles by delving into exciting travel adventures.

  • Exploring the vibrant markets of Marrakech.
  • Hiking the untamed trails of Patagonia.
  • A spontaneous road trip through the American Southwest.
  • Can the thrill of paragliding over the Swiss Alps be surpassed?
  • Navigating the chaos of Tokyo's bustling streets.
  • How does volunteering in a remote village in Cambodia change perspectives?
  • Camping under the Northern Lights in Lapland.
  • What wildlife encounters await on an African safari?
  • How do diverse landscapes shape the experience of backpacking across Nepal?
  • What stories lie in the historic streets of Rome during a solo journey?
  • Chasing sunsets on the cliffs of Santorini.
  • What wonders lie beneath the crystal-clear waters of the Maldives for snorkeling?
  • How does getting lost in the ancient alleyways of Istanbul unravel surprises?
  • Exploring the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.
  • What tales unfold while hitchhiking along the scenic coastal roads of New Zealand?
  • Embracing the serenity of a secluded mountain retreat.
  • Capturing the essence of a bustling Asian street market.
  • How does bungee jumping off a bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand, feel?
  • What culinary delights await while savoring street food in Bangkok?
  • What stories emerge from surfing the waves of the Pacific Coast?

Narrative Essay Topic Ideas on Career and Work Experience

College students can find compelling narrative essay topics by exploring potential career paths or revisiting past job experiences.

  • Navigating challenges while climbing the corporate ladder.
  • Managing multiple roles in a fast-paced workplace.
  • Experiencing a pivotal career moment in transition.
  • Can mentorship shape a career more than formal education?
  • Learning valuable lessons from job loss.
  • Embarking on the entrepreneurial journey: Building a startup from scratch.
  • Understanding the impact of networking on professional growth.
  • Assessing remote work and its influence on productivity from a desk with a view.
  • Evolving from intern to leader: The workplace roles' progression.
  • Can a passion-aligned career pay the bills?
  • Examining the influence of a positive work culture on employee satisfaction.
  • Strategies for overcoming impostor syndrome and thriving in professional spaces.
  • Navigating freelance challenges in the gig economy.
  • Striking a balance at the crossroads of work and family.
  • Exploring how effective communication shapes careers during negotiations.
  • Resilience in the workplace: Turning setbacks into comebacks.
  • Paving the way for success outside traditional careers through the unconventional path.
  • Examining the role of failure as a necessary detour in career development.
  • Breaking glass ceilings and challenging norms: Women in the workplace.
  • Can work-life integration achieve harmony, replacing the pursuit of balance?

Interesting Narrative Essay Topics about Challenges and Obstacles

If you're feeling uncertain about your narrative essay topic, reflect on challenging moments you've faced and how you overcame them.

  • Overcoming fear through confronting phobias.
  • Navigating challenges in a complex career transition.
  • Scaling personal obstacles for self-discovery.
  • Juggling multiple responsibilities in modern life.
  • Recovering from physical injuries and emotional trauma.
  • How do you deal with life-altering decisions at unexpected crossroads?
  • Unraveling knots: Rebuilding relationships after betrayal.
  • What is the personal tale of overcoming depression?
  • Weathering the storm: Surviving and rebuilding after natural disasters.
  • Adapting to a new culture: Foreign ground, familiar struggles.
  • How do you confront invisible illnesses in a judgmental world?
  • Rising from rock bottom to resilience against addiction.
  • Forging a unique path against societal expectations.
  • Embracing self-acceptance amidst societal pressures.
  • Juggling life responsibilities on the tightrope of balance.
  • Finding a voice in the midst of personal challenges.
  • How do you navigate life-altering decisions at crossroads?
  • Self-discovery through overcoming personal flaws.
  • Rebuilding relationships after a period of estrangement.
  • Repairing connections after a falling out on bridges over troubled waters.

Final Remarks

As we conclude, our compilation of 200 narrative essay topics aims to provide you with a solid foundation for your upcoming writing endeavors! Whether you're recounting a significant event, cherishing a childhood memory, or expressing a profound realization, a meticulously crafted narrative essay possesses the potential to deeply resonate with readers.

Since narrative essays are a popular admissions assignment, we think it’s a good idea for you to explore our admission essay writing service , which has already helped thousands of students enter college.

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Narrative Essay: My Success Story in School

Introduction.

I went to Stewart Griffin high school in Langley Falls and had a reasonable amount of success whilst there. I was not a top student, though I always felt I could be if I actually put the effort in and didn’t coast as much. Like many students I was one for cramming the day before, even though I didn’t pull all-nighters like my other friends. I was also one for leaving my written assignments to the last minute. I once did a last minute essay that proved very successful.

Whilst at high school we were assigned coursework in our last year. This is the work that adds to the final grade of the student. Do well in your coursework and you can pass without ever needing to do an exam. There were few subjects that did not have coursework and where the coursework bulk made it possible to pass without taking an exam.

There was a lot of coursework in my last two years of high school, and one of the areas where it mattered a lot was in English. There was a Lit and Lang grade to be had, which meant we earned the equivalent of two British GCSEs if we were to move to Britain for higher education (which I did).

We had coursework including a piece on “Mice and Men”, a piece on “Julius Caesar,” a piece on “Macbeth”, an autobiographical piece and a fiction piece. The great thing about the fiction piece was that there was no word count. We were given a free rein to write about whatever we wanted and we were not bound by a word count excepting that our teacher said we should probably keep it below 10,000 words. Don’t forget that for a student with limited time a 10,000 word story is going to take up a lot of time.

The fiction piece was the one I was looking forward to the most, and I had lots of ideas for what I was going to write about. However, I managed to space the deadline to the point where it was due tomorrow. I went home and on my Atari computer I wrote a fictional story based on a nightmare I had the night before.

I even waited when I got home till around 9pm before I started writing. I wrote one side of text and printed it, and then wrote another side of text, turned over the sheet and printed on the other side before I was told to go to bed.

I went to bed knowing that I was going to scrape a pass for this piece at best, but I was confident in my qualification because I knew I had done well on my other coursework. At the most I figured that this piece was good enough to pass, and knew that all in all the worst that would happen is that my final grade would not be a top one (because this piece of coursework would drag down the score).

When the piece was marked I got an A*. I was very impressed with myself for getting an A* with just two sides of written text, especially when the other students had written pages and pages and scored well but not as well as me. A further stroke of my pride came when I saw my teacher’s comments which said, “That was haunting and I am shocked it came from such as young mind. I hope for your sake you copied it from somewhere else.”

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  • How to write a narrative essay | Example & tips

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 .

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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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.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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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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Caulfield, J. (2023, July 23). How to Write a Narrative Essay | Example & Tips. Scribbr. Retrieved January 5, 2024, from https://qa.scribbr.com/academic-essay/narrative-essay/

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  1. Write a narrative essay about your first day in school Abilene

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  2. Sample Narrative Essay

    write a narrative essay on your school

  3. What is a Narrative Essay

    write a narrative essay on your school

  4. Step-by-Step Guide How to Write Narrative Essay (2023 Update)

    write a narrative essay on your school

  5. Writing a Compelling Personal Narrative Essay: Tips and Examples

    write a narrative essay on your school

  6. Scholarship Essay: How to start a narrative composition

    write a narrative essay on your school

VIDEO

  1. How to Write a Perfect Narrative Essay? #shorts

  2. Narrative Essay Insights

  3. Write Stories (and Essays). Not Sentences

  4. Functional Skills: How to write a narrative#englishlearning #englishlearning

  5. Narrative Writing

  6. Analyzing a Student's Narrative Essay (Emotional)

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Narrative Essay

    Specific prompts 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. Open-ended prompts Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself.

  2. Narrative Essays

    Purdue OWL General Writing Academic Writing Essay Writing Narrative Essays Narrative Essays What is a narrative essay? When writing a narrative essay, one might think of it as telling a story. These essays are often anecdotal, experiential, and personal—allowing students to express themselves in a creative and, quite often, moving ways.

  3. How to write a narrative essay [Updated 2023]

    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.

  4. Student Narrative Essay Examples

    The following essay, "My College Education" is from Chapter 15.2 - Narrative Essay, Writing for Success, University of Minnesota Libraries. The first class I went to in college was philosophy, and it changed my life forever. Our first assignment was to write a short response paper to the Albert Camus essay "The Myth of Sisyphus.".

  5. How to Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps

    Lindsay Kramer Updated on April 17, 2023 Students When you have a personal story to tell and don't want to write an entire book, a narrative essay may be the perfect fit. Unlike other types of essays, narrative essays don't need to stick to certain requirements or include a bibliography.

  6. 3 Great Narrative Essay Examples + Tips for Writing

    General Education 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.

  7. How to Write a Narrative Essay

    1 Read narrative essays for inspiration. Becoming more familiar with narrative essays is an excellent way to understand the genre and to get ideas for what you want to write and how you will organize it.

  8. How to Write a Narrative Essay: Tell Your Story, Your Way

    We'll look at how to write a narrative essay through a step-by-step process, including a look at narrative essay topics and outlines. We'll also analyze some successful narrative essay examples. Learn how to tell your story, your way.

  9. 4 Ways to Start a Narrative Essay

    Method 1 Choosing a Topic for Your Narrative Download Article 1 Read your assignment to identify the prompt and expectations. It's best to read over the assignment more than once so you know exactly what it's asking you to do. Note if there's a prompt or a question you need to answer.

  10. 20+ Easy Narrative Essay Examples and Writing Tips

    1. Narrative Essay Examples 2. The Essentials of Narrative Essays 3. Narrative Essay Writing Tips Narrative Essay Examples Before writing, go through narrative essay examples to ensure that outlining and formatting are done correctly.

  11. Detailed Guide on How to Write a Narrative Essay

    How to Write a Narrative Essay. In order to make your narrative essay impactful, follow the correct essay writing procedure. If you carry out all the steps carefully, your document will be well structured. Follow the writing steps provided below: To do your narrative writing correctly and effectively follow the steps below: Choose a Topic

  12. Free Narrative Essay Examples

    1. Narrative Essay Definition 2. Narrative Essay Examples 3. Narrative Essay Examples for Students 4. Narrative Essay Topics 5. Narrative Essay Writing Tips Narrative Essay Definition Writing a narrative essay is a unique form of storytelling that revolves around personal experiences, aiming to immerse the reader in the author's world.

  13. Narrative Essays: Examples And Topic Ideas For Students

    Writing a narrative essay is a great way to share your life with others. Here, we'll explore topics that will set you up to write a great narrative essay. If you're searching for a list of personal narrative essay topics, you're likely writing a middle school, high school, or college essay.

  14. How To Write a Narrative Essay: Guide With Examples

    A narrative essay is a form of writing where the author recounts a personal experience or story. Unlike other types of essays, a narrative essay allows you to share a real-life event or sequence of events, often drawing from personal insights and emotions.

  15. How To Write Narrative Essay Like An A+ Student

    Here are the main steps to follow: Choose a Good Topic. Like other types of essays, you need to start by getting an appropriate topic for narrative writing. So, select a topic such that it can be easily converted into a story. Make sure that the topic connects well with the targeted audience.

  16. 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.

  17. 50 Engaging Narrative Essay Topics for High Schoolers

    A good narrative essay will begin with an attention-grabbing opening line. But make sure to avoid common clichés, such as "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.". Instead, come up with something original and specific to you and your situation. For example: "My pre-calc teacher was obsessed with circles.

  18. Essay on My School for Students and Children

    A school is a place where students are taught the fundamentals of life, as well as how to grow and survive in life. It instils in us values and principles that serve as the foundation for a child's development. My school is my second home where I spend most of my time. Above all, it gives me a platform to do better in life and also builds my ...

  19. Narrative Essay Topics: 200 Best Ideas

    A narrative essay is a form of writing that recounts a personal experience or tells a story, often incorporating elements like characters, plot, setting, and a chronological sequence of events.

  20. Personal Narrative Essay: My Experience In My School

    Personal Narrative Essay: My Experience In My School 709 Words3 Pages "It's time to go to school now Jam, come and eat your breakfast" my mom shouted very loud until I woke up but I was too sleepy and lazy so I decided to take a rest for just a couple of minutes more.

  21. Narrative Essay: My Success Story in School

    The great thing about the fiction piece was that there was no word count. We were given a free rein to write about whatever we wanted and we were not bound by a word count excepting that our teacher said we should probably keep it below 10,000 words. Don't forget that for a student with limited time a 10,000 word story is going to take up a ...

  22. [QA] How to Write a Narrative Essay

    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.