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How to write a Narrative Essay Step-by-Step, Tips and Examples

Learn How to write a Narrative Essay Step-by-Step, Tips and Examples

Narrative essays are a type of academic writing in which the writer tells a story from their own experience or point of view. Other types of essays require a lot of research and analysis, but narrative essays are more about telling a story to get a point across. Students and writers like them because they let them express their ideas in a more creative and personal way.

The goal of this article is to help you learn how to write a narrative essay by giving you tips, examples, and ideas for topics. We’ll look at the most important parts of a narrative essay, talk about the different ways to write one, and give you some useful writing tips that will help you create a compelling story. Whether you’re a student who wants to get better grades or a writer who wants to get better at what you do, this article will give you the tools you need to write great narratives.

Learning how to write a narrative essay is important because it helps you improve your writing skills and find a more interesting and meaningful way to say what you want to say. You can connect with your readers on a personal level in a narrative essay by taking them on a journey through your experiences and feelings. By learning how to write a compelling story, you can not only do better in school, but you can also make it easier for people to understand what you are trying to say. So, let’s jump into the world of narrative essays and find out how to tell a good story.

Understanding Narrative Essays

A narrative essay is a type of essay that tells a story from the author’s point of view. It often uses the author’s own experiences and feelings to make a story that is interesting to read. Narrative essays are different from argumentative or analytical essays because they focus more on the art of telling a story than on making a convincing argument or analysis.

There are different kinds of narrative essays, such as personal narratives, fictional narratives, and autobiographical narratives. Most essays are personal narratives, which are often used in creative writing classes or as part of essays for college admissions. Fictional narratives, on the other hand, use fictional characters and settings to tell a story, while autobiographical narratives focus on the author’s own experiences and are often found in memoirs or personal essays.


The most important parts of a narrative essay are a clear introduction that sets the scene for the story, a well-developed plot with a beginning, middle, and end, vivid descriptions that help the reader picture the setting and characters, and a conclusion that ties everything together and leaves the reader with a lasting impression.

Choosing a Topic for Your Narrative Essay

The success of your narrative essay depends on your choice of topic. The first step is to know why you are writing your essay and what you want your readers to learn from it. Are you trying to make them laugh, teach them something, or move them? Once you know what you want to do with your essay, you can start coming up with ideas for it.


One way to choose a topic is to pick something that is meaningful to you. Think about things you’ve done in your life that have changed you in a big way or taught you something important. These experiences can be good or bad, but they should have some meaning for you.


You can also use brainstorming to come up with ideas for your narrative essay. Freewriting is a common method in which you write down everything that comes to mind about a certain subject. This can help you come up with ideas and get your mind working. You can also organize your ideas and find links between them with mind mapping or clustering.

Examples of narrative essay topics include:

1. A significant event in your life that changed your perspective

2. A memorable trip or vacation

3. A childhood memory that had a lasting impact on you

4. Overcoming a personal challenge or adversity

5. A significant achievement or accomplishment

6. An experience that taught you an important life lesson

7. A meaningful relationship or friendship

8. A time when you had to make a difficult decision

9. An experience that challenged your beliefs or values

10. A humorous or embarrassing moment from your life.

By choosing a topic that is meaningful to you and using brainstorming techniques to generate ideas, you can create a compelling narrative essay that engages your readers and helps you achieve your writing goals.

Planning and Preparing to Write a Narrative Essay

You should plan and get ready before you start writing your narrative essay. This means making an outline of the essay, coming up with a thesis statement, developing the plot and characters, setting the scene, and choosing the right point of view.


An important part of planning for a narrative essay is making an outline. The outline should have the beginning, middle, and end of the story, as well as any important points or events you want to include. This will help you stay on track and make sure that the structure of your essay is clear and makes sense.
It’s also important to write a thesis statement. This sentence should tell the reader what the story is about and what the main point of the essay is. It should be easy to understand, short, and interesting.


Creating the story and the people in it is another important step. Your narrative essay should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, as well as a central problem or conflict that the main character must solve. The characters should be well-rounded and easy to understand, with clear goals and reasons for what they do.


Creating atmosphere and setting the scene are also important parts of a good narrative essay. Setting should be described in detail, using sensory details to paint a clear picture in the reader’s mind. Care should be taken to make the setting fit the story’s mood and tone.


It’s also important to choose the right point of view. Most narrative essays are written in the first person because it lets the writer use personal experiences and feelings to make the story more real and interesting. But there are also narrative essays that are written from a third-person point of view, which can give a more objective and detached view.

Narrative Essay Outline

I. Introduction
 Hook: Start with an intriguing question, a thought-provoking quote, or a vivid description to capture the reader’s interest.
  Background information: Provide relevant background details about the time, place, and circumstances surrounding the story you’re about to tell.
 Thesis statement: Clearly state the main idea, purpose, or lesson you want to convey through your narrative essay.

II. Body Paragraph
 A. Paragraph 1
 1. Topic sentence: Introduce the beginning of your story by setting the scene and introducing the main characters.
 2. Details and descriptions: Describe the setting in vivid detail, using sensory language to help the reader visualize the environment. Introduce the characters and their personalities, providing physical descriptions and relevant background information.
 3. Use descriptive language and figurative devices (e.g., similes, metaphors) to paint a clear picture in the reader’s mind.

 B. Paragraph 2
 1. Topic sentence: Smoothly transition to the next sequence of events in your story.
 2. Details and descriptions: Narrate the unfolding events, providing specific details about the actions, thoughts, and emotions of the characters involved.
 3. Use dialogue and action to create a sense of movement and progress in the story.

 C. Paragraph 3 (and more, if needed)
 1. Topic sentence: Introduce the climax or the most crucial part of your story.
 2. Details and descriptions: Provide vivid descriptions and sensory details to heighten the tension and build towards the climax.
 3. Use techniques like foreshadowing, suspense, and dramatic irony to keep the reader engaged and invested in the story.

III. Conclusion
 A. Restate the thesis statement: Remind the reader of the main idea, purpose, or lesson you aimed to convey through your narrative essay.
 B. Summarize the key points: Briefly recap the most significant events or details from your story, highlighting their importance or impact.
 C. Closing thoughts: Share any final reflections, insights, or lessons learned from the experience you narrated. You can also discuss the broader implications or significance of your story.

Remember, this outline is a flexible guide, and you can adjust it to suit your specific narrative essay. The key is to engage the reader with a well-structured, descriptive, and meaningful story that leaves a lasting impression.

Writing the Narrative Essay

After you’ve thought about and planned your narrative essay, it’s time to start writing. A narrative essay has three main parts: the introduction, the body, and the end.


In the beginning, you hook the reader’s attention and set the scene for the story. You can do this by starting with a quote, a question, or a vivid description of the setting. The thesis statement should also be in the introduction. It tells the reader what the main point of the essay is and what to expect from the rest of the story.


In the main part of the essay, you tell the story. This means describing what happens, who is involved, and what the problem or conflict is that the main character has to solve. The main part of the story should be well-organized, with each paragraph focusing on a different event or part of the story. It should also include details that the reader can feel and dialogue that brings the story to life.


In the ending, you wrap up the story and leave the reader with something they’ll remember. This can be done by thinking about what the main character learned or how the event changed him or her. The ending should also be well-written and give the reader a feeling of completion.


To sum up, to master the art of writing narrative essays, you need to know the different types of narrative essays, how to choose a topic that interests you, and how to plan and get ready to write. It also involves developing the plot and characters, setting the scene, and making the right atmosphere to draw readers into the story.

It’s important to start a narrative essay with a strong introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and has a clear thesis statement. The body should be well-organized and include sensory details and dialogue to bring the story to life.


Last, the ending should wrap up the story and leave a lasting impression on the reader. By using these tips and tricks, you can learn how to write great narrative essays and tell great stories.

How to Edit, Proofread and Revise Your Narrative Essay to improve storytelling

Editing and revising are important steps in the writing process that can help you improve the quality and effectiveness of your narrative essay. Here are some tips for editing and revising your work:

– Take a break: Step away from your essay for a few hours or even a day or two to gain a fresh perspective.

– Check for coherence and clarity: Make sure that your ideas are presented in a logical and organized manner, and that your writing is clear and easy to understand.

– Eliminate unnecessary words: Look for any words or phrases that don’t add value to your writing and eliminate them.

– Check for spelling and grammar errors: Use a spell-checker and proofread your work carefully to ensure that there are no errors.

– Read your essay aloud: This can help you catch any awkward phrasing or sentences that need to be revised.

Common mistakes to avoid when editing and revising your narrative essay include:

– Overusing adjectives and adverbs: While descriptive language can help bring your story to life, too much of it can be distracting and take away from the overall impact of your writing.

– Failing to show, not tell: Instead of simply telling readers what happened, show them by using sensory details and vivid descriptions.

– Neglecting to revise the ending: The ending of your narrative essay is just as important as the beginning, so make sure that it wraps up the story effectively and leaves a lasting impression on the reader

Getting feedback from others is also an important part of the editing and revising process. Ask a trusted friend or family member to read your essay and provide feedback. You can also seek feedback from a writing tutor or instructor, or join a writing group to receive constructive criticism and support.

Narrative Essay Examples

To help you better understand the art of narrative essays, here are ten fascinating examples of narrative essays:

1. The Last Day of Her Life” by Robin Marantz Henig

2. “The Fourth State of Matter” by Jo Ann Beard

3. The Death of My Father” by Steve Martin

4. “The Fourth of July” by Audre Lorde

5. “The Chase” by Annie Dillard

6. “The Fourth State of Matter” by Jo Ann Beard

7. “The Best Day of My Life” by Tameka Cage Conley

8. The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

9. “The Fourth State of Matter” by Jo Ann Beard

10. “The Night” by Maxine Hong Kingston

Each of these narrative essays is effective in its own unique way, using vivid descriptions, sensory details, and compelling characters to create a powerful story. By analyzing these examples and understanding what makes them effective, you can gain a better understanding of how to write a successful narrative essay.

Narrative Essay Topics

If you’re struggling to come up with a topic for your narrative essay, here are 50 ideas that can help get you started:

1. The first day of college

2. A life-changing event

3. A memorable vacation

4. An experience that taught you a valuable lesson

5. A moment of personal growth or self-discovery

6. Overcoming a fear or phobia

7. A significant accomplishment

8. A time when you faced a difficult decision

9. A childhood memory

10. A relationship that had a significant impact on your life

11. A day you will never forget

12. A moment of true happiness

13. A time when you felt lost or alone

14. A time you had to stand up for yourself or someone else

15. A time when you had to overcome a setback or failure

16. A moment of courage or bravery

17. An experience that changed your perspective on life

18. A time when you had to make a sacrifice

19. A moment of true friendship

20. A time when you felt truly inspired

21. A significant romantic relationship

22. A moment of cultural exchange or immersion

23. An experience that taught you the value of hard work

24. A time when you had to adapt to a new situation

25. A moment of unexpected kindness

26. A time when you had to confront your fears

27. A moment of triumph over adversity

28. A time when you had to make a difficult ethical decision

29. A moment of realization or epiphany

30. A significant family event

31. A time when you had to learn to forgive

32. A moment of unexpected humor

33. A moment of deep sadness or loss

34. A time when you had to confront a personal challenge

35. A moment of true love

36. A time when you had to take a risk

37. An experience that taught you the importance of perseverance

38. A moment of clarity or understanding

39. A time when you had to learn to trust yourself

40. A moment of spiritual or religious significance

41. A time when you had to reconcile with someone

42. A moment of true beauty

43. A time when you had to confront a personal flaw or weakness

44. A moment of inspiration from nature

45. A time when you had to confront a social issue

46. A moment of unexpected grace

47. A time when you had to overcome a physical challenge

48. A moment of true bravery

49. A significant achievement in your life

50. A moment that changed your life forever.

Tips for College Narrative Writing

Writing a narrative essay can be a daunting task for college students, but with the right tips and techniques, you can craft an engaging and memorable piece. A narrative essay is an essay that tells a story, often from a personal experience. It’s a type of essay that allows you to express yourself creatively while still adhering to academic writing standards.

Narrative Essay Definition

Before we dive into the tips, let’s first understand what’s a narrative essay.

  • A narrative essay is an essay that tells a story from beginning to end. It’s usually written in the first-person point of view and follows a chronological order. The purpose of a narrative essay is to engage the reader and provide a vivid, descriptive account of an experience or event.
  • A narrative essay is a type of essay that tells a story. It’s a personal essay that allows you to share your experiences, thoughts, and emotions with the reader. Narrative essays are often used in college admissions or as part of a personal statement.

Tips for Writing a Narrative Essay

Now that you understand what a narrative essay is, let’s dive into some tips to help you craft a compelling and engaging piece.

1. Choose a Captivating Topic

The first step in writing a narrative essay is to choose a topic that is engaging and meaningful to you. Pick an experience or event that left a lasting impression or taught you an important lesson. A captivating topic will not only make the writing process more enjoyable, but it will also help engage your readers.

2. Show, Don’t Tell

One of the most important tips for narrative writing is to show, rather than tell, your story. Instead of simply stating what happened, use vivid descriptions, sensory details, and dialogue to bring your story to life. This will help your readers feel like they are experiencing the events themselves.

3. Use a Clear Structure

Like any other essay, a narrative essay should have a clear structure, with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction should grab the reader’s attention and set the scene for your story. The body paragraphs should follow a chronological order and provide the details of your experience. The conclusion should bring your story to a satisfying end and tie everything together.

4. Incorporate Literary Devices

To make your narrative essay more engaging and impactful, consider incorporating literary devices such as metaphors, similes, and imagery. These devices can help you convey emotions, create vivid mental pictures, and add depth to your writing.

5. Proofread and Edit

Once you’ve finished writing your narrative essay, it’s important to proofread and edit your work. Check for spelling and grammar errors, as well as clarity and coherence. You may also want to have someone else read your essay and provide feedback.

Writing a narrative essay can be a rewarding and creative experience for college students. By following these tips and using the techniques mentioned, you can craft a compelling and engaging story that not only showcases your writing skills but also provides a glimpse into your personal experiences and growth.

Example of a Narrative Essay

Read more on narrative paper example

In conclusion, mastering the art of writing a narrative essay involves understanding the different types of narrative essays, choosing a topic that resonates with you, and planning and preparing your writing.

It also involves developing the plot and characters, setting the scene, and creating the right atmosphere to draw readers into the story. Editing and revision are important steps in the writing process, and seeking feedback from others can help improve the quality and effectiveness of your writing.

With the help of the 50 narrative essay topics and the tips and techniques provided in this article, you can practice and perfect the art of writing a compelling narrative essay. Remember, the key to success is to practice, revise, and refine your writing skills until you become a skilled and confident storyteller.

FAQs about Narrative Essays

Here are some frequently asked questions about narrative essays:

1. What is a narrative essay?

A narrative essay is a type of essay that tells a story from the author’s perspective, often drawing on personal experiences and emotions to create a compelling narrative.

2. What are the elements of a narrative essay?

The elements of a narrative essay include a clear introduction that sets the stage for the story, a well-developed plot with a beginning, middle, and end, vivid descriptions that help the reader visualize the setting and characters, and a conclusion that ties everything together and leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

3. How do I choose a topic for a narrative essay?

Choosing a topic for a narrative essay involves understanding the purpose of your essay, choosing a topic that resonates with you, and using brainstorming techniques to generate ideas.

4. What is the structure of a narrative essay?

The structure of a narrative essay typically includes an introduction, body, and conclusion, with each part serving a distinct purpose in telling the story.

5. What is the difference between a narrative essay and a descriptive essay?

While both narrative and descriptive essays use vivid language to create a compelling story, the main difference is that a narrative essay tells a story from the author’s perspective, while a descriptive essay focuses on describing a particular person, place, or thing in detail.

 

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