Cathy A.
Cathy A.

How to Write a Narrative Essay - Beginner’s Guide

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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.

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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:

  • Quotations
  • Facts
  • Statistics
  • Questions
  • Funny statement
  • Phrase
  • Anecdote

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.

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:

  1. Choose a Topic

    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.

  2. Write a Draft

    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.

  3. The Tone of your Narrative Essay

    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.

  4. Add Storyline Elements

    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.

  5. Proofs and Support

    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.

  6. Use Simple but Appropriate Language

    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.

  7. Take Help from Examples and Samples

    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.

  8. Follow the Guidelines

    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.

  9. Revise your Essay

    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.

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. 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.

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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: 

  1. Plot 
  2. Characters 
  3. Theme 
  4. Setting 
  5. Conflict 
Cathy A.


Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)

For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

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