Cathy A.
Cathy A.

How to Write a Narrative Essay in Simple Steps

9 min read

Published on: Mar 31, 2020

Last updated on: Mar 24, 2024

narrative essay

Are you keen to express your thoughts, experiences, or imagination through storytelling? 

Writing a narrative essay allows you to do just that. Narratives offer a platform to share personal anecdotes, explore emotions, and captivate readers with engaging tales. 

If you're ready to start on this journey of storytelling, follow these simple steps to craft a compelling narrative essay.

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What is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is a type of writing that tells a story from the author's personal perspective or point of view. 

Unlike other types of essays that focus on analysis or argumentation, a narrative essay aims to engage readers by recounting personal experiences, anecdotes, or events in a vivid and compelling manner. 

The narrative essay often follows a chronological structure, presenting events in the order in which they occurred. It includes elements such as characters, settings, plot, conflict, and resolution. The ultimate goal of a narrative essay is to entertain, enlighten, or provoke reflection, leaving a lasting impression on the reader.

Elements of a Narrative Essay

A basic narrative essay has the following elements. Let's take a look at them:

  • Character: The individuals or entities driving the story through actions, dialogue, and interactions.
  • Setting: The time, place, and environmental conditions shaping the narrative's atmosphere.
  • Plot: The sequence of events, including exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion.
  • Conflict: The central problem or challenge creating tension and driving the narrative.
  • Theme: Underlying messages, ideas, or insights that add depth and resonance to the story.
  • Point of View: The perspective from which the story is narrated, whether first-person, second-person, or third-person.
  • Dialogue: Spoken or written communication between characters, revealing personalities and conflicts.
  • Symbolism: Use of objects, actions, or imagery to represent deeper meanings or themes within the narrative.

How To Write a Narrative Essay in 10 Steps

Let’s look at the steps to write a narrative essay: 

Step 1: Choose a Captivating Topic

The first step in writing a narrative essay is selecting a topic that resonates with you. Consider personal experiences, memorable events, or significant moments in your life. 

Choose a topic that evokes emotion and has a clear storyline. Whether it's an adventure, a lesson learned, or a moment of triumph, ensure your topic has substance and depth.

Step 2: Develop a Coherent Narrative Structure

A well-structured narrative essay flows smoothly from beginning to end. Organize your story chronologically, starting with the introduction, followed by the body paragraphs, and concluding with a reflection or resolution. 

Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of the narrative, advancing the plot and engaging the reader along the way.

Step 3: Craft a Strong Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for your narrative essay and should grab the reader's attention from the outset. Start with a hook, it's a compelling opening sentence that piques curiosity and attracts the reader to continue. 

You can use a quote, a question, or a vivid description to draw readers into your story, or visit our hook examples blog for more ideas to engage your reader from the beginning. 

Follow this with a concise thesis statement that offers a glimpse into the narrative's essence without revealing too much detail. This strategic combination sets the stage for an enticing and immersive storytelling experience.

Step 4: Show, Don't Tell 

One of the most important principles of narrative writing is "showing" rather than "telling." Instead of simply stating facts or emotions, use descriptive language and vivid imagery to paint a picture for your readers. 

Engage the senses by incorporating sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell into your narrative. This immersive approach allows readers to experience the story firsthand, making it more memorable and impactful.

Step 5: Develop Compelling Characters 

Whether you're writing a story about yourself or fictional characters, it's essential to develop personalities that resonate with your audience. Provide depth and dimension to your characters by highlighting their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. 

Describe their actions, dialogue, and interactions with others to bring them to life on the page. Invest time in character development to create a connection between the reader and the protagonists of your narrative.

Step 6: Maintain a Consistent Point of View 

Choose a point of view that best suits your narrative and stick with it throughout the essay. First-person narration allows readers to experience the story through the eyes of the protagonist, fostering a sense of intimacy and authenticity. 

Alternatively, third-person narration provides a broader perspective and allows for more objectivity in storytelling. Whichever point of view you choose, ensure consistency to avoid confusion or disorientation among readers.

Step 7: Build Tension and Conflict 

Every compelling narrative thrives on tension and conflict. Introduce obstacles, challenges, or dilemmas that propel the story forward and keep readers engaged. Build suspense by creating anticipation and uncertainty about the outcome. 

Whether it's a personal struggle, a clash of personalities, or an external threat, conflict adds depth and complexity to your narrative, making it more compelling and relatable.

Step 8: Offer Reflection and Resolution 

As your narrative essay reaches its climax, take a moment to reflect on the significance of the story and its impact on the characters involved. Provide insight into the lessons learned, the emotions experienced, or the changes undergone throughout the journey. 

Offer closure by resolving any conflicts or unanswered questions, leaving readers with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

Step 9: Revise and Polish

Once you've completed the initial draft of your narrative essay, take time to revise and polish your work. Pay attention to the clarity of your language, the coherence of your narrative structure, and the effectiveness of your storytelling techniques. 

Eliminate unnecessary words, tighten sentences, and refine your descriptive imagery to enhance the overall quality of your writing. Consider seeking feedback from peers or mentors to gain valuable insights and perspectives.

Step 10: Finalize and Share Your Story 

After revising your narrative essay, take pride in your accomplishment and share your story with the world. Whether you choose to publish it online or submit it for publication, your narrative essay is a testament to your creativity, passion, and storytelling prowess. 

Embrace the opportunity to connect with others through the power of narrative, and inspire others to embark on their own writing journeys. 

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Example of a Narrative Essay

Whether you're penning a personal narrative essay or creative storytelling, we have examples for you.

Narrative Essay About Yourself: A Journey of Self-Discovery

Hook: Change is inevitable, and within its ebb and flow lies the essence of self-discovery. As I navigated the labyrinth of life, I stumbled upon a pivotal moment that reshaped my understanding of who I am. Thesis Statement: In the face of challenges, I discovered resilience, adaptability, and a renewed sense of purpose, leading to profound personal growth.

Introduction: Amidst the cacophony of life's uncertainties, I found myself at a crossroads. The familiar was fading, making way for the unknown. This narrative recounts my transformative journey, a tale of resilience and self-realization.

Body: The path was daunting, marked by unexpected twists. Confronted by adversity, I grappled with fear, yet resilience emerged. Each challenge became an opportunity for growth, unveiling hidden facets of my character. Adaptability became my ally, guiding me through uncharted territories.

Conclusion: In embracing change, I unearthed strength and purpose. The journey, though arduous, sculpted a version of myself unafraid of the unknown. This narrative is not just a story; it's a testament to the profound metamorphosis that occurs when we navigate the intricacies of change.

Here are some narrative essay pdf examples:

Follow these examples to write the best and winning narrative essays and score higher grades. For more examples visit our narrative essay examples blog.

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 day you met your best friend
  • Your first solo travel experience
  • Overcoming a significant fear
  • A life-changing conversation with a stranger
  • Discovering a new passion or hobby
  • The day you received unexpected good news
  • An encounter with a famous person
  • Coping with a major disappointment
  • A decision that shaped your future
  • A memorable act of kindness you witnessed or experienced

Browse through our narrative essay topics blog to discover a range of ideas catering to different subjects and academic levels.

Narrative Checklist

Here's a simple narrative checklist: 




Character Development

Are characters well-defined and dynamic?

Plot Structure

Is there a clear beginning, middle, and end?


Is the setting vividly described and integral to the story?


Is there sufficient tension or conflict driving the narrative?


Is the dialogue natural and revealing of character?


Does the story maintain an appropriate pace?


Is there a central theme or message conveyed effectively?

Narrative Voice

Is the narrative voice consistent and engaging?


Is the resolution satisfying and logical?

Emotional Impact

Does the story evoke emotional responses from the reader?

To Wrap it Up, 

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

Elevate your academic success with our premier essay writing company, where excellence meets precision. Our expert team ensures your essays shine in both structure and content.

For a touch of innovation, explore our AI essay writer, the cutting-edge tool designed to enhance your writing experience. Experience the future of academic writing today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a narrative essay and a descriptive essay?

A narrative essay focuses on telling a story, often from the author's point of view. It includes characters, a plot, and a clear sequence of events. On the other hand, a descriptive essay focuses on describing a person, place, object, or event in detail. It aims to create a vivid picture in the reader's mind through sensory details.

How do I come up with a topic for my narrative essay?

Here is how to come up with a topic for a narrative essay:

  • Reflect on personal experiences that have impacted you.
  • Consider significant events or moments in your life.
  • Think about challenges you've overcome or lessons you've learned.
  • Explore moments of transformation or growth.
  • Consider stories that involve conflict, resolution, or a change in perspective.
  • Choose a topic that allows you to reflect on its significance or meaning to you.
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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