What is a Narrative Essay?
A narrative essay tells a story. Personal pronouns and experience from the writer’s life are crucial aspects of this essay form. The purpose of this type of paper is to connect with the audience with the help of the narrative – a story with a point. Unlike other essays which may focus on research or argument, the narrative essay relies on carefully crafted details. Narrative essays take the format of a memoir – they should have a clear beginning, middle, and an end.
Personal Narrative Essay: From Outline to a Refined Piece
Like all good narratives, whether a novel or a short story, this form should contain characters, a climax, and a resolution. The major characters are introduced in the introduction paragraph, the climax shared in the body paragraphs, and the resolution (or conclusion) offers a unique insight – a meditative reflection upon a lesson learned through the experience of one’s life lens.
While many other essays follow the typical five paragraph format, the narrative essay enjoys much more freedom.
An A-level narrative essay requires a student to outline, draft, and revise the story to ensure that it not only flows; but fully develops the main idea with specific details. Supporting all the ideas with the vivid example for real-life experience is a must, just like in an illustration essay.
It is more a lot more personal than any other essay, and some students struggle with this aspect. Our professional writers love narrative essays and have put together this guide to help you craft a unique assignment.
Here are the main parts of the narrative essay outline:
In narrative essays, the introduction section is typically shorter than most and ultimately works to set the stage for the personal story about to unfold. While the story itself will be personal, it should link to larger ideas. For example, the loss of one’s first goldfish could trigger a reflection on life, or the act of losing one’s car keys could morph into an essay on all different kinds of loss.
Within this paragraph, the writer should introduce him or herself and provide any important background the reader requires to immerse themselves within the narrative essay thoroughly. While narrative essay outline may have a thesis, it may not look like a typical road map. Just like with any good novel or short story, the opening paragraph or chapter doesn’t always reveal what is coming next; this structure compels the reader to continue reading to enjoy the conclusion of the narrative fully.
Since narrative essays are more creative than conventional academic ones, the minimum three paragraph rule may not apply. While some narrative essays will be five paragraphs, others may be two or eight or more. It really depends on how the narrative within the essay needs to progress to communicate the writer’s goal sufficiently. Just as the persuasive essay’s goal is to persuade and the informative essay is to inform, the narrative essay’s goal is to entertain—or perhaps to contemplate. The body paragraphs listed in the narrative essay outline should include all the ideas you are about to unravel to the reader.
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While a narrative essay lacks heavy research components, it will follow a typical body paragraph format:
- Topic sentence
- Background sentence(s)
- Detail sentences
While other essays frown upon relying on personal anecdotes, narrative essays thrive on them. Additionally, this essay format can include dialogue as well. Recounting key conversations can strengthen the narrative text. However, including dialogue means that the writer should pay attention to dialogue rules.
Know how to use both single and double quotation marks when writing about a conversation between two or more people.
Usually, the conclusion paragraph exists to review the major points within the body paragraphs. However, in a narrative essay, the conclusion is sometimes the most important paragraph; it serves to bring the narrative, the story to an end.
This section’s purpose is to share how the conflict was resolved or how a resolution was reached. Pretty much like with the definition essay, the point here is not to review the ideas of the body paragraphs as to reveal what the writer’s been working towards since the opening sentence. Many narrative essays offer a “reveal” in this section; there may be a surprise or an unexpected twist. Such literary tactics are appropriate in a narrative essay. Conclusion tops up the narrative itself – it should be planned accordingly within the outline.
Not sure how to switch from an academic to a more personal form of an essay? No problem! Here are the tips to help you navigate the narrative essay:
Tip #1. Figure out how your narrative essay would look like with a proper outline
This is the most important one to follow. Basically, this is what this whole article is about. An entire outline will be your roadmap.
Here is a narrative essay outline example we made for you:
- Introduction: A lifelong journey of mine trying to gain confidence.
- Body Paragraph 1: Exploring how many people lack confidence.
- Body Paragraph 2: Discussing the moment I realized I lacked confidence.
- Body Paragraph 3: Sharing the experience of traveling to a new country and finding the confidence I needed to enjoy the new culture on my own.
- Conclusion: What I learned about building confidence and the importance of taking the steps to do so.
Tip #2. Use Transitions
Transition words or sentences are perhaps more important in a narrative essay – these words help to establish the order of events. Useful transitions in this essay format can include the following:
- Most importantly
Narrative Essay Sample
Be sure to check the sample essay, completed by our writers. Use it as an example to write your own essay. Link: Personal Narrative Essay Sample
Other Tips from our Expert Writers
- Choose a non-embarrassing topic
Your teacher, and possibly your classmates will be reading this essay so pick a topic that you’re comfortable sharing with others.
- Connect beyond the experience
The point of a narrative essay is to relate an experience in your life to a larger idea – in recalling memory lane, remember to link it to something bigger than yourself.
- Start early
Don’t wait until the last minute. While you likely won’t need to hit the library to conduct research, you will be writing about yourself, and sometimes that can be harder.
- Write a draft
Know that first drafts are always riddled with mistakes. Just get your ideas down on paper and then worry about fixing all the grammatical stuff.
- Schedule an appointment with your teacher
All teachers have “office hours”—take your professor up in their office hours and get their feedback to ensure you’re on the right track. And don’t wait until the last minute!
Take any constructive criticism from classmates, friends, or professional editing services and make your draft better.
- Read it backward
Begin with the last sentence and read the narrative essay until you end with the first sentence. While this won’t help with content issues, it does help the brain spot problems with grammar.
- Check the formatting
Before handing in any final copy, always check the formatting. Make sure that the headings, titles, font, spacing, and margins all conform with the professor’s preferences.
- Review the rubric
Once last time, check your final draft against the rubric to ensure that you’ve met all the requirements provided by the teacher.
Remember: not all stories are appropriate for all audiences, so it’s important to select a narrative topic suitable for your tutor. Use literary devices as appropriate—especially ones that create stronger images such as metaphors, similes, imagery, and personification among others.
Most importantly, review your narrative essay to ensure that it tells a story; sharing an important story is the most defining characteristic of this essay form. Ultimately, your narrative essay should strive to meet Chuck Klosterman’s definition:
“The essays are different because ultimately it’s things I’m interested in, and I’m really just writing about myself and using those subjects as a prism.”
The Personal Narrative Essay Outline
There are two times when you will write personal narrative essays – for a college admissions essay requirement and as a course assignment in an English com class. Usually such essays will be written in response to some prompt and will entail your depiction of an experience or experiences that in some way have shaped what you now believe or value, or even the person you have become. Some students find this type of essays to be the most difficult one. That’s why we have decided to give you some tips and help with it. Whether for admissions or assignment, the personal narrative essay outline is essentially the same and should at least roughly conform to the following structure.
The Hook: Your first sentence should be compelling and make the reader want to continue. Let’s say you are going to present a tale about your travel abroad, specifically an experience of being “pick-pocketed” in Florence, Italy. You might begin with a startling fact about the number of incidents of this crime in a day in that city or the fact that child gypsies are sent out by their families to pick-pocket as a means of supporting those families. On the other hand you may start with a description of your feelings caused by this accident. It will be an intriguing start, because the reader would like to know what the reason for your fear or despair was.
Set the Scene: Here you want to give the reader the general place and time of the experience(s) you will be relating. Sometimes, the experiences may occur over a period of time (for example, growing up in poverty) or they will relate to a single incident (being in Italy for a week as a part of family vacation). You must always include such information in the introduction. The reader should know from the very beginning where and when the action takes place.
The Thesis Statement: They can be a bit different from the statement you would write for another type of essay. You can actually begin your story, for example, “The morning began like any other, with breakfast and decisions about what we would visit that day, but it certainly ended up differently,” or you can offer a lesson learned, “I now know why travelers are encouraged to protect their valuables with one of those pouches that can go inside their clothing,” or some theme that your story will portray, “Hardships and lack make us all innovators of sorts.” It should also be interesting so that the reader would want to know more and continue reading the essay.
Usually, the body paragraphs will tell the story of the experience. However, this is not always the case. Suppose your essay is about growing up in poverty and you have used the theme that this condition turned you into an innovator (your theme). Each paragraph will then provide the reader with an example of how you became an innovator. Perhaps you learned how to fashion “toys” from objects you found in the neighborhood; perhaps you learned how to mix unlikely combinations of food when there was very little in the cupboard; perhaps you started to design and make clothes when there was no money to buy them.
Remember that every argument should always be followed by examples.
Remember to use good transition sentences between your body paragraphs – they can come either at the end of a paragraph to introduce the next one, or at the beginning of the new paragraph with some reference back to the previous one. All the paragraphs should be connected and the narration should be logical.
The other point is this: you need to “show” the reader your story, not just “tell.” You can do this by injecting actual conversation or by descriptions that paint a picture. Remember that you should avoid direct and dry statements here. Show your story in bright colors and use more description paragraphs.
Reflect on your experience(s) by asking yourself a couple of questions. What have you learned? How has your life been impacted? Would you act differently if you could relive that situation again? It’s very important to understand the lessons that you have received. It will explain your choice to write about this event and show that you are mature enough to learn from your experience, even if it’s bad.
Some Additional Tips
Usually these essays are written in the first person, so you will be using a lot of “I’s.” After you have written the piece, go back and see if you can replace some of those “I’s” by altering sentence structure. You may want to use passive constructions here also. There shouldn’t be many repetitions in the text.
You will obviously move from past to present and back to past tenses in this essay, and that is expected. Try to make it easy for a reader to understand when you give a retrospective and when the narration is in the present time. Don’t mess it up too much.
The Ideas On Writing
Some Personal Narrative Essay Ideas
1. Choose an incident or experience that is a bit “extreme” – extremely frightening, extremely humorous, extremely sad or poignant, or different from the experiences that most people have. This will make your narration far more interesting to the reader. Try to avoid boring and obvious things. But also don’t forget to include the lessons you have learned from this extreme experience, otherwise the story will seem incomplete or even senseless.
2. If you are responding to an essay prompt for college admissions, you will have options. For some students it makes the task easier, while others struggle even more with these given options. Read those options carefully and make a list of what you might write about for each prompt. Then review your lists and choose the one about which you have the most passion and emotions. This will make your writing more interesting as the chosen topic will be the most appealing for you.
3. If you are looking at a college admissions essay, and you have time to generate topic ideas, set up a file on your phone. It is with you every day, and you can enter ideas as they come to you. Some people also prefer using notebooks for all their thoughts. Choose the variant that is more suitable for you and write down all the topics that come to your mind during the day. Then, when you get ready to choose a topic, you will have lots of options. You can also try mind mapping to choose the topic you want to speak about. There are a lot of tips and information about mind mapping on the web, so it’s not difficult to find out more about it.
4. If the assignment is due shortly, and you do not have much time, sit quietly some place, go back to your childhood and move toward the present. What incidents or experiences really stick out in your mind? Which do you remember in great detail? These are your options. Consider using them.
This is a rather simplistic explanation for narrative essay construction, but it should get you started. You can find a great guide "how to write a personal narrative essay" on many college websites, so if you need more details, check those out! Also if you find yourself in a situation where you need professional help with writing your narrative essay – don’t hesitate and contact us! Our expert writers will perform an excellent paper for you no matter how short your deadline is and our support team will help you to place an order. They will also keep you informed of all the details of the ordering process. Thus you may be sure that your narrative essay will be written on time in an interesting and exciting way.
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