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How to Write a Narrative Essay: Your Helpful Guide with Best Tips

March 03, 2021
Content how to write a narrative essay

Did you get a task that made you wonder how to write a narrative essay? Don’t worry, there are many students that have same problems. High school and college students all over the world are looking for an answer to this question, especially if they got an assignment like this for the first time. Narrative essay is a piece of nonfiction writing where a person describes a profound personal experience from their life. 

Of course, no one is going to know if you made a situation up, but staying realistic is important here. Such narratives help people analyze what happened to them, develop their writing skills, boost their creativity, and build connections between events that had an important impact on them. It might seem intimidating, but don’t worry: we’ll give you such detailed tips that you won’t have any questions left.

General Guidelines for Writing a Narrative Essay

Before students start making a content plan or developing an outline, they have to understand what narrative style includes. We prepared four key suggestions that should give them some clear ideas. Here they are.

  • Find out all narrative technicalities. 

Learn about the length of your story before you create it. This point is usually disclosed in instructions, but if it’s not, clarify it. Typical narrative format entails 3 pages, which is about 900 words. If your idea isn’t big enough or on the contrary, if it is too massive, it’s better to pick another example. Style of writing matters, too. As all schools constantly repeat, students should never use personal pronouns in their essays, but narratives are the exception. Use “I, my,” and so on. Contractions are not recommended, but they might also be present.

  • If you’re writing for the first time, do it in chronological order. 

Good writers can afford to be creative in their approaches to similar tasks. If they’re familiar with narrative essay format, they can twist it for making it more interesting or unusual. But unless you’re an expert, it’s always better to write chronologically. This way, you won’t confuse yourself or audience. So, structure events in the order they happened. Provide some background, describe the sequence in which the situation took place, and ponder over what impact it had on you.  

  • Describe your emotions. 

Include as many emotions as needed for expressing how you felt during the event you are describing. This is one of the most crucial aspects of personal narrative writing: your style must be vivid and emotive, making readers sympathize and worry about you. Show them what happened, don’t just tell them about it. Build links with them and try to really go back to those days that lie at the center of your work. Recall as many details as you can for being expressive.

  • Discuss what lesson you’ve learned. 

The last part of all narrative essays must concern the lesson writer learned. Give some insight about how the event changed you and what you’re feeling now. Do you regret what happened? Was it worth it? Perhaps it was a positive experience that changed you for the better? Compare who you were then and who you are now in relation to this event. Make your tone wistful, hopeful, or sad — any strong emotion will do.

Tips on How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline

Outlines play a very important role in writing. They help writers follow their ideas logically and regain a sense of direction in case they feel like they lost it. If students are wondering what an outline for a narration should feature, they could check examples or just apply the tips we’re going to suggest.

  1. Settle on a situation you’ll be describing.  How to do a narrative essay? Easy: first thing writers must do is pick topic. What event are they planning on describing? They should choose something they remember well enough, something that had a deep impact on them.

  2. Break it into sequences. Time for filling your outline with sections! Break an event into several parts. Basically, they should include “how it started,” “the event itself,” and “how it ended.” Ask yourself, how long is a narrative? If it takes just one or two pages, three sections will be enough. If a paper is longer, should add more parts depending on what situation you are describing. For example, “The bad feeling I got,” “It got worse,” “I turned out to be right” could all take place before the climax.  

  3. Add sub-points. This part is not vital, but if you want more details, you should consider adding it. Since it’s your outline for narrative essay, you decide how many sub-points it has. Break “how it began” part into key moments, such as “arriving to a new location, meeting friends, stumbling upon a suspicious stranger,” etc. Later, you could follow these points and create a wholesome picture on their basis.

  4. Underline the consequences. Put at least one sentence in this part. What did you learn? Do you regret your experience or are you grateful for it? Provide a short answer and check back with it after reaching conclusion.  

What Is a Narrative Essay Composition?

All papers have roughly similar structure. Narratives won’t be the exception: students need at least three paragraphs in total, preferably five, and they have to follow standard rules. But what are they? If you are working on an essay like for the first time, you’ll find the tips below useful.

  • Introduction. This starting paragraph is divided into several elements. All of them are vital and must be present in a student’s paper. If young writers make sure to include them once, twice, thrice, this will become a habit, which is going to facilitate their future academic work.

a) Hook. If this word reminds you of fishing, then you’re already on the right track. This is the beginning of narrative writing format: stimulate your audience’ reading appetite by offering them some fascinating fact. Even something as extreme as “This was a single worse experience in my life” can attract attention, making people want to keep reading.

b) Background facts. Add several sentences describing the event here. Don’t be too detailed — leave the main course for later paragraphs.  Briefly explain what you were going to do, what your state of mind was, and whether you suspected something big was going to happen from the start or if it came as a complete surprise to you.

c) Thesis. All colleges and universities are obsessed with thesis. Some professors consider it the most important part of an entire essay because it reveals your goal and sets tone for the remaining paragraphs. Indicate what happened, why it happened, and how it changed you in this last line of introduction.

  • Body. 

While introduction and conclusion must take 10% from content each, body is a place where your ideas go wild. Don’t put them all in one paragraph, though! Separate them so your narration essay would be logical and coherent. The tip here is to put one idea into each paragraph. For instance, if you are writing about the best trip of your life, describe your arrival to destination in one section. This should take about 200 words, not more. 

Follow it up by talking about a key event that happened. Lead to it in one paragraph and describe climax in another one. While narrations are only semi-formal and don’t require rigid sticking to rules, writers should still take care of their opening and closing sentences. Summarize your main idea at the start and conclude it at the end of a paragraph.  

  • Conclusion. 

How to end a narrative essay? By disclosing the lesson a writer has learned. Provide a brief outlook at a situation and explain how this affected your future development. You should not overdo it: conclusions must be concise, but you also need to give enough details for readers to see that you’ve undergone some significant development as a result of what happened. Note that this paragraph also comes last. It means that this is your last chance to impress your audience and make them appreciate what you’ve written. Be sure you make some strong points here.

Looking for Good Essay Topics

Are you looking for a great and inspiring topic for your narrative task? If so, we have great news for you. Our team is always working to meet students’ needs, so we’ve prepared sample topics they could use in their academic work. For example, for those interested in exploring their relationships, we’re offering a pick of different related topics. For those who are more drawn to events like journeys or holidays, we have another collection. Whether it’s for narration or for analysis essay, we definitely have what you need, so go through our site and pick a theme.

Using Reliable Paper Samples

Would you like to see narrative essay outline example or a sample of a whole paper? We have that ready on our website. By seeing what good essays look like, people get a clearer idea of what and how they should write. They see structure, details included in all the paragraphs, level of descriptiveness and emotions conveyed. They might also get tips about vocabulary and other similar things. So, feel free to check what we have gathered and use this as a basis for your own writing!    

Be Emotive & Create Your Perfect Narrative

Now that you’ve learned narrative essay definition and rules that guide it, you’re all set for writing. Find a topic you truly like and make it memorable. If this doesn’t work, and you realize you’re still struggling, consider asking for help. We are online 24/7, so we’ll accept your application right away. Explain what you want, tell us to pick a topic or follow your own, and we’ll be happy to write an essay for you!