The narrative essay allows you to express your creativity and tell a compelling story. Students who have been used to writing expository or persuasive essays will find this type of essay refreshing.
Let’s look at the basic elements of the narrative essay and when it might be required. We will also discuss how to format and create your own narrative essays.
What is a narrative essay?
A narrative essay is similar to a reflective or descriptive essay. It asks you to not present an argument or to provide evidence to support your opinion but to simply share your experience. You can share a personal, real, and lived experience, such as the story about your first major success, or an imagined story, such as the story of what your life would look like if you were born in different circumstances.
Although a narrative essay does not require you to provide a thesis statement, supporting paragraphs and a conclusion it must be well-structured so the reader can follow your story. Good narrative essays are more than just a list of details and events.
You might be asked to create a narrative essay
Narrative essays are more common than expository or argumentative essays. However, they are still very common in college and high school composition classes. They are similar in structure and spirit to admissions essays and descriptive essays. Personal statements are often requested as part the application process for higher education institutions. Many of the same writing techniques can be used to create narrative essays.
How to choose narrative essay topic
Topics for narrative essays can be adapted to cover almost any aspect of life. You may be asked to write a narrative paper.
The prompt will be assigned a topic and fall under one of the two categories: specific or open ended.
Write about your last vacation.
Write about your last year in middle school.
Open-ended prompts examples:
Write about a time in your life when all hope seemed lost.
Write about an event that seemed small but had a significant impact on your life.
It is important to remember that narrative essays are about telling stories. All good stories have a conflict. Make sure you choose a topic that doesn’t focus on a simple event. Unexpected obstacles, twists and turns are more interesting essays that reveal more about you and your outlook on life.
Remember that admissions officers will read your narrative essay as part of their application. They want to see your writing skills and your personality. It is a smart idea to pick a topic or an experience that highlights the qualities asked for.
Remember that the topic you choose is only a starting point. Many students discover that writing their first drafts can lead to new insights and ideas. Your final essay might have a different focus than the one you started.
How to format and outline a narrative essay
Although you are not trying to prove or argue a point of views, narrative essays must have a cohesive structure. The reader must be able follow your story as you tell it and understand the bigger point you are making.
Your handling of the topic and your structure will be a large part of what you are evaluated on. Even if your style is more fluid and you prefer to let the story flow, it’s still a good idea to create a rough outline so that you have some guidelines to help you tell your story in a clear, compelling manner.
When defining your narrative essay, you must first identify where it will begin, end, as well as how many key moments. Also, you should consider tone and pace.
A narrative essay should be written in first person. This is a refreshing change of pace for students who have grown accustomed to writing from a third-person, objective perspective.
It’s a good idea during the formatting and outlining stages to search for opportunities to add rhetorical flourishes such as metaphor or analogy that increase the originality and expressiveness of your essay. You can get your creative juices flowing by comparing your story to famous literary and historical figures, as well as archetypes. These comparisons can be used to enhance the quality of your essay and to connect your personal experience with a wider context.
How to write a narrative essay
Students who have been trained to write in an objective, formal style may find it difficult to write a narrative essay. Here’s a brief example of a narrative paper that you could write in response to the prompt: “Write about an event that changed your perception of yourself.”