If you’re an enthusiastic person, you’ll definitely enjoy this type of academic writing, as a narrative essay will let your imagination run free and demonstrate the limitless power of your creative potential. But even if you are not exceedingly original, writing a narrative essay will not be a challenge for you, as most humans like sharing their memories, describing invaluable experiences, and, finally, telling different stories. If you are ready to share your emotions with the readers, follow this guide from our essay writing service on how to write a narrative essay step by step and get immersed in some of the most powerful techniques of effective narration.
What Is a Narrative Essay?
When talking about a narrative essay definition, the main purpose of this type of essay is to tell a story. You may inform the reader about a remarkable event from your past, a meeting with a memorable personality, or the ongoing experience that is likely to change your life. Actually, it does not really matter what you are going to tell, as HOW you will tell it is significantly more important.
The majority of students write descriptive essays instead of narrative stories because they do not see the difference between these two types of academic papers. A descriptive essay looks more like an instruction, as it is aimed at explaining how to do something. Additionally, some descriptive essays focus on the external characteristics of the item, explaining in detail how it looks. In contrast to a descriptive essay, the narration is a complete story that has its purpose, beginning, logical connections between the events, clear point of view, the presence of author’s personality, and a concise organization of the thought. So do not muddle up these two distinct types of academic writing and go on reading the guideline to explore more specific peculiarities of writing a narrative essay.
Video Lesson on How to Write a Narrative Essay
The video that you will find below not only explains how to start a narrative essay properly, write a well-structured body, and end it interestingly but also demonstrates the features of writing such a paper. It will show you how to write an excellent paper. If you perceive information better visually, then the following video is for you.
Narrative Essay Structure
Telling a story seems to be an amusingly easy task, as we do it on a regular basis, sharing the emotions with friends or relatives. However, sharing the experiences in academic style is a bit more difficult, as it requires some additional knowledge and skills. In particular, you will have to break your story into patterns, develop a concise organization of the essay, and use some tools of effective personal narration. Here is a narrative essay outline.
Narrative Essay Introduction
The “Hook”. This element is also called an extraordinary beginning, and using it in a narrative essay is especially important. You may begin your story with a paradoxical fact, relevant quotation, definition, question, or a colourful detail. The main purpose of the “hook” is to grab the attention of your reader from the very beginning of the story to make the audience go through all the personal experiences together with the author.
Setting the Scene. Your attention-grabber should be followed by a wide range of visual, acoustic and tactile details. In a narrative essay, it is critically important to set the scene properly: explain where the events take place, who are the main characters, whether they are fictional or real, etc. Also, do not forget to mention whether the experience you are writing about is yours personally or if it belongs to somebody you know. Beginning the story successfully is critically important, as it influences overall perception of the paper.
Narrative Essay Thesis Statement
In a narrative essay, the thesis statement is significantly different from that in an expository or argument essay. You don’t need to introduce your arguments, defend the position, or prove something. Instead, your thesis statement may serve as a beginning of the story: ”It was cloudy and hazy when I started my way to green forests.” Additionally, your thesis statement may connect a personal experience with a universal, proving the significance of the topic you write about: “Journeys eliminate the boundaries between different cultures of the world, bringing both hardship and joy to those never-stopping adventurous travelers.” Also, you may use the thesis statement for offering a moral lesson to your audience: “I will never travel alone again, leaving my destiny out of control.” You may find more ways for making your thesis statement effective, just make sure that your thesis serves as the heart of the story that shows your attitude toward the experience you express, and makes the narration unique.
Depict but not tell. It is commonly known that good storytelling is expressive — it is overwhelmed by precise descriptions and sensory details that help the audience to visualize the events illustrated by the author. To make your audience outlive the experiences together with you, use the details related to all five senses: express what you heard, smelled, touched, felt, and saw during the event. Using various sensory details will shorten the distance between you and the audience, establishing a basis for a positive perception of your story.
Support each detail. Using supplementary evidence is required in any type of writing, as it is the most efficient way to make the audience believe you. In a personal narration, your experience represents the deepest source of evidence, which is why you should illustrate the significance of the lesson learned and explain it to the reader.
Emphasize the chronology of the events. Building the storyline in chronological order is the most appropriate so that the readers can understand the logical flow of the events. In case you want to complicate the storyline and destruct the original flow of the events, using the following transitions will help you to put the readers into the picture of the events: during, finally, after, next, later, when.
Keep in touch with the readers. In a MLA format narrative essay, new paragraphs usually mark the shift from action to reflection or indicate the change in the events. That is why the paragraphs should be linked between one another with transitions. Additionally, it is recommended to repeat the words from the previous paragraph to establish connections between the events being described previously.
Make a powerful inference. According to narrative essay format, the conclusion serves as the moral center of the story, as it summarizes everything you have told and provides your story with a significant sense. Due to this, at the end of the story, you should necessarily include a personal reflection or evaluation of the event being described and explain why it is significant for you as the author.
Stages of Writing a Narrative Essay
There is a commonly known five-step model of writing a narrative essay successfully, so let’s go through these five stages and find the ways to transform your narrative essay into a polished diamond.
- Choosing the topic to share. Recreate the memories from childhood, college years, or any other experiences encountered in the first time. Recall the feelings and memories related to those experiences. It will help you to concentrate and pick up an attractive topic for exchange with your audience. Remember that your topic may be any experience, both real and fictional, in your own life or the experience of your friend or relative. The main purpose is to retell the story comprehensively, supporting it with a wide range of details and attractive word combinations.
- Draft an outline. Even if you simply retell the story in your essay, you should necessarily prepare an outline that should precisely indicate the plot, the setting, the main characters, the culmination, and the ending of your narration. Remember that writing an amazing story is impossible without strict planning, which is why you should pre-plan each stage of your writing process.
- Start writing the body paragraphs. Remember that a narrative essay is not the same as any other academic paper. Due to this, you should use as many detail as you can, to provide complete characteristics for personalities, their actions, locations, feelings, etc. The more details you use the better, as it will help the readers to obtain an objective vision of the events being illustrated in your story.
- Come up with a reasonable conclusion. On this stage of writing, it is necessary to draw a conclusion that will show your attitude to the story, express its significance and help the reader to learn something from your personal experience. This is the final stage of establishing close contact with your readers, which is why you should make it extraordinary and effective, as the last words frequently have the most powerful impact on readers’ minds. Consider the most appropriate words to use on this stage.
- Prepare the paper for submission. After the last words are chosen and written properly, it is time for editing and checking your paper for grammatical and syntactical mistakes, as it does not really matter how unusual and attractive your story is if it contains a considerable amount of mistakes. Also check whether the flow of the events in the paper is logical, and whether the amount of details is sufficient for the readers to understand everything properly.
Guidelines and Tightening Your Essay
The most important thing about writing a narrative essay is providing your readers with a reason to listen to your story and experience this amazing, unique, and unforgettable journey with you. To help you achieve this purpose, here are several tips on how to write brilliant narrations.
- Take your readers with you. Involving readers in the event is the most important component of effective storytelling, so be sure to recreate the event in an original but simple manner for the readers to understand and remember everything easily. Do not be afraid of expressing your personality through the story, as this is precisely what your audience is expecting from you.
- Find some generalization to support the story. Equating a personal experience to a universal will provide your paper with a more significant and valuable meaning. For instance, you may connect your story with global problems, related to the state of the environment, gender roles, social issues, poverty in underdeveloped countries, and so on.
- Link the ideas in a logical manner. Do not forget that the main peculiarity of each successful story is being understandable to the reader. Even if your paper does not include a great number of events, be sure to link them logically. Chronological order is considered to be the most appropriate, which is why using it will not cause any additional problems. Also, do not forget to use transitions: they will help your reader to be in step with the events of the story.
- Care about accurate structure. Some students believe that a narrative essay provides them with an unlimited space for creativity. Partially, it does, but a narrative essay also has its distinct structure. Due to this, you should start your essay from explaining the prerequisites of choosing the topic, continue by chronological events and supporting details, and finish with proving the significance of the experience described in the paper. Taking into consideration the structure of the body paragraphs, you should remember that each paragraph should be dedicated to one idea only, as otherwise you will blend the events too much and complicate the understanding of the story.
- Open and close the story in an extraordinary manner. It is highly recommended to begin your essay with a popular quote or meaningful phrase from a movie or book to set the appropriate mood and inspire the reader to follow the events. Besides this, closing the narration effectively is also critically important, as it will prove the significance of your experience and show the value of the story in general. Remember that creativeness is highly appreciated in this type of paper.
- Avoid wordiness. Long-winded sentences make each paper difficult for perception, which is especially undesirable in a narrative essay.
- Remember: you are the storyteller. A narrative essay allows the author to use the first-person perspective for retelling the events in a maximally precise manner, so do not be afraid of speaking from your perspective, as it will help you express your own position and establish your authority.
- Choose a remarkable experience to share with the reader. Selecting an appropriate topic provides you with significant success even before writing. It is much easier to share an unforgettable story than try to write originally about a common and unsurprising life event. Due to this, before writing you should get immersed in the world of your memories, and find a sparkling jewel for your story. Here are some examples of the topics that can become the center of attraction for your future stories.
Narrative Essay Topics
- Some people hate being challenged, while others enjoy difficulties, perceiving them as opportunities to grow. Tell your story about the greatest challenge and its impact on your mindset.
- Fear is a natural reaction to a stressful situation, and without fear there would be no bravery. Tell about the most fearful moment of your life and your way of overcoming this unpleasant feeling. Does fear block you or activate all the resources to find the way out of the anxiety? Why does it happen?
- Living in the modern world can sometimes be tough and even cruel. The golden rule indicates that all people should treat others the way they want to be treated. Though this rule is not always followed, this world still holds a place for kindness. Tell about a situation where you helped somebody and made the world a better place to live in thanks to your rightful action and kindness.
- Nobody is perfect, and it is definitely a good thing, as some of the greatest world lessons were taken through making a mistake. Tell about the life lesson you took by doing something improperly. What did you feel? What inferences did you make thanks to this experience?
- Making everybody happy is impossible. Tell about the event or experience when you decided to hurt or disappoint someone, explain the reasons for your actions. If you could come back in time, would you act in the same way?
- Life is about experience. Experience is about the art of making proper decisions and choices. Tell about a time when you had to choose between two equally important things. How did it affect you? Did you manage to make the right choice?
- Emotions rule the actions. Tell about the time when your emotions took over the control of your decisions. Do you regret about those reactions? Do you think that emotions are necessary at all?
- Reputation influences everything. Tell about the times when someone affected your reputation either in a positive or a negative way. What was your reaction to it? Have you ever faced a desire to destroy someone’s reputation? If yes, why?
- Bad habits do not like saying goodbyes, but persistence and practice make miracles. Tell about the times when you gave up bad habits and transformed them into something more beneficial. What helped you to achieve your purpose? Which factors were constantly challenging your self-improvement?
- Sometimes keeping silent is a better decision than sharing your opinion. Tell about a situation that made you regret about expressing your point of view.
- Opinions have a great influential power. Tell about personal transformation in the result of misjudgment. Did it break your moral power and influence self-esteem? How to rehabilitate after feelings that awoke as a result of a subjective judgment?
- People are socially active by nature. Tell about an experience when the world seemed to be an overwhelming place and you wanted to escape from social life to enjoy loneliness. Analyze the causes of such a behavior and provide recommendations for the people who feel something similar.
- Being talented vs. being lucky. Tell about the event which made you think that talent is unnecessary because fortune is significantly more important. Do you think in the same way today? Do you believe in destiny? If yes, do you think that humans can establish control over their fate?
- Running from the past is impossible. Tell about your struggles to forget your past. Why do your memories haunt you? Have you resisted successfully? How to get rid of painful or disappointing memories?
- Sensory feelings are powerful. Scientists believe that scents can become an irreplaceable part of human memories and associations. Share your aromatic associations and the situations when particular scents became a part of your memory.
We hope that these narrative essay ideas will help you to understand what to write about in your paper.
Mistakes to Avoid While Writing a Narrative Essay
To polish your perfectly great essay, here are some tips on how to avoid the most commonly made mistakes.
Information overload. Filter all of your thoughts and pre-plan each paragraph before writing, as details are powerful and they really matter, but overwhelming your paper with them will not bring anything positive.
Telling instead of illustrating. Narrative essay is not a story you tell on a day-to-day basis, as it is creative, enthusiastic, inspiring, coherent, and illustrative. Your narration should be similar to painting, so do not tell but draw the events to encourage your audience to visualize the events from your text.
Lazy language. This mistake will transform your extraordinary story in a plain unvarnished tale. To avoid such transformations, select the words thoroughly and do not write in the way you usually speak. Here is the exercise that will help you choose proper words: highlight all the adjectives and nouns in your story and ask yourself: Do these words represent the best choice in this context? If they do not, consider finding better options.
Long sentences. We have already recommended you to avoid long-winded expressions, but it is worthy to remind this statement and emphasize its importance. Any brilliant story cannot be perceived properly if it is too complicated for comprehension.
Avoiding dialogue. Writers are afraid of dialogue because they feel responsible for the words put into speech. You should understand that quotes used in the dialogue should not necessarily be direct, as your main purpose is to interpret the dialogue, not to provide its exact reflection. Use dialogue in your writing, as is represents a powerful way to transform your writing into a comprehensive illustration.
Using experience as base material. Though it sounds a bit strange, it is true. No matter what you are writing, you should go through a transformation of some sort. Your essay will not have any value without some significant message for the readers. Due to this, you should not simply retell your memories, but motivate, encourage, and make your audience feel something similar. Only in that case, your essay can be called successful.
A Narrative Essay Writing Checklist
– Have you opened your essay exclusively with the help of a paradoxical fact, relevant quotation, definition, question, or a colorful detail?
– Have you set the scene properly, explaining where the events take place, who the main characters are, if they are fictional or real, and so on?
– Have you included a thesis statement for a narrative essay? Your thesis may contain the beginning of the story, describe a moral lesson or prove the value of your narration.
– Did you organize your body paragraphs in a logical manner?
– Are the events you describe in body paragraphs linked properly? Did you use transitions to orient the reader in the chronology of the events?
– Have you used sufficient evidence to visualize the events being described? Have you provided the readers with sensory details and properly selected original words?
– Have you linked the paragraphs between one another in a logical manner?
– Have you successfully avoided long sentences and lazy language?
– Did you use first-person narration to eliminate the distance between you and your audience?
– Have you avoided information overload and wordiness?
– Have you chosen an appropriate topic and achieved the purpose of the writing?
– Did you use dialogue to transform a narration into an illustration?
– Have you proved the significance of your story in the conclusion? Have you closed the story in an extraordinary manner?
– Does your story contain some sort of a valuable message for the audience? Does it motivate, encourage empathy or transform the mind of the readers?
– Have you found some generalization to support the story and add some value?
Narrative Essay Sample
If you don’t have an idea how to write your paper, you need to read some narrative essay examples. After looking at the sample below, you will learn how to write your paper properly. Check out how a quality narrative essay should be written.
Why Knowing Culture Is Important
Culture refers to the way of life of a particular group of people in a community. It dictates and defines people’s behavior in the community and guides people on the right actions to take. Others may refer to a person who does not follow the culture of their community as an outcast. They might even isolate this person. Therefore, having a specific culture and following the guidelines of that culture is necessary. This paper will look into the importance of knowing a culture and adhering to it.
Culture helps people understand the world better. Culture allows you to mingle and interact with people you never knew before, which will enable you to learn new aspects of life from them (Gilmore and Abigail 13). The people with whom a person interacts can also teach new ways of life. The more the interaction between cultures, the lower the rate of racism among people (13). Knowing culture is essential because it helps to understand others better, making people live in a world free from racism.
Knowing culture also enhances the mode of communication among people of that culture. When a person learns of a culture, it acts as a gateway to understand the language used by people from that culture (Gilmore and Abigail 15). People from a particular culture use a common language to understand one another. Meeting many people from other cultures also helps to understand their mode of communication.
Knowing culture also helps to cherish significant characteristics from that culture. Different cultures carry out certain activities differently, such as music festivals and rituals. Other characteristics exist between different cultures (Gilmore and Abigail 14). A person who knows their culture well understands the specific way and protocols of all the activities and appreciates the culture. Knowing a culture, therefore, helps to protect the characteristics of that culture.
Culture also helps youths learn and have better skills in preparation for the future. Participation in culture allows children and teens to develop cognitive skills, self-esteem, and perseverance, all of which boost academic performance (Gilmore and Abigail 22). Learners from low-income homes, for instance, who participate in artistic programs at school are significantly more likely to pass than those that do not. Culture comprises the past activities of a specific community, which helps the students to have a better understanding of history. As a result, students who know culture can understand history better than those who do not know their culture.
Knowing culture is also essential in improving health. It improves physical health as well as mental health. Participating in cultural activities can help people feel less isolated while promoting identity development and understanding of other cultures (Gilmore and Abigail 23). The relationship between previous efforts to curb native culture and current health difficulties in indigenous groups is becoming increasingly apparent. According to research, indigenous cultural restoration has played a significant role in supporting individual and community health, well-being, and healing.
In conclusion, culture is essential to everyone in the community because it helps people be morally upright. It also helps people have moral lessons from the past cultural activities and prepare for future cultural expectations. A person who does not follow any culture has very little knowledge about historical activities. Students need to be advised to stick to a particular culture, empower their education, and have a better future.
Gilmore, Abigail. “Raising our quality of life: The importance of investment in arts and culture.” (2014). University of Manchester, https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/33173386/FULL_TEXT.PDF.
JC. “Benefits of Understanding Different Cultures | Meeting New People.” Outist, 6 May 2020, outist.co/blog/benefits-of-understanding-different-cultures-meeting-new-people.
FAQ on Narrative Essay Writing
What is the purpose of dialogue in a narrative essay?
Good dialogue develops the plot, establishes character, and presents exposition while sounding realistic to readers. Students should study various types of dialogue to make a narrative essay consistently compelling.
How to end a narrative essay?
One of the best methods for completing a narrative essay is to present a summary of the main points. For a narrative essay, this does not mean that you are rewriting the whole story throughout the paper. It would detract from your message.
How long is a narrative essay?
It all depends, but as a general rule, a narrative essay is about four to five pages long and includes a few standard requirements. Some colleges only require an essay of 500 words, so if that’s your case, just change the number of blocks to match the required word count.
How to write a good narrative essay?
It is very simple. You just need to follow the guidelines presented in this post. Use a sample as a template for writing. With good advice, you will be able to succeed in writing.
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