A Lesson You Learned the Hard Way

Introduction.

Numerous lessons can be learned from our life experiences and the experience of others. This is a story about a boy returning to his old neighborhood during the holidays. Our hero and his family had to move to another town many years ago, and now our hero and his father visit their old home once again.

Old Neighborhood

A long road.

A father has looked at his son through the rear-view mirror. A boy was quietly sleeping. He was lonely and almost had no friends in a new town, which worried his parents. Loud noises woke him up, and he started looking at the old photos that he kept in his notepad. It was getting darker as they were approaching the destination. Our hero was happy and anxious at the same time because he had good memories of this place and some bad ones.

But something worried him the most. He was afraid that his childhood friends have forgotten about him, and they are mad that he had left the town. His heart started racing when he finally saw a town sign. Father laughed out loud and said that everything is going to be alright. Our hero started looking for familiar places through car glass. After many buildings, he finally saw his old neighborhood. It has changed dramatically over the years. New shops, different vehicles, everything about this place seemed different. Father has parked a car and told his son to wait until he gets back. A boy agreed to stay because he always respected the words of his parents. He waited for what seemed like twenty minutes, and it was incredibly annoying because the car had no stereo receiver or a music player.

Unexpected event

Then suddenly, something unexpected happened. He saw a golden retriever that belonged to his best friend. It was Cooper because a boy saw a unique dog collar. Our hero decided to leave a car for a minute because he missed his friend’s pet. He followed the golden retriever into the dark alley. He was happy at first, but then he was afraid that he could be getting lost. Also, he could no longer hear the barking.

A boy was not able to see anything but did not start screaming. He tried to walk calmly back to the car. However, suddenly he no longer felt anything under his feet and began falling into the water. It was scary for a boy because he was not a good swimmer, and he began yelling for help. He slowly started losing hope and was ready to accept his destiny. However, something or someone grabbed him. A boy felt like something bit him and was not letting go. But then he saw his best childhood friend and lost consciousness. A few minutes later he woke up surrounded by the whole company. Father was happy and thanked the boys that they have saved his son, especially the dog.

In conclusion, real friends never turn their back on each other. This is a lesson that a boy learned the hard way. He had to face a dangerous challenge but was able to overcome it. He is no longer lonely and visits his old neighborhood each year during summer. Our boy decided to adopt a dog that reminded him of Cooper. His friends never forgot about him and never will.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, March 26). A Lesson You Learned the Hard Way. https://studycorgi.com/a-lesson-you-learned-the-hard-way/

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Narrative Essay About A Lesson Learned

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Crafting a narrative essay on the theme of "A Lesson Learned" poses a unique set of challenges. The difficulty lies not merely in recounting an event but in weaving a compelling story that not only captivates the reader's attention but also imparts a meaningful lesson. The process involves delving deep into personal experiences, reflecting on the emotions attached to the lesson, and articulating those insights in a coherent and engaging manner.

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The Ultimate Narrative Essay Guide for Beginners

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A narrative essay tells a story in chronological order, with an introduction that introduces the characters and sets the scene. Then a series of events leads to a climax or turning point, and finally a resolution or reflection on the experience.

Speaking of which, are you in sixes and sevens about narrative essays? Don’t worry this ultimate expert guide will wipe out all your doubts. So let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Everything You Need to Know About Narrative Essay

What is a narrative essay.

When you go through a narrative essay definition, you would know that a narrative essay purpose is to tell a story. It’s all about sharing an experience or event and is different from other types of essays because it’s more focused on how the event made you feel or what you learned from it, rather than just presenting facts or an argument. Let’s explore more details on this interesting write-up and get to know how to write a narrative essay.

Elements of a Narrative Essay

Here’s a breakdown of the key elements of a narrative essay:

A narrative essay has a beginning, middle, and end. It builds up tension and excitement and then wraps things up in a neat package.

Real people, including the writer, often feature in personal narratives. Details of the characters and their thoughts, feelings, and actions can help readers to relate to the tale.

It’s really important to know when and where something happened so we can get a good idea of the context. Going into detail about what it looks like helps the reader to really feel like they’re part of the story.

Conflict or Challenge 

A story in a narrative essay usually involves some kind of conflict or challenge that moves the plot along. It could be something inside the character, like a personal battle, or something from outside, like an issue they have to face in the world.

Theme or Message

A narrative essay isn’t just about recounting an event – it’s about showing the impact it had on you and what you took away from it. It’s an opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings about the experience, and how it changed your outlook.

Emotional Impact

The author is trying to make the story they’re telling relatable, engaging, and memorable by using language and storytelling to evoke feelings in whoever’s reading it.

Narrative essays let writers have a blast telling stories about their own lives. It’s an opportunity to share insights and impart wisdom, or just have some fun with the reader. Descriptive language, sensory details, dialogue, and a great narrative voice are all essentials for making the story come alive.

The Purpose of a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is more than just a story – it’s a way to share a meaningful, engaging, and relatable experience with the reader. Includes:

Sharing Personal Experience

Narrative essays are a great way for writers to share their personal experiences, feelings, thoughts, and reflections. It’s an opportunity to connect with readers and make them feel something.

Entertainment and Engagement

The essay attempts to keep the reader interested by using descriptive language, storytelling elements, and a powerful voice. It attempts to pull them in and make them feel involved by creating suspense, mystery, or an emotional connection.

Conveying a Message or Insight

Narrative essays are more than just a story – they aim to teach you something. They usually have a moral lesson, a new understanding, or a realization about life that the author gained from the experience.

Building Empathy and Understanding

By telling their stories, people can give others insight into different perspectives, feelings, and situations. Sharing these tales can create compassion in the reader and help broaden their knowledge of different life experiences.

Inspiration and Motivation

Stories about personal struggles, successes, and transformations can be really encouraging to people who are going through similar situations. It can provide them with hope and guidance, and let them know that they’re not alone.

Reflecting on Life’s Significance

These essays usually make you think about the importance of certain moments in life or the impact of certain experiences. They make you look deep within yourself and ponder on the things you learned or how you changed because of those events.

Demonstrating Writing Skills

Coming up with a gripping narrative essay takes serious writing chops, like vivid descriptions, powerful language, timing, and organization. It’s an opportunity for writers to show off their story-telling abilities.

Preserving Personal History

Sometimes narrative essays are used to record experiences and special moments that have an emotional resonance. They can be used to preserve individual memories or for future generations to look back on.

Cultural and Societal Exploration

Personal stories can look at cultural or social aspects, giving us an insight into customs, opinions, or social interactions seen through someone’s own experience.

Format of a Narrative Essay

Narrative essays are quite flexible in terms of format, which allows the writer to tell a story in a creative and compelling way. Here’s a quick breakdown of the narrative essay format, along with some examples:

Introduction

Set the scene and introduce the story.

Engage the reader and establish the tone of the narrative.

Hook: Start with a captivating opening line to grab the reader’s attention. For instance:

Example:  “The scorching sun beat down on us as we trekked through the desert, our water supply dwindling.”

Background Information: Provide necessary context or background without giving away the entire story.

Example:  “It was the summer of 2015 when I embarked on a life-changing journey to…”

Thesis Statement or Narrative Purpose

Present the main idea or the central message of the essay.

Offer a glimpse of what the reader can expect from the narrative.

Thesis Statement: This isn’t as rigid as in other essays but can be a sentence summarizing the essence of the story.

Example:  “Little did I know, that seemingly ordinary hike would teach me invaluable lessons about resilience and friendship.”

Body Paragraphs

Present the sequence of events in chronological order.

Develop characters, setting, conflict, and resolution.

Story Progression : Describe events in the order they occurred, focusing on details that evoke emotions and create vivid imagery.

Example : Detail the trek through the desert, the challenges faced, interactions with fellow hikers, and the pivotal moments.

Character Development : Introduce characters and their roles in the story. Show their emotions, thoughts, and actions.

Example : Describe how each character reacted to the dwindling water supply and supported each other through adversity.

Dialogue and Interactions : Use dialogue to bring the story to life and reveal character personalities.

Example : “Sarah handed me her last bottle of water, saying, ‘We’re in this together.'”

Reach the peak of the story, the moment of highest tension or significance.

Turning Point: Highlight the most crucial moment or realization in the narrative.

Example:  “As the sun dipped below the horizon and hope seemed lost, a distant sound caught our attention—the rescue team’s helicopters.”

Provide closure to the story.

Reflect on the significance of the experience and its impact.

Reflection : Summarize the key lessons learned or insights gained from the experience.

Example : “That hike taught me the true meaning of resilience and the invaluable support of friendship in challenging times.”

Closing Thought : End with a memorable line that reinforces the narrative’s message or leaves a lasting impression.

Example : “As we boarded the helicopters, I knew this adventure would forever be etched in my heart.”

Example Summary:

Imagine a narrative about surviving a challenging hike through the desert, emphasizing the bonds formed and lessons learned. The narrative essay structure might look like starting with an engaging scene, narrating the hardships faced, showcasing the characters’ resilience, and culminating in a powerful realization about friendship and endurance.

Different Types of Narrative Essays

There are a bunch of different types of narrative essays – each one focuses on different elements of storytelling and has its own purpose. Here’s a breakdown of the narrative essay types and what they mean.

Personal Narrative

Description : Tells a personal story or experience from the writer’s life.

Purpose: Reflects on personal growth, lessons learned, or significant moments.

Example of Narrative Essay Types:

Topic : “The Day I Conquered My Fear of Public Speaking”

Focus: Details the experience, emotions, and eventual triumph over a fear of public speaking during a pivotal event.

Descriptive Narrative

Description : Emphasizes vivid details and sensory imagery.

Purpose : Creates a sensory experience, painting a vivid picture for the reader.

Topic : “A Walk Through the Enchanted Forest”

Focus : Paints a detailed picture of the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings experienced during a walk through a mystical forest.

Autobiographical Narrative

Description: Chronicles significant events or moments from the writer’s life.

Purpose: Provides insights into the writer’s life, experiences, and growth.

Topic: “Lessons from My Childhood: How My Grandmother Shaped Who I Am”

Focus: Explores pivotal moments and lessons learned from interactions with a significant family member.

Experiential Narrative

Description: Relays experiences beyond the writer’s personal life.

Purpose: Shares experiences, travels, or events from a broader perspective.

Topic: “Volunteering in a Remote Village: A Journey of Empathy”

Focus: Chronicles the writer’s volunteering experience, highlighting interactions with a community and personal growth.

Literary Narrative

Description: Incorporates literary elements like symbolism, allegory, or thematic explorations.

Purpose: Uses storytelling for deeper explorations of themes or concepts.

Topic: “The Symbolism of the Red Door: A Journey Through Change”

Focus: Uses a red door as a symbol, exploring its significance in the narrator’s life and the theme of transition.

Historical Narrative

Description: Recounts historical events or periods through a personal lens.

Purpose: Presents history through personal experiences or perspectives.

Topic: “A Grandfather’s Tales: Living Through the Great Depression”

Focus: Shares personal stories from a family member who lived through a historical era, offering insights into that period.

Digital or Multimedia Narrative

Description: Incorporates multimedia elements like images, videos, or audio to tell a story.

Purpose: Explores storytelling through various digital platforms or formats.

Topic: “A Travel Diary: Exploring Europe Through Vlogs”

Focus: Combines video clips, photos, and personal narration to document a travel experience.

How to Choose a Topic for Your Narrative Essay?

Selecting a compelling topic for your narrative essay is crucial as it sets the stage for your storytelling. Choosing a boring topic is one of the narrative essay mistakes to avoid . Here’s a detailed guide on how to choose the right topic:

Reflect on Personal Experiences

  • Significant Moments:

Moments that had a profound impact on your life or shaped your perspective.

Example: A moment of triumph, overcoming a fear, a life-changing decision, or an unforgettable experience.

  • Emotional Resonance:

Events that evoke strong emotions or feelings.

Example: Joy, fear, sadness, excitement, or moments of realization.

  • Lessons Learned:

Experiences that taught you valuable lessons or brought about personal growth.

Example: Challenges that led to personal development, shifts in mindset, or newfound insights.

Explore Unique Perspectives

  • Uncommon Experiences:

Unique or unconventional experiences that might captivate the reader’s interest.

Example: Unusual travels, interactions with different cultures, or uncommon hobbies.

  • Different Points of View:

Stories from others’ perspectives that impacted you deeply.

Example: A family member’s story, a friend’s experience, or a historical event from a personal lens.

Focus on Specific Themes or Concepts

  • Themes or Concepts of Interest:

Themes or ideas you want to explore through storytelling.

Example: Friendship, resilience, identity, cultural diversity, or personal transformation.

  • Symbolism or Metaphor:

Using symbols or metaphors as the core of your narrative.

Example: Exploring the symbolism of an object or a place in relation to a broader theme.

Consider Your Audience and Purpose

  • Relevance to Your Audience:

Topics that resonate with your audience’s interests or experiences.

Example: Choose a relatable theme or experience that your readers might connect with emotionally.

  • Impact or Message:

What message or insight do you want to convey through your story?

Example: Choose a topic that aligns with the message or lesson you aim to impart to your readers.

Brainstorm and Evaluate Ideas

  • Free Writing or Mind Mapping:

Process: Write down all potential ideas without filtering. Mind maps or free-writing exercises can help generate diverse ideas.

  • Evaluate Feasibility:

The depth of the story, the availability of vivid details, and your personal connection to the topic.

Imagine you’re considering topics for a narrative essay. You reflect on your experiences and decide to explore the topic of “Overcoming Stage Fright: How a School Play Changed My Perspective.” This topic resonates because it involves a significant challenge you faced and the personal growth it brought about.

Narrative Essay Topics

50 easy narrative essay topics.

  • Learning to Ride a Bike
  • My First Day of School
  • A Surprise Birthday Party
  • The Day I Got Lost
  • Visiting a Haunted House
  • An Encounter with a Wild Animal
  • My Favorite Childhood Toy
  • The Best Vacation I Ever Had
  • An Unforgettable Family Gathering
  • Conquering a Fear of Heights
  • A Special Gift I Received
  • Moving to a New City
  • The Most Memorable Meal
  • Getting Caught in a Rainstorm
  • An Act of Kindness I Witnessed
  • The First Time I Cooked a Meal
  • My Experience with a New Hobby
  • The Day I Met My Best Friend
  • A Hike in the Mountains
  • Learning a New Language
  • An Embarrassing Moment
  • Dealing with a Bully
  • My First Job Interview
  • A Sporting Event I Attended
  • The Scariest Dream I Had
  • Helping a Stranger
  • The Joy of Achieving a Goal
  • A Road Trip Adventure
  • Overcoming a Personal Challenge
  • The Significance of a Family Tradition
  • An Unusual Pet I Owned
  • A Misunderstanding with a Friend
  • Exploring an Abandoned Building
  • My Favorite Book and Why
  • The Impact of a Role Model
  • A Cultural Celebration I Participated In
  • A Valuable Lesson from a Teacher
  • A Trip to the Zoo
  • An Unplanned Adventure
  • Volunteering Experience
  • A Moment of Forgiveness
  • A Decision I Regretted
  • A Special Talent I Have
  • The Importance of Family Traditions
  • The Thrill of Performing on Stage
  • A Moment of Sudden Inspiration
  • The Meaning of Home
  • Learning to Play a Musical Instrument
  • A Childhood Memory at the Park
  • Witnessing a Beautiful Sunset

Narrative Essay Topics for College Students

  • Discovering a New Passion
  • Overcoming Academic Challenges
  • Navigating Cultural Differences
  • Embracing Independence: Moving Away from Home
  • Exploring Career Aspirations
  • Coping with Stress in College
  • The Impact of a Mentor in My Life
  • Balancing Work and Studies
  • Facing a Fear of Public Speaking
  • Exploring a Semester Abroad
  • The Evolution of My Study Habits
  • Volunteering Experience That Changed My Perspective
  • The Role of Technology in Education
  • Finding Balance: Social Life vs. Academics
  • Learning a New Skill Outside the Classroom
  • Reflecting on Freshman Year Challenges
  • The Joys and Struggles of Group Projects
  • My Experience with Internship or Work Placement
  • Challenges of Time Management in College
  • Redefining Success Beyond Grades
  • The Influence of Literature on My Thinking
  • The Impact of Social Media on College Life
  • Overcoming Procrastination
  • Lessons from a Leadership Role
  • Exploring Diversity on Campus
  • Exploring Passion for Environmental Conservation
  • An Eye-Opening Course That Changed My Perspective
  • Living with Roommates: Challenges and Lessons
  • The Significance of Extracurricular Activities
  • The Influence of a Professor on My Academic Journey
  • Discussing Mental Health in College
  • The Evolution of My Career Goals
  • Confronting Personal Biases Through Education
  • The Experience of Attending a Conference or Symposium
  • Challenges Faced by Non-Native English Speakers in College
  • The Impact of Traveling During Breaks
  • Exploring Identity: Cultural or Personal
  • The Impact of Music or Art on My Life
  • Addressing Diversity in the Classroom
  • Exploring Entrepreneurial Ambitions
  • My Experience with Research Projects
  • Overcoming Impostor Syndrome in College
  • The Importance of Networking in College
  • Finding Resilience During Tough Times
  • The Impact of Global Issues on Local Perspectives
  • The Influence of Family Expectations on Education
  • Lessons from a Part-Time Job
  • Exploring the College Sports Culture
  • The Role of Technology in Modern Education
  • The Journey of Self-Discovery Through Education

Narrative Essay Comparison

Narrative essay vs. descriptive essay.

Here’s our first narrative essay comparison! While both narrative and descriptive essays focus on vividly portraying a subject or an event, they differ in their primary objectives and approaches. Now, let’s delve into the nuances of comparison on narrative essays.

Narrative Essay:

Storytelling: Focuses on narrating a personal experience or event.

Chronological Order: Follows a structured timeline of events to tell a story.

Message or Lesson: Often includes a central message, moral, or lesson learned from the experience.

Engagement: Aims to captivate the reader through a compelling storyline and character development.

First-Person Perspective: Typically narrated from the writer’s point of view, using “I” and expressing personal emotions and thoughts.

Plot Development: Emphasizes a plot with a beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Character Development: Focuses on describing characters, their interactions, emotions, and growth.

Conflict or Challenge: Usually involves a central conflict or challenge that drives the narrative forward.

Dialogue: Incorporates conversations to bring characters and their interactions to life.

Reflection: Concludes with reflection or insight gained from the experience.

Descriptive Essay:

Vivid Description: Aims to vividly depict a person, place, object, or event.

Imagery and Details: Focuses on sensory details to create a vivid image in the reader’s mind.

Emotion through Description: Uses descriptive language to evoke emotions and engage the reader’s senses.

Painting a Picture: Creates a sensory-rich description allowing the reader to visualize the subject.

Imagery and Sensory Details: Focuses on providing rich sensory descriptions, using vivid language and adjectives.

Point of Focus: Concentrates on describing a specific subject or scene in detail.

Spatial Organization: Often employs spatial organization to describe from one area or aspect to another.

Objective Observations: Typically avoids the use of personal opinions or emotions; instead, the focus remains on providing a detailed and objective description.

Comparison:

Focus: Narrative essays emphasize storytelling, while descriptive essays focus on vividly describing a subject or scene.

Perspective: Narrative essays are often written from a first-person perspective, while descriptive essays may use a more objective viewpoint.

Purpose: Narrative essays aim to convey a message or lesson through a story, while descriptive essays aim to paint a detailed picture for the reader without necessarily conveying a specific message.

Narrative Essay vs. Argumentative Essay

The narrative essay and the argumentative essay serve distinct purposes and employ different approaches:

Engagement and Emotion: Aims to captivate the reader through a compelling story.

Reflective: Often includes reflection on the significance of the experience or lessons learned.

First-Person Perspective: Typically narrated from the writer’s point of view, sharing personal emotions and thoughts.

Plot Development: Emphasizes a storyline with a beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Message or Lesson: Conveys a central message, moral, or insight derived from the experience.

Argumentative Essay:

Persuasion and Argumentation: Aims to persuade the reader to adopt the writer’s viewpoint on a specific topic.

Logical Reasoning: Presents evidence, facts, and reasoning to support a particular argument or stance.

Debate and Counterarguments: Acknowledge opposing views and counter them with evidence and reasoning.

Thesis Statement: Includes a clear thesis statement that outlines the writer’s position on the topic.

Thesis and Evidence: Starts with a strong thesis statement and supports it with factual evidence, statistics, expert opinions, or logical reasoning.

Counterarguments: Addresses opposing viewpoints and provides rebuttals with evidence.

Logical Structure: Follows a logical structure with an introduction, body paragraphs presenting arguments and evidence, and a conclusion reaffirming the thesis.

Formal Language: Uses formal language and avoids personal anecdotes or emotional appeals.

Objective: Argumentative essays focus on presenting a logical argument supported by evidence, while narrative essays prioritize storytelling and personal reflection.

Purpose: Argumentative essays aim to persuade and convince the reader of a particular viewpoint, while narrative essays aim to engage, entertain, and share personal experiences.

Structure: Narrative essays follow a storytelling structure with character development and plot, while argumentative essays follow a more formal, structured approach with logical arguments and evidence.

In essence, while both essays involve writing and presenting information, the narrative essay focuses on sharing a personal experience, whereas the argumentative essay aims to persuade the audience by presenting a well-supported argument.

Narrative Essay vs. Personal Essay

While there can be an overlap between narrative and personal essays, they have distinctive characteristics:

Storytelling: Emphasizes recounting a specific experience or event in a structured narrative form.

Engagement through Story: Aims to engage the reader through a compelling story with characters, plot, and a central theme or message.

Reflective: Often includes reflection on the significance of the experience and the lessons learned.

First-Person Perspective: Typically narrated from the writer’s viewpoint, expressing personal emotions and thoughts.

Plot Development: Focuses on developing a storyline with a clear beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Character Development: Includes descriptions of characters, their interactions, emotions, and growth.

Central Message: Conveys a central message, moral, or insight derived from the experience.

Personal Essay:

Exploration of Ideas or Themes: Explores personal ideas, opinions, or reflections on a particular topic or subject.

Expression of Thoughts and Opinions: Expresses the writer’s thoughts, feelings, and perspectives on a specific subject matter.

Reflection and Introspection: Often involves self-reflection and introspection on personal experiences, beliefs, or values.

Varied Structure and Content: Can encompass various forms, including memoirs, personal anecdotes, or reflections on life experiences.

Flexibility in Structure: Allows for diverse structures and forms based on the writer’s intent, which could be narrative-like or more reflective.

Theme-Centric Writing: Focuses on exploring a central theme or idea, with personal anecdotes or experiences supporting and illustrating the theme.

Expressive Language: Utilizes descriptive and expressive language to convey personal perspectives, emotions, and opinions.

Focus: Narrative essays primarily focus on storytelling through a structured narrative, while personal essays encompass a broader range of personal expression, which can include storytelling but isn’t limited to it.

Structure: Narrative essays have a more structured plot development with characters and a clear sequence of events, while personal essays might adopt various structures, focusing more on personal reflection, ideas, or themes.

Intent: While both involve personal experiences, narrative essays emphasize telling a story with a message or lesson learned, while personal essays aim to explore personal thoughts, feelings, or opinions on a broader range of topics or themes.

5 Easy Steps for Writing a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is more than just telling a story. It’s also meant to engage the reader, get them thinking, and leave a lasting impact. Whether it’s to amuse, motivate, teach, or reflect, these essays are a great way to communicate with your audience. This interesting narrative essay guide was all about letting you understand the narrative essay, its importance, and how can you write one.

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A Hard Lesson Learned

People always say that what does not kill you makes you stronger. This is a cliché that is not taken serious most of the time, but it is true. However, when a person is in a very dangerous situation, the last thing that occurs him is the fact that the situation will have a positive effect. When a person goes through a bad experience , he or she never thinks about how good the experience might influence him or her. However, the realization of influence the experience had on him or her comes after it is long over.

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In my early years in college, I had an invincible feeling that I had acquired in my high school years. However, as time passed on,  soI became more responsible and even took a job to do during my free time, in order to get some money. On the other hand, that feeling of invincibility was still there so I sometimes felt the need to show the world what was behind my calm responsible face. One day, I had taken a job to renovate a house but the other people I worked with were not so helpful. The fact that made it worse is that, they used drugs and even brought them to the work site. I was not happy about this.  Even though I was not an expert but I was able to do my best; I also did not use drugs and it did not please me that they used them in my presence. I was not very good to them and treated them with disdain as if I knew everything about the job.

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On this particular day, one of that people approached me and asked me if I had a problem with him. I was surprised he had decided to approach so I made a decision to tell him what I felt about their behaviors .I said I did not appreciate him bringing drugs at work. He told me he could opt to slap me, but he would not, which only made me feel better about myself. I told him he would not dare because he was a coward and only cowards came to jobs with drugs. This left him surprised because he could not have imagined the fact that I could tell him. What happened next is a little fussy in my mind, but I remember having waken up on the floor feeling pain all over my body.

The other colleagues surrounded me asking what was I thinking talked like that to him. He was apparently known for his violent behaviors and drugs made it worse. My boss asked both of us to accompany him to his office and said he could not allow people like us to workat his firm. I felt that this was his way out of a bad situation, though I felt it was unfair I accepted with grace request for both of us to resign.

That day marked my last day of invincibility; I learnt that it sometimes it is better to keep quiet. If I had chosen not to talk back, then he would not have had a reason to beat me up. I could not have lost my job, and I could have left a good reputation at that firm. I came to learn later that the person who beat me had struggled with substance abuse for a long time. He was able to join a rehabilitation centre and recovered. I always wish I could have made an attempt to reach out to him with humility.

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Narrative Essays

Narrative: The spoken or written account of connected events; a story

Narrative Introductions

The introduction of a narrative essay sets the scene for the story that follows. Interesting introductions—for any kind of writing—engage and draw readers in because they want to know more.

Since narratives tell a story and involve events, the introduction of a narrative quite often starts in the middle of the action in order to bring the reader into the story immediately, as shown in examples 1, 3, and 5 below. Other effective introductions briefly provide background for the point of the story—often the lesson learned—as in 4 below and the first example on the reverse side.

Below are some strategies for writing effective openings. Remember your introduction should be interesting and draw your reader in. It should make your audience want to read more. If it's a person , begin with a description of the person and then say why that person mattered. If it's an event , begin with the action or begin by reflecting back on why the event mattered, then go into the narrative.

  • "Potter...take off!" my coach yelled as I was cracking yet another joke during practice.
  • Why do such a small percentage of high school athletes play Division One sports?
  • It was a cold, rainy night, under the lights on the field. I lined up the ball on the penalty line under the wet grass. After glancing up at the tied score, I stared into the goalkeeper's eyes.
  • My heart pounds in my chest. My stomach full of nervous butterflies. I hear the crowd talking and names being cheered.
  • Slipping the red and white uniform over my head for the first time is a feeling I will never forget.
  • "No football." Those words rang in my head for hours as I thought about what a stupid decision I had made three nights before.
  • "SNAP!" I heard the startling sound of my left knee before I ever felt the pain.
  • According to the NCAA, there are over 400,000 student-athletes in the United States.

Narrative Story

  • Unified: Ensure all actions in your story develop a central idea or argument.
  • Interesting: Draw your readers into your scene(s), making them feel as if they're experiencing them first-hand.
  • Coherent: Indicate changes in time, location, and characters clearly (even if your story is not chronological).
  • Climactic: Include a moment (the climax) when your ending is revealed or the importance of events is made clear.
  • Remember the 5 W's : Who? What? When? Where? Why?
  • Write vividly : Include significant sensory information in the scene (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) to make readers feel they are there
  • Develop " Thick Descriptions "

Clifford Geertz describes thick descriptions as accounts that include not only facts but also commentary and interpretation . The goal is to vividly describe an action or scene, often through the use of metaphors, analogies, and other forms of interpretation that can emote strong feelings and images in your readers' minds.

"The flatness of the Delta made the shack, the quarters, and the railroad tracks nearby seem like some tabletop model train set. Like many Mississippi shacks, this one looked as if no one had lived there since the birth of the blues. Four sunflowers leaned alongside a sagging porch. When the front door creaked open, cockroaches bigger than pecans scurried for cover [...] walls wept with mildew."

—from Bruce Watson's Freedom Summer

Narrative Checklist

  • Does the story have a clear and unifying idea? If not, what could that idea be?
  • If the story doesn't include a thesis sentence, is the unifying idea of the story clear without it?
  • Is the story unified, with all the details contributing to the central idea?
  • Is the story arranged chronologically? If not, is the organization of ideas and events still effective and clear?
  • Do the transitions show the movement from idea to idea and scene to scene?
  • Are there enough details?
  • Is there dialogue at important moments?
  • Is there a climax to the story—moment at which the action is resolved or a key idea is revealed?

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How to Write a Perfect Narrative Essay (Step-by-Step)

By Status.net Editorial Team on October 17, 2023 — 10 minutes to read

  • Understanding a Narrative Essay Part 1
  • Typical Narrative Essay Structure Part 2
  • Narrative Essay Template Part 3
  • Step 1. How to Choose Your Narrative Essay Topic Part 4
  • Step 2. Planning the Structure Part 5
  • Step 3. Crafting an Intriguing Introduction Part 6
  • Step 4. Weaving the Narrative Body Part 7
  • Step 5. Creating a Conclusion Part 8
  • Step 6. Polishing the Essay Part 9
  • Step 7. Feedback and Revision Part 10

Part 1 Understanding a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is a form of writing where you share a personal experience or tell a story to make a point or convey a lesson. Unlike other types of essays, a narrative essay aims to engage your audience by sharing your perspective and taking them on an emotional journey.

  • To begin, choose a meaningful topic . Pick a story or experience that had a significant impact on your life, taught you something valuable, or made you see the world differently. You want your readers to learn from your experiences, so choose something that will resonate with others.
  • Next, create an outline . Although narrative essays allow for creative storytelling, it’s still helpful to have a roadmap to guide your writing. List the main events, the characters involved, and the settings where the events took place. This will help you ensure that your essay is well-structured and easy to follow.
  • When writing your narrative essay, focus on showing, not telling . This means that you should use descriptive language and vivid details to paint a picture in your reader’s mind. For example, instead of stating that it was a rainy day, describe the sound of rain hitting your window, the feeling of cold wetness around you, and the sight of puddles forming around your feet. These sensory details will make your essay more engaging and immersive.
  • Another key aspect is developing your characters . Give your readers an insight into the thoughts and emotions of the people in your story. This helps them connect with the story, empathize with the characters, and understand their actions. For instance, if your essay is about a challenging hike you took with a friend, spend some time describing your friend’s personality and how the experience impacted their attitude or feelings.
  • Keep the pace interesting . Vary your sentence lengths and structures, and don’t be afraid to use some stylistic devices like dialogue, flashbacks, and metaphors. This adds more depth and dimension to your story, keeping your readers engaged from beginning to end.

Part 2 Typical Narrative Essay Structure

A narrative essay typically follows a three-part structure: introduction, body, and conclusion.

  • Introduction: Start with a hook to grab attention and introduce your story. Provide some background to set the stage for the main events.
  • Body: Develop your story in detail. Describe scenes, characters, and emotions. Use dialogue when necessary to provide conversational elements.
  • Conclusion: Sum up your story, revealing the lesson learned or the moral of the story. Leave your audience with a lasting impression.

Part 3 Narrative Essay Template

  • 1. Introduction : Set the scene and introduce the main characters and setting of your story. Use descriptive language to paint a vivid picture for your reader and capture their attention.
  • Body 2. Rising Action : Develop the plot by introducing a conflict or challenge that the main character must face. This could be a personal struggle, a difficult decision, or an external obstacle. 3. Climax : This is the turning point of the story, where the conflict reaches its peak and the main character must make a critical decision or take action. 4. Falling Action : Show the consequences of the main character’s decision or action, and how it affects the rest of the story. 5. Resolution : Bring the story to a satisfying conclusion by resolving the conflict and showing how the main character has grown or changed as a result of their experiences.
  • 6. Reflection/Conclusion : Reflect on the events of the story and what they mean to you as the writer. This could be a lesson learned, a personal realization, or a message you want to convey to your reader.

Part 4 Step 1. How to Choose Your Narrative Essay Topic

Brainstorming ideas.

Start by jotting down any ideas that pop into your mind. Think about experiences you’ve had, stories you’ve heard, or even books and movies that have resonated with you. Write these ideas down and don’t worry too much about organization yet. It’s all about getting your thoughts on paper.

Once you have a list, review your ideas and identify common themes or connections between them. This process should help you discover potential topics for your narrative essay.

Narrowing Down the Choices

After brainstorming, you’ll likely end up with a few strong contenders for your essay topic. To decide which topic is best, consider the following:

  • Relevance : Is the topic meaningful for your audience? Will they be able to connect with it on a personal level? Consider the purpose of your assignment and your audience when choosing your topic.
  • Detail : Do you have enough specific details to craft a vivid story? The more detail you can recall about the event, the easier it’ll be to write a compelling narrative.
  • Emotional impact : A strong narrative essay should evoke emotions in your readers. Choose a topic that has the potential to elicit some emotional response from your target audience.

After evaluating your potential topics based on these criteria, you can select the one that best fits the purpose of your narrative essay.

Part 5 Step 2. Planning the Structure

Creating an outline.

Before you start writing your narrative essay, it’s a great idea to plan out your story. Grab a piece of paper and sketch out a rough outline of the key points you want to cover. Begin with the introduction, where you’ll set the scene and introduce your characters. Then, list the major events of your story in chronological order, followed by the climax and resolution. Organizing your ideas in an outline will ensure your essay flows smoothly and makes sense to your readers.

Detailing Characters, Settings, and Events

Taking time to flesh out the characters, settings, and events in your story will make it more engaging and relatable. Think about your main character’s background, traits, and motivations. Describe their appearance, emotions, and behavior in detail. This personal touch will help your readers connect with them on a deeper level.

Also, give some thought to the setting – where does the story take place? Be sure to include sensory details that paint a vivid picture of the environment. Finally, focus on the series of events that make up your narrative. Are there any twists and turns, or surprising moments? Address these in your essay, using vivid language and engaging storytelling techniques to captivate your readers.

Writing the Narrative Essay

Part 6 step 3. crafting an intriguing introduction.

To start your narrative essay, you’ll want to hook your reader with an interesting and engaging opening. Begin with a captivating sentence or question that piques curiosity and captures attention. For example, “Did you ever think a simple bus ride could change your life forever?” This kind of opening sets the stage for a compelling, relatable story. Next, introduce your main characters and provide a bit of context to help your readers understand the setting and background of the story.

Part 7 Step 4. Weaving the Narrative Body

The body of your essay is where your story unfolds. Here’s where you’ll present a series of events, using descriptive language and vivid details.

Remember to maintain a strong focus on the central theme or main point of your narrative.

Organize your essay chronologically, guiding your reader through the timeline of events.

As you recount your experience, use a variety of sensory details, such as sounds, smells, and tastes, to immerse your reader in the moment. For instance, “The smell of freshly brewed coffee filled the room as my friends and I excitedly chattered about our upcoming adventure.”

Take advantage of dialogue to bring your characters to life and to reveal aspects of their personalities. Incorporate both internal and external conflicts, as conflict plays a crucial role in engaging your reader and enhancing the narrative’s momentum. Show the evolution of your characters and how they grow throughout the story.

Part 8 Step 5. Creating a Conclusion

Finally, to write a satisfying conclusion, reflect on the narrative’s impact and how the experience has affected you or your characters. Tie the narrative’s events together and highlight the lessons learned, providing closure for the reader.

Avoid abruptly ending your story, because that can leave the reader feeling unsatisfied. Instead, strive to create a sense of resolution and demonstrate how the events have changed the characters’ perspectives or how the story’s theme has developed.

For example, “Looking back, I realize that the bus ride not only changed my perspective on friendship, but also taught me valuable life lessons that I carry with me to this day.”

Part 9 Step 6. Polishing the Essay

Fine-tuning your language.

When writing a narrative essay, it’s key to choose words that convey the emotions and experiences you’re describing. Opt for specific, vivid language that creates a clear mental image for your reader. For instance, instead of saying “The weather was hot,” try “The sun scorched the pavement, causing the air to shimmer like a mirage.” This gives your essay a more engaging and immersive feeling.

Editing for Clarity and Concision

As you revise your essay, keep an eye out for redundancies and unnecessary words that might dilute the impact of your story. Getting to the point and using straightforward language can help your essay flow better. For example, instead of using “She was walking in a very slow manner,” you can say, “She strolled leisurely.” Eliminate filler words and phrases, keeping only the most pertinent information that moves your story forward.

Proofreading for Typos

Finally, proofread your essay carefully to catch any typos, grammatical errors, or punctuation mistakes. It’s always a good idea to have someone else read it as well, as they might catch errors you didn’t notice. Mistakes can be distracting and may undermine the credibility of your writing, so be thorough with your editing process.

Part 10 Step 7. Feedback and Revision

Gathering feedback.

After you’ve written the first draft of your narrative essay, it’s time to gather feedback from friends, family, or colleagues. Share your essay with a few trusted people who can provide insights and suggestions for improvement. Listen to their thoughts and be open to constructive criticism. You might be surprised by the different perspectives they offer, which can strengthen your essay.

Iterating on the Draft

Once you have collected feedback, it’s time to revise and refine your essay. Address any issues or concerns raised by your readers and incorporate their suggestions. Consider reorganizing your story’s structure, clarifying your descriptions, or adding more details based on the feedback you received.

As you make changes, continue to fine-tune your essay to ensure a smooth flow and a strong narrative. Don’t be afraid to cut out unnecessary elements or rework parts of your story until it’s polished and compelling.

Revision is a crucial part of the writing process, and taking the time to reflect on feedback and make improvements will help you create a more engaging and impactful narrative essay.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can i create an engaging introduction.

Craft an attention-grabbing hook with a thought-provoking question, an interesting fact, or a vivid description. Set the stage for your story by introducing the time, place, and context for the events. Creating tension or raising curiosity will make your readers eager to learn more.

What strategies help develop strong characters?

To develop strong characters, consider the following:

  • Give your characters distinct traits, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Provide a backstory to explain their actions and motivations.
  • Use dialogue to present their personality, emotions, and relationships.
  • Show how they change or evolve throughout your story.

How can I make my story flow smoothly with transitions?

Smooth transitions between scenes or events can create a more coherent and easy-to-follow story. Consider the following tips to improve your transitions:

  • Use words and phrases like “meanwhile,” “later that day,” or “afterward” to signify changes in time.
  • Link scenes with a common theme or element.
  • Revisit the main characters or setting to maintain continuity.
  • Introduce a twist or an unexpected event that leads to the next scene.

What are some tips for choosing a great narrative essay topic?

To choose an engaging narrative essay topic, follow these tips:

  • Pick a personal experience or story that holds significance for you.
  • Consider a challenge or a turning point you’ve faced in your life.
  • Opt for a topic that will allow you to share emotions and lessons learned.
  • Think about what your audience would find relatable, intriguing, or inspiring.

How do I wrap up my narrative essay with a strong conclusion?

A compelling conclusion restates the main events and highlights any lessons learned or growth in your character. Try to end on a thought-provoking note or leave readers with some food for thought. Finally, make sure your conclusion wraps up your story neatly and reinforces its overall message.

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A lesson learned

A lesson learned… I wonder, is it at all possible to learn harsh lessons of our life? Indeed, in most spheres of human activity we can hope to take our previous mistakes into consideration and avoid them in the future. But concerning human feelings, is it right to blame ourselves if it turns out that we had made a mistake by sincerely investing a part of us into a wrong person who has lead us into the devastating emotional state? And can we avoid such mistakes in the future without becoming desensitized? Confusion over these questions constitutes the kaleidoscope of my memory of Kim, the relationship with whom ended with the shattering argument over one of the most important questions – what is the nature of commitment between man and woman?

How fitting was her glowing red pullover when she blazed up in response to my question about whether she had spent the Saturday`s night at the Chicago Blues Club and had left with Craig: “You better care about your own leisure as mine is definitely much cuter!” This phrase was the last one between us as a couple, and, truly, “care about your own whatever” is probably the epitome of the fundamental problem that any couple face in one way or another. I am even grateful to Kim for such an exact formulation. Despite the great time that we had together, this ending of our relationship was in no need of talk. Earlier, when we had petty quarrels words channeled negative emotions, but this time words suddenly turned into the irreversible verdict. I only could respond in my mind: “How funny, here we have two people who cannot in principle understand each other”. The realization of this killed in me all desire to engage into mutual accusations, and made me feel fully implicated in this unpleasant situation.

Now that time has passed, I of course remember well the emotional turmoil that accompanied me after our break-up. But while being perhaps less naive now, I am no longer too pessimistic. Yes, as I have said before, it is a daunting task to learn all lessons of our life because we tend to forget them. But if we manage to leave a trace of our emotional experiences, then probably we can overcome even arguments without the principal solution. Well, this is exactly what I have tried to do, and while I think that ordering of human emotions may dissolve the essence of human experience, I believe that it is necessary to turn our experiences into words that represent them as close as possible, so that we and others could relive them upon reading.

a hard lesson learned narrative essay

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A narrative essay is one of the most intimidating assignments you can be handed at any level of your education. Where you've previously written argumentative essays that make a point or analytic essays that dissect meaning, a narrative essay asks you to write what is effectively a story .

But unlike a simple work of creative fiction, your narrative essay must have a clear and concrete motif —a recurring theme or idea that you’ll explore throughout. Narrative essays are less rigid, more creative in expression, and therefore pretty different from most other essays you’ll be writing.

But not to fear—in this article, we’ll be covering what a narrative essay is, how to write a good one, and also analyzing some personal narrative essay examples to show you what a great one looks like.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

At first glance, a narrative essay might sound like you’re just writing a story. Like the stories you're used to reading, a narrative essay is generally (but not always) chronological, following a clear throughline from beginning to end. Even if the story jumps around in time, all the details will come back to one specific theme, demonstrated through your choice in motifs.

Unlike many creative stories, however, your narrative essay should be based in fact. That doesn’t mean that every detail needs to be pure and untainted by imagination, but rather that you shouldn’t wholly invent the events of your narrative essay. There’s nothing wrong with inventing a person’s words if you can’t remember them exactly, but you shouldn’t say they said something they weren’t even close to saying.

Another big difference between narrative essays and creative fiction—as well as other kinds of essays—is that narrative essays are based on motifs. A motif is a dominant idea or theme, one that you establish before writing the essay. As you’re crafting the narrative, it’ll feed back into your motif to create a comprehensive picture of whatever that motif is.

For example, say you want to write a narrative essay about how your first day in high school helped you establish your identity. You might discuss events like trying to figure out where to sit in the cafeteria, having to describe yourself in five words as an icebreaker in your math class, or being unsure what to do during your lunch break because it’s no longer acceptable to go outside and play during lunch. All of those ideas feed back into the central motif of establishing your identity.

The important thing to remember is that while a narrative essay is typically told chronologically and intended to read like a story, it is not purely for entertainment value. A narrative essay delivers its theme by deliberately weaving the motifs through the events, scenes, and details. While a narrative essay may be entertaining, its primary purpose is to tell a complete story based on a central meaning.

Unlike other essay forms, it is totally okay—even expected—to use first-person narration in narrative essays. If you’re writing a story about yourself, it’s natural to refer to yourself within the essay. It’s also okay to use other perspectives, such as third- or even second-person, but that should only be done if it better serves your motif. Generally speaking, your narrative essay should be in first-person perspective.

Though your motif choices may feel at times like you’re making a point the way you would in an argumentative essay, a narrative essay’s goal is to tell a story, not convince the reader of anything. Your reader should be able to tell what your motif is from reading, but you don’t have to change their mind about anything. If they don’t understand the point you are making, you should consider strengthening the delivery of the events and descriptions that support your motif.

Narrative essays also share some features with analytical essays, in which you derive meaning from a book, film, or other media. But narrative essays work differently—you’re not trying to draw meaning from an existing text, but rather using an event you’ve experienced to convey meaning. In an analytical essay, you examine narrative, whereas in a narrative essay you create narrative.

The structure of a narrative essay is also a bit different than other essays. You’ll generally be getting your point across chronologically as opposed to grouping together specific arguments in paragraphs or sections. To return to the example of an essay discussing your first day of high school and how it impacted the shaping of your identity, it would be weird to put the events out of order, even if not knowing what to do after lunch feels like a stronger idea than choosing where to sit. Instead of organizing to deliver your information based on maximum impact, you’ll be telling your story as it happened, using concrete details to reinforce your theme.

body_fair

3 Great Narrative Essay Examples

One of the best ways to learn how to write a narrative essay is to look at a great narrative essay sample. Let’s take a look at some truly stellar narrative essay examples and dive into what exactly makes them work so well.

A Ticket to the Fair by David Foster Wallace

Today is Press Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, and I’m supposed to be at the fairgrounds by 9:00 A.M. to get my credentials. I imagine credentials to be a small white card in the band of a fedora. I’ve never been considered press before. My real interest in credentials is getting into rides and shows for free. I’m fresh in from the East Coast, for an East Coast magazine. Why exactly they’re interested in the Illinois State Fair remains unclear to me. I suspect that every so often editors at East Coast magazines slap their foreheads and remember that about 90 percent of the United States lies between the coasts, and figure they’ll engage somebody to do pith-helmeted anthropological reporting on something rural and heartlandish. I think they asked me to do this because I grew up here, just a couple hours’ drive from downstate Springfield. I never did go to the state fair, though—I pretty much topped out at the county fair level. Actually, I haven’t been back to Illinois for a long time, and I can’t say I’ve missed it.

Throughout this essay, David Foster Wallace recounts his experience as press at the Illinois State Fair. But it’s clear from this opening that he’s not just reporting on the events exactly as they happened—though that’s also true— but rather making a point about how the East Coast, where he lives and works, thinks about the Midwest.

In his opening paragraph, Wallace states that outright: “Why exactly they’re interested in the Illinois State Fair remains unclear to me. I suspect that every so often editors at East Coast magazines slap their foreheads and remember that about 90 percent of the United States lies between the coasts, and figure they’ll engage somebody to do pith-helmeted anthropological reporting on something rural and heartlandish.”

Not every motif needs to be stated this clearly , but in an essay as long as Wallace’s, particularly since the audience for such a piece may feel similarly and forget that such a large portion of the country exists, it’s important to make that point clear.

But Wallace doesn’t just rest on introducing his motif and telling the events exactly as they occurred from there. It’s clear that he selects events that remind us of that idea of East Coast cynicism , such as when he realizes that the Help Me Grow tent is standing on top of fake grass that is killing the real grass beneath, when he realizes the hypocrisy of craving a corn dog when faced with a real, suffering pig, when he’s upset for his friend even though he’s not the one being sexually harassed, and when he witnesses another East Coast person doing something he wouldn’t dare to do.

Wallace is literally telling the audience exactly what happened, complete with dates and timestamps for when each event occurred. But he’s also choosing those events with a purpose—he doesn’t focus on details that don’t serve his motif. That’s why he discusses the experiences of people, how the smells are unappealing to him, and how all the people he meets, in cowboy hats, overalls, or “black spandex that looks like cheesecake leotards,” feel almost alien to him.

All of these details feed back into the throughline of East Coast thinking that Wallace introduces in the first paragraph. He also refers back to it in the essay’s final paragraph, stating:

At last, an overarching theory blooms inside my head: megalopolitan East Coasters’ summer treats and breaks and literally ‘getaways,’ flights-from—from crowds, noise, heat, dirt, the stress of too many sensory choices….The East Coast existential treat is escape from confines and stimuli—quiet, rustic vistas that hold still, turn inward, turn away. Not so in the rural Midwest. Here you’re pretty much away all the time….Something in a Midwesterner sort of actuates , deep down, at a public event….The real spectacle that draws us here is us.

Throughout this journey, Wallace has tried to demonstrate how the East Coast thinks about the Midwest, ultimately concluding that they are captivated by the Midwest’s less stimuli-filled life, but that the real reason they are interested in events like the Illinois State Fair is that they are, in some ways, a means of looking at the East Coast in a new, estranging way.

The reason this works so well is that Wallace has carefully chosen his examples, outlined his motif and themes in the first paragraph, and eventually circled back to the original motif with a clearer understanding of his original point.

When outlining your own narrative essay, try to do the same. Start with a theme, build upon it with examples, and return to it in the end with an even deeper understanding of the original issue. You don’t need this much space to explore a theme, either—as we’ll see in the next example, a strong narrative essay can also be very short.

body_moth

Death of a Moth by Virginia Woolf

After a time, tired by his dancing apparently, he settled on the window ledge in the sun, and, the queer spectacle being at an end, I forgot about him. Then, looking up, my eye was caught by him. He was trying to resume his dancing, but seemed either so stiff or so awkward that he could only flutter to the bottom of the window-pane; and when he tried to fly across it he failed. Being intent on other matters I watched these futile attempts for a time without thinking, unconsciously waiting for him to resume his flight, as one waits for a machine, that has stopped momentarily, to start again without considering the reason of its failure. After perhaps a seventh attempt he slipped from the wooden ledge and fell, fluttering his wings, on to his back on the window sill. The helplessness of his attitude roused me. It flashed upon me that he was in difficulties; he could no longer raise himself; his legs struggled vainly. But, as I stretched out a pencil, meaning to help him to right himself, it came over me that the failure and awkwardness were the approach of death. I laid the pencil down again.

In this essay, Virginia Woolf explains her encounter with a dying moth. On surface level, this essay is just a recounting of an afternoon in which she watched a moth die—it’s even established in the title. But there’s more to it than that. Though Woolf does not begin her essay with as clear a motif as Wallace, it’s not hard to pick out the evidence she uses to support her point, which is that the experience of this moth is also the human experience.

In the title, Woolf tells us this essay is about death. But in the first paragraph, she seems to mostly be discussing life—the moth is “content with life,” people are working in the fields, and birds are flying. However, she mentions that it is mid-September and that the fields were being plowed. It’s autumn and it’s time for the harvest; the time of year in which many things die.

In this short essay, she chronicles the experience of watching a moth seemingly embody life, then die. Though this essay is literally about a moth, it’s also about a whole lot more than that. After all, moths aren’t the only things that die—Woolf is also reflecting on her own mortality, as well as the mortality of everything around her.

At its core, the essay discusses the push and pull of life and death, not in a way that’s necessarily sad, but in a way that is accepting of both. Woolf begins by setting up the transitional fall season, often associated with things coming to an end, and raises the ideas of pleasure, vitality, and pity.

At one point, Woolf tries to help the dying moth, but reconsiders, as it would interfere with the natural order of the world. The moth’s death is part of the natural order of the world, just like fall, just like her own eventual death.

All these themes are set up in the beginning and explored throughout the essay’s narrative. Though Woolf doesn’t directly state her theme, she reinforces it by choosing a small, isolated event—watching a moth die—and illustrating her point through details.

With this essay, we can see that you don’t need a big, weird, exciting event to discuss an important meaning. Woolf is able to explore complicated ideas in a short essay by being deliberate about what details she includes, just as you can be in your own essays.

body_baldwin

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

On the twenty-ninth of July, in 1943, my father died. On the same day, a few hours later, his last child was born. Over a month before this, while all our energies were concentrated in waiting for these events, there had been, in Detroit, one of the bloodiest race riots of the century. A few hours after my father’s funeral, while he lay in state in the undertaker’s chapel, a race riot broke out in Harlem. On the morning of the third of August, we drove my father to the graveyard through a wilderness of smashed plate glass.

Like Woolf, Baldwin does not lay out his themes in concrete terms—unlike Wallace, there’s no clear sentence that explains what he’ll be talking about. However, you can see the motifs quite clearly: death, fatherhood, struggle, and race.

Throughout the narrative essay, Baldwin discusses the circumstances of his father’s death, including his complicated relationship with his father. By introducing those motifs in the first paragraph, the reader understands that everything discussed in the essay will come back to those core ideas. When Baldwin talks about his experience with a white teacher taking an interest in him and his father’s resistance to that, he is also talking about race and his father’s death. When he talks about his father’s death, he is also talking about his views on race. When he talks about his encounters with segregation and racism, he is talking, in part, about his father.

Because his father was a hard, uncompromising man, Baldwin struggles to reconcile the knowledge that his father was right about many things with his desire to not let that hardness consume him, as well.

Baldwin doesn’t explicitly state any of this, but his writing so often touches on the same motifs that it becomes clear he wants us to think about all these ideas in conversation with one another.

At the end of the essay, Baldwin makes it more clear:

This fight begins, however, in the heart and it had now been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair. This intimation made my heart heavy and, now that my father was irrecoverable, I wished that he had been beside me so that I could have searched his face for the answers which only the future would give me now.

Here, Baldwin ties together the themes and motifs into one clear statement: that he must continue to fight and recognize injustice, especially racial injustice, just as his father did. But unlike his father, he must do it beginning with himself—he must not let himself be closed off to the world as his father was. And yet, he still wishes he had his father for guidance, even as he establishes that he hopes to be a different man than his father.

In this essay, Baldwin loads the front of the essay with his motifs, and, through his narrative, weaves them together into a theme. In the end, he comes to a conclusion that connects all of those things together and leaves the reader with a lasting impression of completion—though the elements may have been initially disparate, in the end everything makes sense.

You can replicate this tactic of introducing seemingly unattached ideas and weaving them together in your own essays. By introducing those motifs, developing them throughout, and bringing them together in the end, you can demonstrate to your reader how all of them are related. However, it’s especially important to be sure that your motifs and clear and consistent throughout your essay so that the conclusion feels earned and consistent—if not, readers may feel mislead.

5 Key Tips for Writing Narrative Essays

Narrative essays can be a lot of fun to write since they’re so heavily based on creativity. But that can also feel intimidating—sometimes it’s easier to have strict guidelines than to have to make it all up yourself. Here are a few tips to keep your narrative essay feeling strong and fresh.

Develop Strong Motifs

Motifs are the foundation of a narrative essay . What are you trying to say? How can you say that using specific symbols or events? Those are your motifs.

In the same way that an argumentative essay’s body should support its thesis, the body of your narrative essay should include motifs that support your theme.

Try to avoid cliches, as these will feel tired to your readers. Instead of roses to symbolize love, try succulents. Instead of the ocean representing some vast, unknowable truth, try the depths of your brother’s bedroom. Keep your language and motifs fresh and your essay will be even stronger!

Use First-Person Perspective

In many essays, you’re expected to remove yourself so that your points stand on their own. Not so in a narrative essay—in this case, you want to make use of your own perspective.

Sometimes a different perspective can make your point even stronger. If you want someone to identify with your point of view, it may be tempting to choose a second-person perspective. However, be sure you really understand the function of second-person; it’s very easy to put a reader off if the narration isn’t expertly deployed.

If you want a little bit of distance, third-person perspective may be okay. But be careful—too much distance and your reader may feel like the narrative lacks truth.

That’s why first-person perspective is the standard. It keeps you, the writer, close to the narrative, reminding the reader that it really happened. And because you really know what happened and how, you’re free to inject your own opinion into the story without it detracting from your point, as it would in a different type of essay.

Stick to the Truth

Your essay should be true. However, this is a creative essay, and it’s okay to embellish a little. Rarely in life do we experience anything with a clear, concrete meaning the way somebody in a book might. If you flub the details a little, it’s okay—just don’t make them up entirely.

Also, nobody expects you to perfectly recall details that may have happened years ago. You may have to reconstruct dialog from your memory and your imagination. That’s okay, again, as long as you aren’t making it up entirely and assigning made-up statements to somebody.

Dialog is a powerful tool. A good conversation can add flavor and interest to a story, as we saw demonstrated in David Foster Wallace’s essay. As previously mentioned, it’s okay to flub it a little, especially because you’re likely writing about an experience you had without knowing that you’d be writing about it later.

However, don’t rely too much on it. Your narrative essay shouldn’t be told through people explaining things to one another; the motif comes through in the details. Dialog can be one of those details, but it shouldn’t be the only one.

Use Sensory Descriptions

Because a narrative essay is a story, you can use sensory details to make your writing more interesting. If you’re describing a particular experience, you can go into detail about things like taste, smell, and hearing in a way that you probably wouldn’t do in any other essay style.

These details can tie into your overall motifs and further your point. Woolf describes in great detail what she sees while watching the moth, giving us the sense that we, too, are watching the moth. In Wallace’s essay, he discusses the sights, sounds, and smells of the Illinois State Fair to help emphasize his point about its strangeness. And in Baldwin’s essay, he describes shattered glass as a “wilderness,” and uses the feelings of his body to describe his mental state.

All these descriptions anchor us not only in the story, but in the motifs and themes as well. One of the tools of a writer is making the reader feel as you felt, and sensory details help you achieve that.

What’s Next?

Looking to brush up on your essay-writing capabilities before the ACT? This guide to ACT English will walk you through some of the best strategies and practice questions to get you prepared!

Part of practicing for the ACT is ensuring your word choice and diction are on point. Check out this guide to some of the most common errors on the ACT English section to be sure that you're not making these common mistakes!

A solid understanding of English principles will help you make an effective point in a narrative essay, and you can get that understanding through taking a rigorous assortment of high school English classes !

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Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

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Essays About Life Lessons: Top 5 Examples and 7 Prompts

Read our guide to see the top examples and prompts on essays about life lessons to communicate your thoughts effectively.

Jordan Peterson once said, “Experience is the best teacher, and the worst experiences teach the best lessons.” The many life lessons we’ll accumulate in our life will help us veer in the right direction to fulfill our destinies. Whether it’s creative or nonfiction, as long as it describes the author’s personal life experiences or worldview, recounting life lessons falls under the personal or narrative essay category. 

To successfully write an essay on this topic, you must connect with your readers and allow them to visualize, understand, and get inspired by what you have learned about life. To do this, you must remember critical elements such as a compelling hook, engaging story, relatable characters, suitable setting, and significant points. 

See below five examples of life lessons essays to inspire you:

1. Life Lessons That the First Love Taught Me by Anonymous on GradesFixer.Com

2. the dad’s life lessons and the role model for the children by anonymous on studymoose.com, 3. studying history and own mistakes as life lessons: opinion essay by anonymous on edubirdie.com, 4. life lessons by anonymous on phdessay.com, 5. valuable lessons learned in life by anonymous on eduzaurus.com, 1. life lessons from books, 2. my biggest mistake and the life lesson i learned, 3. the life lessons i’ve learned, 4. life lessons from a popular show, 5. using life lessons in starting a business, 6. life lessons you must know, 7. kids and life lessons.

“I thought I knew absolutely everything about loving someone by the age of fourteen. Clearly I knew nothing and I still have so much to learn about what it is like to actually love someone.”

The author relates how their first love story unfolds, including the many things they learned from it. An example is that no matter how compatible the couple is if they are not for each other, they will not last long and will break up eventually. The writer also shares that situations that test the relationship, such as jealousy, deserve your attention as they aid people in picking the right decisions. The essay further tells how the writer’s relationship became toxic and affected their mental and emotional stability, even after the breakup. To cope and heal, they stopped looking for connections and focused on their grades, family, friends, and self-love.

“I am extremely thankful that he could teach me all the basics like how to ride a bike, how to fish and shoot straight, how to garden, how to cook, how to drive, how to skip a rock, and even how to blow spitballs. But I am most thankful that could teach me to stand tall (even though I’m 5’3”), be full with my heart and be strong with my mind.”

In this essay, the writer introduces their role model who taught them almost everything they know in their seventeen years of life, their father. The writer shares that their father’s toughness, stubbornness, and determination helped them learn to stand up for themselves and others and not be a coward in telling the truth. Because of him, the author learned how to be kind, generous, and mature. Finally, the author is very grateful to their father, who help them to think for themselves and not believe everything they hear.

“In my opinion, I believe it is more important to study the past rather than the present because we can learn more from our mistakes.”

This short essay explains the importance of remembering past events to analyze our mistakes. The author mentions that when people do this, they learn and grow from it, which prevents them from repeating the same error in the present time. The writer also points out that everyone has made the mistake of letting others dictate how their life goes, often leading to failures. 

“… I believe we come here to learn a valuable lesson. If we did not learn this lesson through out a life time, our souls would come back to repeat the process.” 

This essay presents three crucial life lessons that everyone needs to know. The first is to stop being too comfortable in taking people and things for granted. Instead, we must learn to appreciate everything. The second is to realize that mistakes are part of everyone’s life. So don’t let the fear of making mistakes stop you from trying something new. The third and final lesson is from Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” People learn and grow as they age, so everyone needs to remember to live their life as if it were their last with no regrets.

“Life lessons are not necessarily learned from bad experiences, it can also be learned from good experiences, accomplishments, mistakes of other people, and by reading too.”

The essay reminds the readers to live their life to the fullest and cherish people and things in their lives because life is too short. If you want something, do not let it slip away without trying. If it fails, do not suffer and move on. The author also unveils the importance of travelling, keeping a diary, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

7 Prompts for Essays About Life Lessons

Use the prompts below if you’re still undecided on what to write about:

Essays about life lessons: Life lessons from books

As mentioned above, life lessons are not only from experiences but also from reading. So for this prompt, pick up your favorite book and write down the lessons you learned from it. Next, identify each and explain to your readers why you think it’s essential to incorporate these lessons into real life. Finally, add how integrating these messages affected you. 

There are always lessons we can derive from mistakes. However, not everyone understands these mistakes, so they keep doing them. Think of all your past mistakes and choose one that had the most significant negative impact on you and the people around you. Then, share with your readers what it is, its causes, and its effects. Finally, don’t forget to discuss what you gained from these faults and how you prevent yourself from doing them again.

Compile all the life lessons you’ve realized from different sources. They can be from your own experience, a relative’s, a movie, etc. Add why these lessons resonate with you. Be creative and use metaphors or add imaginary scenarios. Bear in mind that your essay should convey your message well.

Popular shows are an excellent medium for teaching life lessons to a broad audience. In your essay, pick a well-known work and reflect on it. For example, Euphoria is a TV series that created hubbub for its intrigue and sensitive themes. Dissect what life lessons one can retrieve from watching the show and relate them to personal encounters. You can also compile lessons from online posts and discussions.

If the subject of “life lessons” is too general for you, scope a more specific area, such as entrepreneurship. Which life lessons are critical for a person in business? To make your essay easier to digest, interview a successful business owner and ask about the life lessons they’ve accumulated before and while pursuing their goals.

Use this prompt to present the most important life lessons you’ve collected throughout your life. Then, share why you selected these lessons. For instance, you can choose “Live life as if it’s your last” and explain that you realized this life lesson after suddenly losing a loved one.

Have you ever met someone younger than you who taught you a life lesson? If so, in this prompt, tell your reader the whole story and what life lesson you discovered. Then, you can reverse it and write an incident where you give a good life lesson to someone older than you – say what it was and if that lesson helped them. Read our storytelling guide to upgrade your techniques.

a hard lesson learned narrative essay

Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.

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a hard lesson learned narrative essay

Narrative Essay Topics: TOP 200 Choices for Students

a hard lesson learned narrative essay

Imagine yourself facing a blank page, ready to fill it with your memories and imagination. What story will you tell today?

As students, you often have to write narratives that capture people's attention. But with so many stories to choose from, where do you start? How do you find the perfect topic that will grab our readers' interest and make them think?

Join our essay service experts as we explore 200 topics for college where stories are waiting to be told, and experiences are ready to be shared. From everyday events to unforgettable moments, each topic is a chance to connect with your readers and make them feel something.

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Ideas for Narrative Essay Topics

After exploring how students write narrative paragraphs, we've put together a list of narrative essay topics designed specifically for college and school students. This list covers a wide range of subjects, so pick one that speaks to you! If you want to see how to develop a topic into a written essay, check out our narrative essay example . 

Literacy Narrative Essay Topics for College Students

How about delving into captivating literacy narrative essay topics designed specifically for college-level writing? Exciting, isn't it?

  • How did a childhood book shape your view of the world?
  • What challenges did you face when learning to read in a second language?
  • How has storytelling within your family influenced your literacy journey?
  • Can you recall a pivotal moment that ignited your love for reading?
  • How did a specific teacher inspire your passion for literature?
  • Have you ever encountered a character in a book who profoundly impacted your perspective on life?
  • What role did writing play in helping you navigate a difficult period in your life?
  • How has your relationship with technology affected your reading habits?
  • What cultural or historical event sparked your interest in a particular genre of literature?
  • How has poetry shaped your understanding of language and emotion?
  • Have you ever experienced a breakthrough moment in your writing process?
  • How has reading aloud impacted your comprehension and enjoyment of literature?
  • Can you recall a time when a book challenged your beliefs or worldview?
  • How has participating in a book club enriched your reading experience?
  • What strategies have you developed to overcome reading difficulties or distractions?

Personal Narrative Essay Topics on Relationships

Take a moment to reflect on your past experiences and craft compelling personal narratives with these essay ideas.

  • How did a specific friendship shape who you are today?
  • Can you recount a moment that strengthened your bond with a family member?
  • What challenges have you faced in maintaining a long-distance relationship?
  • How has a mentor influenced your personal and professional development?
  • Have you experienced a betrayal in a relationship? How did it impact you?
  • Can you describe a memorable conflict resolution process within a relationship?
  • How has your relationship with a pet affected your emotional well-being?
  • What lessons have you learned from navigating a romantic relationship?
  • How has your relationship with a sibling evolved over time?
  • Can you recall a time when you had to set boundaries in a friendship?
  • How has volunteering or community involvement enriched your relationships?
  • What cultural differences have influenced your relationships with others?
  • Can you share a moment when you felt truly understood by someone?
  • How has technology affected the dynamics of your relationships?
  • Have you ever experienced a reconciliation that transformed a strained relationship?

Best Narrative Essay Topics on Education and Learning

Consider the beauty of sharing your personal experiences and emotions in a captivating manner through these ideas for personal narrative essays.

  • What was the most valuable lesson you learned outside of the classroom?
  • Can you recount a moment when a teacher's unconventional method transformed your understanding of a subject?
  • How has a field trip or experiential learning opportunity impacted your education?
  • What challenges have you faced in balancing extracurricular activities with academics?
  • Have you ever had a "Eureka!" moment while studying? Describe it.
  • How has learning a new skill outside of school influenced your academic performance?
  • Can you recall a time when a peer's perspective challenged your own understanding of a topic?
  • How has technology enhanced or hindered your learning experience?
  • What role does creativity play in your approach to learning?
  • Have you ever experienced a setback that ultimately propelled you forward academically?
  • How has your cultural background influenced your learning style?
  • Can you describe a time when you had to advocate for yourself within an educational setting?
  • How has mentorship shaped your educational journey?
  • What strategies have you employed to overcome academic challenges or obstacles?
  • Can you reflect on a time when failure taught you a valuable lesson about learning?

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Personal Narrative Essay Ideas on Reflection on Life

Why not ignite your creativity with a range of narrative essay topics, from extraordinary moments to everyday experiences?

  • How has a moment of failure ultimately led to personal growth and resilience?
  • Can you recount a pivotal decision that significantly altered the course of your life?
  • What lessons have you learned from navigating a crossroads or major life transition?
  • How has your perspective on success evolved over time?
  • Can you reflect on a time when you had to confront and overcome a deeply held fear?
  • What role has gratitude played in shaping your outlook on life?
  • How have your values and beliefs been influenced by significant life experiences?
  • Can you describe a moment when you found clarity and purpose amidst chaos or uncertainty?
  • What impact has traveling to a new place had on your understanding of the world and yourself?
  • How has adversity strengthened your character and determination?
  • Can you recall a time when a random act of kindness profoundly impacted your life?
  • What lessons have you learned from embracing vulnerability and authenticity in relationships?
  • How has practicing mindfulness or self-reflection enhanced your well-being and happiness?
  • Can you reflect on a period of personal transformation or self-discovery?
  • How have you found meaning and fulfillment in pursuing your passions and interests?

Ideas for a Narrative Essay on Culture and Society

Engaging your readers with narrative essays on culture and society is a great way to spark interest, offering captivating ideas for exploration.

  • How has your family's unique culinary heritage influenced your cultural identity?
  • Can you reflect on a specific cultural artifact or heirloom that holds deep significance for your family?
  • What challenges have you faced in preserving traditional customs while adapting to modern societal expectations?
  • How has a local festival or celebration revealed the intricacies of your community's cultural tapestry?
  • Can you recount a moment when you navigated a cultural clash between your upbringing and the dominant culture?
  • How has your experience as a first-generation immigrant shaped your understanding of cultural assimilation?
  • What lessons have you learned from participating in intercultural exchange programs or initiatives?
  • Can you describe a unique cultural practice or tradition within your community that outsiders might find intriguing or misunderstood?
  • How has the revitalization of indigenous languages contributed to the preservation of cultural heritage in your region?
  • Can you reflect on a personal journey of reconnecting with your cultural roots after a period of assimilation or disconnection?
  • What role does storytelling play in passing down cultural wisdom and values within your family or community?
  • How has the portrayal of your culture in mainstream media affected your sense of belonging and self-perception?
  • Can you recount a moment when you challenged cultural stereotypes through creative expression or advocacy?
  • How has the migration of a specific cultural group enriched the social fabric and economic landscape of your community?
  • What initiatives or grassroots movements are currently underway to promote cross-cultural understanding and cooperation in your society?

Since you're working on essays, we think it's suitable to suggest you learn more about the case study format , which is another common college assignment.

Narrative Writing Topics on Hobbies and Interests

Wow your readers by turning your passions and hobbies into compelling narrative essay topics that will get them thinking.

  • How has your passion for urban gardening transformed neglected spaces in your community?
  • Can you recount a thrilling adventure from your hobby of urban exploration?
  • What lessons have you learned from restoring vintage motorcycles in your spare time?
  • How has your fascination with birdwatching deepened your connection to nature and conservation efforts?
  • Can you describe a memorable moment from your hobby of foraging wild edibles in the wilderness?
  • What unique skills have you developed through your hobby of beekeeping, and how have they impacted your daily life?
  • How has your interest in historical reenactment brought the past to life in unexpected ways?
  • Can you reflect on a transformative experience from your hobby of landscape photography?
  • What insights have you gained from practicing the art of bonsai cultivation and nurturing miniature ecosystems?
  • How has your passion for stargazing inspired awe and wonder in the vastness of the universe?
  • Can you recount a challenging project from your hobby of woodworking and the satisfaction it brought upon completion?
  • What cultural connections have you discovered through your hobby of traditional folk dancing?
  • How has your interest in sustainable fashion influenced your consumer habits and environmental awareness?
  • Can you describe a moment of serenity and mindfulness experienced while practicing the art of tea ceremony?
  • How has your hobby of letterpress printing preserved the tactile beauty of handmade craftsmanship in a digital age?

Narrative Essay Titles on Life-Changing Moments

Life is full of unexpected twists that can lead to life-changing moments. Take a look at these narrative essay titles for stories that have had a lasting impact on your life.

  • How did surviving a natural disaster reshape your perspective on life?
  • Can you recall a single conversation that drastically altered the course of your life?
  • What was the pivotal moment that inspired you to pursue your dreams against all odds?
  • How did a chance encounter lead to a life-changing friendship or partnership?
  • Can you reflect on the decision that transformed your career trajectory?
  • What profound lesson did you learn from facing a life-threatening illness or injury?
  • How did traveling to a new country open your eyes to new possibilities and opportunities?
  • Can you recount the moment when you discovered your true passion or calling in life?
  • What was the turning point that allowed you to break free from a toxic relationship or environment?
  • How did experiencing failure or rejection ultimately lead to personal growth and resilience?
  • Can you describe the moment when you found the strength to overcome a deep-seated fear or insecurity?
  • What life-changing realization did you have while experiencing a period of solitude or introspection?
  • How did a profound act of kindness from a stranger restore your faith in humanity?
  • Can you reflect on the moment when you forgave someone who had deeply hurt you, and how it changed your perspective on forgiveness?
  • What pivotal decision did you make that allowed you to reclaim control over your own happiness and destiny?

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Good Narrative Topics on Travel and Adventure

Consider creating intriguing titles for your narrative essay ideas by exploring thrilling travel adventures.

  • Can you recount a memorable encounter with wildlife during your solo hiking adventure?
  • How did a spontaneous decision to explore an unfamiliar city lead to unexpected discoveries?
  • What lessons did you learn from navigating a foreign country with only a map and your instincts?
  • Can you describe the exhilaration of conquering a challenging mountain peak for the first time?
  • How did immersing yourself in a local culture during your travels broaden your perspective on the world?
  • What unexpected obstacles did you encounter while embarking on a backpacking journey through rugged terrain?
  • Can you reflect on the transformative experience of volunteering abroad in a community-driven project?
  • How did getting lost in a labyrinthine city alleyway lead to serendipitous encounters and newfound friendships?
  • What was the most memorable meal you had while sampling street food in a bustling market abroad?
  • Can you recount the adrenaline rush of participating in an extreme sports activity in a foreign land?
  • How did witnessing a breathtaking natural phenomenon during your travels leave a lasting impression on you?
  • What cultural traditions or rituals did you participate in during a homestay experience with a local family?
  • Can you describe the sense of wonder and awe you felt while exploring ancient ruins or historical sites?
  • How did navigating a language barrier challenge and ultimately enrich your travel experience?
  • What valuable life lessons did you learn from the mishaps and misadventures encountered during your journey off the beaten path?

Narrative Essay Topic Ideas on Career and Work Experience

College students can uncover captivating narrative essay ideas by exploring potential career paths or reminiscing about past job experiences.

  • How did a challenging project at work showcase your problem-solving skills and resilience?
  • Can you reflect on a pivotal mentorship experience that guided your career trajectory?
  • What valuable lessons did you learn from a career setback or failure, and how did it shape your future success?
  • How did a workplace conflict lead to personal growth and improved communication skills?
  • Can you recount a moment when taking a professional risk paid off in unexpected ways?
  • What insights did you gain from transitioning to a new industry or career path?
  • How did participating in a cross-functional team project enhance your collaboration and leadership abilities?
  • Can you describe the satisfaction of achieving a long-term career goal after years of hard work and perseverance?
  • What impact did a meaningful recognition or award have on your motivation and sense of accomplishment?
  • How did volunteering or pro bono work contribute to your professional development and sense of purpose?
  • Can you reflect on the decision to leave a stable job in pursuit of passion or fulfillment?
  • What strategies did you employ to navigate a toxic work environment and maintain your well-being?
  • How did a career setback lead to unexpected opportunities for personal and professional growth?
  • Can you describe a moment when mentorship or sponsorship played a crucial role in advancing your career?
  • What lessons did you learn from a challenging client or customer interaction, and how did it shape your approach to customer service and relationship-building?

Interesting Narrative Essay Topics about Challenges and Obstacles

If you're not sure what to write about for your narrative essay, think back to the tough times you've had and how you managed to get through them.

  • How did you conquer a once-paralyzing fear to chase your dreams?
  • What new strengths did you discover while adapting to a physical challenge?
  • Can you recall a creative solution you used during a tough financial period?
  • When did you bravely stand against injustice, despite opposition?
  • How did overcoming a language barrier broaden your horizons?
  • What key lessons did you learn from a major setback in your life?
  • How did you manage overwhelming stress and responsibilities?
  • What inner reserves of resilience did you draw upon after personal loss?
  • Describe a time when you defied societal norms to pursue your goals.
  • Reflect on a moment when failure fueled your determination for success.
  • When did you find the courage to leave your comfort zone behind?
  • How did community support bolster you through a challenging time?
  • Share a time when self-doubt led to newfound confidence.
  • Can you recount a tragedy that spurred your personal growth?
  • What insights did overcoming a monumental obstacle reveal about life?

Best Narrative Essay Topics: How to Choose the One That Resonates 

A narrative essay is a type of writing that tells a personal story, including characters, plot, setting, and the order of events. Its main goal is to connect with readers emotionally and share a specific message or insight through the retelling of a meaningful experience.

Students write narrative essays as part of their studies for several reasons. Firstly, it allows them to express themselves creatively by sharing their unique experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Secondly, it helps them develop important writing skills like organizing ideas and thoughts effectively.

Narrative Essay topics

Choosing good narrative essay ideas involves looking at personal experiences, interests, and the potential for engaging storytelling. Here's a simple guide to help you pick the right topic:

  • Think about significant moments in your life that had a lasting impact, such as personal growth or overcoming challenges.
  • Choose topics related to your hobbies, interests, or areas of expertise to make your story more engaging.
  • Consider what your audience would be interested in and choose topics that resonate with them.
  • Focus on a specific event or detail to make your narrative more focused and impactful.
  • Look for universal themes like love or personal transformation that connect with readers on a deeper level.
  • Brainstorm ideas and write freely to uncover compelling topics.
  • Decide on storytelling techniques like flashbacks or foreshadowing and choose a topic that fits.
  • Get feedback from friends, peers, or instructors to see if your topics are interesting and impactful.
  • Choose topics that evoke strong emotions for a more compelling narrative.
  • Select a topic that you personally connect with to make your story authentic.

Once you've chosen a topic, brainstorm ideas and create an outline for your essay. Follow your professor's instructions carefully and consider seeking help from our narrative essay writing service if needed.

Bring your stories to life with EssayPro. Select from a vast array of narrative essay topics and let our professionals help you weave your tales into captivating essays. Whether it's adventure, reflection, or imagination, we're here to assist.

Final Remarks

As we wrap up, our list of 200 narrative essay topics is here to fuel your creativity for your next writing project! Whether you're sharing a memorable event, reliving a childhood memory, or expressing a profound insight, crafting a narrative essay can be an uplifting experience that resonates deeply with readers.

And if you're gearing up for college admissions, why not check out our admission essay writing service ? We've already assisted countless students in securing their spots at their dream colleges, and we'd love to help you, too!

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  2. (PDF) From Lessons Learned the Hard Way to Lessons Learned the Harder Way

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    This is a lesson that a boy learned the hard way. He had to face a dangerous challenge but was able to overcome it. He is no longer lonely and visits his old neighborhood each year during summer. Our boy decided to adopt a dog that reminded him of Cooper. His friends never forgot about him and never will.

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  4. (PDF) Narrative Essay About A Lesson Learned

    Crafting a narrative essay on the theme of "A Lesson Learned" poses a unique set of challenges. The difficulty lies not merely in recounting an event but in weaving a compelling story that not only captivates the reader's attention but also imparts a meaningful lesson. The process involves delving deep into personal experiences, reflecting on ...

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    Interactive example of a narrative essay. An example of a short narrative essay, responding to the prompt "Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself," is shown below. Hover over different parts of the text to see how the structure works. Narrative essay example.

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    300 words. - +. Order total: 00.00. The Treasure in the Trash. Thank You Letter. Preferences. What I Learnt Through Playing Sports. A Hard Lesson Learned: free Personal Experience sample to help you write excellent academic papers for high school, college, and university. Check out our professional examples to inspire at EssaysProfessors.com.

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    Open Document. Learning the Hard Way- Personal Narrative. We live our lives working in order to achieve peace within ourselves, a sense of accomplishment and happiness. The experiences and relationships that we develop along the way help to make us who we are. Weather they are good or bad, we like to believe that knowledge is gained from the ...

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