Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • How to write a narrative essay | Example & tips

How to Write a Narrative Essay | Example & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A narrative essay tells a story. In most cases, this is a story about a personal experience you had. This type of essay , along with the descriptive essay , allows you to get personal and creative, unlike most academic writing .

Table of contents

What is a narrative essay for, choosing a topic, interactive example of a narrative essay, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about narrative essays.

When assigned a narrative essay, you might find yourself wondering: Why does my teacher want to hear this story? Topics for narrative essays can range from the important to the trivial. Usually the point is not so much the story itself, but the way you tell it.

A narrative essay is a way of testing your ability to tell a story in a clear and interesting way. You’re expected to think about where your story begins and ends, and how to convey it with eye-catching language and a satisfying pace.

These skills are quite different from those needed for formal academic writing. For instance, in a narrative essay the use of the first person (“I”) is encouraged, as is the use of figurative language, dialogue, and suspense.

Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting

Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:

  • Academic style
  • Vague sentences
  • Style consistency

See an example

define narrative essay example

Narrative essay assignments vary widely in the amount of direction you’re given about your topic. You may be assigned quite a specific topic or choice of topics to work with.

  • Write a story about your first day of school.
  • Write a story about your favorite holiday destination.

You may also be given prompts that leave you a much wider choice of topic.

  • Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself.
  • Write about an achievement you are proud of. What did you accomplish, and how?

In these cases, you might have to think harder to decide what story you want to tell. The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to talk about a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.

For example, a trip where everything went according to plan makes for a less interesting story than one where something unexpected happened that you then had to respond to. Choose an experience that might surprise the reader or teach them something.

Narrative essays in college applications

When applying for college , you might be asked to write a narrative essay that expresses something about your personal qualities.

For example, this application prompt from Common App requires you to respond with a narrative essay.

In this context, choose a story that is not only interesting but also expresses the qualities the prompt is looking for—here, resilience and the ability to learn from failure—and frame the story in a way that emphasizes these qualities.

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.

Since elementary school, I have always favored subjects like science and math over the humanities. My instinct was always to think of these subjects as more solid and serious than classes like English. If there was no right answer, I thought, why bother? But recently I had an experience that taught me my academic interests are more flexible than I had thought: I took my first philosophy class.

Before I entered the classroom, I was skeptical. I waited outside with the other students and wondered what exactly philosophy would involve—I really had no idea. I imagined something pretty abstract: long, stilted conversations pondering the meaning of life. But what I got was something quite different.

A young man in jeans, Mr. Jones—“but you can call me Rob”—was far from the white-haired, buttoned-up old man I had half-expected. And rather than pulling us into pedantic arguments about obscure philosophical points, Rob engaged us on our level. To talk free will, we looked at our own choices. To talk ethics, we looked at dilemmas we had faced ourselves. By the end of class, I’d discovered that questions with no right answer can turn out to be the most interesting ones.

The experience has taught me to look at things a little more “philosophically”—and not just because it was a philosophy class! I learned that if I let go of my preconceptions, I can actually get a lot out of subjects I was previously dismissive of. The class taught me—in more ways than one—to look at things with an open mind.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

College essays

  • Choosing Essay Topic
  • Write a College Essay
  • Write a Diversity Essay
  • College Essay Format & Structure
  • Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay

 (AI) Tools

  • Grammar Checker
  • Paraphrasing Tool
  • Text Summarizer
  • AI Detector
  • Plagiarism Checker
  • Citation Generator

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

If you’re not given much guidance on what your narrative essay should be about, consider the context and scope of the assignment. What kind of story is relevant, interesting, and possible to tell within the word count?

The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to reflect on a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.

Don’t worry too much if your topic seems unoriginal. The point of a narrative essay is how you tell the story and the point you make with it, not the subject of the story itself.

Narrative essays are usually assigned as writing exercises at high school or in university composition classes. They may also form part of a university application.

When you are prompted to tell a story about your own life or experiences, a narrative essay is usually the right response.

The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.

Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2023, July 23). How to Write a Narrative Essay | Example & Tips. Scribbr. Retrieved January 2, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/narrative-essay/

Is this article helpful?

Jack Caulfield

Jack Caulfield

Other students also liked, how to write an expository essay, how to write a descriptive essay | example & tips, how to write your personal statement | strategies & examples, what is your plagiarism score.

Narrative Essay

Definition of narrative essay.

A narrative essay is a type of essay that has a single motif , or a central point, around which the whole narrative revolves. All incidents, happenings, and characters revolve around a single motif presented in the narrative. A narrative essay is similar to a simple five-paragraph essay, in that it has the same format. It is only different in that it is a narrative, having characters, incidents, and dialogues.

Difference Between a Narrative Essay and a Short Story

A narrative essay has a specific format, specific aspects to discover, and a specific motif. It revolves around that motif set by the writer prior to writing the essay. A short story , however, is different from a narrative essay in that it does not revolve around a pre-set motif, and that it does not have a specific format. Also, a short story always leaves readers at a critical juncture with the desire to discover more. In contrast , a narrative essay ends when the readers are fully satisfied. They do not wish to read anymore or do not want to discover anymore.

Elements of a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay has three required elements: character , theme , and dialogue :

Characters are an important part of a narrative essay. Even if the essay is autobiographical in nature, the person writing the essay is a character involving some other characters who act, behave, and do like all other characters presented in stories and novels .

Theme or Motif

A narrative essay revolves around a theme or a motif. This theme or motif is presented in its thesis statement, which breaks it down into three distinct pieces of evidence . These three distinct pieces of evidence are then further elaborated through characters in body paragraphs .

Dialogue is used to capture the conversation between characters. In a narrative essay, dialogue is the third important element, without which the characters lose their worth and liveliness.

How to Choose a Topic for Narrative Essay

There are four major steps to choosing the topic of a narrative essay:

  • Choose a theme or thematic strand around which to weave a story.
  • Outline the character, events, and happenings.
  • Think about the conversation of the characters and place them in a setting and plot
  • Synchronize the characters with the plot and the setting to see if they integrate with each other.

MLA and APA Formats in Narrative Essay

MLA and APA are used in all types of essays. However, APA is mostly used in social sciences, while MLA is used in humanities. Whereas the application of MLA in a narrative is concerned, it is used in the format, intext citation , and in the Works Cited page. The first page comprises the student’s name, class, tutor’s name, and date with the topic of the essay given after all of them. However, in APA, all this information appears on the cover page. Similarly, both MLA and APA differ in intext citation, with MLA having only the author’s name and page without any comma. In contrast, APA has the author’s name as well as page number with a comma and ‘p’ with a period before the number of the page, such as (Hardy, p. 45). Regarding the sources, MLA shows Works Cited page at the end, while APA shows Reference at the end.

Reflective Narrative Essay

As the name suggests, a reflection narrative is an essay that presents the reflections of a person who is writing that essay. He takes an incident from his life and gives it an organization on the pattern of an essay with a narrative having a beginning, middle, and an end. The essay may or may not have moral lessons, which does not make a lot of difference if the experiences carry the deeper meaning. What matters is that the writer reflects on his own life, taking out some significant moment to make it a storied essay or a narrative essay with a theme in it.

Examples of Narrative Essays in Literature

Example #1:  new directions (by maya angelou).

“Annie, over six feet tall, big-boned, decided that she would not go to work as a domestic and leave her “precious babes” to anyone else’s care. There was no possibility of being hired at the town’s cotton gin or lumber mill, but maybe there was a way to make the two factories work for her. In her words, “I looked up the road I was going and back the way I come, and since I wasn’t satisfied, I decided to step off the road and cut me a new path.” She told herself that she wasn’t a fancy cook but that she could “mix groceries well enough to scare hungry away and keep from starving a man.”

This paragraph is an example from a narrative essay of Maya Angelou. She has described how a girl looks, and how she behaves. She has also written direct dialogues to show that it is a narrative.

Example #2: Saturday Evening Post (by Russell Baker)

“When I burst in that afternoon she was in conference with an executive of the Curtis Publishing Company. She introduced me. He bent low from the waist and shook my hand. Was it true as my mother had told him, he asked, that I longed for the opportunity to conquer the world of business? My Mother replied that I was blessed with a rare determination to make something of myself. ‘That’s right,’ I whispered. ‘But have you got the grit, the character, the never-say-quit spirit it takes to succeed in business?’ My Mother said I certainly did.”

In this piece from a narrative essay by Russell Baker of the famed Saturday Evening Post , the author has fully described the efforts of his mother by her dialogue. Both character and dialogue are very clear.

Example #3: Only Daughter (by Sandra Cisneros)

“Once several years ago, when I was just starting out my writing career, I was asked to write my own contributor’s note for an anthology I was part of, I wrote: ‘ I am the only daughter in a family of six sons. That explains everything.’ “Well, I’ve thought about that ever since, and yes, it explains a lot to me, but for the reader’s sake I should have written: ‘I am the only daughter in a Mexican family of six sons.’ Or even: ‘I am the only daughter of a Mexican father and a Mexican-American mother.’ Or: ‘I am the only daughter of a working-class family of nine.’ All of these had everything to do with who I am today.”

In this essay, the author has given a full description of a daughter – how she looks and how she behaves.

Function of Narrative Essay

A narrative essay describes people, presents their conversations, and narrates their experiences to teach lessons to readers. In fact, it is like a story, but different in that it is weaved around a motif. A motif is given before the incidents of the essay. Readers become aware of this single theme, central idea, or motif once they go through the essay. Its major aim is to provide information about life experiences and lessons learned from those experiences.

Synonyms of Narrative Essay

Some of the words closely related to the narrative essay are reflective account, chronicle, chronology , and historical narrative. However, these words cannot be interchangeably used to replace this title.

Related posts:

  • Narrative Poem
  • Elements of an Essay
  • Definition Essay
  • Descriptive Essay
  • Types of Essay
  • Analytical Essay
  • Argumentative Essay
  • Cause and Effect Essay
  • Critical Essay
  • Expository Essay
  • Persuasive Essay
  • Process Essay
  • Explicatory Essay
  • An Essay on Man: Epistle I
  • Comparison and Contrast Essay

Post navigation

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Narrative Essays

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the widespread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.

What is a narrative essay?

When writing a narrative essay, one might think of it as telling a story. These essays are often anecdotal, experiential, and personal—allowing students to express themselves in a creative and, quite often, moving ways.

Here are some guidelines for writing a narrative essay.

  • If written as a story, the essay should include all the parts of a story.

This means that you must include an introduction, plot, characters, setting, climax, and conclusion.

  • When would a narrative essay not be written as a story?

A good example of this is when an instructor asks a student to write a book report. Obviously, this would not necessarily follow the pattern of a story and would focus on providing an informative narrative for the reader.

  • The essay should have a purpose.

Make a point! Think of this as the thesis of your story. If there is no point to what you are narrating, why narrate it at all?

  • The essay should be written from a clear point of view.

It is quite common for narrative essays to be written from the standpoint of the author; however, this is not the sole perspective to be considered. Creativity in narrative essays oftentimes manifests itself in the form of authorial perspective.

  • Use clear and concise language throughout the essay.

Much like the descriptive essay, narrative essays are effective when the language is carefully, particularly, and artfully chosen. Use specific language to evoke specific emotions and senses in the reader.

  • The use of the first person pronoun ‘I’ is welcomed.

Do not abuse this guideline! Though it is welcomed it is not necessary—nor should it be overused for lack of clearer diction.

  • As always, be organized!

Have a clear introduction that sets the tone for the remainder of the essay. Do not leave the reader guessing about the purpose of your narrative. Remember, you are in control of the essay, so guide it where you desire (just make sure your audience can follow your lead).

What is a Narrative Essay Examples Format and Techniques Featured

  • Scriptwriting

What is a Narrative Essay — Examples, Format & Techniques

I was in the Amazon jungle the first time I wrote a narrative essay, enlightened and enraptured by the influence of ayahuasca. That’s not true. I’ve never been to South America nor have I ever taken ayahuasca. The purpose of that opening is to show how to craft a narrative essay intro — hook, line, and sinker. Narrative essays rely on hooking the reader, and enticing them to read on. But what is a narrative essay? We’re going to break down everything you need to know about these essays — definition, examples, tips and tricks included. By the end, you’ll be ready to craft your own narrative essay for school or for publication.

What’s a Narrative Essay?

First, let’s define narrative essay.

Narrative essays share a lot of similarities with personal essays, but whereas the former can be fictional or non-fictional, the latter are strictly non-fictional. The goal of the narrative essay is to use established storytelling techniques, like theme , conflict , and irony , in a uniquely personal way.

The responsibility of the narrative essayist is to make the reader feel connected to their story, regardless of the topic. This next video explores how writers can use structural elements and techniques to better engage their readers. 

Personal Narrative Essay Examples With Essay Pro

Narrative essays rely on tried and true structure components, including:

  • First-person POV
  • Personal inspiration
  • Focus on a central theme

By keeping these major tenets in mind, you’ll be better prepared to recognize weaknesses and strengths in your own works.

NARRATIVE ESSAY DEFINITION

What is a narrative essay.

A narrative essay is a prose-written story that’s focused on the commentary of a central theme. Narrative essays are generally written in the first-person POV, and are usually about a topic that’s personal to the writer. Everything in these essays should take place in an established timeline, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

Famous Narrative Essay Examples

  • Ticker to the Fair by David Foster Wallace
  • After Life by Joan Didion
  • Here is a Lesson in Creative Writing by Kurt Vonnegut

Narrative Writing Explained

How to start a narrative essay.

When you go to sleep at night, what do you think of? Flying squirrels? Lost loved ones? That time you called your teacher ‘mom’? Whatever it is, that’s what you need to write about. There’s a reason those ideas and moments have stuck with you over time. Your job is to figure out why.

Once you realize what makes a moment important to you, it’s your job to make it important to the reader too. In this next video, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker J. Christian Jensen explains the power of the personal narrative. 

Narrative Writing and the Personal Narrative Essay  •  Video by TEDx Talks

Anything and everything can be the topic of your essay. It could be as benign as a walk to school or as grandiose as a trip to the moon — so long as that narrative exists within reality. Give your thoughts and opinions on the matter too — don’t be afraid to say “this is what I think” so long as it’s supported by storytelling techniques. Remember, never limit yourself as a writer, just keep in mind that certain topics will be harder to make engaging than others.

Narrative Essay Outline

How to write a narrative essay.

First step, game plan. You’re going to want to map out the story from beginning to end, then mark major story beats in your document.

Like all stories, your narrative essay needs a clear beginning, middle, and end. Each section should generally conform to a specifically outlined structure. For reference, check out the outline below.

Structure of A Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay Format  •  How to Write a Narrative Essay Step by Step

Make sure to reference back to this outline throughout the writing process to make sure you have all your major beats covered.

Purpose of narrative essay writing

Narrative essays give writers the ability to freely express themselves within the structure of a traditional story. Nearly all universities ask applicants to submit a narrative essay with their formal application. This is done for two reasons: they allow institutions to judge the linguistic and grammar capabilities of its applicants, as well as their raw creative side.

If you’re considering studying creative writing in an undergraduate or graduate program, then you’re going to write A LOT of narrative style essays. This process may seem indomitable; How am I supposed to write hundreds of pages about… me? But by the end, you’ll be a better writer and you’ll have a better understanding of yourself.

One thing that all successful essayists have in common is that they make radical, often defiant statements on the world at large. Think Ralph Waldo Emerson, Virginia Woolf, and Langston Hughes for example.

Being a professional essayist isn’t easy, and it’s near-impossible to be one who makes a lot of money. Many essayists work as professors, editors, and curriculum designers as well. 

This next video features the late, award-winning essayist Brian Doyle. He explains all the things you need to hear when thinking about writing a story.

Narrative Essay Examples “Lecture” via Boston University

We can learn a lot from the way Doyle “opens” his stories. My favorite is how he begins with the statement, “I met the Dalai Lama once.” How can we not be interested in learning more? 

This brings us all the way back to the beginning. Start with a hook, rattle off the line, then reel in the sinker. If you entice the reader, develop a personal plot, and finish with a resolute ending, you’ll have a lot of success in essay writing. 

 Up Next

Narrative essay topics.

We've curated a collection of narrative essay topics that will spark your creativity and bring your experiences to life. Dive into the rich tapestry of your memories, explore the unique threads of your life, and let your narrative unfold.

Up Next: Narrative Essay Topics →

Write and produce your scripts all in one place..

Write and collaborate on your scripts FREE . Create script breakdowns, sides, schedules, storyboards, call sheets and more.

  • Pricing & Plans
  • Product Updates
  • Featured On
  • StudioBinder Partners
  • The Ultimate Guide to Call Sheets (with FREE Call Sheet Template)
  • How to Break Down a Script (with FREE Script Breakdown Sheet)
  • The Only Shot List Template You Need — with Free Download
  • Managing Your Film Budget Cashflow & PO Log (Free Template)
  • A Better Film Crew List Template Booking Sheet
  • Best Storyboard Softwares (with free Storyboard Templates)
  • Movie Magic Scheduling
  • Gorilla Software
  • Storyboard That

A visual medium requires visual methods. Master the art of visual storytelling with our FREE video series on directing and filmmaking techniques.

We’re in a golden age of TV writing and development. More and more people are flocking to the small screen to find daily entertainment. So how can you break put from the pack and get your idea onto the small screen? We’re here to help.

  • Making It: From Pre-Production to Screen
  • How to Use Slow Motion to Create Iconic Moments
  • What is a Parable — Definition, Examples and Uses
  • What is Atmosphere in Literature — The Silent Storyteller
  • What is Screen Direction in Film — How to Preserve Continuity
  • What is Found Footage Filmmaking — Genre & Style Explained
  • 1 Pinterest

Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay Examples

Caleb S.

10+ Interesting Narrative Essay Examples Plus Writing Tips!

Published on: Jun 23, 2018

Last updated on: Nov 29, 2023

Narrative Essay Examples

People also read

Narrative Essay - A Complete Writing Guide with Examples

Writing a Personal Narrative Essay: Everything You Need to Know

Best Narrative Essay Topics 2023 for Students

Crafting a Winning Narrative Essay Outline: A Step-by-Step Guide

Share this article

Many students struggle with crafting engaging and impactful narrative essays. They often find it challenging to weave their personal experiences into coherent and compelling stories.

If you’re having a hard time, don't worry! 

We’ve compiled a range of narrative essay examples that will serve as helpful tools for you to get started. These examples will provide a clear path for crafting engaging and powerful narrative essays.

So, keep reading and find our expertly written examples!

On This Page On This Page -->

Narrative Essay Definition

Writing a narrative essay is a unique form of storytelling that revolves around personal experiences, aiming to immerse the reader in the author's world. It's a piece of writing that delves into the depths of thoughts and feelings. 

In a narrative essay, life experiences take center stage, serving as the main substance of the story. It's a powerful tool for writers to convey a personal journey, turning experiences into a captivating tale. This form of storytelling is an artful display of emotions intended to engage readers, leaving the reader feeling like they are a part of the story.

By focusing on a specific theme, event, emotions, and reflections, a narrative essay weaves a storyline that leads the reader through the author's experiences. 

The Essentials of Narrative Essays

Let's start with the basics. The four types of essays are argumentative essays , descriptive essays , expository essays , and narrative essays.

The goal of a narrative essay is to tell a compelling tale from one person's perspective. A narrative essay uses all components you’d find in a typical story, such as a beginning, middle, and conclusion, as well as plot, characters, setting, and climax.

The narrative essay's goal is the plot, which should be detailed enough to reach a climax. Here's how it works:

  • It's usually presented in chronological order.
  • It has a function. This is typically evident in the thesis statement's opening paragraph.
  • It may include speech.
  • It's told with sensory details and vivid language, drawing the reader in. All of these elements are connected to the writer's major argument in some way.

Before writing your essay, make sure you go through a sufficient number of narrative essay examples. These examples will help you in knowing the dos and don’ts of a good narrative essay.

It is always a better option to have some sense of direction before you start anything. Below, you can find important details and a bunch of narrative essay examples. These examples will also help you build your content according to the format. 

Here is a how to start a narrative essay example:

Sample Narrative Essay

The examples inform the readers about the writing style and structure of the narration. The essay below will help you understand how to create a story and build this type of essay in no time.

Here is another narrative essay examples 500 words:

Narrative Essay Examples for Students

Narrative essays offer students a platform to express their experiences and creativity. These examples show how to effectively structure and present personal stories for education.

Here are some helpful narrative essay examples:

Narrative Essay Examples Middle School

Narrative Essay Examples for Grade 7

Narrative Essay Examples for Grade 8

Grade 11 Narrative Essay Examples

Narrative Essay Example For High School

Narrative Essay Example For College

Personal Narrative Essay Example

Descriptive Narrative Essay Example

3rd Person Narrative Essay Example

Narrative Essay Topics

Here are some narrative essay topics to help you get started with your narrative essay writing.

  • When I got my first bunny
  • When I moved to Canada
  • I haven’t experienced this freezing temperature ever before
  • The moment I won the basketball finale
  • A memorable day at the museum
  • How I talk to my parrot
  • The day I saw the death
  • When I finally rebelled against my professor

Need more topics? Check out these extensive narrative essay topics to get creative ideas!

Narrative Essay Writing Tips

Narrative essays give you the freedom to be creative, but it can be tough to make yours special. Use these tips to make your story interesting:

  • Share your story from a personal viewpoint, engaging the reader with your experiences.
  • Use vivid descriptions to paint a clear picture of the setting, characters, and emotions involved.
  • Organize events in chronological order for a smooth and understandable narrative.
  • Bring characters to life through their actions, dialogue, and personalities.
  • Employ dialogue sparingly to add realism and progression to the narrative.
  • Engage readers by evoking emotions through your storytelling.
  • End with reflection or a lesson learned from the experience, providing insight.

Now you have essay examples and tips to help you get started, you have a solid starting point for crafting compelling narrative essays.

However, if storytelling isn't your forte, you can always turn to our essay writing service for help.

Our writers are specialists that can tackle any type of essay with great skill. With their experience, you get a top-quality, 100% plagiarism free essay everytime.

So, let our narrative essay writing service make sure your narrative essay stands out. Order now!

Caleb S. (Literature, Marketing)

Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That’s our Job!

Get Help

Keep reading

Narrative Essay Examples

We value your privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience and give you personalized content. Do you agree to our cookie policy?

Website Data Collection

We use data collected by cookies and JavaScript libraries.

Are you sure you want to cancel?

Your preferences have not been saved.

What is a Narrative Essay? How to Write It (with Examples)

What is a Narrative Essay? How to Write It (with Examples)

Narrative essays are a type of storytelling in which writers weave a personal experience into words to create a fascinating and engaging narrative for readers. A narrative essay explains a story from the author’s point of view to share a lesson or memory with the reader. Narrative essays, like descriptive essays , employ figurative language to depict the subject in a vivid and creative manner to leave a lasting impact on the readers’ minds. In this article, we explore the definition of narrative essays, list the key elements to be included, and provide tips on how to craft a narrative that captivates your audience.

Table of Contents

What is a narrative essay, choosing narrative essay topics, key elements in a narrative essay, creating a narrative essay outline, types of narrative essays, the pre-writing stage, the writing stage, the editing stage, narrative essay example, frequently asked questions.

Narrative essays are often based on one’s personal experience which allows the author to express himself/herself in compelling ways for the reader. They employ storytelling elements to convey the plot and captivate the reader while disclosing the story’s theme or purpose. The author must always have a purpose or theme in mind when writing a narrative essay. These essays may be assigned to high school students to assess their ability to create captivating stories based on personal experiences, or they may be required as part of a college application to assess the applicant’s personal traits. Narrative essays might be based on true events with minor tweaks for dramatic purposes, or they can be adapted from a fictional scenario. Whatever the case maybe, the goal is to tell a story, a good story!

In narrative essays, the emphasis is not so much on the narrative itself as it is on how you explain it. Narrative essay topics cover a range of experiences, from noteworthy to mundane, but when storytelling elements are used well, even a simple account can have weight. Notably, the skills required for narrative writing differ significantly from those needed for formal academic essays, and we will delve deeper into this in the next section.

You can talk about any narrative, but consider whether it is fascinating enough, has enough twists and turns, or teaches a lesson (It’s a plus if the story contains an unexpected twist at the end). The potential topics for a narrative essay are limitless—a triumphant story, a brief moment of introspection, or a voyage of self-discovery. These essays provide writers with the opportunity to share a fragment of their lives with the audience, enriching both the writer’s and the reader’s experiences. Narrative essay examples could be a write-up on “What has been your biggest achievement in life so far and what did it teach you?” or “Describe your toughest experience and how you dealt with it?”.

define narrative essay example

While narrative essays allow you to be creative with your ideas, language, and format, they must include some key components to convey the story clearly, create engaging content and build reader interest. Follow these guidelines when drafting your essay:   

  • Tell your story using the first person to engage users.
  • Use sufficient sensory information and figurative language.
  • Follow an organized framework so the story flows chronologically.
  • Include interesting plot components that add to the narrative.
  • Ensure clear language without grammar, spelling, or word choice errors.

Narrative essay outlines serve as the foundational structure for essay composition, acting as a framework to organize thoughts and ideas prior to the writing process. These outlines provide writers with a means to summarize the story, and help in formulating the introduction and conclusion sections and defining the narrative’s trajectory.

Unlike conventional essays that strictly adhere to the five-paragraph structure, narrative essays allow for more flexibility as the organization is dictated by the flow of the story. The outline typically encompasses general details about the events, granting writers the option to prioritize writing the body sections first while deferring the introduction until later stages of the writing process. This approach allows for a more organic and fluid writing process. If you’re wondering how to start writing a narrative essay outline, here is a sample designed to ensure a compelling and coherent narrative:

Introduction

  • Hook/Opening line: The introduction should have an opening/hook sentence that is a captivating quote, question, or anecdote that grabs the reader’s attention.
  • Background: Briefly introduce the setting, time, tone, and main characters.
  • Thesis statement: State clearly the main theme or lesson acquired from the experience.
  • Event 1 (according to occurrence): Describe the first major event in detail. Introduce the primary characters and set the story context; include sensory elements to enrich the narrative and give the characters depth and enthusiasm.
  • Event 2: Ensure a smooth transition from one event to the next. Continue with the second event in the narrative. For more oomph, use suspense or excitement, or leave the plot with cliffhanger endings. Concentrate on developing your characters and their relationships, using dialog to bring the story to life.
  • Event 3: If there was a twist and suspense, this episode should introduce the climax or resolve the story. Keep the narrative flowing by connecting events logically and conveying the feelings and reactions of the characters.
  • Summarize the plot: Provide a concise recap of the main events within the narrative essay. Highlight the key moments that contribute to the development of the storyline. Offer personal reflections on the significance of the experiences shared, emphasizing the lasting impact they had on the narrator. End the story with a clincher; a powerful and thought-provoking sentence that encapsulates the essence of the narrative. As a bonus, aim to leave the reader with a memorable statement or quote that enhances the overall impact of the narrative. This should linger in the reader’s mind, providing a satisfying and resonant conclusion to the essay.

There are several types of narrative essays, each with their own unique traits. Some narrative essay examples are presented in the table below.

How to write a narrative essay: Step-by-step guide

A narrative essay might be inspired by personal experiences, stories, or even imaginary scenarios that resonate with readers, immersing them in the imaginative world you have created with your words. Here’s an easy step-by-step guide on how to write a narrative essay.

  • Select the topic of your narrative

If no prompt is provided, the first step is to choose a topic to write about. Think about personal experiences that could be given an interesting twist. Readers are more likely to like a tale if it contains aspects of humor, surprising twists, and an out-of-the-box climax. Try to plan out such subjects and consider whether you have enough information on the topic and whether it meets the criteria of being funny/inspiring, with nice characters/plot lines, and an exciting climax. Also consider the tone as well as any stylistic features (such as metaphors or foreshadowing) to be used. While these stylistic choices can be changed later, sketching these ideas early on helps you give your essay a direction to start.

  • Create a framework for your essay

Once you have decided on your topic, create an outline for your narrative essay. An outline is a framework that guides your ideas while you write your narrative essay to keep you on track. It can help with smooth transitions between sections when you are stuck and don’t know how to continue the story. It provides you with an anchor to attach and return to, reminding you of why you started in the first place and why the story matters.

define narrative essay example

  • Compile your first draft

A perfect story and outline do not work until you start writing the draft and breathe life into it with your words. Use your newly constructed outline to sketch out distinct sections of your narrative essay while applying numerous linguistic methods at your disposal. Unlike academic essays, narrative essays allow artistic freedom and leeway for originality so don’t stop yourself from expressing your thoughts. However, take care not to overuse linguistic devices, it’s best to maintain a healthy balance to ensure readability and flow.

  • Use a first-person point of view

One of the most appealing aspects of narrative essays is that traditional academic writing rules do not apply, and the narration is usually done in the first person. You can use first person pronouns such as I and me while narrating different scenarios. Be wary of overly using these as they can suggest lack of proper diction.

  • Use storytelling or creative language

You can employ storytelling tactics and linguistic tools used in fiction or creative writing, such as metaphors, similes, and foreshadowing, to communicate various themes. The use of figurative language, dialogue, and suspense is encouraged in narrative essays.

  • Follow a format to stay organized

There’s no fixed format for narrative essays, but following a loose format when writing helps in organizing one’s thoughts. For example, in the introduction part, underline the importance of creating a narrative essay, and then reaffirm it in the concluding paragraph. Organize your story chronologically so that the reader can follow along and make sense of the story.

  • Reread, revise, and edit

Proofreading and editing are critical components of creating a narrative essay, but it can be easy to become weighed down by the details at this stage. Taking a break from your manuscript before diving into the editing process is a wise practice. Stepping away for a day or two, or even just a few hours, provides valuable time to enhance the plot and address any grammatical issues that may need correction. This period of distance allows for a fresh perspective, enabling you to approach the editing phase with renewed clarity and a more discerning eye.

One suggestion is to reconsider the goals you set out to cover when you started the topic. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there a distinct beginning and end to your story?
  • Does your essay have a topic, a memory, or a lesson to teach?
  • Does the tone of the essay match the intended mood?

Now, while keeping these things in mind, modify and proofread your essay. You can use online grammar checkers and paraphrase tools such as Paperpal to smooth out any rough spots before submitting it for publication or submission.

It is recommended to edit your essay in the order it was written; here are some useful tips:

  • Revise the introduction

After crafting your narrative essay, review the introduction to ensure it harmonizes with the developed narrative. Confirm that it adeptly introduces the story and aligns seamlessly with the conclusion.

  • Revise the conclusion and polish the essay

The conclusion should be the final element edited to ensure coherence and harmony in the entire narrative. It must reinforce the central theme or lesson outlined initially.

  • Revise and refine the entire article

The last step involves refining the article for consistent tone, style, and tense as well as correct language, grammar, punctuation, and clarity. Seeking feedback from a mentor or colleague can offer an invaluable external perspective at this stage.

Narrative essays are true accounts of the writer’s personal experiences, conveyed in figurative language for sensory appeal. Some narrative essay topic examples include writing about an unforgettable experience, reflecting on mistakes, or achieving a goal. An example of a personal narrative essay is as follows:

Title: A Feline Odyssey: An Experience of Fostering Stray Kittens

Introduction:

It was a fine summer evening in the year 2022 when a soft meowing disrupted the tranquility of my terrace. Little did I know that this innocent symphony would lead to a heartwarming journey of compassion and companionship. Soon, there was a mama cat at my doorstep with four little kittens tucked behind her. They were the most unexpected visitors I had ever had.

The kittens, just fluffs of fur with barely open eyes, were a monument to life’s fragility. Their mother, a street-smart feline, had entrusted me with the care of her precious offspring. The responsibility was sudden and unexpected, yet there was an undeniable sense of purpose in the air , filling me with delight and enthusiasm.

As the days unfolded, my terrace transformed into a haven for the feline family. Cardboard boxes became makeshift cat shelters and my once solitary retreat was filled with purrs and soothing meows. The mother cat, Lily, who initially observ ed me from a safe distance, gradually began to trust my presence as I offered food and gentle strokes.

Fostering the kittens was a life-changing , enriching experience that taught me the true joy of giving as I cared for the felines. My problems slowly faded into the background as evenings were spent playing with the kittens. Sleepless nights turned into a symphony of contented purring, a lullaby filled with the warmth of trust and security . Although the kittens were identical, they grew up to have very distinct personalities, with Kuttu being the most curious and Bobo being the most coy . Every dawn ushered in a soothing ritual of nourishing these feline companions, while nights welcomed their playful antics — a daily nocturnal delight.

Conclusion:

As the kittens grew, so did the realization that our paths were destined to part. Finally, the day arrived when the feline family, now confident and self-reliant, bid farewell to my terrace. It was a bittersweet moment, filled with a sense of love and accomplishment and a tinge of sadness.

Fostering Kuttu, Coco, Lulu, and Bobo became one of the most transformative experiences of my life. Their arrival had brought unexpected joy, teaching me about compassion and our species’ ability to make a difference in the world through love and understanding. The terrace, once a quiet retreat, now bore the echoes of a feline symphony that had touched my heart in ways I could have never imagined.

define narrative essay example

The length of a narrative essay may vary, but it is typically a brief to moderate length piece. Generally, the essay contains an introductory paragraph, two to three body paragraphs (this number can vary), and a conclusion. The entire narrative essay could be as short as five paragraphs or much longer, depending on the assignment’s requirements or the writer’s preference.

You can write a narrative essay when you have a personal experience to share, or a story, or a series of events that you can tell in a creative and engaging way. Narrative essays are often assigned in academic settings as a form of writing that allows students to express themselves and showcase their storytelling skills. However, you can also write a narrative essay for personal reflection, entertainment, or to communicate a message.

A narrative essay usually follows a three-part structure: – Introduction (To set the stage for the story) – Body paragraphs (To describe sequence of events with details, descriptions, and dialogue) – Conclusion (To summarize the story and reflect on the significance)

Paperpal is an AI academic writing assistant that helps authors write better and faster with real-time writing suggestions and in-depth checks for language and grammar correction. Trained on millions of published scholarly articles and 20+ years of STM experience, Paperpal delivers human precision at machine speed.    

Try it for free or upgrade to  Paperpal Prime , which unlocks unlimited access to Paperpal Copilot and premium features like academic translation, paraphrasing, contextual synonyms, consistency checks, submission readiness and more. It’s like always having a professional academic editor by your side! Go beyond limitations and experience the future of academic writing.  Get Paperpal Prime now at just US$19 a month!  

Related Reads:

  • How to Write a Conclusion for Research Papers (with Examples)
  • 7 Ways to Improve Your Academic Writing Process
  • Chemistry Terms: 7 Commonly Confused Words in Chemistry Manuscripts
  • Paraphrasing in Academic Writing: Answering Top Author Queries

What is a Descriptive Essay? How to Write It (with Examples)

Webinar: how to use generative ai tools ethically in your academic writing, you may also like, how to paraphrase research papers effectively, addressing your queries on ai ethics, plagiarism, and..., the do’s & don’ts of using generative ai..., what is an argumentative essay how to write..., research outlines: how to write an introduction section..., webinar: how to use generative ai tools ethically..., what is a descriptive essay how to write..., 4 types of transition words for research papers , what is research methodology definition, types, and examples, scientific writing style guides explained.

define narrative essay example

Detailed Guide on How to Write a Narrative Essay with Tips

define narrative essay example

Defining What Is a Narrative Essay

We can explain a narrative essay definition as a piece of writing that tells a story. It's like a window into someone's life or a page torn from a diary. Similarly to a descriptive essay, a narrative essay tells a story, rather than make a claim and use evidence. It can be about anything – a personal experience, a childhood memory, a moment of triumph or defeat – as long as it's told in a way that captures the reader's imagination.

You might ask - 'which sentence most likely comes from a narrative essay?'. Let's take this for example: 'I could hear the waves crashing against the shore, their rhythm a soothing lullaby that carried me off to sleep.' You could even use such an opening for your essay when wondering how to start a narrative essay.

To further define a narrative essay, consider it storytelling with a purpose. The purpose of a narrative essay is not just to entertain but also to convey a message or lesson in first person. It's a way to share your experiences and insights with others and connect with your audience. Whether you're writing about your first love, a harrowing adventure, or a life-changing moment, your goal is to take the reader on a journey that will leave them feeling moved, inspired, or enlightened.

So if you're looking for a way to express yourself creatively and connect with others through your writing, try your hand at a narrative essay. Who knows – you might just discover a hidden talent for storytelling that you never knew you had!

Meanwhile, let's delve into the article to better understand this type of paper through our narrative essay examples, topic ideas, and tips on constructing a perfect essay.

Types of Narrative Essays

If you were wondering, 'what is a personal narrative essay?', know that narrative essays come in different forms, each with a unique structure and purpose. Regardless of the type of narrative essay, each aims to transport the reader to a different time and place and to create an emotional connection between the reader and the author's experiences. So, let's discuss each type in more detail:

  • A personal narrative essay is based on one's unique experience or event. Personal narrative essay examples include a story about overcoming a fear or obstacle or reflecting on a particularly meaningful moment in one's life.
  • A fictional narrative is a made-up story that still follows the basic elements of storytelling. Fictional narratives can take many forms, from science fiction to romance to historical fiction.
  • A memoir is similar to personal narratives but focuses on a specific period or theme in a person's life. Memoirs might be centered around a particular relationship, a struggle with addiction, or a cultural identity. If you wish to describe your life in greater depth, you might look at how to write an autobiography .
  • A literacy narrative essay explores the writer's experiences with literacy and how it has influenced their life. The essay typically tells a personal story about a significant moment or series of moments that impacted the writer's relationship with reading, writing, or communication.

You might also be interested in discovering 'HOW TO WRITE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY'

Pros and Cons of Narrative Writing

Writing a narrative essay can be a powerful tool for self-expression and creative storytelling, but like any form of writing, it comes with its own set of pros and cons. Let's explore the pros and cons of narrative writing in more detail, helping you to decide whether it's the right writing style for your needs.

  • It can be a powerful way to convey personal experiences and emotions.
  • Allows for creative expression and unique voice
  • Engages the reader through storytelling and vivid details
  • It can be used to teach a lesson or convey a message.
  • Offers an opportunity for self-reflection and growth
  • It can be challenging to balance personal storytelling with the needs of the reader
  • It may not be as effective for conveying factual information or arguments
  • It may require vulnerability and sharing personal details that some writers may find uncomfortable
  • It can be subjective, as the reader's interpretation of the narrative may vary

If sharing your personal stories is not your cup of tea, you can buy essays online from our expert writers, who will customize the paper to your particular writing style and tone.

20 Excellent Narrative Essay Topics and How to Choose One

Choosing a good topic among many narrative essay ideas can be challenging, but some tips can help you make the right choice. Here are some original and helpful tips on how to choose a good narrative essay topic:

  • Consider your own experiences: One of the best sources of inspiration for a narrative essay is your own life experiences. Consider moments that have had a significant impact on you, whether they are positive or negative. For example, you could write about a memorable trip or a challenging experience you overcame.
  • Choose a topic relevant to your audience: Consider your audience and their interests when choosing a narrative essay topic. If you're writing for a class, consider what topics might be relevant to the course material. If you're writing for a broader audience, consider what topics might be interesting or informative to them.
  • Find inspiration in literature: Literature can be a great source of inspiration for a narrative essay. Consider the books or stories that have had an impact on you, and think about how you can incorporate elements of them into your own narrative. For example, you could start by using a title for narrative essay inspired by the themes of a favorite novel or short story.
  • Focus on a specific moment or event: Most narrative essays tell a story, so it's important to focus on a specific moment or event. For example, you could write a short narrative essay about a conversation you had with a friend or a moment of realization while traveling.
  • Experiment with different perspectives: Consider writing from different perspectives to add depth and complexity to your narrative. For example, you could write about the same event from multiple perspectives or explore the thoughts and feelings of a secondary character.
  • Use writing prompts: Writing prompts can be a great source of inspiration if you struggle to develop a topic. Consider using a prompt related to a specific theme, such as love, loss, or growth.
  • Choose a topic with rich sensory details: A good narrative essay should engage the senses and create a vivid picture in the reader's mind. Choose a topic with rich sensory details that you can use to create a vivid description. For example, you could write about a bustling city's sights, sounds, and smells.
  • Choose a topic meaningful to you: Ultimately, the best narrative essays are meaningful to the writer. Choose a topic that resonates with you and that you feel passionate about. For example, you could write about a personal goal you achieved or a struggle you overcame.

Here are some good narrative essay topics for inspiration from our experts:

  • A life-changing event that altered your perspective on the world
  • The story of a personal accomplishment or achievement
  • An experience that tested your resilience and strength
  • A time when you faced a difficult decision and how you handled it
  • A childhood memory that still holds meaning for you
  • The impact of a significant person in your life
  • A travel experience that taught you something new
  • A story about a mistake or failure that ultimately led to growth and learning
  • The first day of a new job or school
  • The story of a family tradition or ritual that is meaningful to you
  • A time when you had to confront a fear or phobia
  • A memorable concert or music festival experience
  • An experience that taught you the importance of communication or listening
  • A story about a time when you had to stand up for what you believed in
  • A time when you had to persevere through a challenging task or project
  • A story about a significant cultural or societal event that impacted your life
  • The impact of a book, movie, or other work of art on your life
  • A time when you had to let go of something or someone important to you
  • A memorable encounter with a stranger that left an impression on you
  • The story of a personal hobby or interest that has enriched your life

Narrative Format and Structure

The narrative essay format and structure are essential elements of any good story. A well-structured narrative can engage readers, evoke emotions, and create lasting memories. Whether you're writing a personal essay or a work of fiction, the following guidelines on how to write a narrative essay can help you create a compelling paper:

narrative essay

  • Introduction : The introduction sets the scene for your story and introduces your main characters and setting. It should also provide a hook to capture your reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. When unsure how to begin a narrative essay, describe the setting vividly or an intriguing question that draws the reader in.
  • Plot : The plot is the sequence of events that make up your story. It should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, with each part building on the previous one. The plot should also have a clear conflict or problem the protagonist must overcome.
  • Characters : Characters are the people who drive the story. They should be well-developed and have distinct personalities and motivations. The protagonist should have a clear goal or desire, and the antagonist should provide a challenge or obstacle to overcome.
  • Setting : The setting is the time and place the story takes place. It should be well-described and help to create a mood or atmosphere that supports the story's themes.
  • Dialogue : Dialogue is the conversation between characters. It should be realistic and help to reveal the characters' personalities and motivations. It can also help to move the plot forward.
  • Climax : The climax is the highest tension or conflict point in the story. It should be the turning point that leads to resolving the conflict.
  • Resolution : The resolution is the end of the story. It should provide a satisfying conclusion to the conflict and tie up any loose ends.

Following these guidelines, you can create a narrative essay structure that engages readers and leaves a lasting impression. Remember, a well-structured story can take readers on a journey and make them feel part of the action.

Want to Be Like an Expert Writer? 

Order now and let our narrative essay service turn your experiences into a captivating and unforgettable tale

Narrative Essay Outline

Here is a detailed narrative essay outline from our custom term paper writing :

Introduction

A. Hook: Start with an attention-grabbing statement, question, or anecdote that introduces the topic and draws the reader in. Example: 'The sun beat down on my skin as I stepped onto the stage, my heart pounding with nervous excitement.'

B. Background information: Provide context for the story, such as the setting or the characters involved. Example: 'I had been preparing for this moment for weeks, rehearsing my lines and perfecting my performance for the school play.'

C. Thesis statement: State the essay's main point and preview the events to come. Example: 'This experience taught me that taking risks and stepping outside my comfort zone can lead to unexpected rewards and personal growth.'

Body Paragraphs

A. First event: Describe the first event in the story, including details about the setting, characters, and actions. Example: 'As I delivered my first lines on stage, I felt a rush of adrenaline and a sense of pride in my hard work paying off.'

B. Second event: Describe the second event in the story, including how it builds on the first event and moves the story forward. Example: 'As the play progressed, I became more comfortable in my role and connecting with the other actors on stage.'

C. Turning point: Describe the turning point in the story, when something unexpected or significant changes the course of events. Example: 'In the final act, my character faced a difficult decision that required me to improvise and trust my instincts.'

D. Climax: Describe the story's climax, the highest tension or conflict point. Example: 'As the play reached its climax, I delivered my final lines with confidence and emotion, feeling a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.'

A. Restate thesis: Summarize the essay's main point and how the events in the story support it. Example: 'Through this experience, I learned that taking risks and pushing past my comfort zone can lead to personal growth and unexpected rewards.'

B. Reflection: Reflect on the significance of the experience and what you learned from it. Example: 'Looking back, I realize that this experience not only taught me about acting and performance but also about the power of perseverance and self-belief.'

C. Call to action: if you're still wondering how to write an essay conclusion , consider ending it with a call to action or final thought that leaves the reader with something to consider or act on. Example: 'I encourage everyone to take risks and embrace new challenges because you never know what kind of amazing experiences and growth they may lead to.

You might also be interested in getting detailed info on 'HOW TO WRITE AN ESSAY CONCLUSION'

Narrative Essay Examples

Are you looking for inspiration for your next narrative essay? Look no further than our narrative essay example. Through vivid storytelling and personal reflections, this essay takes the reader on a journey of discovery and leaves them with a powerful lesson about the importance of compassion and empathy. Use this sample from our expert essay writer as a guide for crafting your own narrative essay, and let your unique voice and experiences shine through.

Narrative Essay Example for College

College professors search for the following qualities in their students:

  • the ability to adapt to different situations,
  • the ability to solve problems creatively,
  • and the ability to learn from mistakes.

Your work must demonstrate these qualities, regardless of whether your narrative paper is a college application essay or a class assignment. Additionally, you want to demonstrate your character and creativity. Describe a situation where you have encountered a problem, tell the story of how you came up with a unique approach to solving it, and connect it to your field of interest. The narrative can be exciting and informative if you present it in such fashion.

Narrative Essay Example for High School

High school is all about showing that you can make mature choices. You accept the consequences of your actions and retrieve valuable life lessons. Think of an event in which you believe your actions were exemplary and made an adult choice. A personal narrative essay example will showcase the best of your abilities. Finally, use other sources to help you get the best results possible. Try searching for a sample narrative essay to see how others have approached it.

Final Words

So now that you know what is a narrative essay you might want to produce high-quality paper. For that let our team of experienced writers help. Our research paper writing service offers a range of professional writing services that cater to your unique needs and requirements, from narrative essays to medical personal statement , also offering dissertation help and more.

With our flexible pricing options and fast turnaround times, you can trust that you'll receive great value for your investment. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you succeed in your academic writing journey. 

Unlock Your Potential with Our Essays!

Order now and take the first step towards achieving your academic goals

Related Articles

How to Write a Spooky Essay on Halloween

Definition and Examples of Narratives in Writing

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

The definition of narrative is a piece of writing that tells a story, and it is one of four classical rhetorical modes or ways that writers use to present information. The others include an exposition, which explains and analyzes an idea or set of ideas; an argument, which attempts to persuade the reader to a particular point of view; and a description, a written form of a visual experience.

Key Takeaways: Narrative Definition

  • A narrative is a form of writing that tells a story. 
  • Narratives can be essays, fairy tales, movies, and jokes. 
  • Narratives have five elements: plot, setting, character, conflict, and theme. 
  • Writers use narrator style, chronological order, a point of view, and other strategies to tell a story.

Telling stories is an ancient art that started long before humans invented writing. People tell stories when they gossip, tell jokes, or reminisce about the past. Written forms of narration include most forms of writing: personal essays, fairy tales, short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, autobiographies, histories, even news stories have a narrative. Narratives may be a sequence of events in chronological order or an imagined tale with flashbacks or multiple timelines.

Narrative Elements

Every narrative has five elements that define and shape the narrative: plot, setting, character , conflict , and theme. These elements are rarely stated in a story; they are revealed to the readers in the story in subtle or not-so-subtle ways, but the writer needs to understand the elements to assemble her story. Here's an example from "The Martian," a novel by Andy Weir that was made into a film:

  • The plot is the thread of events that occur in a story. Weir's plot is about a man who gets accidentally abandoned on the surface of Mars.
  • The setting is the location of the events in time and place. "The Martian" is set on Mars in the not-too-distant future.
  • The characters are the people in the story who drive the plot, are impacted by the plot, or may even be bystanders to the plot. The characters in "The Martian" include Mark Watney, his shipmates, the people at NASA resolving the issue, and even his parents who are only mentioned in the story but still are impacted by the situation and in turn impact Mark's decisions.
  • The conflict is the problem that is being resolved. Plots need a moment of tension, which involves some difficulty that requires resolution. The conflict in "The Martian" is that Watney needs to figure out how to survive and eventually leave the planet's surface.
  • Most important and least explicit is the theme . What is the moral of the story? What does the writer intend the reader to understand? There are arguably several themes in "The Martian": the ability of humans to overcome problems, the stodginess of bureaucrats, the willingness of scientists to overcome political differences, the dangers of space travel, and the power of flexibility as a scientific method.

Setting Tone and Mood

In addition to structural elements, narratives have several styles that help move the plot along or serve to involve the reader. Writers define space and time in a descriptive narrative, and how they choose to define those characteristics can convey a specific mood or tone.

For example, chronological choices can affect the reader's impressions. Past events always occur in strict chronological order, but writers can choose to mix that up, show events out of sequence, or the same event several times experienced by different characters or described by different narrators. In Gabriel García Márquez's novel "Chronicle of a Death Foretold," the same few hours are experienced in sequence from the viewpoint of several different characters. García Márquez uses that to illustrate the peculiar almost magical inability of the townspeople to stop a murder they know is going to happen.

The choice of a narrator is another way that writers set the tone of a piece. Is the narrator someone who experienced the events as a participant, or one who witnessed the events but wasn't an active participant? Is that narrator an omniscient undefined person who knows everything about the plot including its ending, or is he confused and uncertain about the events underway? Is the narrator a reliable witness or lying to themselves or the reader? In the novel "Gone Girl," by Gillian Flynn, the reader is forced to constantly revise her opinion as to the honesty and guilt of the husband Nick and his missing wife. In "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov, the narrator is Humbert Humbert, a pedophile who constantly justifies his actions despite the damage that Nabokov illustrates he's doing.

Point of View

Establishing a point of view for a narrator allows the writer to filter the events through a particular character. The most common point of view in fiction is the omniscient (all-knowing) narrator who has access to all the thoughts and experiences of each of her characters. Omniscient narrators are almost always written in the third person and do not usually have a role in the storyline. The Harry Potter novels, for example, are all written in third person; that narrator knows everything about everybody but is unknown to us.

The other extreme is a story with a first-person point of view in which the narrator is a character within that story, relating events as they see them and with no visibility into other character motivations. Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" is an example of this: Jane relates her experiences of the mysterious Mr. Rochester to us directly, not revealing the full explanation until "Reader, I married him."

Points of view can also be effectively shifted throughout a piece—in her novel "Keys to the Street," Ruth Rendell used limited third-person narratives from the point of view of five different characters, enabling the reader to assemble a coherent whole out of what first appears to be unrelated stories. 

Other Strategies

Writers also use the grammatical strategies of tense (past, present, future), person (first person, second person, third person), number (singular, plural) and voice (active, passive). Writing in the present tense is unsettling—the narrators have no idea what will happen next—while past tense can build in some foreshadowing. Many recent novels use the present tense, including "The Martian." A writer sometimes personalizes the narrator of a story as a specific person for a specific purpose: The narrator can only see and report on what happens to him or her. In "Moby Dick," the entire story is told by the narrator Ishmael, who relates the tragedy of the mad Captain Ahab, and is situated as the moral center.

E.B. White, writing columns in 1935's "New Yorker" magazine, often used the plural or "editorial we" to add a humorous universality and a slow pace to his writing.

"The barber was cutting our hair, and our eyes were closed—as they are so likely to be... Deep in a world of our own, we heard, from far away, a voice saying goodbye. It was a customer of the shop, leaving. 'Goodbye,' he said to the barbers. 'Goodbye,' echoed the barbers. And without ever returning to consciousness, or opening our eyes, or thinking, we joined in. 'Goodbye,' we said, before we could catch ourselves."—E.B. White "Sadness of Parting."

In contrast, sportswriter Roger Angell (White's stepson) epitomizes sports writing, with a quick, active voice, and straight chronological snap:

"In September 1986, during an unmomentous Giants-Braves game out at Candlestick Park, Bob Brenly, playing third base for San Francisco, made an error on a routine ground ball in the top of the fourth inning. Four batters later, he kicked away another chance and then, scrambling after the ball, threw wildly past home in an attempt to nail a runner there: two errors on the same play. A few moments after that, he managed another boot, thus becoming only the fourth player since the turn of the century to rack up four errors in one inning."—Roger Angell. "La Vida."
  • A Guide to All Types of Narration, With Examples
  • Point of View in Grammar and Composition
  • How to Write a Personal Narrative
  • What Is a Synopsis and How Do You Write One?
  • How to Write Interesting and Effective Dialogue
  • How to Write a Narrative Essay or Speech
  • How to Find the Theme of a Book or Short Story
  • AP English Exam: 101 Key Terms
  • 8 Best Books About the History of the Knights Templar
  • How to Write Your Family History
  • Understanding Point of View in Literature
  • What Is Tone In Writing?
  • The Difference Between an Article and an Essay
  • What Is Composition? Definition, Types, and Examples
  • Writing the Parts of a Stage Play Script

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

PrepScholar

Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 3 great narrative essay examples + tips for writing.

author image

General Education

feature_books-5

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 ! 

Need more help with this topic? Check out Tutorbase!

Our vetted tutor database includes a range of experienced educators who can help you polish an essay for English or explain how derivatives work for Calculus. You can use dozens of filters and search criteria to find the perfect person for your needs.

Connect With a Tutor Now

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.

Student and Parent Forum

Our new student and parent forum, at ExpertHub.PrepScholar.com , allow you to interact with your peers and the PrepScholar staff. See how other students and parents are navigating high school, college, and the college admissions process. Ask questions; get answers.

Join the Conversation

Ask a Question Below

Have any questions about this article or other topics? Ask below and we'll reply!

Improve With Our Famous Guides

  • For All Students

The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 160+ SAT Points

How to Get a Perfect 1600, by a Perfect Scorer

Series: How to Get 800 on Each SAT Section:

Score 800 on SAT Math

Score 800 on SAT Reading

Score 800 on SAT Writing

Series: How to Get to 600 on Each SAT Section:

Score 600 on SAT Math

Score 600 on SAT Reading

Score 600 on SAT Writing

Free Complete Official SAT Practice Tests

What SAT Target Score Should You Be Aiming For?

15 Strategies to Improve Your SAT Essay

The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 4+ ACT Points

How to Get a Perfect 36 ACT, by a Perfect Scorer

Series: How to Get 36 on Each ACT Section:

36 on ACT English

36 on ACT Math

36 on ACT Reading

36 on ACT Science

Series: How to Get to 24 on Each ACT Section:

24 on ACT English

24 on ACT Math

24 on ACT Reading

24 on ACT Science

What ACT target score should you be aiming for?

ACT Vocabulary You Must Know

ACT Writing: 15 Tips to Raise Your Essay Score

How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League

How to Get a Perfect 4.0 GPA

How to Write an Amazing College Essay

What Exactly Are Colleges Looking For?

Is the ACT easier than the SAT? A Comprehensive Guide

Should you retake your SAT or ACT?

When should you take the SAT or ACT?

Stay Informed

define narrative essay example

Get the latest articles and test prep tips!

Looking for Graduate School Test Prep?

Check out our top-rated graduate blogs here:

GRE Online Prep Blog

GMAT Online Prep Blog

TOEFL Online Prep Blog

Holly R. "I am absolutely overjoyed and cannot thank you enough for helping me!”

BibGuru Blog

Be more productive in school

  • Citation Styles

How to write a narrative essay [Updated 2023]

How to write a narrative essay

A narrative essay is an opportunity to flex your creative muscles and craft a compelling story. In this blog post, we define what a narrative essay is and provide strategies and examples for writing one.

What is a narrative essay?

Similarly to a descriptive essay or a reflective essay, a narrative essay asks you to tell a story, rather than make an argument and present evidence. Most narrative essays describe a real, personal experience from your own life (for example, the story of your first big success).

Alternately, your narrative essay might focus on an imagined experience (for example, how your life would be if you had been born into different circumstances). While you don’t need to present a thesis statement or scholarly evidence, a narrative essay still needs to be well-structured and clearly organized so that the reader can follow your story.

When you might be asked to write a narrative essay

Although less popular than argumentative essays or expository essays, narrative essays are relatively common in high school and college writing classes.

The same techniques that you would use to write a college essay as part of a college or scholarship application are applicable to narrative essays, as well. In fact, the Common App that many students use to apply to multiple colleges asks you to submit a narrative essay.

How to choose a topic for a narrative essay

When you are asked to write a narrative essay, a topic may be assigned to you or you may be able to choose your own. With an assigned topic, the prompt will likely fall into one of two categories: specific or open-ended.

Examples of specific prompts:

  • Write about the last vacation you took.
  • Write about your final year of middle school.

Examples of open-ended prompts:

  • Write about a time when you felt all hope was lost.
  • Write about a brief, seemingly insignificant event that ended up having a big impact on your life.

A narrative essay tells a story and all good stories are centered on a conflict of some sort. Experiences with unexpected obstacles, twists, or turns make for much more compelling essays and reveal more about your character and views on life.

If you’re writing a narrative essay as part of an admissions application, remember that the people reviewing your essay will be looking at it to gain a sense of not just your writing ability, but who you are as a person.

In these cases, it’s wise to choose a topic and experience from your life that demonstrates the qualities that the prompt is looking for, such as resilience, perseverance, the ability to stay calm under pressure, etc.

It’s also important to remember that your choice of topic is just a starting point. Many students find that they arrive at new ideas and insights as they write their first draft, so the final form of your essay may have a different focus than the one you started with.

How to outline and format a narrative essay

Even though you’re not advancing an argument or proving a point of view, a narrative essay still needs to have a coherent structure. Your reader has to be able to follow you as you tell the story and to figure out the larger point that you’re making.

You’ll be evaluated on is your handling of the topic and how you structure your essay. Even though a narrative essay doesn’t use the same structure as other essay types, you should still sketch out a loose outline so you can tell your story in a clear and compelling way.

To outline a narrative essay, you’ll want to determine:

  • how your story will start
  • what points or specifics that you want to cover
  • how your story will end
  • what pace and tone you will use

In the vast majority of cases, a narrative essay should be written in the first-person, using “I.” Also, most narrative essays will follow typical formatting guidelines, so you should choose a readable font like Times New Roman in size 11 or 12. Double-space your paragraphs and use 1” margins.

To get your creative wheels turning, consider how your story compares to archetypes and famous historical and literary figures both past and present. Weave these comparisons into your essay to improve the quality of your writing and connect your personal experience to a larger context.

How to write a narrative essay

Writing a narrative essay can sometimes be a challenge for students who typically write argumentative essays or research papers in a formal, objective style. To give you a better sense of how you can write a narrative essay, here is a short example of an essay in response to the prompt, “Write about an experience that challenged your view of yourself.”

Narrative essay example

Even as a child, I always had what people might call a reserved personality. It was sometimes framed as a positive (“Sarah is a good listener”) and at other times it was put in less-than-admiring terms (“Sarah is withdrawn and not very talkative”). It was the latter kind of comments that caused me to see my introverted nature as a drawback and as something I should work to eliminate. That is, until I joined my high school’s student council.

The first paragraph, or introduction, sets up the context, establishing the situation and introducing the meaningful event upon which the essay will focus.

The other four students making up the council were very outspoken and enthusiastic. I enjoyed being around them, and I often agreed with their ideas. However, when it came to overhauling our school’s recycling plan, we butted heads. When I spoke up and offered a different point of view, one of my fellow student council members launched into a speech, advocating for her point of view. As her voice filled the room, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I wondered if I should try to match her tone, volume, and assertiveness as a way to be heard. But I just couldn’t do it—it’s not my way, and it never has been. For a fleeting moment, I felt defeated. But then, something in me shifted.

In this paragraph, the writer goes into greater depth about how her existing thinking brought her to this point.

I reminded myself that my view was valid and deserved to be heard. So I waited. I let my fellow council member speak her piece and when she was finished, I deliberately waited a few moments before calmly stating my case. I chose my words well, and I spoke them succinctly. Just because I’m not a big talker doesn’t mean I’m not a big thinker. I thought of the quotation “still waters run deep” and I tried to embody that. The effect on the room was palpable. People listened. And I hadn’t had to shout my point to be heard.

This paragraph demonstrates the turn in the story, the moment when everything changed. The use of the quotation “still waters run deep” imbues the story with a dash of poetry and emotion.

We eventually reached a compromise on the matter and concluded the student council meeting. Our council supervisor came to me afterward and said: “You handled that so well, with such grace and poise. I was very impressed.” Her words in that moment changed me. I realized that a bombastic nature isn't necessarily a powerful one. There is power in quiet, too. This experience taught me to view my reserved personality not as a character flaw, but as a strength.

The final paragraph, or conclusion, closes with a statement about the significance of this event and how it ended up changing the writer in a meaningful way.

Narrative essay writing tips

1. pick a meaningful story that has a conflict and a clear “moral.”.

If you’re able to choose your own topic, pick a story that has meaning and that reveals how you became the person your are today. In other words, write a narrative with a clear “moral” that you can connect with your main points.

2. Use an outline to arrange the structure of your story and organize your main points.

Although a narrative essay is different from argumentative essays, it’s still beneficial to construct an outline so that your story is well-structured and organized. Note how you want to start and end your story, and what points you want to make to tie everything together.

3. Be clear, concise, concrete, and correct in your writing.

You should use descriptive writing in your narrative essay, but don’t overdo it. Use clear, concise, and correct language and grammar throughout. Additionally, make concrete points that reinforce the main idea of your narrative.

4. Ask a friend or family member to proofread your essay.

No matter what kind of writing you’re doing, you should always plan to proofread and revise. To ensure that your narrative essay is coherent and interesting, ask a friend or family member to read over your paper. This is especially important if your essay is responding to a prompt. It helps to have another person check to make sure that you’ve fully responded to the prompt or question.

Frequently Asked Questions about narrative essays

A narrative essay, like any essay, has three main parts: an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Structuring and outlining your essay before you start writing will help you write a clear story that your readers can follow.

The first paragraph of your essay, or introduction, sets up the context, establishing the situation and introducing the meaningful event upon which the essay will focus.

In the vast majority of cases, a narrative essay should be written in the first-person, using “I.”

The 4 main types of essays are the argumentative essay, narrative essay, exploratory essay, and expository essay. You may be asked to write different types of essays at different points in your education.

Most narrative essays will be around five paragraphs, or more, depending on the topic and requirements. Make sure to check in with your instructor about the guidelines for your essay. If you’re writing a narrative essay for a college application, pay close attention to word or page count requirements.

How to write a college essay

Make your life easier with our productivity and writing resources.

For students and teachers.

What Is a Narrative Essay? Definition & 20+ Examples

Ever wondered how life’s vibrant, personal experiences could transform into compelling stories? Welcome to the world of narrative essays, where the art of storytelling meets the essence of self-expression.

This vibrant genre paints vivid pictures, provoking emotions and connecting readers to experiences, perhaps similar to their own or completely novel. Embark on this literary journey with us as we delve into the heart of narrative essays, unearthing the magic of narrating tales spun from threads of personal experiences, historical events, and more.

Prepare to immerse yourself in the fascinating universe where life and literature intertwine.

Table of Contents

Defining Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is a genre of writing that tells a story, often from the writer’s personal perspective. In this type of essay, the author provides a series of events, characters, and settings, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the experience. Although typically written in the first person, narrative essays can be written in the third person as well.

The purpose of a narrative essay is not only to entertain but also to convey a meaningful message or lesson. These essays can be drawn from real-life experiences or fictional scenarios, but they should be engaging and create an emotional connection with the reader. Narrative essays are often used to explore personal growth, relationships, and various worldviews and experiences.

In a narrative essay, it is essential to use vivid, descriptive language and a clear structure to help the reader follow the narrative. While engaging the reader’s emotions, the essay must maintain a consistent point of view and avoid unnecessary complexity or ambiguity.

History of Narrative Essay

The narrative essay has its roots in oral storytelling traditions dating back to ancient civilizations. The art of telling stories has been present across cultures and continents as a means to communicate, preserve history, and entertain. Early examples of narratives were usually passed down through generations of storytellers, which led narratives to transform and adapt over time.

In the Middle Ages , the invention of the printing press allowed for written narratives to become more widely accessible, leading to the rise of written narrative essays. Literature, like Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” and Boccaccio’s “Decameron,” showcased the importance of storytelling as a medium to understand and reflect on human experiences.

During the Romantic period in the 18th and 19th centuries , the narrative essay took on new life as authors like Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Edgar Allan Poe explored the genre’s creative and intellectual potential. They used narrative essays to express their individual perspectives and encouraged readers to think beyond conventions and social norms.

During the 20th century , the narrative essay became even more prevalent, with the rise of digital technology and the internet making it easier for writers to share their stories via blogs , social media , and online literary publications .

Today , the narrative essay has evolved into a versatile genre that continues to remain a popular form of expression in literature and the digital age.

Although the format of narrative essays has changed over the years, their central purpose — to share personal experiences , entertain readers , and reflect on the human condition — has remained consistent, contributing to the genre’s enduring appeal.

Functions of Narrative Essay

Storytelling.

Narrative essays serve as an effective platform for storytelling. Through these essays, writers impart exciting and entertaining tales to their readers as they incorporate essential elements such as plot , setting , and character .

One primary function of a narrative essay is to engage the audience by keeping them hooked. With its descriptive and vivid language style, it captures the reader’s imagination and evokes curiosity.

Narrative essays also play a role in imparting valuable knowledge and life lessons. They can portray real-life events and experiences that provide readers with a deeper understanding of the world.

These essays offer a medium for reflecting on personal experiences, growth, and emotional journeys, allowing both the writer and the reader to gain valuable insights from past events and decisions.

Though narrative essays primarily tell stories, they can also serve as a tool for persuasion. By presenting a narrative from a specific perspective, writers can subtly influence the reader’s opinions and beliefs on a particular topic.

Through sharing personal stories and experiences, narrative essays help build a connection between the writer and the reader. They create a sense of empathy and relatability, bridging the gap between different backgrounds and perspectives.

Exploration of Themes

Narrative essays allow for an in-depth exploration of themes ranging from morality to the complexities of human relationships. Writers can weave these themes into their stories to provoke thought and discussion.

Character Development

Character development is an essential aspect of narrative essays. By showcasing the growth and transformation of a character, the essay becomes more engaging and dynamic while also revealing insights into human behavior and psychology.

Characteristics of Narrative Essay

Narrative essay tells a story.

A narrative essay presents a story with a clear beginning , middle , and end . The writer’s goal is to engage the reader with vivid descriptions and captivating events, drawing them into the story and encouraging them to experience the emotions and events alongside the characters.

First-Person Perspective

Often written in first-person perspective, narrative essays allow the writer to share their experiences and thoughts with the reader. This point of view connects the reader with the protagonist, creating a more personal and intimate experience.

Characters and Dialogue

Well-developed characters and believable dialogue contribute to the overall authenticity of a narrative essay. The writer achieves this by creating dynamic characters with distinct voices and personalities, with the dialogue often propelling the story forward.

Descriptive Language

Using descriptive language helps paint a picture in the reader’s mind, immersing them in the story’s setting and atmosphere. Adjectives, sensory details, and imagery are essential tools in crafting a vivid narrative.

Plot and Structure

A narrative essay must have a clear, well-structured plot with a beginning, middle, and end. The writer unfolds the story in a way that builds tension and excitement, driving the reader to anticipate the resolution.

Chronological Order

Events in a narrative essay usually unfold in chronological order, following the natural progression of time. This allows the reader to follow the story easily and maintain their engagement.

Theme or Message

Narrative essays often explore themes or convey a message to the reader. The writer subtly weaves this message throughout the story, allowing the reader to understand and appreciate the underlying meaning gradually.

Conflict and Resolution

Conflict drives the story forward, creating excitement and tension that keeps the reader engaged. The narrative essay should present a central conflict that the characters encounter and, ultimately, resolve.

Narrative essays frequently include reflective moments, during which the writer pauses to consider the significance of the events, characters, or conflicts they are describing. These moments help the reader gain a deeper understanding of the writer’s thoughts and the message they are conveying.

Importance of Narrative Essay

Narrative essay enables individuals to articulate their emotions.

Narrative essays enable writers to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. They provide an opportunity for individuals to articulate their emotions and insights through storytelling. This promotes a sense of self-awareness, helping individuals better comprehend their own actions and beliefs.

Narrative Essay Engages Readers

Narrative essays engage readers by presenting stories in artistic and imaginative ways. They captivate the audience through vivid descriptions, colorful language, and emotionally resonant themes. This creates an immersive experience, allowing readers to not only learn from the writer’s experiences but also feel emotionally connected to them.

Narrative Essay Enhances One’s Communication Skills

Writing narrative essays enhances one’s communication skills. It requires clear and concise language, as well as the ability to convey ideas in an organized and coherent manner. This practice hones one’s writing ability and overall communication skills.

Narrative Essay Promotes Empathy

A well-written narrative essay promotes empathy by allowing readers to experience events from different perspectives. It encourages understanding and appreciation for the distinct viewpoints of other individuals, fostering respect and appreciation for diversity.

Narrative Essay Challenges a Writer’s Critical Thinking

Developing a narrative essay challenges a writer’s critical thinking ability to evaluate experiences and draw meaningful conclusions. This process of reflection provides an opportunity for personal growth and learning, ultimately cultivating a well-rounded individual.

Narrative Essays Convey Themes or Messages

Narrative essays often relay themes and messages that reflect the writer’s beliefs or values. By sharing these themes, writers provide insights that readers may relate to and learn from, leading to personal growth and understanding.

Narrative Essay Builds Empathy

Sharing personal stories through narrative essays can help build empathy among readers. By connecting with the experiences and emotions presented, readers have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of others and foster compassion in their own lives.

Narrative Essay Encourages Individuals to Explore

Narrative essays entice readers with engaging stories that are interesting and emotionally impactful. This motivation to read can foster an appreciation for literature, encouraging individuals to further explore and engage with written works.

Elements of Narrative Essay

In a narrative essay, the plot is the sequence of events that make up the story. It typically follows a chronological order and includes an exposition , rising action , climax , falling action , and resolution . Each event should contribute to the overall theme and message of the essay.

Characters are the people, animals, or other beings that participate in the story. They have individual personalities, motivations, and conflicts. The main character, or protagonist , is the central figure in a narrative essay, and readers often empathize with them as they undergo various experiences.

The setting is the time and place in which the story occurs. It can be a specific location or a more general environment. The setting contributes to the overall atmosphere and mood of the narrative essay, and it can influence how characters interact with one another.

Point of View

Point of view refers to the perspective from which the story is told. In a third-person narrative essay, the author uses “he,” “she,” “it,” or “they” to tell the story. This allows the writer to provide a more objective view, showing events and character actions without the bias of a first-person narrator.

Conflict is the struggle between opposing forces that drives the plot forward. It can be internal, within a character’s own mind or emotions, or external, between characters or against an outside force. Conflict creates tension and keeps the reader engaged in the story.

Theme refers to the underlying message or central idea that the writer wants to convey through their narrative essay. It can be a commentary on society, human nature, or other universal concepts. A strong theme helps to tie the essay together and contributes to its overall impact on the reader.

Dialogue is the conversation between characters in a narrative essay. It helps to establish character relationships, reveal information, and move the plot forward. Effective dialogue should sound natural and reflect the speaker’s personality and voice.

Narrative Structure

The narrative structure is the organization and arrangement of events in the essay. It includes elements like flashbacks , foreshadowing , and parallel plotlines to create a cohesive and engaging reading experience.

Description

The description is the use of sensory details and vivid language to help the reader visualize the story. It can include the appearance of characters, settings, and objects, as well as sounds, smells, and other sensory details. Effective description enhances the reader’s immersion in the story and supports the emotional impact.

Reflective Aspect

The reflective aspect of a narrative essay refers to the author’s insights and personal growth as a result of the events in the story. It is an opportunity for the author to analyze and reflect on the experiences and emotions they have conveyed, providing a deeper level of understanding for the reader.

Structure of Narrative Essays

Introduction.

Narrative essays generally begin with an introduction that presents the background and sets the stage for the story. This section introduces the main characters, their relationships, and the setting or context in which the story takes place.

The introduction also establishes the purpose or main idea of the essay, grabbing the reader’s attention and sparking their interest in the unfolding events.

Rising Action

The rising action includes a series of events or experiences that create tension and suspense, gradually building toward the pivotal point of the story. In this section, the writer conveys the various challenges and obstacles faced by the main characters while developing the plot and providing insights into their personalities and motivations.

The rising action helps the reader become emotionally invested in the characters and their journey.

The climax is the turning point or the most intense moment in the story, where the central conflict reaches its peak. It is at this stage that the main characters confront the challenges or adversities they have been facing, often resulting in dramatic, emotional, or transformative consequences.

The climax is a crucial moment in the narrative essay, as it determines the outcome of the story and the eventual fate of the characters.

Falling Action

Following the climax, the story enters its falling action phase . In this section, the events and repercussions of the climax begin to unfold, and tensions start to subside. The writer gradually moves towards a resolution of the main conflict while also tying up loose ends and potentially introducing ancillary outcomes that result from the central events.

Conclusion or Resolution

The conclusion or resolution offers a sense of closure or finality by addressing the outcome of the story. It may present the characters reflecting on their experiences, lessons learned, or the consequences of their actions. Ideally, the resolution leaves the reader with a feeling of satisfaction, having followed the characters on their journey and reached an appropriate conclusion.

A narrative essay may also include a reflection section, where the writer discusses the significance of the story or its broader implications. This section allows the writer to share their personal insights, thoughts, or feelings about the events in the narrative and may offer a deeper perspective on the themes or messages explored in the essay.

The reflection, when included, can help to elevate the narrative by adding depth and context to the overall story.

Popular Narrative Essay Topics

Personal experiences.

Narrative essays often focus on personal experiences as they allow the writer to share a unique story with their readers. These topics could include a memorable childhood event, a life lesson learned, or overcoming a significant obstacle.

Travel Experiences

Travel experiences are also popular in narrative essays, as they provide rich and vivid details for the reader to imagine. The writer can recount a fantastic trip, a cultural exchange experience, or even a challenging adventure, capturing the essence of the journey.

Achievements and Failures

Writing about achievements and failures enables the writer to reflect on their personal growth and share the lessons they’ve learned. Topics can range from winning a competition, conquering a fear, or overcoming failure to succeed in the end.

Relationships and Interactions

Narrative essays on relationships and interactions capture the emotions, lessons, and insights gained from interacting with others. The writer could tell a story of forming an unlikely friendship, navigating a challenging relationship, or learning from a mentor.

Historical or Current Events

Addressing historical or current events in narrative essays allows writers to share their perspectives and analyses. Stories could focus on significant moments in history, political events, or social movements, detailing how they’ve impacted the writer and their understanding of the world.

School and Work Experiences

School and work experiences can serve as compelling sources of inspiration for narrative essays. Writers can recount stories of innovative projects, first-time experiences, or memorable teachers and coworkers, sharing valuable insights and reflections.

Techniques Used in Narrative Essay Writing

When writing a narrative essay, authors should use various techniques to create an engaging and well-written piece. These techniques will help to capture the reader’s attention, establish a connection with the audience, and effectively convey the story.

Showing Rather than Telling

One critical technique used in narrative essay writing is showing rather than telling. It involves the use of vivid imagery and descriptions to draw the reader into the story. This allows the reader to create mental images of the events and experiences described in the essay.

For example, instead of merely stating that a character was sad, a writer could describe their frowning face or a tear rolling down their cheek.

Including conversations between characters helps to bring the story to life and provides insight into the thoughts and feelings of those involved. When writing dialogue, it’s essential to maintain a consistent tone and voice and pay attention to punctuation to ensure clarity for the reader.

The use of chronological order is also important when composing a narrative essay. Presenting events in the order they occurred is the most straightforward approach and helps the reader follow along effortlessly. While some writers may choose to mix up the sequence for a more dramatic effect, it is crucial to ensure that the narrative remains clear and easy to understand.

Character development plays a significant role in creating a compelling narrative essay. The thoughts, emotions, and experiences of the characters should evolve throughout the story. A well-developed character with realistic reactions and growth helps engage the reader and creates a deeper connection to the narrative.

Strong Narrative Voice

Employing a strong narrative voice is crucial to a successful narrative essay. The narrative voice can be the author’s own or a fictional character, but it should be consistent and engaging. The voice should provide a unique perspective on the events taking place and help guide the reader through the story.

Types of Narrative Essay

Personal narrative essay.

A personal narrative essay is written from the author’s perspective and shares a personal story or experience. This type of essay often involves reflection on the significance of the event, as well as how it has shaped the author’s life.

Biographical Narrative Essay

A biographical narrative essay focuses on telling the life story of an individual other than the author. It may cover key events or experiences from the person’s life and often requires research to gather accurate information about the subject.

Literacy Narrative Essay

A literacy narrative essay explores an individual’s experiences with reading , writing , or language . It can discuss how these experiences have shaped the individual’s understanding and use of language, as well as any challenges they have faced in their literacy journey.

Historical Narrative Essay

A historical narrative essay tells the story of a significant event, era, or person within a historical context. This type of essay requires the author to research and gather accurate historical information while weaving it into a well-structured narrative.

Reflective Narrative Essay

A reflective narrative essay involves the author discussing an experience or event in their life and examining its impact on their personal growth and development. The focus is on how the event has shaped the individual’s values, beliefs, or understanding of the world.

Descriptive Narrative Essay

A descriptive narrative essay aims to paint a vivid picture of a person, place, or situation through detailed observations and sensory language. It can evoke emotions and immerse the reader in the setting, creating an engaging narrative experience.

Examples of Narrative Essay in Literature

Short story, examples of narrative essay in pop culture, creative writing, how to write a narrative essay.

A narrative essay is a type of essay that tells a story or recounts an event, often through the author’s personal experiences. Writing a narrative essay can be an enlightening and engaging experience for both the writer and the reader.

Impacts of Narrative Essay on Literature

Narrative essays play a significant role in literature, as they provide authors with a platform to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a compelling manner. They enable readers to connect with the story, allowing them to empathize with the author or the characters.

Understanding of Human Experience

Narrative essays offer an opportunity for writers to share their own life experiences, making them relatable and captivating to readers. This form of writing encourages a deeper understanding of human emotions, challenges, and growth.

Exploration of Themes and Issues

Through narrative essays, authors can delve into various themes and issues, such as love, loss, friendship, conflict, and societal norms. This allows readers to see multiple perspectives, fostering critical thinking and empathy.

Development of Narrative Skills

Aspiring writers can hone their narrative skills by writing narrative essays, learning to organize their thoughts, developing interesting plotlines, and creating captivating characters. This process helps writers improve their storytelling techniques, making their work more engaging.

Reflection and Learning

Writing narrative essays encourages self-reflection and introspection, allowing authors to analyze their own experiences and learn from them. It serves as a therapeutic outlet and a learning tool for personal growth and development.

Versatility

Narrative essays are versatile forms of writing that can be adapted to various genres and styles, such as fiction , nonfiction , and even poetry . This flexibility allows writers to experiment with different forms and voices, expanding their creative horizons.

Influence on Other Literary Forms

The narrative essay format has had a profound impact on other literary forms, such as novels , short stories , and memoirs . The storytelling techniques developed through writing narrative essays contribute to the richness and depth of these other literary works.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common mistakes to avoid in a narrative essay.

Common mistakes to avoid when writing a narrative essay include a lack of focus, insufficient development of the story, and an unclear message. To avoid these pitfalls, ensure that the story has a clear central theme, develop the narrative with ample details, and convey a discernible message or lesson.

What is the difference between a narrative essay and a short story?

While both a narrative essay and a short story tell a tale, the main difference lies in their purpose. A narrative essay aims to share a personal experience and often a lesson learned from it, while a short story primarily aims to entertain. Narrative essays are usually written in the first person, while short stories can be written from any point of view.

Can a narrative essay be fictional?

Yes, while many narrative essays are based on personal experiences, they can also be entirely fictional. The key is to tell a compelling story that conveys a clear theme or message, whether it’s based on real events or is a product of the author’s imagination.

Narrative essays offer a compelling medium to share your unique stories, experiences, and perspectives. By weaving together the threads of plot, character, setting, and conflict, you can create an engaging narrative that captivates your readers, immerses them in your world, and leaves them with a lasting impression.

Remember, each narrative essay is not just about recounting a tale; it’s an opportunity to express personal growth, share lessons learned, and convey themes that resonate. So, the next time you have a story to tell, consider a narrative essay, where life’s experiences transform into a literary tapestry of meaning and connection. Happy writing!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

As you found this post useful...

Share it on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Photo of author

Aerielle Ezra

define narrative essay example

The Plagiarism Checker Online For Your Academic Work

Start Plagiarism Check

Editing & Proofreading for Your Research Paper

Get it proofread now

Online Printing & Binding with Free Express Delivery

Configure binding now

  • Academic essay overview
  • The writing process
  • Structuring academic essays
  • Types of academic essays
  • Academic writing overview
  • Sentence structure
  • Academic writing process
  • Improving your academic writing
  • Titles and headings
  • APA style overview
  • APA citation & referencing
  • APA structure & sections
  • Citation & referencing
  • Structure and sections
  • APA examples overview
  • Commonly used citations
  • Other examples
  • British English vs. American English
  • Chicago style overview
  • Chicago citation & referencing
  • Chicago structure & sections
  • Chicago style examples
  • Citing sources overview
  • Citation format
  • Citation examples
  • College essay overview
  • Application
  • How to write a college essay
  • Types of college essays
  • Commonly confused words
  • Definitions
  • Dissertation overview
  • Dissertation structure & sections
  • Dissertation writing process
  • Graduate school overview
  • Application & admission
  • Study abroad
  • Master degree
  • Harvard referencing overview
  • Language rules overview
  • Grammatical rules & structures
  • Parts of speech
  • Punctuation
  • Methodology overview
  • Analyzing data
  • Experiments
  • Observations
  • Inductive vs. Deductive
  • Qualitative vs. Quantitative
  • Types of validity
  • Types of reliability
  • Sampling methods
  • Theories & Concepts
  • Types of research studies
  • Types of variables
  • MLA style overview
  • MLA examples
  • MLA citation & referencing
  • MLA structure & sections
  • Plagiarism overview
  • Plagiarism checker
  • Types of plagiarism
  • Printing production overview
  • Research bias overview
  • Types of research bias
  • Example sections
  • Types of research papers
  • Research process overview
  • Problem statement
  • Research proposal
  • Research topic
  • Statistics overview
  • Levels of measurment
  • Frequency distribution
  • Measures of central tendency
  • Measures of variability
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Parameters & test statistics
  • Types of distributions
  • Correlation
  • Effect size
  • Hypothesis testing assumptions
  • Types of ANOVAs
  • Types of chi-square
  • Statistical data
  • Statistical models
  • Spelling mistakes
  • Tips overview
  • Academic writing tips
  • Dissertation tips
  • Sources tips
  • Working with sources overview
  • Evaluating sources
  • Finding sources
  • Including sources
  • Types of sources

Your Step to Success

Plagiarism Check within 10min

Printing & Binding with 3D Live Preview

Narrative Essay – A Guide For Your Academic Writing

How do you like this article cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Narrative-essay-Definition

Narrative essays, which are often included as part of an academic essay , are crafted from a specific perspective, often that of the author, to captivate the reader with the story’s intricate details and progression. The use of vivid and distinct verb tenses enriches the narrative. The personalized, experiential, and frequently anecdotal character of these narratives offers students the liberty to convey their thoughts in unique and often emotionally resonant manners.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

  • 1 Narrative Essay – In a Nutshell
  • 2 Definition: Narrative essay
  • 3 What is a narrative essay for?
  • 4 Elements of a narrative essay
  • 5 Finding a topic for a narrative essay
  • 6 Narrative essay vs. Short story
  • 7 Example of a narrative essay

Narrative Essay – In a Nutshell

  • A narrative essay is a piece of writing meant to be informative and engaging as it unfolds a story or an event.
  • When writing a narrative essay, ensure you have adequate research or experience with the topic, so you don’t have to research too much.
  • Unlike many other essays , narrative essays often use first-person perspectives.

Definition: Narrative essay

A narrative essay is a kind of academic writing that examines an intriguing subject using the first-person experiences and observations of one or more people. It may be applied to create a narrative about a person’s life or describe a specific historical event or period.

To craft a captivating story that informs readers about the topic, the author employs both their own words and quotations from additional sources.

A narrative essay is a writing in which the author tells a story depending on what is best suited. The narrative form can be either spoken or written, fiction or nonfiction. Unlike other essay formats, these papers permit the use of the first person .

Ireland

What is a narrative essay for?

Telling a tale is the primary goal of a narrative essay. It may be something straightforward, like a tale of your summer adventures, or something intricate, like the story of your life. As a result, the narrative serves two purposes:

  • Entertaining the audience
  • Highlighting the significance of the experience.

Elements of a narrative essay

Like any other essay, the skeleton of a narrative must consist of:

  • A sensible title
  • An introduction
  • Body paragraphs
  • A conclusion .

The narrative length is as long as the narrator or writer wishes.

However, this essay has other sub-elements that make it remarkable and enchanting to the audience. It includes the:

  • Exposition (setting and character introduction)
  • Rising action (events that develop conflict for the protagonist)
  • Climax (the point at which the tension of the conflict reaches its peak intensity)
  • Falling action (the events that occur after the climax)
  • Denouement (the resolution of conflict)

Finding a topic for a narrative essay

To keep readers reading and interested when writing a narrative essay, your topic needs to be something you can write about engagingly. It is also crucial that the subject is one that can be thoroughly investigated and has great detail. You will have more facts to write about in your essay as you do more studying on the topic.

Finding a subject you are passionate about is essential while writing a narrative essay. This subject can cover everything from what you are doing right now to what you have done in the past. The easiest method to accomplish this is to conduct a study and discover what other people have done in similar situations.

Additionally, you ought to search online or in printed books for illustrations of other narratives dealing with the identical subject. When it comes time to put your narrative in writing, the more knowledge you have about your topic, the better.

Narrative essay vs. Short story

Example of a narrative essay.

Below is the beginning section of a narrative essay about the first time I saw a picture of myself.

Narrative-essay-example

What is the difference between narrative and essay?

A narrative emphasizes the significance of your personal experience and conveys a core topic or a key lesson in addition to narrating a story, while an essay is a researched write-up about a subject.

More often than not, essays explore remote subjects, compared to narratives that are given by someone who was present as the events unfolded.

What is the most important element of narrative writing?

The storyline is the most crucial component of every play, novel, short story, or genre of literature.

The story’s action, or plot, determines how the work is structured. The story’s development, progression, and progression over time are all part of the plot.

What is a good narrative essay topic?

Events like relocating, graduating, traveling, and weddings are suitable topics for personal narrative essays. So long as you have a memorable story you want to narrate, you can write this type of essay.

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential, while others help us to improve this website and your experience.

  • External Media

Individual Privacy Preferences

Cookie Details Privacy Policy Imprint

Here you will find an overview of all cookies used. You can give your consent to whole categories or display further information and select certain cookies.

Accept all Save

Essential cookies enable basic functions and are necessary for the proper function of the website.

Show Cookie Information Hide Cookie Information

Statistics cookies collect information anonymously. This information helps us to understand how our visitors use our website.

Content from video platforms and social media platforms is blocked by default. If External Media cookies are accepted, access to those contents no longer requires manual consent.

Privacy Policy Imprint

404 Not found

Summer Deal! Top-rated Essay Writers Online! Get 50% OFF On Your First Essay Order!

Your 50% Off + Real Help Await!

Skip the Bots, Talk to Us

Have us text you Estimated wait time: about 2 minutes

Have us call you Estimated wait time: about 5 minutes

Chat with support Estimated wait time: about 3 minutes

Email us The current response time is 6 hours

Have us text you

Estimated wait time: about 2 minutes

By clicking “Text me” you agree to our terms and privacy policy .

We will contact you shortly!

Have us call you

Estimated wait time: about 5 minutes

By clicking “Call me” you agree to our terms and privacy policy .

The current response time is 6 hours

Please reach out to us at:

Narrative Essay Writing

Narrative Essay Examples

Cathy A.

20+ Top Narrative Essay Examples by Experts

12 min read

Published on: Apr 12, 2020

Last updated on: Jul 21, 2023

narrative essay examples

People also read

How to Write a Narrative Essay - Beginner’s Guide

Interesting Narrative Essay Topics and Ideas

Personal Narrative Essay - Easy Guide & Examples

Share this article

Narrative essays are a common assignment in school, but many students struggle to write them. 

The problem with narrative essays is that they can be difficult to write. They require students to think about their own experiences and to put those experiences into words. This can be a challenge, especially for students who are not used to writing about themselves.

The solution to the problem of writing narrative essays is to provide students with examples. By reading examples of narrative essays, students can see how other students have successfully written about their own experiences. 

In this blog post, we will provide you with examples of narrative essays.By the end of this blog post, you will have a better understanding of how to write a narrative essay.

On This Page On This Page -->

Before writing, go through narrative essay examples to ensure that outlining and formatting are done correctly. Moreover, looking at examples will allow the writer to understand sensory details and vocabulary to describe events, settings, characters, and emotions.

Here are some famous narrative essays that you can consider adding to your reading wishlist:

“A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift

“Once More to the Lake” by EB White

“The Fourth of July” by Audre Lorde

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

“The Crisis” by Thomas Paine

But it doesn't end here! To help our students, CollegeEssay.org has gathered many other narrative essay sample. These examples will help you learn the correct formation of a narrative essay.

Read on to discover!

Personal Narrative Essay Example

Are you looking for a sample to draft a personal narrative essay ? Go through the example provided below to understand how the first-person and third-person perspectives are used in a narrative essay.

Sample Personal Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay Example for Middle School

A narrative essay is frequently assigned to middle school students to assess their writing and creative skills. If you are a student looking for a sample narrative essay for your middle school assignment, go through the example provided below.

Narrative Essay Example: 7th Grade

Narrative Essay Example for Grade 8

Grade 9 Narrative Essay Example

Sample Narrative Essay Grade 12

Narrative Essay Example for High School

When drafting assignments for high school, professional writing is essential. Your essays and papers should be well structured and written in order to achieve better grades. If you are assigned a narrative essay, go through the sample provided to see how an effective essay is written.

Sample Narrative Essay For High School

Good Narrative Essay Examples for College

College essays are more complex in nature than other academic levels. They require a better understanding of the concept, following a proper writing procedure, and an outline.

Although you are to draft a narrative essay for your college assignment, make sure it is professionally written. Read the sample narrative essay provided below.

Descriptive Narrative Essay Example

If you are to draft a document on the recreation of an event, a descriptive narrative essay is written. It presents an incident that happened to the writer and the backed-up information that supports the story.

The following is a perfect example of a descriptive narrative essay.

Sample Descriptive Narrative Essay

Order Essay

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That's our Job!

Literacy Narrative Essay Example

Academic assignments often require students to draft essays on education. Education is the most significant topic of discussion, and for this purpose, almost every essay type and research paper studies it.

If you are drafting a narrative essay on literacy, go through the sample provided.

Fictional Narrative Essay Example

Drafting a fictional piece of document requires a more vivid description and detail. If you are assigned a narrative essay to draft on a fictional theme, read the example provided below.

Sample Fictional Narrative Essay

The Essentials of Narrative Essays

In a narrative essay, the goal is to write a story from one person's perspective. To do this well requires incorporating all of these aspects: 

Below are some golden points that you should keep in mind when writing a narrative essay.

  • Chronological order is the most common way to present information.
  • A thesis statement has a function in an essay. This is typically evident in the opening paragraph.
  • The writer's argument is clearly communicated through the use of sensory details and vivid language.
  • This draws the reader in and makes them interested in what the writer has to say. Everything in the passage is somehow related to the main point.

How to Start a Narrative Essay?

When you start writing the narrative essay, you should follow some steps and make your writing process easy.

For your help, we gathered some steps that you should follow when starting writing the essay.

  • Choose a narrative essay topic that is engaging and interesting.
  • Do some research and then start writing the essay.
  • Create an outline.
  • Start writing the essay. The way you describe things should be creative and colorful. Thus, the reader can feel as if they are right there with what's happening.
  • Proofread the essay before submitting it.

Watch the video below for tips on how to write a narrative essay:

Narrative Essay Writing Tips 

Professional essay writers of CollegeEssay.org have gathered some tips and tricks for you to follow to make your narrative essay remarkable. Even if you are aware of the writing procedure, it is advised to use expert tips to make your documents flawless. 

Follow the tips provided below to draft an exceptional narrative essay.

  • Clear Content: The narrative essay content should be clear. All the details and descriptions provided should be readable and understandable by the audience. Avoid using complex words and distribute content into paragraphs.
  • Keep it concise: Avoid describing every minor detail or movement. Provide only explanations that are important for the readers to imagine. 
  • Use first-person perspective: To make something believable and interesting for the readers, state it from the first-person perspective. Share your personal experiences, stories, and opinions to make the content impactful. 
  • Use limited referencing: When drafting an essay, according to the instructed format, avoid using frequent in-text citations. 
  • Use Clear Stance: Write your point of view clearly, so the readers feel that it is a genuine piece of writing. 

Keep in mind that a narrative essay is different from an expository essay but the same as a descriptive essay .  

In conclusion,

Using the tips provided by the professionals and going through the narrative essay examples will let you draft an effective paper. 

But if your analyzing and writing skills are not impressive, you can always get professional help from the best  essay writer .

CollegeEssay.org is an expert essay writing service that provides custom services and high-quality content. 

No matter how near or far your deadline is, you can get assistance from our narrative essay writing service

Simply hire an experienced writer by placing an order at the most reasonable price. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a narrative paragraph.

Paragraphs vary in length depending on the content, but a standard 5-sentence paragraph usually isn't enough to tell an interesting story. 

How do I write a narrative essay?

Here are some steps that will help you to write a great narrative essay. 

  • Consider the topic 
  • Start writing the draft 
  • Provide supporting facts 
  • Revise your essay 

Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)

For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That’s our Job!

Get Help

Keep reading

narrative essay examples

Join our mailing list for discount & offers

 alt=

  • Privacy Policy
  • Cookies Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Refunds & Cancellations
  • Our Guarantees
  • Affiliate Program
  • Referral Program
  • AI Essay Writer

Disclaimer: Our website content is sometimes created using AI but is reviewed and verified by our experienced team of editors. All client orders are completed by our team of highly qualified human writers. The essays and papers provided by us are not to be used for submission but rather as learning models only.

define narrative essay example

Subscribed successfully!

Error

Email Address Already Exists!

Please Enter Valid Email!

Narrative Essay Guide

Writing Narrative Essay

Last updated on: Dec 21, 2023

Narrative Essay - An Ultimate Guide With Examples & Topics

By: Nathan D.

Reviewed By: Jacklyn H.

Published on: May 12, 2020

Narrative-Essay

Got a narrative essay writing assignment? If so, think of it as an opportunity to polish your storytelling skills.

Every student has to write a narrative essay at some point in their academic career. But if you have never written one before, you might not know where to start.

If you are looking for a way to write your narrative essay, this is the ultimate guide. This blog post will give you examples of what a narrative essay should look like and how to structure it. If you follow these steps, then there is no chance that your paper will not get an A!

The blog below will be your guide to compose a stellar essay.

Narrative-Essay

On this Page

What is a Narrative Essay?

The first question you need to answer before moving on to how to write a narrative essay is to know what is narrative writing.

As per the narrative essay definition, ‘A narrative essay is the type of essay in which you share your personal experience in a creative and engaging way, just like a good story.’

Like a descriptive essay, these kinds of essays are quite common in high school and college, and students describe their experiences and events in it.

The purpose of a narrative essay is storytelling according to the point of view with specific details. Therefore, a good essay tells an engaging story and inspires the readers to continue.

A good narrative essay is fun to write, interesting to read, and should be meaningful in some way. And most importantly, it should start with an interesting hook.

Therefore, these essays are quite common as scholarship essays also.

Now that you have understood the narrative essay definition let’s take a look at the elements of a narrative essay.

Elements of a Narrative Essay

The plot is the main focus of a narrative essay, which is described with enough detail to build an interesting climax.

  • It follows a chronological manner.
  • It should have a purpose. Usually, this is stated in the introductory paragraph.
  • It may be a good idea to use dialogue.
  • It is stated with sensory details and bright descriptions to involve the reader. All these details relate in some way or other to the main point the author is making.

How To Start a Narrative Essay

The opening line of your essay defines how many readers you will retain until the conclusion. A good essay start will definitely make sure the readers are absorbed right from the beginning. Readers will surely appreciate it if they start enjoying the essay from its beginning.

If the start is interesting, the reader will definitely go through the rest of the essay.

To make your essay more impactful, it is important to pay close attention to how to start it.

The opening statement, basically the hook, is the line of your essay that you write. It is the instrument of attack in your narrative essay.

The following are the ways to make sure that your essay hook is to the task for readers to connect with your essay.

  • Using a relevant quote
  • Using statistics
  • Telling an anecdote
  • Starting with an intriguing question
  • Stating a fact

Order Essay

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That's our Job!

Narrative Essay Structure and Outline

The first step in writing a narrative essay is to create an outline. An outline is an important part, and it helps to organize and structure the main ideas. It helps to stay focused and maintain a consistent flow throughout the essay.

To help you understand better, we have attached a sample outline of a good essay.

NARRATIVE ESSAY OUTLINE

Narrative format is fairly simple and straightforward.

Its five-paragraph essay structure has the following parts:

Introduction

  • Start with a hook sentence that will help grab the reader’s attention.
  • Consider it as a warm-up for the readers and give them the main idea of what your essay story is all about.
  • 3-5 sentences are enough.

Thesis Statement

  • Your main argument for the essay, story, confession, or it could be anything that counts as a narrative report.
  • Evoke the interest of readers and introduce them to the problem you will discuss.

Body Paragraphs

  • Collect supportive arguments for your essay statement and place them in a logical manner.
  • Remember: every new idea is a new paragraph.
  • 3-5 blocks will be enough.
  • This is the part where you summarize the whole essay and prove what you claimed in the introduction.
  • 3-5 well-arranged sentences are all needed.

A well-written essay outline points the writer in the right direction and helps him stay focused.

How to Write a Narrative Essay - Step By Step

For good narrative essay writing skills, follow the following steps.

1. Choose Your Topic Carefully

The first step is to pick an interesting and engaging topic for your essay. Choose something that would help you explain your personal experiences engagingly and without dragging.

Your essay is based on your personal narrative; therefore, don't forget to add your voice and sensory details to it.

If you need some great topic ideas for your essay, review these interesting narrative essay topics recommended by experts to help you with your essay.

2. Always Begin With a Draft

Writing a narrative essay will be easy if you will create an outline for it. This will help you to add important details and delete irrelevant information.

These rough drafts are great because you can adjust them accordingly and change them until they are good to go.

Most professional writers see rough drafts as a key step in their writing process.

3. Make Sure You Include Storyline Elements

These essays require storyline elements such as a solid plot, character, setting, and vivid descriptions to add life to your narrative essay.

To make your essay more captivating, you can use literary devices like allegory. However, to get the most out of this technique, check out this comprehensive guide on using allegory in narrative essay writing .

4. Supporting and Proving

Your opinions and thoughts are a part of your narrative essay. However, if needed, you must support your statements with solid description and narration.

When including an argument or a fact in your essay, you need to back it up with facts and cite your sources.

5. Use Simple Language

Make sure that you use simple language to keep your essay easy and simple to read and understand.

Be creative and use compelling words to engage your audience.

6. Take Help From Samples

There are many narrative essay examples that can help you to get a clear idea about the writing techniques to use in your essay.

By reading these short stories and samples, you will develop a good understanding of a well-developed essay and the way its title and basics are used.

7. Double Check the Requirements

Make sure you are following the essay guidelines given by your professor or instructor. Make sure that you have added all the required information and its sources, if you have used any outside links, in it.

8. Revise Your Essay

Always revise your essay before submitting it to your instructor.

Check thoroughly for plagiarism and grammatical errors.

Clarify sentences that may sound unclear or confusing.

Ask a friend or family member to look over your work for errors, the second set of eyes is always helpful.

Tough Essay Due? Hire Tough Writers!

What Should be Your Tone in Narrative Essay Writing?

In a narrative essay, everything should be written from your own perspective.

Everything should be written in the past tense, as you are sharing your personal experience.

Your essay should contain a central idea that matters to you.

Narrative Essay Format

Now you know how to write a narrative essay. But the story does not end here and what is left is the paper essay format.

Following are the main points that you should take into account when choosing the proper essay format.

  • Choose your essay format wisely. APA, MLA, Chicago - depends on the requirements and the subject but please double-check the guidelines from your instructor to do it right from the first try.
  • Title page. This is the first that the teacher will see, so spend enough time to make it great.
  • Text block. This is the section where Intro-body-conclusion will go.
  • References. Every format has its own standards when it comes to a reference list. Avoid mixing them up!

Narrative Essay Examples

Taking help from examples is a great way to learn something in a detailed manner. These examples will help you in understanding how these steps work.

A good essay sample will demonstrate the techniques and explain them practically. This way, you will know how to add the details and use them perfectly.

However, finding a good narrative essay example may be difficult. The Internet is filled with loads of examples and samples, and finding a good one from them is not easy. There are many samples, but not all of them are good to consider.

To help you find a good and remarkable essay, we have added a sample below.

NARRATIVE ESSAY EXAMPLE

Here are some more  narrative essay examples  for your guidance.

Writing a good narrative essay may be difficult, but it is not impossible. We know that telling an engaging story is not something that everyone can do but with some practice and lots of imagination, you can do it successfully.

Besides, you can also follow this guide to write a great essay in less time. It has explained all the steps involved in the making of a great essay. Once you are done reading it, you will be on your way to writing a good essay.

After reading our guide to writing a narrative essay you should be able to write it on your own. However, if you are still struggling with your paper. We are here to help.

You can always seek out professional writers online for help in writing your essay. Most websites are affordable and promise to deliver research papers, case studies, and much more.

But there are many fraud essay services that will take your money and fail to deliver quality paper to you.

5StarEssays.com  is here to help you!

We have an unbeatable record of providing the most affordable and quality essay writing service .

Our customer feedback and reviews highlight their satisfaction and our work expertise. This is because our writers have years of experience in academic writing and remarkable customer support to help and support you,

If you require a custom essay, look no further and hire one of our professional writers today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do i come up with a good topic for my narrative essay.

If your teacher has not given you any clear guidance and instructions about choosing any topic, then it is better to choose something that you can easily handle. Narrative essays are about telling a story, and the best topic is the one that allows you to narrate a story.

When are these essays given?

These essays are usually given in high school or university classes, and sometimes, they are a part of college application essays also.

What is the difference between a narrative and a descriptive essay?

A narrative essay is focused on telling the entire story, while a descriptive essay is about a description of a particular event or incident only.

Nathan D.

College Essay, Research

Nathan completed his Ph.D. in journalism and has been writing articles for well-respected publications for many years now. His work is carefully researched and insightful, showing a true passion for the written word. Nathan's clients appreciate his expertise, deep understanding of the process, and ability to communicate difficult concepts clearly.

Was This Blog Helpful?

Keep reading.

  • Narrative Essay Topics - Best Topic Ideas for Your Essay

Narrative-Essay

  • Narrative Essay Examples: Samples & Tips

Narrative-Essay

  • How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline - Tips & Examples

Narrative-Essay

People Also Read

  • how to cite a research paper
  • expository essay topics
  • dissertation vs thesis
  • writing reflective essay
  • apa format guide

Burdened With Assignments?

Bottom Slider

Advertisement

© 2024 - All rights reserved

  • Homework Services: Essay Topics Generator

2000+ SATISFIED STUDENTS

95% Satisfaction RATE

30 Days Money-back GUARANTEE

95% Success RATE

linkedin

Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions | Contact Us

© 2024 5StarEssays.com. All rights reserved.

LOGIN TO YOUR ACCOUNT

  • LOG IN Processing...

SIGN UP TO YOUR ACCOUNT

  • Your phone no.
  • Password Password must be minimum 8 characters.
  • Confirm Password
  •    I have read Privacy Policy and agree to the Terms and Conditions .
  • SIGN UP Processing...

FORGOT PASSWORD

  • SEND PASSWORD

  • Literary Terms
  • Definition & Examples
  • When & How to Use Narrative

I. What is a Narrative?

A narrative is a story. The term can be used as a noun or an adjective. As a noun, narrative refers to the story being told. It is the account of events, experiences, and details. It also refers to the story-telling process. As an adjective, it describes the form or style of the story being told.

The adjective use of the word narrative has its roots in the Latin word, narrativus, which means “suited to narration.” The noun usage of the word appeared in the French language in the 15 th century and is defined as “a tale, story.”

Narrative is pronounced (năr′ə-tĭv), or “narr, uh, tive”.

II. Examples of Narrative

If you look at narrative when used as a noun, you will find many examples. Most things written in the first-person are narratives. A novel written from the point of view of the main character is a narrative. The essay you wrote, entitled “What I did on my summer vacation”, was a narrative. An article written by a blogger about his/her experience travelling across the United States on a bicycle would most likely be a narrative.

If you look at narrative when used as an adjective, you will find that it complements just about any form of writing or art. There are narrative poems, narrative works of visual art, narrative essays , or narrative dances. If you can make something tell a story, it is narrative.

III. Types of Narrative

Rather than there being “types” of narrative, narrative, itself, functions as an adjective, transforming other things. The narrative voice, or narrative style can be used to transform virtually anything into a story.

For example:

  • Other forms of art can also be considered narratives. You can choreograph a narrative dance or paint a narrative series of pictures. The important element is that your creation tells a story.
  • Autobiographies are, essentially, narrative. They are written in the first-person and describe the events of the story-teller’s life.
  • Theatrical monologues are narrative. In a monologue, the character tells an intimate story, often addressing the audience, asking questions and seemingly seeking answers from them. In Hamlet’s famous monologue, that begins “To be or not to be,” he is seeking answers to the great philosophical questions of life and death. He is discussing them with himself and the audience, trying to puzzle them out and inviting the audience to do the same.
  • Essays can also be narrative. An essay is a literary composition about a single subject. You have probably written many. A narrative essay is simply an essay written in a style that tells a story. They are often personal , anecdotal, and told from the writer’s point of view.

IV. The Importance of using Narrative

Everyone loves a story! Everyone has a story. Everyone wants to tell a story. Everyone can relate to a story. That is why it is important to use narratives.

Narrative is an engaging writing style. It immediately invites your audience into your world and offers them a chance to participate in the story you are telling. A reader can easily get wrapped up in a narrative. It is also a style that invites discussion and participation. By using it you tell your audience that this story is not over. They can take it home and think about it. They can retell it, add to it and change it.

Narratives are social. They are at the heart of how we communicate as social beings. If you look for definitions, descriptions, and discussions of what narratives are, you will find many references to the natural humanity of narratives. They are a part of who we are and how we share that with others.

Have you ever read an article that just bored you to tears? Maybe you thought it was “dry”. (Maybe you feel that way about this article?) There is a good chance the author did not make good use of narrative, and thus never managed to draw you in.

V. Examples of Narrative in Literature

Narratives can be found everywhere in literature. They appear in every style, form, and genre.

Fiction: Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes is the tale of a man who is determined to be a knight. You may remember references to a madman on horseback fighting windmills? This is that book. It is a standard and classic example of a book written in the narrative voice.

Beloved , by Toni Morrison is the tale of an escaped slave, who remains haunted by things in her past. It is another more modern and ground-breaking narrative work.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, that popular story about Bilbo Baggins, a fantasy creature called a hobbit who travels through Middle Earth and has unexpected adventures , is also a first-person narrative.

Nonfiction: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas is the autobiography of a man who was a slave, an abolitionist, a writer and a newspaper editor. It is one of our country’s great historical works and it is written in the narrative voice.

VI. Examples of Narrative in Pop Culture

Narratives are everywhere in popular culture. In fact, popular culture is, in itself, an overarching narrative. It is the system of stories that weave in and out of one another to make up the story of the human race. Culture is open-ended and ever evolving, and that is what makes it a narrative. We participate in our own story, along with those around us, and make it up as we go along.

If we want to look at smaller examples, journalism and the news is an excellent form of narrative. Something happens and someone reports on it. Someone else picks up the story, adds a few details and comments, and publishes that. Then, someone else comes along, follows the same pattern, and the narrative continues.

Even more specifically, headlines have become increasingly narrative with the explosive popularity of social media. Writers try and draw in readers by inviting them into the discussion of a topic. In social media, you have just a few words, and maybe a picture, to interest your audience and get them to open your link. In order to do this, there is a trend to write narrative headlines such as these:

He opened the jar of peanut butter and what he saw will blow your mind.

She gave her toddler a crayon and you will never believe what happened next.

Blogs are also excellent examples of narratives as they include first-person accounts of experiences while inviting comment and conversation from readers.

Music is also a wonderful place to find narratives. People have an innate need to turn their stories in to songs. Turn on your stereo and you will find an endless number of narrative. American Pie by Don McLean is one of the great narrative musical creations in our country’s history. It is written in the first person and tells a cryptic story of the history of our music and a fatal plane crash.

A long long time ago I can still remember how That music used to make me smile And I knew if I had my chance That I could make those people dance And maybe they’d be happy for a while…

VII. Related Terms

Narrator : a person who tells a story or gives an account of something.

Story : a synonym to the word narrative. Some suggest that stories are closed ended with a beginning, middle and end, while narratives are larger open-ended discussions, comprised of stories, with listener participation.

List of Terms

  • Alliteration
  • Amplification
  • Anachronism
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Antonomasia
  • APA Citation
  • Aposiopesis
  • Autobiography
  • Bildungsroman
  • Characterization
  • Circumlocution
  • Cliffhanger
  • Comic Relief
  • Connotation
  • Deus ex machina
  • Deuteragonist
  • Doppelganger
  • Double Entendre
  • Dramatic irony
  • Equivocation
  • Extended Metaphor
  • Figures of Speech
  • Flash-forward
  • Foreshadowing
  • Intertextuality
  • Juxtaposition
  • Literary Device
  • Malapropism
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Parallelism
  • Pathetic Fallacy
  • Personification
  • Point of View
  • Polysyndeton
  • Protagonist
  • Red Herring
  • Rhetorical Device
  • Rhetorical Question
  • Science Fiction
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
  • Synesthesia
  • Turning Point
  • Understatement
  • Urban Legend
  • Verisimilitude
  • Essay Guide
  • Cite This Website

IMAGES

  1. Free Narrative Essay Examples

    define narrative essay example

  2. Beneficial Narrative Essay

    define narrative essay example

  3. 😎 How to write personal narrative examples. How To Write A Personal

    define narrative essay example

  4. Narrative Essay Help

    define narrative essay example

  5. What is a Narrative Essay

    define narrative essay example

  6. Tips on How to Write a Narrative Essay: Expert Advice at KingEssays©

    define narrative essay example

VIDEO

  1. Narrative and Descriptive Writing

  2. Narrative Essay Insights

  3. Narrative Essay Plus Parallel Structure

  4. Difference Between a Team and a Group

  5. How to Write a Perfect Narrative Essay? #shorts

  6. A* Narrative Writing podcast

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Narrative Essay

    Knowledge Base Essay How to write a narrative essay | Example & tips How to Write a Narrative Essay | Example & Tips Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023. A narrative essay tells a story. In most cases, this is a story about a personal experience you had.

  2. Narrative Essay

    Dialogue Dialogue is used to capture the conversation between characters. In a narrative essay, dialogue is the third important element, without which the characters lose their worth and liveliness. How to Choose a Topic for Narrative Essay There are four major steps to choosing the topic of a narrative essay:

  3. How to Write a Narrative Essay

    1. What Is a Narrative Essay? 2. Types of Narrative Essays 3. The Features of a Narrative Essay 4. Narrative Essay Structure 5. How to Write a Narrative Essay? 6. Tips To Make Your Narrative Essays More Engaging 7. Narrative Essay Examples 8. Narrative Essay Topics What Is a Narrative Essay?

  4. How to Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps

    Write with Grammarly What is a narrative essay? A narrative essay typically tells a true story that may have a few elements changed for clarity or dramatic purposes. However, this isn't a requirement. You can format a fictional story as a narrative essay.

  5. Narrative Essay

    Examples of narrative essay topics include: overcoming obstacles, a funny story with a lesson, a person that inspired you, or a memory or event that taught you a lesson. What is a narrative...

  6. Narrative Essays

    General Writing Academic Writing Essay Writing Narrative Essays Narrative Essays What is a narrative essay? When writing a narrative essay, one might think of it as telling a story. These essays are often anecdotal, experiential, and personal—allowing students to express themselves in a creative and, quite often, moving ways.

  7. What is a Narrative Essay

    Personal inspiration Focus on a central theme By keeping these major tenets in mind, you'll be better prepared to recognize weaknesses and strengths in your own works. NARRATIVE ESSAY DEFINITION What is a narrative essay? A narrative essay is a prose-written story that's focused on the commentary of a central theme.

  8. Free Narrative Essay Examples

    1. Narrative Essay Definition 2. Narrative Essay Examples 3. Narrative Essay Examples for Students 4. Narrative Essay Topics 5. Narrative Essay Writing Tips Narrative Essay Definition Writing a narrative essay is a unique form of storytelling that revolves around personal experiences, aiming to immerse the reader in the author's world.

  9. What is a Narrative Essay? How to Write It (with Examples)

    Academic Writing Guides What is a Narrative Essay? How to Write It (with Examples) written by Renu Bisht November 27, 2023 0 comment 2 Narrative essays are a type of storytelling in which writers weave a personal experience into words to create a fascinating and engaging narrative for readers.

  10. What Is a Narrative Essay? Learn How to Write A Narrative Essay With

    Last updated: Sep 22, 2021 • 5 min read Not every form of essay writing involves meticulous research. One form in particular—the narrative essay—combines personal storytelling with academic argument. Narrative essay authors illustrate universal lessons in their unique experiences of the world.

  11. How to Write a Narrative Essay: Tips, Outline, Examples

    Personal narrative essay examples include a story about overcoming a fear or obstacle or reflecting on a particularly meaningful moment in one's life.

  12. Narrative Essay Examples and Key Elements

    Before you write your narrative essay, you can get a better idea of what to do with a narrative essay example. See real samples along with essential tips.

  13. Definition and Examples of Narratives in Writing

    Definition and Examples of Narratives in Writing Gideon Mendel/Getty Images By Richard Nordquist Updated on January 20, 2019 The definition of narrative is a piece of writing that tells a story, and it is one of four classical rhetorical modes or ways that writers use to present information.

  14. 3 Great Narrative Essay Examples + Tips for Writing

    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.

  15. How to write a narrative essay [Updated 2023]

    1. Pick a meaningful story that has a conflict and a clear "moral.". If you're able to choose your own topic, pick a story that has meaning and that reveals how you became the person your are today. In other words, write a narrative with a clear "moral" that you can connect with your main points. 2.

  16. What Is a Narrative Essay? Definition & 20+ Examples

    Definition & 20+ Examples By Aerielle Ezra Updated on November 5, 2023 Ever wondered how life's vibrant, personal experiences could transform into compelling stories? Welcome to the world of narrative essays, where the art of storytelling meets the essence of self-expression.

  17. Narrative Essay ~ A Guide For Your Academic Writing

    Definition: Narrative essay. A narrative essay is a kind of academic writing that examines an intriguing subject using the first-person experiences and observations of one or more people. It may be applied to create a narrative about a person's life or describe a specific historical event or period.. To craft a captivating story that informs readers about the topic, the author employs both ...

  18. Narrative Essay ⇒ Learn Definition and Main Features of Narrative Writing

    The Definition of a Narrative Essay. A narrative essay is a written academic assignment in which a student has to narrate (tell) a short story (in most cases nonfiction). But the main purpose here is to focus on one particular point that you want to get across to the reader. If planned correctly, a story can be used as an effective tool that ...

  19. What is a Narrative Essay

    Narrative essays share a lot of characteristics with personal essays, but whereas the former can be figurative press non-fictional, the latter are strictly non-fictional. The goal of the history essay is to use based tells techniques, like featured , contrast , and irony , in a uniquely personal way.

  20. Narrative Essay

    4. The time when you overcame a fear or obstacle and how it helped you grow as a person. 5. A moment of personal growth and reflection that helped you realize something important about yourself. Here are a few personal narrative essay topics. 1. The moment you realized what you wanted to do with your life. 2.

  21. 20+ Easy Narrative Essay Examples and Writing Tips

    Go through the example provided below to understand how the first-person and third-person perspectives are used in a narrative essay. The Day I Learned to Swim. I was 10 years old when I learned to swim. I had always been afraid of water, but my parents decided it was time for me to learn how to swim.

  22. Narrative Essay Writing Guide + Examples

    The first step in writing a narrative essay is to create an outline. An outline is an important part, and it helps to organize and structure the main ideas. It helps to stay focused and maintain a consistent flow throughout the essay. To help you understand better, we have attached a sample outline of a good essay.

  23. Narrative: Definition and Examples

    A narrative is a story. The term can be used as a noun or an adjective. As a noun, narrative refers to the story being told. It is the account of events, experiences, and details. It also refers to the story-telling process. As an adjective, it describes the form or style of the story being told. The adjective use of the word narrative has its ...

  24. Creative Writing: Definition, Types, Examples

    5. Personal Essays. The personal essay (also known as a narrative essay) is a piece of non-fiction writing that narrates an interesting, entertaining, humorous, or thought-provoking story based on the writer's personal (or second-hand) experiences. The story in a personal essay must, in essence, be based in fact, even if the writer has ...