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

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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!

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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.

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  • How to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples

How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on February 4, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A good introduction paragraph is an essential part of any academic essay . It sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect.

The main goals of an introduction are to:

  • Catch your reader’s attention.
  • Give background on your topic.
  • Present your thesis statement —the central point of your essay.

This introduction example is taken from our interactive essay example on the history of Braille.

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

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Table of contents

Step 1: hook your reader, step 2: give background information, step 3: present your thesis statement, step 4: map your essay’s structure, step 5: check and revise, more examples of essay introductions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.

Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.

Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.

Examples: Writing a good hook

Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.

  • Braille was an extremely important invention.
  • The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.

The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly  why the topic is important.

  • The internet is defined as “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.”
  • The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education.

Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.

  • Mary Shelley’s  Frankenstein is a famous book from the nineteenth century.
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement.

Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.

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narrative essay introduction paragraph example

Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:

  • Historical, geographical, or social context
  • An outline of the debate you’re addressing
  • A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic
  • Definitions of key terms

The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.

How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:

Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement —a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.

This is the most important part of your introduction. A  good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.

The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.

Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.

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As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.

For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.

When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion , you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.

It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.

To polish your writing, you can use something like a paraphrasing tool .

You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.

Checklist: Essay introduction

My first sentence is engaging and relevant.

I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.

I have defined any important terms.

My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.

Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.

You have a strong introduction - now make sure the rest of your essay is just as good.

  • Argumentative
  • Literary analysis

This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

This introduction to a short expository essay leads into the topic (the invention of the printing press) and states the main point the essay will explain (the effect of this invention on European society).

In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.

This introduction to a literary analysis essay , about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , starts by describing a simplistic popular view of the story, and then states how the author will give a more complex analysis of the text’s literary devices.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale. Arguably the first science fiction novel, its plot can be read as a warning about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, and in popular culture representations of the character as a “mad scientist”, Victor Frankenstein represents the callous, arrogant ambition of modern science. However, far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to gradually transform our impression of Frankenstein, portraying him in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.

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!

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Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.

To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

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

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

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

What Is a Narrative Essay?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

body_fair

3 Great Narrative Essay Examples

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

A Ticket to the Fair by David Foster Wallace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

body_moth

Death of a Moth by Virginia Woolf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

body_baldwin

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Key Tips for Writing Narrative Essays

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

Develop Strong Motifs

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

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

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

Use First-Person Perspective

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

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

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

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

Stick to the Truth

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

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

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

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

Use Sensory Descriptions

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

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

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

What’s Next?

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

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

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

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

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Narrative Essay with Tips - a Detailed Guide

narrative essay introduction paragraph 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.

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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.

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37 Student Narrative Essay Examples

The pot calling the kettle black….

“You aren’t acting normal,” my dad said with a dopy, concerned look on his face. He was a hard-working, soft and loving man. He was smaller than my mother, physically and figuratively. She sat beside him. She had a towering stature, with strong, swimmers’ shoulders, but she was hunched often. She didn’t really have eyebrows, but she didn’t need them. She had no problem conveying emotion on her face, especially negative ones.

“What’s wrong?” my mother asked. She took my hand frantically. Not the way one might take someone’s hand to connect with or comfort them. She needed reassurance more than I did.

My parents were sitting across from me on cushioned, bland-colored chairs in my dad’s office, while I sat on a rickety, torturous wooden chair. My dad’s office generally utilized natural light due to the expansive glass windows that allowed the light to drown the room, enclosing us in the chamber. I felt like an inmate being prepped for lethal injection. The weather was particularly gray and dismal. Perhaps it was the ambiguous, gray, confusing feelings I was breathing through. My parents had somewhat regular “interventions” to address my somewhat regular (sometimes public) emotional breakdowns, my self-medicating habits, and my general shitty attitude.

This week in particular, I had purposely destroyed two of my mother’s collectible horses. She had a maniacal obsession for them. She also maniacally collected sunflower artwork, which was the one obsession, of many, I found endearing. My old babysitter noted at one point there were 74 collectible horses in the house. After my outburst, there were 72.

I could see behind my parents, through the glass-paned door, my two younger sisters were secretly observing the altercation from the dining room, hiding under the table. They were illuminated by the ominous weather, which was also watching in on the dismal conversation through the windows. I was envious, jealous even, of my spectating sisters. My sisters didn’t have overflowing, excessive emotions. They didn’t have emotions that were considered “excessive.” I felt like an offender being put at the stocks: my parents were the executioners, and my sisters were the jesters.

“I’m angry.”

“What about?” my dad asked, puzzled. “Did someone do something to you?”

“Honey, were you—” my mother looked to my dad, then concealed her mouth slightly with the other hand, “ raped ?”

I couldn’t help but raise my voice. “No, Mom, I wasn’t raped, Jesus.” I took a moment to grind on my teeth and imagine the bit I was chomping at. Calm, careful, composed, I responded. “I’m just angry. I don’t feel—”

“What don’t you feel?” She practically jumped on me, while yanking my imprisoned hand toward her. She yanked at my reins.

“I don’t feel understood!” My mind was bucking. I didn’t know why I needed to react by raising my voice. It felt instinctive, defensive. Shouting forcefully, I jerked my hand away from her, but it remained in her clutches. I didn’t feel satisfied saying it, though what I said was the truth.

“What are you talking about?” my dad asked mournfully. I knew he felt betrayed. But he didn’t understand. He didn’t know what it’s like for things to be too much. Or to be too much. My dad looked at me longingly, hoping I would correct what I had said. He looked lost, incapable of understanding why I was doing what I was doing. My mother interjected, cutting off my dad’s hypnotic, silent cry for connection.

“You’re crazy!” she said, maintaining eye contact. My mother then let go of my hand, flipped it back to me. She reclined in her chair, retracting from me and the discussion entirely. She crossed her legs, then her arms. She turned her head away, toward the glass windows, and (mentally) left.

I was and am not “too much.”

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18 years old.

I had just stepped off a squealing MAX line onto a broken sidewalk slab, gnarled from tree roots, when I felt my phone buzz rhythmically.

“I need you to come to the hospital. Mom had a little accident.” My dad’s voice was distant and cracking, like a wavering radio signal, calling for help.

“What’s going on? Is she okay?” I asked while making my way to campus.

“Where are you?” He wasn’t going to tell me anything over the phone. Adrenaline set in. I let him know I was downtown and headed to campus, but that I would catch a Lyft to wherever they were. “We’re at Milwaukie Providence. How soon can you get here?

“I’ll let you know soon.” My assumption was that my parents had been in an argument, my mother left the house in a rage, and crashed her car. She’d been an erratic driver for as long as I could remember, and my parents had been arguing more than usual recently, as many new “empty-nesters” do. The lack of information provided by my dad, however, was unsettling. I don’t really recall the ride to the hospital. I do remember looking over the river while riding from the west to east side of town. I remember the menacing, dark clouds rolling in faster than the driver could transport me. I remember it was quick, but it was too much time spent without answers.

When I arrived at Providence, I jumped out of the sedan and galloped into the lobby of the emergency room like a race horse on its final lap. My younger sister and Dad were seated on cushioned, bland-colored chairs in the waiting room. There were expansive glass windows that allowed the light to drown the room. The weather was particularly gray and dismal. Perhaps it was the ambiguous, gray, confusing feelings I was breathing through. I sat down beside my dad, in a firmer-than-anticipated waiting room chair beside him. He took my hand frantically. He took it in the way one might take someone’s hand to connect with or comfort them. He needed reassurance more than I did.

“Where did she get in the accident?” I asked.

My sister, sitting across from me with her head in her knees, looked up at me with aquamarine, tear-filled eyes. She was staring through me, an unclouded window. “Mom tried to kill herself.”

“What?” My voice crescendoed from a normal volume to a shriek in the span of a single word. My mind felt like it was bucking. I grabbed at my hair, pulling it back tight with my spare hand. The tears and cries reared, no matter how hard I yanked my mane.

“We got in another argument this morning, and she sent me a message saying she didn’t want to be in pain anymore. She told me to tell you girls she’s sorry. I’m so sorry.” I’d never seen my dad cry before; I didn’t know he could. I didn’t know his tears would stream like gushing water from a broken dam. He looked lost, incapable of understanding why she was doing what she was doing. I looked from my dad to my sister to my hands. One hand remained enveloped by my dad’s gentle palm. At this point in life, I had not yet learned to be gentle with myself, or others. I cut off my dad’s hypnotic, silent cry for connection.

“She’s crazy!” I let go of my dad’s hand, flipped it back to him. I reclined in the

chair, retracting from the situation entirely. I crossed my legs, then my arms. I turned my head away, toward the glass windows, and (mentally) left.

“Crazy” is a term devised to dismiss people.

My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 50 years old.

Teacher Takeaways

“This essay makes excellent use of repetition as a narrative strategy. Throughout the essay, terms and phrases are repeated, generally with slight alterations, drawing the reader’s attention to the moment in question and recontextualizing the information being conveyed. This strategy is especially powerful when used to disclose the separate diagnoses of bipolar disorder, which is central to the narrative. I also appreciate the use of dialogue, though it mostly serves an expository function here. In itself that’s effective, but this narrative would be strengthened if that dialogue could serve to make some of the characters, especially the mother, more rounded.”

– Professor Dunham

My College Education

The following essay, “My College Education” is from Chapter 15.2 – Narrative Essay , Writing for Success , University of Minnesota Libraries.

The first class I went to in college was philosophy, and it changed my life forever. Our first assignment was to write a short response paper to the Albert Camus essay “The Myth of Sisyphus.” I was extremely nervous about the assignment as well as college. However, through all the confusion in philosophy class, many of my questions about life were answered.

I entered college intending to earn a degree in engineering. I always liked the way mathematics had right and wrong answers. I understood the logic and was very good at it. So when I received my first philosophy assignment that asked me to write my interpretation of the Camus essay, I was instantly confused. What is the right way to do this assignment, I wondered? I was nervous about writing an incorrect interpretation and did not want to get my first assignment wrong. Even more troubling was that the professor refused to give us any guidelines on what he was looking for; he gave us total freedom. He simply said, “I want to see what you come up with.”

Full of anxiety, I first set out to read Camus’s essay several times to make sure I really knew what was it was about. I did my best to take careful notes. Yet even after I took all these notes and knew the essay inside and out, I still did not know the right answer. What was my interpretation? I could think of a million different ways to interpret the essay, but which one was my professor looking for? In math class, I was used to examples and explanations of solutions. This assignment gave me nothing; I was completely on my own to come up with my individual interpretation.

Next, when I sat down to write, the words just did not come to me. My notes and ideas were all present, but the words were lost. I decided to try every prewriting strategy I could find. I brainstormed, made idea maps, and even wrote an outline. Eventually, after a lot of stress, my ideas became more organized and the words fell on the page. I had my interpretation of “The Myth of Sisyphus,” and I had my main reasons for interpreting the essay. I remember being unsure of myself, wondering if what I was saying made sense, or if I was even on the right track. Through all the uncertainty, I continued writing the best I could. I finished the conclusion paragraph, had my spouse proofread it for errors, and turned it in the next day simply hoping for the best.

Then, a week or two later, came judgment day. The professor gave our papers back to us with grades and comments. I remember feeling simultaneously afraid and eager to get the paper back in my hands. It turned out, however, that I had nothing to worry about. The professor gave me an A on the paper, and his notes suggested that I wrote an effective essay overall. He wrote that my reading of the essay was very original and that my thoughts were well organized. My relief and newfound confidence upon reading his comments could not be overstated.

What I learned through this process extended well beyond how to write a college paper. I learned to be open to new challenges. I never expected to enjoy a philosophy class and always expected to be a math and science person. This class and assignment, however, gave me the self-confidence, critical-thinking skills, and courage to try a new career path. I left engineering and went on to study law and eventually became a lawyer. More important, that class and paper helped me understand education differently. Instead of seeing college as a direct stepping stone to a career, I learned to see college as a place to first learn and then seek a career or enhance an existing career. By giving me the space to express my own interpretation and to argue for my own values, my philosophy class taught me the importance of education for education’s sake. That realization continues to pay dividends every day.

Model Student Essay

Innocence again.

Imagine the sensation of the one split second that you are floating through the air as you were thrown up in the air as a child, that feeling of freedom and carefree spirit as happiness abounds. Looking at the world through innocent eyes, all thoughts and feelings of amazement. Being free, happy, innocent, amazed, wowed. Imagine the first time seeing the colors when your eyes and brain start to recognize them but never being able to name the shade or hue. Looking at the sky as it changes from the blackness with twinkling stars to the lightest shade of blue that is almost white, then the deep red of the sunset and bright orange of the sun. All shades of the spectrum of the rainbow, colors as beautiful as the mind can see or imagine.

I have always loved the sea since I was young; the smell of saltiness in the air invigorates me and reminds me of the times spent with my family enjoying Sundays at the beach. In Singapore, the sea was always murky and green but I continued to enjoy all activities in it. When I went to Malaysia to work, I discovered that the sea was clear and blue and without hesitation, I signed up for a basic diving course and I was hooked. In my first year of diving, I explored all the dive destinations along the east coast of Malaysia and also took an advanced diving course which allowed me to dive up to a depth of thirty meters. Traveling to a dive site took no more than four hours by car and weekends were spent just enjoying the sea again.

Gearing up is no fun. Depending on the temperature of the water, I might put on a shortie, wetsuit or drysuit. Then on come the booties, fins and mask which can be considered the easiest part unless the suit is tight—then it is a hop and pull struggle, which reminds me of how life can be at times. Carrying the steel tank, regulator, buoyancy control device (BCD) and weights is a torture. The heaviest weights that I ever had to use were 110 pounds, equivalent to my body weight; but as I jump in and start sinking into the sea, the contrast to weightlessness hits me. The moment that I start floating in the water, a sense of immense freedom and joy overtakes me.

Growing up, we have to learn the basics: time spent in classes to learn, constantly practicing to improve our skills while safety is ingrained by our parents. In dive classes, I was taught to never panic or do stupid stuff: the same with the lessons that I have learned in life. Panic and over-inflated egos can lead to death, and I have heard it happens all the time. I had the opportunity to go to Antarctica for a diving expedition, but what led to me getting that slot was the death of a very experienced diver who used a drysuit in a tropic climate against all advice. He just overheated and died. Lessons learned in the sea can be very profound, but they contrast the life I live: risk-taker versus risk-avoider. However, when I have perfected it and it is time to be unleashed, it is time to enjoy. I jump in as I would jump into any opportunity, but this time it is into the deep blue sea of wonders.

A sea of wonders waits to be explored. Every journey is different: it can be fast or slow, like how life takes me. The sea decides how it wants to carry me; drifting fast with the currents so that at times, I hang on to the reef and corals like my life depends on it, even though I am taught never to touch anything underwater. The fear I feel when I am speeding along with the current is that I will be swept away into the big ocean, never to be found. Sometimes, I feel like I am not moving at all, kicking away madly until I hyperventilate because the sea is against me with its strong current holding me against my will.

The sea decides what it wants me to see: turtles popping out of the seabed, manta rays gracefully floating alongside, being in the middle of the eye of a barracuda hurricane, a coral shelf as big as a car, a desert of bleached corals, the emptiness of the seabed with not a fish in sight, the memorials of death caused by the December 26 tsunami—a barren sea floor with not a soul or life in sight.

The sea decides what treasures I can discover: a black-tipped shark sleeping in an underwater cavern, a pike hiding from predators in the reef, an octopus under a dead tree trunk that escapes into my buddy’s BCD, colorful mandarin fish mating at sunset, a deadly box jellyfish held in my gloved hands, pygmy seahorses in a fern—so tiny that to discover them is a journey itself.

Looking back, diving has taught me more about life, the ups and downs, the good and bad, and to accept and deal with life’s challenges. Everything I learn and discover underwater applies to the many different aspects of my life. It has also taught me that life is very short: I have to live in the moment or I will miss the opportunities that come my way. I allow myself to forget all my sorrow, despair and disappointments when I dive into the deep blue sea and savor the feelings of peacefulness and calmness. There is nothing around me but fish and corals, big and small. Floating along in silence with only the sound of my breath— inhale and exhale . An array of colors explodes in front of my eyes, colors that I never imagine I will discover again, an underwater rainbow as beautiful as the rainbow in the sky after a storm. As far as my eyes can see, I look into the depth of the ocean with nothing to anchor me. The deeper I get, the darker it turns. From the light blue sky to the deep navy blue, even blackness into the void. As the horizon darkens, the feeding frenzy of the underwater world starts and the watery landscape comes alive. Total darkness surrounds me but the sounds that I can hear are the little clicks in addition to my breathing. My senses overload as I cannot see what is around me, but the sea tells me it is alive and it anchors me to the depth of my soul.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.” … In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man in spite of real sorrows….” The sea and diving have given me a new outlook on life, a different planet where I can float into and enjoy as an adult, a new, different perspective on how it is to be that child again. Time and time again as I enter into the sea, I feel innocent all over again.

Write What Matters Copyright © 2020 by Liza Long; Amy Minervini; and Joel Gladd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Miami University Oxford, Ohio 1809

Howe Center for Writing Excellence

Narrative essays.

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

Narrative Introductions

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

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

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

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

Narrative Story

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

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

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

—from Bruce Watson’s Freedom Summer

Narrative Checklist

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

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How to write a 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.

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Unit 5 Narrative Paragraphs

Learning Objectives

  • To learn what a narrative paragraph focuses on
  • To understand and practice narrative paragraphs with a focus on the use of time transitions, past tenses, descriptive vocabulary, and specific supporting details
  • To study narrative paragraphs through analyzing multiple models
  • To apply the writing process to plan and write narrative paragraphs

I. Warm – Up

a man sitting on a chair at an airport

Read Paragraph “My Worst Trip” and do the activities that follow.

My Worst Trip

          My experiences at Miami Airport and during the flight to Chicago on September 29, 2007 were terrible because I could not understand English. I came from Mexico, and that was my first connecting trip out of my own country. After a long flight from my native country, I arrived at Miami Airport. I had been so excited walking in an American airport until a uniformed officer asked me something in English. I felt nervous because I did not speak English and did not know how to answer her questions. I just shook my head. I was not walking excitedly anymore because I realized that I did not speak the language. I already began to miss my own country! Suddenly, I looked at my watch, and it said 12:30 pm. I was so hungry that I needed to eat something. I had not eaten much on my first flight. I went to a small restaurant in the airport, looked at the pictures of the menu on the screen, and decided to have a coke and a sandwich. I could not see clearly or read what kind of sandwich that was, but it looked scrumptious [1] . I was just going to point to the picture and tell the waiter what I wanted. He came and spoke fast. Because I did not understand, I felt I had to say “Ok”. Well, he gave me a different meal, and it cost me almost $20! This situation was awful [2] . I ate the meal in sad silence. I could not tell what it tasted like because I was tired and upset. Finally, I got on my flight to Chicago in the evening. On the plane, I wanted to drink water, but I did not know how to ask for it. I just stayed in my seat quietly and felt despondent [3] . In the end, I met my family at the airport in Chicago at 11:30 pm. On our way home, I told them about my nightmare. They comforted me, “Don’t worry. All will be fine.” However, I could not shake off the feeling that I had just had a rocky start [4] on my life in this new country. On that day, I made a promise to myself that I would have to study English really hard.

By student,  ESL Writing III, Harper College. U sed with permission.

1. Color code the paragraph:

Title – pink                                               Background information – purple                          

Topic sentence – red                           Beginning of the story – green

Middle of the story – blue                  End of the story – green

Transitions – yellow                             Concluding sentence(s) – red

2. Discuss:

  • What was your experience on your trip to the U.S.? Did you have a similar experience as the writer?
  • Does the writer focus on telling a story, arguing for a controversial issue, or listing points to explain an idea?
  • How is this paragraph similar to the ones you have studied in Unit 4 Enumerative Paragraphs?
  • How is this paragraph different from the ones in Unit 4?
  • What types of supporting ideas and details are used to explain the main idea?
  • What do you like about this paragraph?
  • How would you improve the paragraph?
  • If you could ask the writer a question, what would you ask?

II. Focus of Narrative Paragraphs

Narration is a description of an experience, an event, a story, or a situation to show a point of view. You have already studied a narrative paragraph in Unit 3: My Valuable Life Lesson.

Narrative paragraphs have:

an opened book with a leaf

  • a beginning: How did the story start?
  • a middle: How did it progress?
  • an ending: How did it end?

As you are telling a story in this type of paragraph, it is important to:

  • provide the background information about the story: what, who, when, where. If applicable, include the information on why and how. The information is usually given in the beginning.
  • use past tenses as you narrate a past experience or event.
  • guide the readers in understanding the event by using appropriate time expressions and arrange the information in chronological order, meaning time order.
  • use appropriate descriptive words and details to help the readers feel as if they were experiencing the event in person.

Exercise 1. Read the following paragraph titles. Which ones can be appropriate titles for narrative paragraphs? What will the paragraphs be about?  Click “True” for appropriate narrative titles and “False” for non-narrative titles.  You will get instant feedback after each sentence. The explanation is given in blue.

III. Topic Sentence in Narration

Read Paragraph “My Worst Trip” again. How does the writer start the paragraph? The beginning contains the topic sentence and background information.

Study one more example:

Exercise 2. Use the above examples as models. Fill in the information for the next three topics. In #3, you think of a topic of your own. Try writing your topic sentence with background information in one, two, or three sentences.

IV. Supporting Ideas in Chronological Order and with Time Transitions

Chronological Order

The information in the middle of the paragraph is going to be the main part of the story. All the events are arranged chronologically. What happened first is written first, what happened next is explained next, and so on. One way to make sure of the correct order is to draw a timeline. This could be used as a brief outline for a paragraph. Below is a t imeline for an interview experience:

interview outline

Time Transitions

Another important aspect of narration is to use appropriate time expressions. They are transitions to guide the readers through the narration. You have already learned different transitions in Unit 3 Parts and Characteristics of a Good Paragraph and Unit 4 Enumerative Paragraphs.  ( For reviews, open Unit 3 here and Unit 4 here .)

Here are some time transitions. As you study them, pay attention to their punctuation.

Review Paragraph “My Worst Trip” in the beginning of this unit and discuss how the writer uses a variety of time transitions.

Read the new paragraph “My Memorable Interview” below.  It is developed based on the timeline above. The time transitions are underlined. Discuss:

  • How does the writer begin the paragraph? What is the topic sentence? What is the controlling idea? What is the background information (what, who, when, where)?
  • Does the paragraph follow chronological order?
  • How are different types of time transitions used with different punctuations? (underlined)

My Memorable Interview

          In my last year of high school in Japan , I learned an important lesson from a memorable interview. I had applied to the Social Welfare Department of the college that I wanted to enter . To be accepted, I had to pass an interview and answer questions about a book the college professors had assigned . The book, What is the True Wealth, was a very famous book among the people studying social welfare in Japan. One month before the interview , I read the book but  understood  the topic only superficially [7] . To help myself understand the topic better, I then bought another book that described the current social situation in Japan. After reading it many times, I was able to understand the topic of social welfare more clearly. In the m iddle of February, I flew to the college for the interview. It was not a cold day, but I had chills  because of tension. I had never visited the prefecture where the college was located, so I felt the strain I had never felt before. The interview day arrived. The applicants were called in one by one from the waiting room. As soon as my name was called,  I took a deep breath before entering with a smile . The interview room was small, with six professors sitting across the table. It appeared to be a normal interview situation, but when five cards were put side by side on the table , I realized that it was not ! I could not understand what the cards  were for . My nervousness grew. One professor instructed, “Please choose one card on the desk. You will see our first question there about the assigned book.” It was like a card game!  Fortunately, I answer ed the question  calmly and clearly. During the interview ,   I express ed my opinions with confidence , thanks to the two books which I had read. At the end of the interview,  one professor asked me, “Have you read a nother book beside s  our assigned one?”   At that time, I thought, “Good for me!” I spoke about my additional book and explained why I had chosen it, what I had learned from it, and how it had helped me with the interview. The professors looked impressed . I was so glad that I almost jumped for joy. They nodded to me and to each other. That afternoon, I flew back home , feeling happy . From this experience, I have learned a lesson essential to my success. It is important to prepare elaborately [8] before an important event . Hard work in advance would give me confidence and help me in unexpected situations.

By C . Kotani (student), ESL Writing III, Harper College. U sed with permission.

Exercise 3. Read Paragraph “The Day My Daughter Was Born” and discuss:

  • How does the writer begin the paragraph? What is the topic sentence? What is the controlling idea? What is the background information (what, who, when, where, why)?
  • Underline the time transitions. How are different types of time transitions used with different punctuations?

The Day My Daughter Was Born

          The day I met my daughter Ela has been the most significant day in my life. When I was in my 38th week of pregnancy, my husband and I went to the hospital for a routine pre-natal exam. While the doctor was checking me, she said, “We have to take the baby.” We were so shocked. If I had not had a problem, she would not have said such a thing. Right away, she started to explain my problem. My daughter could not move herself because there was not enough water in my womb. Upon hearing this, I wanted to go back to my house to bring the baby stuff, but she did not allow me. My husband was little panicked, for he did not know what to do. Actually, I was so scared and also excited at the same time. My daughter was coming to my life! Our family had been waiting for her arrival for a long time, and we could not wait to take her into our arms. In the next ten minutes, the doctor did some tests on me and took me to the surgery room. I was not aware how many minutes or hours had passed. When I opened my eyes, everything had already finished. My first question was if she was OK. My doctor reassured me, “Don’t worry. She is OK”. After that, the medical staff took me to my room. All my family members were waiting eagerly there. I asked my husband if he had seen our daughter. He said no. We could not wait to see her, and we were so happy, for she was born without any problem. Everybody in the room was happy and asking how I was feeling. I had totally forgotten myself! Soon, the doctor brought her to the room, and I will never forget the moment when I laid my eyes on her for the first time. I cried so much from happiness. There was my little baby Ela, so tiny and soft, and most important all, so beautiful! Her “baby smell” was the most heart-warming scent. My husband’s face was full of joyful pride. Everyone wanted to hold Ela for a second but stopped as she was sleeping soundly. At that moment, I understood that my life would change forever because of this precious new life. I promised myself and her that I would always be by her side.

By Z. Turkmen (student), ESL Writing III, Harper College. U sed with permission.

V. Past Tenses in Narration

In most narrative paragraphs, you are describing past events, so you need to use mostly past tenses even though present and future tenses are also possible in some parts of the paragraph. Past tenses include simple past, past progressive, past perfect, and past perfect progressive, and future past. However, the most common one is the simple past.

T here are detailed explanations and practice in verb tenses from Unit 11 through Unit 14  in this book.  (Open Unit 11 Present Tenses , Unit 12 Past Tenses , Unit 13 Future Tenses , Unit 14 Mixed Tenses here .)

Review paragraphs “My Worst Trip”, “My Memorable Interview”, and “The Day My Daughter Was Born”. Underline all the past tense verbs and discuss how these verbs are used.

Read another new paragraph “A significant Meeting” below and discuss:

  • What is the topic sentence? What is the controlling idea?
  • What is the background information (what, who, when, where)?
  • Does the writer explain the event in chronological order?
  • How are different types of time transitions used?
  • Underline all the verbs in past tenses. Why are some verbs in past perfect (bold-faced), one in past progressive (bold-faced), and one in simple future (bold-faced)?

A Significant Meeting

a hand holding pink and blue heart-shaped lollipop candy

          My first meeting with my future husband in real life on March 18, 2017 was so significant that it changed my life. This was my first visit to the U.S.A when I met Sergey. We had communicated and seen each other only through the Internet before that. Our meeting happened in beautiful New York City. The smell of early spring, with blooming trees, sunny weather, and breathtaking views of this city, reinforced my romantic mood. I woke up very early to prepare for the meeting that was supposed to happen at breakfast. I arrived at the restaurant before 10 am. 10 am was not a perfect time for a romantic date, but we had planned to spend the whole day together and visit sights. Just then, Sergey called to apologize that he had overslept on his flight to New York and would not arrive until 11 pm. I became very angry and disappointed. I could not believe how a person could approach [9] such an important event so irresponsibly [10] . As a result, I assumed [11] that he would not be my destiny and my second half. When I arrived back at the hotel, I suddenly noticed a man standing with flowers and staring at me with a guilty look. He was wearing a formal gray suite with a matching tie. After a couple of seconds, I realized this man was Sergey! He had gotten a few transfers to arrive earlier than expected. I was so surprised to see him at that moment. I did not know whether to be joyful or angry, but I instantly forgot about the morning case. Of course, I gave him one star for diligence [12] . During our live communication, all invisible borders were erased. We quickly connected and understood each other. His surprises did not end at our lunch. He gave me a helicopter flight over the city! I was in heaven with happiness and beauty around me. In addition, Sergey had another surprise at dinner. He produced two tickets, for the most anticipated fight show of the year by my favorite boxer Gennady Golovkin in the famous Madison Square. I could not believe that another dream would come true that day. At the end of that fantastic day, I came to realize that my future husband was very attentive [13] . He had remembered everything that I loved and dreamed about. He fulfilled my one desire after another. Sergey was like a genie [14] , and I possessed his lamp. By the end of our first day together, I had decided to give him all stars and pluses. Our meeting transformed [15] my whole life, and these first happy moments will remain forever in my memories.

By E . Yugay (student), ESL Writing III, Harper College. U sed with permission.

Exercise 4. Read Paragraph “Meeting My Best Friends” and fill in each blank with the correct verb tense. When you finish this exercise, you can click “Check” to see how you did.  You can retry or see all the answers. The first one is an example.

VI. Descriptive Vocabulary and Details in Narration

Words are your tools in writing. Choosing specific, descriptive words will help your readers “see” or “picture” the event you are describing. Read the pairs of sentences below and discuss which sentence is better in each pair.

  • They have a large house.
  • They have a 2-story, red brick house.
  • An old man walked on the street.
  • An eighty-seven-year-old man stumbled [16] along Algonquin Road.
  • Mrs. Kim is the best teacher I have ever had.
  • Mrs. Kim is the most humorous and hardworking teacher I have ever had.

In each pair, the second sentence helps the reader “see” the house, the man, and Mrs. Kim more vividly [17] . Using descriptive words will make your writing more interesting and effective.

Words like “big, good, nice, great, bad” are very general and can be replaced by other better, more interesting ones. Many of the words below are “sensory” words that describe sight, sound, smell, flavor, and feeling.

Before you use any new vocabulary, make sure you check an English-English dictionary to see its exact meaning and use it only when appropriate. Try using two or three new descriptive words in each paragraph you write.

Details are the key to interesting paragraphs. In a narrative paragraph, details in the middle of the narration – how the story progresses – are even more critical [18] .

As you learned in the earlier units, color-coding is a helpful strategy to make sure:

  • The paragraph has all the essential parts.
  • All the parts are in the right order.
  • Some parts need to be longer and more detailed.

Here is the color-coded paragraph “The Worst Trip” you read in the beginning of this unit. Discuss:

  • Which color covers the most information?
  • How does the part in blue help you “see” or “experience” what the writer was going through?
  • Underline some descriptive or specific vocabulary . In what way does it make the paragraph more interesting?

          My experiences at Miami Airport and during the flight to Chicago on September 29, 2007 were terrible because I could not understand English. I came from Mexico, and that was my first connecting trip out of my own country. After a long flight from my native country, I arrived at Miami Airport. I had been so excited walking in an American airport until a uniformed officer asked me something in English. I felt nervous because I did not speak English and did not know how to answer her questions. I just shook my head. I was not walking excitedly anymore because I realized that I did not speak the language. I already began to miss my own country! Suddenly, I looked at my watch, and it said 12:30 pm. I was so hungry that I needed to eat something. I had not eaten much on my first flight. I went to a small restaurant in the airport, looked at the pictures of the menu on the screen, and decided to have a coke and a sandwich. I could not see clearly or read what kind of sandwich that was, but it looked scrumptious. I was just going to point to the picture and tell the waiter what I wanted. He came and spoke fast. Because I did not understand, I felt I had to say “Ok”. Well, he gave me a different meal, and it cost me almost $20! This situation was awful. I ate the meal in sad silence. I could not tell what it tasted like because I was tired and upset. Finally, I got on my flight to Chicago in the evening. On the plane, I wanted to drink water, but I did not know how to ask for it. I just stayed in my seat quietly and felt despondent. In the end, I met my family at the airport in Chicago at 11:30 pm. On our way home, I told them about my nightmare. They comforted me, “Don’t worry. All will be fine.” However, I could not shake off the feeling that I had just had a rocky start on my life in this new country. On that day, I made a promise to myself that I would have to study English really hard.

Exercise 5. Try to write a new sentence with descriptive vocabulary by replacing the words underlined.

Example :       

The family carried the big mattress into the small apartment.

Improved:  The family carried the bulky mattress into the one-bedroom apartment.

a cruise ship

  • The big cruise ship has 18 decks and is 1188 feet long.
  • My upcoming interview is going to be important to my career.
  • The family made a big decision to immigrant to the U.S. one year ago.
  • The mother walked into the baby’s room quietly.
  • The graduates walked proudly onto the stage to receive their diploma.
  • Some parents have a bad influence on their children.
  • In darkness, I was very afraid when I heard a strange noise behind me.
  • I love looking at the stars in the night sky.
  • The mom said no, but the boy still asked for more ice cream.
  • The students are nervous about their grades.

Exercise 6. Use Paragraph “My Worst Trip” you just discussed as an example. Color code Paragraph “My Memorable Interview” as follows and discuss the questions below.

Title – pink                                                 Background information – purple

Topic sentence – red                             B eginning of the story – green

Middle of the story – blue                     End of the story – green

Transitions – yellow                                Concluding sentence(s) – red

  • Underline the descriptive or specific vocabulary. In what way does it make the paragraph more interesting?

VII. More Narrative Paragraph Examples

As you read more narrative paragraphs below, you may color code them as you have done for the earlier paragraphs.

  • How does the writer start the paragraph? How many sentences does the writer have for the topic sentence and background information? What is the controlling idea?
  • Does the background information include what, who, when, and where?
  • Are the events arranged in chronological order?
  • What different types of time transitions are used?
  • Does all the information in the story support the main idea?
  • Is the middle of the story the longest in the paragraph?
  • Underline some specific descriptions. How do they help make the story more interesting?
  • Does the writer use past tenses to narrate the story? Are present and future tenses used? If so, why is the past tense changed to a present or future one?
  • What do you like about the paragraph? How would you like to improve it?
  • If you could ask the writer one question, what question would it be?

Exercise 7. Read the following two paragraphs. You may color code them as you have done for the earlier paragraphs. Discuss the following questions in your group.

  • What is the topic sentence? Is there a controlling idea in the topic sentence? If not, write one.
  • Does the background information include what, who, when, and where? If something is missing, add it.
  • Are the events arranged in chronological order? If not, correct the order.
  • Does all the information in the story support the main idea? If anything is irrelevant, cross it out.
  • Are the transitions used appropriately? If a transition is wrong, correct it. If a transition is missing, add it.
  • Are there enough descriptive details in the middle of the story? What more ideas can you add?
  • Does the writer use correct past tenses to narrate the story?
  • Are there any present and future tenses? If so, why is there a shift in verb tenses?
  • What do you like about the paragraph?
  • If you could ask the writer one question, would question would you ask?

VIII. Unit Review Practice: Writing Assignments

Now you are ready to write your own narrative paragraph! As you have learned in Unit 2 The Writing Process, ( Open Unit 2 here. ) the best way to plan a paragraph is to follow the proper steps.

Narrative Paragraph Writing Assignments

You will be writing two at-home narrative paragraphs. The second one will start after the first one is complete. For both assignments, follow the instructions below.

Purpose : To show your understanding of planning and writing a narrative paragraph. Use the writing process to help you.

Topic :  Choose from the list below.

Brainstorm and Outline : Brainstorm for ideas. Then use one of the templates below to make an outline. Your outline is due on _________. Bring it to class.

Paragraph : Your paragraph should have a title, a topic sentence, background information, beginning of the story, middle of the story with details, the end of the story, a conclusion, and appropriate time transitions.  Include at least 5 descriptive vocabulary from Section VI in this unit (Descriptive Vocabulary and Details in Narration).

Format: Type your paragraph, double spaced, font size 12, with 1-inch margins on four sides of the page. Type your name, class, and date on the upper right-hand corner of the page. The first line of your paragraph should be indented. Save your paragraph in a Word file.

Self Checklist : When you finish writing, use the Self Checklist below. Put a checkmark beside each item if you think you did a good job in that area.  Otherwise, improve your paragraph until you can check off the item. Save your work again.

Submission : Submit your paragraph on the Blackboard.  Go to your Blackboard course site and follow the instructions there.  Due by __________.

Choose one of the following topics.  If you wish to write about a topic of your own, discuss with your professor first.

  • Your first class (reading, writing, grammar, communication skills, or another class) experience at Harper College
  • A time when you helped someone in need
  • Your proudest moment
  • Your most embarrassing experience
  • A disappointing shopping trip
  • An experience where you got to know yourself better
  • An experience where you got to know another person better
  • An experience that changed your opinion of an event
  • An interview you had (any kind of interview)
  • The day when you got your first cell phone

Narrative Paragraph Outline Template #1

Topic: _____________________

Controlling idea: ____________________

Background information:

What: ____________________________________

When: ____________________________________

Where: ___________________________________

Who: _____________________________________

Topic + controlling idea + background information (1 – 3 complete sentences):

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

a narrative timeline

Narrative Paragraph Outline Template #2

Beginning of the story:

Middle of the story:

End of the story:

Narrative Paragraph Self Checklist

Note:  #7 – #10 may include more specific aspects of grammar depending on how many editing units you have already studied.

NSNT Practice

a pen writing in a notebook

Go to The NSNT Free Writing Approach and Additional Weekly Prompts for Writing in Appendix A. ( Open Appendix A here. ) Choose two topics to write a paragraph each. You may start with the NSNT approach and then revise and edit the paragraphs using the Self Checklist above. You are encouraged to share your writing with your partner and help each other improve.

Vocabulary Review

a page in a dictionary

The words here have appeared in this unit.  The best way to learn them is to guess the meaning of each word from the context.  Then hover your computer mouse over the number beside each word to check its meaning and part of speech. These words are also listed in the footnote area at the end of each unit.

Here, you can use the flashcards below to review these words.

  • A narrative paragraph focuses on describing an event, an experience, or a story.
  • A narrative paragraph should have a title, a beginning with a topic sentence and background information, a middle with details, and an ending.
  • Descriptive vocabulary and details will make the paragraph interesting.
  • The story should be narrated in the chronological order and should use proper time transitions.
  • Past tenses are used primarily, but other tenses are often needed, too.
  • Following the writing process (pre-writing, writing, and post-writing) can ensure a well- organized and well-supported paragraph.

Media Attributions

  • a man sitting on a chair at an airport © Photo by Marco López on Unsplash
  • an opened book with a leaf © Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels
  • interview timeline
  • a hand holding pink and blue heart-shaped lollipop candy © Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
  • a cruise ship © Lin Cui is licensed under a CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) license
  • a narrative timeline © Lin Cui is licensed under a CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) license
  • a pen writing in a notebook © Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
  • a page in a dictionary © Pixabay
  • scrumptious: adjective, delicious ↵
  • awful: adjective, terrible ↵
  • despondent: adjective, feeling sad and hopeless ↵
  • a rocky start: noun phrase, not a smooth beginning ↵
  • exhausting: adjective, very tiring ↵
  • Misfortune goes hand in hand: a saying, bad things happen one after another. ↵
  • superficially: adverb, on the surface, not deeply ↵
  • elaborately: adverb, with great care and effort ↵
  • approach: verb, handle, deal with ↵
  • irresponsibly: adverb, not responsibly, carelessly ↵
  • assume: verb, guess or think based on what has happened ↵
  • diligence: noun, good efforts ↵
  • attentive: adjective, giving careful attention ↵
  • genie: noun, a spirit that makes wishes come true for people ↵
  • transform: verb, change in significant ways ↵
  • stumble: verb, walk unsteadily, as if going to fall ↵
  • vividly: adverb, lively and brightly ↵
  • critical: adjective, extremely important ↵

Building Academic Writing Skills Copyright © 2022 by Cui, Lin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Status.net

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

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

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

Part 1 Understanding a Narrative Essay

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

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

Part 2 Typical Narrative Essay Structure

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

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

Part 3 Narrative Essay Template

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

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

Brainstorming ideas.

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

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

Narrowing Down the Choices

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

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

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

Part 5 Step 2. Planning the Structure

Creating an outline.

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

Detailing Characters, Settings, and Events

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

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

Writing the Narrative Essay

Part 6 step 3. crafting an intriguing introduction.

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

Part 7 Step 4. Weaving the Narrative Body

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

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

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

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

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

Part 8 Step 5. Creating a Conclusion

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

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

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

Part 9 Step 6. Polishing the Essay

Fine-tuning your language.

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

Editing for Clarity and Concision

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

Proofreading for Typos

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

Part 10 Step 7. Feedback and Revision

Gathering feedback.

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

Iterating on the Draft

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

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions

How can i create an engaging introduction.

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

What strategies help develop strong characters?

To develop strong characters, consider the following:

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

How can I make my story flow smoothly with transitions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Start a Narrative Essay

Last Updated: February 13, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 198,630 times.

A narrative essay tells a story, which allows you to flex your creative muscles. Your story may be fictional or nonfictional, depending on the requirements of your assignment. At first, starting your narrative essay might seem hard, but you can make your work simpler by narrowing down your topic and planning out your story. Then, you’ll be able to easily write your story’s introduction.

Choosing a Topic for Your Narrative

Step 1 Read your assignment to identify the prompt and expectations.

  • If your instructor provides a rubric, read over it thoroughly to identify the expectations for full credit. Later, you can measure your essay against the rubric before turning in the assignment.
  • If you have questions about the assignment, ask your instructor for clarification.

Step 2 Brainstorm...

  • List the first thoughts that come to mind when you think about the prompt or question.
  • Make a mind map to sort out your ideas.
  • Use freewriting to uncover story ideas. Simply write whatever comes to mind without worrying about grammar or making sense.
  • Make an outline to help put your ideas in order.

Step 3 Choose a single meaningful event to detail in the story.

  • Don’t try to cover too much in one essay, as this will be too hard for your reader to follow.
  • For example, let’s say the prompt reads: “Write about a setback that taught you perseverance.” You might want to write about an injury you overcame. To narrow down your story, you might focus on the first time you exercised your injured limb after the accident, as well as the difficulties you faced.

Step 4 Decide on a theme or message for your story.

  • For instance, the story about recovering from an injury might have a theme of overcoming hardships or persevering to reach a goal. You might want your reader to finish your story feeling inspired and uplifted. To achieve this feeling, you'd want to focus on your successes throughout the process and end the story with a positive thought.

Planning Your Story

Step 1 List and describe the characters in your story.

  • If you are a character in your story, you will still need to complete this step. It's up to you how much detail you want to write down about yourself. However, it's helpful to take note of your description, interests, and desires at the time the story takes place, especially if a lot of time has passed.
  • A main character description might look like this: “Kate, 12 - An athletic basketball player who suffers an injury. She wants to recover from her injury so she can return to the court. She’s the patient of Andy, a physical therapist who is helping her recover.”
  • A side character description might read like this: “Dr. Lopez is a friendly, fatherly middle-aged doctor who treats Kate in the emergency room.”

Step 2 Describe the setting of your story in a few brief statements.

  • For example, a story about overcoming a sports injury might include a few settings, such as the basketball court, the ambulance, the hospital, and a physical therapy office. Although you want to show your reader each setting, you'll spend the most time on the main setting of your story.
  • You might list the following descriptors about the basketball court: “squeaky floor,” “roar of the crowd,” “bright overhead lights,” “team colors in the stands,” “smell of sweat and sports drinks,” and “wet jersey sticking to my back.”
  • Your story may feature several different settings, but you don't need to provide the same level of detail about each one. For instance, you may be in an ambulance for a brief moment in the scene. You don't need to fully describe the ambulance, but you might tell the reader about "feeling cold and alone in the sterile ambulance."

Step 3 Map out the plot of your story with a beginning, middle, and end.

  • For example, you might introduce a young basketball player who is about to make a big play. The incident that kicks off the story might be her injury. Then, the rising action is the basketball player’s efforts to complete physical therapy and get back into the game. The climax might be the day of tryouts for the team. You might resolve the story by having her find her name on the team list, at which point she realizes she can overcome any obstacle.
  • It’s helpful to use Freytag’s triangle or a graphic organizer to plan your essay. Freytag's triangle looks like a triangle with a long line to its left and a short line to its right. It's a tool that helps you plan out your story's beginning (exposition), an incident that starts your story's events, the rising action, a climax, the falling action, and the resolution of your story.
  • You can find a Freytag's triangle template or a graphic organizer for your narrative essay online. [8] X Research source

Step 4 Write out the climax of your story either in detail or as an outline.

  • The most common types of conflict include person vs. person, person vs. nature, and person vs. self. Some stories will have more than one type of conflict.
  • In the story about the young athlete who gets injured, her conflict might be person vs. self, as she’s having to push through her pain and limitations.

Step 5 Choose a point-of-view for your story, such as 1st person or 3rd person.

  • In most cases, a personal narrative will use the 1st person “I” point-of-view. For example, “Over my last summer with my grandfather, I learned more than how to fish.”
  • If you’re telling a fictional story, you might use the 3rd person point of you. Use your character’s name, as well as the appropriate pronouns like “he” or “she.” For instance, “Mia picked up the locket and opened it.”

Writing Your Introduction

Step 1 Begin your essay with a hook to engage your reader.

  • Start your essay with a rhetorical question. For instance, “Have you ever faced losing something that’s important to you?”
  • Give a quote that fits your essay. You might write, “According to Rosa Gomez, ‘You don’t know how strong you are until a setback breaks you.”
  • Provide an interesting fact that’s related to your story. As an example, “About 70% of kids will stop playing sports by the age of 13, and I was almost one of them.”
  • Use a short anecdote that relates to the larger story. For your essay about overcoming an injury, you might include a short story about your best moment playing sports before your injury.
  • Start with a shocking statement. You might write, “As soon as they loaded me into the ambulance, I knew I might never play sports again.”

Step 2 Introduce the main characters in your story.

  • Let’s say your main character is you. You could write, “As a tall, lean 12-year-old, I easily outplayed the other girls on the court.” This gives the reader a picture about what you might look like, as well as your interest in sports and athletic ability.
  • If you’re telling a fictional story, you might introduce your character like this: “As she walked toward the high school debate podium, Luz exuded confidence from her Kate Spade headband down to her thrift shop Betsey Johnson pumps.” Not only does this help the audience picture Luz, but it also shows that she puts effort into her appearance. The fact that she shops at thrift stores might indicate that her family isn’t as wealthy as she portrays.

Step 3 Describe the setting to set the scene for your story.

  • You might write, “It was my 7th-grade year, and I knew I had to make varsity if I were going to get attention from the high school coaches.”
  • Sensory details trigger your senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. As an example, “My shoes squeaked across the court as I dribbled toward the goal line, the red basket in sight. Sweat made the ball feel slippery against my fingertips, and its salty taste coated my lips.”

Step 4 Include an overview of the story and its theme in the last sentence.

  • For instance, you might write, “I never expected that pass across the court to be my last for the season. However, recovering from my injury taught me I’m a strong person who can accomplish anything I set out to do.”

Sample Introduction and Outline

narrative essay introduction paragraph example

Expert Q&A

  • A narrative essay will always tell a story, so make sure your essay has a clear plot. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0

narrative essay introduction paragraph example

  • Don’t borrow someone else’s ideas for your story or copy someone else’s writing. This is plagiarism and can result in severe academic penalties, including loss of credit. Thanks Helpful 37 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ https://www.nova.edu/tutoring-testing/study-resources/forms/planning-narrative-essay.pdf
  • ↑ https://spcollege.libguides.com/c.php?g=254430&p=1697470
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/narrative_essays.html
  • ↑ https://human.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Literature_and_Literacy/Writing_and_Critical_Thinking_Through_Literature_(Ringo_and_Kashyap)/02%3A_About_Creative_Nonfiction/2.02%3A_Elements_of_Creative_Nonfiction
  • ↑ https://penandthepad.com/start-narrative-essay-english-7667341.html

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

If you’re struggling to start your narrative essay, find a way to encourage your reader to keep reading and introduce your main characters. Since opening lines can pull a reader in, choose something catchy that’s related to your story. For example, if your essay is about loss, you could open with a question like, “Have you ever faced losing something that’s important to you?” Then, add some details about your story’s setting that will interest the reader, such as describing how your trainers squeaked as you dribbled across the court if your story is about sports. You should also include enough information about the main character to peak the reader’s interest, like “She was a tall, lean 12-year-old,” but not too much so they know everything. For tips from our Writing co-author on how to plan out your entire narrative essay before you start writing, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Narrative Essay Writing

Personal Narrative Essay

Cathy A.

Personal Narrative Essay - Easy Guide & Examples

16 min read

Published on: Apr 18, 2020

Last updated on: Jan 31, 2024

personal narrative essay

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How to Write a Narrative Essay - Beginner’s Guide

Interesting Narrative Essay Topics and Ideas

20+ Top Narrative Essay Examples by Experts

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A personal narrative essay can be a fun way to share your life story with friends and family. However, most students have no idea how to write a personal narrative essay. 

This can be a challenge. On top of that, it's one of the most common assignments in school.

Is this something that you are also dealing with? Fortunately, you don't have to worry anymore! We are here to simplify the process for you.

This guide will walk you through the process of writing a personal narrative essay step by step. Plus, you can find plenty of examples here to help you get started and avoid common writing mistakes. 

So what are you waiting for, take a step forward to make your essay shine!

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Personal Narrative Essay Definition

What is a Personal Narrative Essay? 

A personal narrative essay is also referred to as short storytelling. It depends on the writer's type of story they want to tell the readers. This type of essay can be composed of the personal experience of the writer. 

A personal narrative essay is usually written in the first person participle. It helps to depict a clear narrative that’s focused on a specific moment.

Usually, high school students are usually assigned to write such essays. Writing these essays helps them to enhance creative writing skills. Also, they help to provide insight into a student’s personal life. 

To write a personal narrative essay, the writer specifies a plot around which the entire essay revolves. Moreover, the plot should also discuss the characters that have played some part in the story.

Sample Personal Narrative Essay (PDF)

How to Start a Personal Narrative Essay?  

The personal narrative essay requires a balance between objectivity and subjectivity. To write about an event or situation with significance, you must first identify what's important to share with the readers.

As with other types of writing - there are some guidelines you need to follow some guidelines. These are;

1. Choose the Right Topic 

A good topic can not just make your essay look good, but also it will make the writing process much easier. Since personal narrative essays are written on personal experiences and thoughts, make sure you choose your most interesting experience. 

Keep in mind that the topic you choose matches the intended audience. It is the reader who decides the scope and success of your essay.

2. Choose a Theme 

You can also choose a theme for your essay. This will help you focus on what you want to say. You can use your personal experiences to explore the theme in depth.  For example, if you choose the theme of love, you could talk about your experience of love with your sister(s).  Alternatively, you can start writing out the story and see if any ideas might relate to a bigger theme. When you are writing, pay attention to any ideas that keep coming up. See if they might be related to a bigger topic.

3. Create a Thesis Statement 

The thesis statement is the most important sentence and tells the reader what your essay will be about.  

In a personal narrative essay, the thesis statement can briefly explore the story's events. Or it can tell the reader about the moral or lesson learned through personal experience. The thesis statement can also present the main theme of the essay. 

For example, if you are writing an essay about your personal experience as a refugee. You may have a thesis statement that presents the theme of freedom.

Check out more thesis statement examples to learn how to write one!

4. Create an Outline 

Once you have your topic, it is time that you create an outline for your essay. The essay outline is an essential element of an essay. It keeps the whole composition in an organized order. 

Also, it helps the reader through the essay. With the help of an outline, a writer can provide logic for the essay. 

Personal Narrative Essay Outline

Being a student, you must know how important an outline is for an essay. It provides an organization with the whole content.

To create an outline for a personal narrative essay, you need to follow the following traditional method.

Introduction

These three major elements of a  narrative essay  are further elaborated down below.

The introduction is the most important part of essay writing. It is the first impression on the reader; by reading this part, the reader decides the quality of the essay. This part should be the most attention-grabbing part. 

It should have an attention-grabbing hook and some background information about the topic. Moreover, it should include the thesis statement, which explains the main idea of your essay.

Keep in mind that the essay introduction should always end with a transition sentence. This will make a logical connection with the rest of the essay. 

Personal Narrative Introduction Example

Body Paragraphs 

After the introduction, the body paragraphs are written. These paragraphs help you to explain the key elements of your personal narrative essay. 

In a standard personal narrative essay, there are usually three body paragraphs. These paragraphs help the writer to describe the subject of the essay in all possible aspects. 

With the help of these paragraphs, the writer describes their point of view to the readers. To support the essay, the time and place of the event happening are also mentioned. Moreover, these paragraphs have all the information about the characters. 

Keep in mind that a body starts with a topic sentence . This sentence is a kind of introductory sentence for that particular paragraph.

Another important thing you need to keep in mind is the order in which you will present the details. Make sure that you use chronological order for this purpose. 

Personal Narrative Body Example

In conclusion, you need to provide the climax of the story. 

In this section of a personal narrative essay, you should wrap up the whole story. Do it in such a way that you provide a summary of the entire essay. 

Your conclusion should be just as impactful as your introduction. End with a memorable sentence or thought that leaves the reader with a lasting impression. You can summarize the main points of your essay or reflect on the significance of the experience in your life.

Make sure that you do not add any new points in this part. It will not give the reader a sense of accomplishment and will leave them in confusion. 

Personal Narrative Conclusion Example

How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay

A personal narrative essay is considered very good when it is expressive, and the reader enjoys your personal narrative. The key to writing an amazing personal narrative is to use sensory details as much as possible.

An excellent narrative essay doesn't tell what happened. Instead, it shows what happened precisely and how you have felt at that moment.

Here is how you can write a personal narrative essay:

  • Start With a Good Hook 

For any type of essay , a hook statement can be a game-changer. But, particularly for a personal narrative essay, hook sentences are very important. 

Usually, the introduction of the essay starts with this sentence. You may use a famous quotation, verse, or an interesting fact for this purpose. This sentence helps to attain the reader’s attention and persuade the reader to read the entire essay. 

  • Vivid Description 

For a narrative essay, it is a must to be vivid enough to let the reader imagine the whole scene. This is why it is necessary that the writer uses as much descriptive language as possible. 

For instance, if you are writing about a visit to the beach, you can describe how the sun felt on your face. On top of that, making use of strong verbs and adjectives will also help to provide an engaging experience for readers.  

  • Use Transition Words 

For any essay, be it an argumentative essay , descriptive essay , or personal narrative essay. It is very important to have some transition sentences and words. These transition words help to make a logical connection in all parts of the essay. 

In other words, the transition words help to make links between the storyline. You may use transition words like this, however, whereas, therefore, moreover, etc.

  • Add Emotions 

The purpose of a personal narrative essay is to show the reader what and how you have felt. Hence don't forget to add the emotions, as you have to make the reader know about the feelings. 

Describe all of the emotions and feelings using very descriptive words. 

  • Be Consistent 

Consistency is the key to writing an essay in a professional way. Make sure that you don't get distracted by any irrelevant details. 

Stay focused on one single point, and add details related to your specific idea.  Make sure that you inter-link all the events of the story in a regular manner. This will help the reader to relate all the events. Also, use first-person impressions as you are writing a personal narrative. 

You also want to show the reader that you are telling your own story. Make sure that you follow the same participle in the entire essay. 

  • Prove the Significance of Your Experience 

You know that behind every event, there is a reason. Similarly, let your readers know the reason behind your essay and its significance. 

Also, mention that the story you just told was important to share. 

As it is a personal narrative, you don't have to provide evidence to prove the significance of your story. Rather, you have to convey a broader message through your story. 

  • Use Dialogue

Dialogue is an excellent way to bring life to your story and make it more engaging. It can reveal the character’s personalities and add a touch of realism to the essay. 

When you use dialogue, make sure to punctuate it correctly and indicate who is speaking.

  • Show, Don't Tell

When writing a personal narrative essay, avoid summarizing events and simply telling the story. Instead, use sensory details to help the reader experience the story with you. 

Describe what you saw, heard, felt, tasted, and smelled to bring the story to life.

  • Reflect on the Experience

Reflection is an important part of any personal narrative essay. It is an opportunity for you to reflect on the experience you are writing about and what it means to you. Take the time to think about what you learned from the experience and how it has shaped you as a person.

Once you are done with writing your personal narrative essay. It's time that you put a little effort into making it error-free. Proofread the essay more than once and look for minor spelling mistakes and other grammatical mistakes. 

This will ensure that you have written an essay like a pro. You can do this yourself or you may ask a friend to do it for you.

To understand better how to write a personal narrative essay, take a few moments to watch the video below!

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Free Personal Narrative Essay Examples

Examples help you to understand things better; here are a few well-written  narrative essay examples . Read them thoroughly and use them as a guide to writing a good essay yourself.

Personal Narrative Essay 750 words

Personal narrative essays can be long or short. It depends on the writer how they want to elaborate things.

750 Words Personal Narrative Essay (PDF)

Personal Narrative Essay Examples for High School Students

Personal narrative essays are often assigned to high school students. If you are a high school student and looking for some good examples, you are exactly where you should be.

Best Summer Memory of My Childhood (PDF)

Near-Death Experience (PDF)

Personal Narrative Essay Examples for College Students

Being a college student, you will often get to write personal narrative essays. Here are a few examples of well-written personal narrative essays to guide college students.

Climbing a Mountain (PDF)

My First Job (PDF)

Want to get a better understanding? Dive into the wide collection of our narrative essay examples !

Personal Narrative Essay Topics

It is important to choose a good topic before you start writing. Here are some interesting  narrative essay topics  you can choose from for your essay.

  • My worst childhood memory
  • My favorite summer activities during vacation.
  • The first time I had a serious argument with my best friend
  • The first time someone broke my heart.
  • Things I could tell myself.
  • How I balance my family life and my professional life.
  • The most important rule in life
  • Teachers who inspired me in my college.
  • Why I love to write a diary
  • My favorite New York Times Article.
  • My favorite movie.
  • Personal advice for the youth of today.
  • How I overcame my stage fear.
  • The toughest decision I have ever made.
  • What I regret most

Need some inspiration to craft your essay? Our expansive list of narrative essay topics will provide you with plenty of ideas!

Personal Narrative Essay Writing Tips

You need to follow a few things in order to start your personal narrative essay in a proper way. Those significant things are as follows:

  • Think of a memorable event, an unforgettable experience, or any that you want to tell the readers.
  • Plan your narrative essay. Make yourself clear on the order in which you want to mention all the details.
  • Start your personal essay with a hook sentence. This will help you to grab the attention of the readers.
  • Use vivid language so that the reader can imagine the whole scene in mind. Describe the actions, mood, theme, and overall plot.
  • Make sure that you use descriptive language.
  • Use proper sentence structure.

In conclusion,

writing a personal narrative essay can be daunting for many students.

So, step into the world of professional essay writing with our specialized narrative essay writing service . We're committed to crafting compelling stories that capture and engage.

For added convenience and innovation, don't forget to check out our essay writer online , an AI tool designed to refine and elevate your writing experience. Join us today and transform your writing journey!

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.

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narrative essay introduction paragraph example

Examples of Great Introductory Paragraphs

Grab your reader's attention with the first words

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  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

An introductory paragraph, as the opening of a conventional essay ,  composition , or  report , is designed to grab people's attention. It informs readers about the topic and why they should care about it but also adds enough intrigue to get them to continue to read. In short, the opening paragraph is your chance to make a great first impression.

Writing a Good Introductory Paragraph

The primary purpose of an introductory paragraph is to pique the interest of your reader and identify the topic and purpose of the essay. It often ends with a thesis statement .

You can  engage your readers right from the start through a number of tried-and-true ways. Posing a question, defining the key term, giving a brief anecdote , using a playful joke or emotional appeal, or pulling out an interesting fact are just a few approaches you can take. Use imagery, details, and sensory information to connect with the reader if you can. The key is to add intrigue along with just enough information so your readers want to find out more. 

One way to do this is to come up with a brilliant opening line . Even the most mundane topics have aspects interesting enough to write about; otherwise, you wouldn't be writing about them, right?

When you begin writing a new piece, think about what your readers want or need to know. Use your knowledge of the topic to craft an opening line that will satisfy that need. You don't want to fall into the trap of what writers call "chasers"  that bore your readers (such as "The dictionary defines...."). The introduction should make sense and hook the reader right from the start .

Make your introductory paragraph brief. Typically, just three or four sentences are enough to set the stage for both long and short essays. You can go into supporting information in the body of your essay, so don't tell the audience everything all at once.

Should You Write the Intro First?

You can always adjust your introductory paragraph later. Sometimes you just have to start writing. You can start at the beginning or dive right into the heart of your essay.

Your first draft may not have the best opening, but as you continue to write, new ideas will come to you, and your thoughts will develop a clearer focus. Take note of these and, as you work through revisions , refine and edit your opening. 

If you're struggling with the opening, follow the lead of other writers and skip it for the moment. Many writers begin with the body and conclusion and come back to the introduction later. It's a useful, time-efficient approach if you find yourself stuck in those first few words.

Start where it's easiest to start. You can always go back to the beginning or rearrange later, especially if you have an outline completed or general framework informally mapped out. If you don't have an outline, even just starting to sketch one can help organize your thoughts and "prime the pump" as it were.

Successful Introductory Paragraphs

You can read all the advice you want about writing a compelling opening, but it's often easier to learn by example. Take a look at how some writers approached their essays and analyze why they work so well.

"As a lifelong crabber (that is, one who catches crabs, not a chronic complainer), I can tell you that anyone who has patience and a great love for the river is qualified to join the ranks of crabbers. However, if you want your first crabbing experience to be a successful one, you must come prepared."
– (Mary Zeigler, "How to Catch River Crabs" )

What did Zeigler do in her introduction? First, she wrote in a little joke, but it serves a dual purpose. Not only does it set the stage for her slightly more humorous approach to crabbing, but it also clarifies what type of "crabber" she's writing about. This is important if your subject has more than one meaning.

The other thing that makes this a successful introduction is the fact that Zeigler leaves us wondering. What do we have to be prepared for? Will the crabs jump up and latch onto you? Is it a messy job? What tools and gear do I need? She leaves us with questions, and that draws us in because now we want answers.

"Working part-time as a cashier at the Piggly Wiggly has given me a great opportunity to observe human behavior. Sometimes I think of the shoppers as white rats in a lab experiment, and the aisles as a maze designed by a psychologist. Most of the rats—customers, I mean—follow a routine pattern, strolling up and down the aisles, checking through my chute, and then escaping through the exit hatch. But not everyone is so dependable. My research has revealed three distinct types of abnormal customer: the amnesiac, the super shopper, and the dawdler."
– "Shopping at the Pig"

This revised classification essay begins by painting a picture of an ordinary scenario: the grocery store. But when used as an opportunity to observe human nature, as this writer does, it turns from ordinary to fascinating.

Who is the amnesiac? Would I be classified as the dawdler by this cashier? The descriptive language and the analogy to rats in a maze add to the intrigue, and readers are left wanting more. For this reason, even though it's lengthy, this is an effective opening.

"In March 2006, I found myself, at 38, divorced, no kids, no home, and alone in a tiny rowing boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I hadn’t eaten a hot meal in two months. I’d had no human contact for weeks because my satellite phone had stopped working. All four of my oars were broken, patched up with duct tape and splints. I had tendinitis in my shoulders and saltwater sores on my backside.
"I couldn’t have been happier...."
– Roz Savage, " My Transoceanic Midlife Crisis ."  Newsweek , March 20, 2011

Here is an example of reversing expectations. The introductory paragraph is filled with doom and gloom. We feel sorry for the writer but are left wondering whether the article will be a classic sob story. It is in the second paragraph where we find out that it's quite the opposite.

Those first few words of the second paragraph—which we cannot help but skim—surprise us and thus draw us in. How can the narrator be happy after all that sorrow? This reversal compels us to find out what happened.

Most people have had streaks where nothing seems to go right. Yet, it is the possibility of a turn of fortunes that compels us to keep going. This writer appealed to our emotions and a sense of shared experience to craft an effective read.

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Four Examples of Introductory Paragraph for Your Essay or Paper

Four Examples of Introductory Paragraph for Your Essay or Paper

3-minute read

  • 30th October 2023

Writing an academic paper comes with many challenges, not the least of which is fleshing out an introductory paragraph . Knowing where to start can often be tricky.

But fear not! In today’s post, we provide four examples of introductory paragraphs for different types of essays . We hope these examples will give you some inspiration to start writing.

1. Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay clearly defines the author’s stance on a topic or debate, often providing evidence and looking at both sides of an issue.

Example Introduction

Why the paragraph works.

It engages with current issues: By referencing the current interconnected nature of society, the introduction places the essay in a contemporary context and makes the topic relatable to the reader.

It clearly states the debate: The writer presents two opposing views on online privacy in a clear, simple, and succinct way.

It sets expectations: The essay makes the reader aware that it will explore both sides of the debate.

2. Descriptive Essay

In descriptive essays , you describe something, such as a place or an experience, in vivid detail. These essays often employ imagery and descriptive language.

It provides vivid imagery: The descriptions of the sunset and the waves instantly create a picture in the reader’s mind.

It evokes emotion: The mention of an escape from daily life elicits a sense of calm, peace, and longing.

It maintains concision: The introduction is short but powerful in setting the mood; it shows rather than telling .

3. Compare and Contrast Essay

In a compare and contrast essay , you discuss two subjects by looking at their similarities and differences.

It presents the subjects: The introduction clearly identifies the two works being compared.

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It highlights the main differences: The primary contrasts between the two works are introduced up front.

It sets the course: The reader knows that the essay will delve deeper into how each author conveys their message.

4. Personal Narrative Essay

A personal narrative essay tells a story about a personal experience you’ve had.

It provides a personal touch: The introduction gives a hint of personal significance and the transformative power of the experience.

It sets an intriguing scene: The opening line paints a picture, placing the reader at the scene and sparking curiosity about how it impacted the writer’s life.

It resonates emotionally: By mentioning self-discovery and life-changing moments, the introduction connects with readers on an emotional level.

Feeling inspired? We hope this post helped you to come up with some ideas for the introductory paragraph of your essay or paper. And once you have a first draft, make sure you send it our way for editing and a final proofread.

We’ll check your work for grammar, spelling, word choice, readability, formatting, consistency, referencing, and more! We’ll even proofread your first 500 words for free .

What makes an introductory paragraph effective?

An introductory paragraph should introduce the topic clearly, intrigue the reader, and set accurate expectations for what the rest of the essay will cover.

What are the different types of essays?

Some common types of student essays are narrative, descriptive, compare and contrast, persuasive, argumentative, expository, and process.

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How to Write a Narrative Essay Introduction: Does a Narrative Essay Need a Thesis Statement

Essay writing is a craft whose skills you have to develop over time. An authentic essay should clearly communicate the intended message. It’s a composition that should express the intended idea and back it up with credible explanations, facts, and analysis.

There are various essay types that you could come across. They include descriptive, argumentative, expository, and narrative essays. Expository and argumentative essays express factual information and main points. However, Descriptive and narrative essays accord you as a writer to write creatively.

In this article, we will concentrate and expound on narrative essays. This article helps you know how to write a narrative essay introduction, and most importantly, provides you with tactics on how to be a better narrative essay writer in general.

How to write a Narrative Essay introduction

A narrative essay is an essay that assumes a storytelling form, and as a writer, you have the independence to express yourself on the subject matter.

That said, a narrative essay is personal and experiential in nature. Typically, a narrative essay should have an introduction, a plot, a setting, characters, climax, and the conclusion.

When writing a narrative essay, the introductory paragraph is pretty vital. It is from this paragraph that a reader decides whether the whole paper is worth reading.

Therefore, ensure that your introductory paragraph catches the reader’s attention and offers a glimpse of what your narration aims to address.

Also see: Can an Essay Be One Paragraph?

Below is a list of guidelines to direct you into composing a thrilling and compelling introductory paragraph for your narrative essay.

  • Start your essay with a hook as the introductory sentence

Remember, you want your introductory sentence to attract the reader’s attentiveness and keep them engaged. To do that, begin your introductory sentence with a creative hook.

For example, you may formulate your hook sentence by employing a quote, rhetoric question, anecdotes, statistics, a shocking statement, or an interesting fact.

  • Usher in the principal characters

Since the reader needs to have a general idea of what and who your narrative is about, introduce and distinguish your main characters concisely.

Give the reader a picture of what the principal characters look like and their position in your story.

  • Outline the setting of your narrative

The setting describes where and when your narration took place. Here, ensure that you render the reader with sensory details to help them create a clear picture of the scene.

How you describe your setting should trigger the reader’s senses of smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing.

  • Cover the overview and theme of your narrative in the end sentence

Your last sentence in the introduction forms your thesis statement. In this sentence, you should inform the reader what to anticipate in the rest of the narrative essay without giving any specific details.

Does a Narrative Essay Need a Thesis Statement?

A narrative essay needs a thesis statement. Although different from the thesis statements in analytical, descriptive, or argumentative essays, a narrative essay should have a thesis statement. This statement should be included in the essay’s introduction and is meant to tell the reader what to anticipate by reading the narration.

For your thesis statement to be clear and robust, it should meet several desirable features. For example, a good thesis statement for a narrative essay should be declarative, specific, can be demonstrated and argued, confident, and should fully express the essay’s subject.

How Do You Write a Narrative Essay Outline?

Like any other type of essay, a narrative essay should follow a functional outline structure. In attempting to write a compelling narrative essay that communicates clearly to the reader, drafting your essay outline is one of the most vital steps.

The outline acts as your plan, which makes the writing organized and less stressful.

To help you craft an effective outline with the correct critical elements for your narrative essay, below is a clear structure that you should consider employing.

  • Introduction

Start the introductory paragraph with a hook, followed by the stage of your narrative and the thesis statement as the closing sentence. A hook should be the first sentence of your narrative essay and should be reflective, personal, and intriguing to captivate the reader’s attention.

After the hook, introduce the stage of your essay where you introduce the setting, scene, main characters, and a general overview of your essay.

The last and most crucial element of your introduction is the thesis statement. A thesis statement summarizes the essay’s main point by providing the reader with a sneak peek of what the narrative essay is all about. In general, your introduction should be intriguing, short, precise, and relatable.

The body is the main element of your narrative essay because it describes the beginning, the growth, and the end of your narration. Depending on the word count and the narration’s plot, a narrative essay’s body contains three paragraphs.

In the first paragraph, ensure that you launch the story by introducing its background. The second paragraph under the body is the heart of your narration, where you narrate the story up to the climax. Finally, the third paragraph is where you wrap up your narration. Here, ensure that the story ends naturally.

Overall, ensure that you give detailed descriptions and accurate information relevant to your story in the body. In addition, ensure that the body is fascinating and serves the reader with clear emotions.

Also see: Are Essay Mills Legal?

The conclusion is the final part of your narrative essay outline. This part acts as the summary to your story and where you unite the reader and the story. Here, you could state the moral of the story, state its significance, and call the reader to action to ensure that they meditate more on the subject.

Tips to Writing an Excellent Narrative Essay

You may be writing a narrative essay for your lecturer to grade, or you are a professional essay writer writing for their audience. In either of the cases, you need to write a fascinating article that will capture the reader’s attention and pass your intended message. To help you with that, below are essential tips you could utilize.

  • Read narrative essays from other writers . For you to be a pro narrative essay writer, you need to be an extensive reader. Read a wide range of essays with different subjects written using distinct styles and arguments. From doing so, you will develop more writing confidence and even grow your creativity and ability to narrate.
  • Analyze the essay question thoroughly . Before you start to write a narrative essay, ensure you understand the essay question to get a clear grasp of what you ought to write about. From the essay question, be alert to distinguish between directive, limiting, and content terms. You can therefore brainstorm on the question and choose the suitable topic to write on.
  • Create an outline . Create an outline where you include the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Draft a structure where you include your main ideas and how you want them to follow each other chronologically. This process will simplify your writing in a significant way.
  • Do extensive research . For your essay to be authentic, you have to convince your reader of your arguments by providing them with reasoning, facts, and evidence where possible. To do so, you have to carry out comprehensive research on the subject matter from credible sources and have a good grasp of the story you are narrating.
  • Edit and proofread your essay . Before you submit your narrative essay for marking or publishing, proofread the essay severally while editing. By doing so, you will discover and correct any spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors in your essay. Moreover, you will be able to check whether your points make sense and smoothly follow each other as you designated.

Narrative essay writing can be complicated if you don’t have confidence and a clear writing plan.

However, by reading this article, you will be better positioned to write authentic and sound narrative essays. Moreover, you will know how to write a narrative essay introduction.

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  1. Structure of a Personal Narrative Essay

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  2. 😊 Writing a narrative paragraph examples. Writing a Narrative Paragraph

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  3. How to write an introductory paragraph for a narrative by rooseveltkuh

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  4. 21+ Narrative Essay Examples College Background

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  6. 13 Best Narrative Essay Examples & Templates

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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. 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.

  3. How to Write an Essay Introduction

    Step 1: Hook your reader Step 2: Give background information Step 3: Present your thesis statement Step 4: Map your essay's structure Step 5: Check and revise More examples of essay introductions Other interesting articles Frequently asked questions about the essay introduction Step 1: Hook your reader

  4. PDF Unit 2 Narrative Essays

    structure of a story Several important elements make up a good story: Just like other types of essays, an efective narrative essay also includes these elements: • a thesis that sets up the action in the introduction • transition sentences that connect events and help the reader follow the story

  5. 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. ... Often, this is stated in your thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. It may use dialogue. For more on that, ...

  6. 3 Great Narrative Essay Examples + Tips for Writing

    For example, say you want to write a narrative essay about how your first day in high school helped you establish your identity.

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

    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.

  8. Student Narrative Essay Examples

    37 Student Narrative Essay Examples The Pot Calling the Kettle Black… Essay by an anonymous student author, 2017. Reproduced with permission from the student author. "You aren't acting normal," my dad said with a dopy, concerned look on his face. He was a hard-working, soft and loving man. He was smaller than my mother, physically and figuratively.

  9. Narrative Essays Handout

    Interesting introductions—for any kind of writing—engage and draw readers in because they want to know more. Since narratives tell a story and involve events, the introduction of a narrative quite often starts in the middle of the action in order to bring the reader into the story immediately, as shown in examples 1, 3, and 5 below.

  10. How to Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps

    Lindsay Kramer Updated on April 17, 2023 Students When you have a personal story to tell and don't want to write an entire book, a narrative essay may be the perfect fit. Unlike other types of essays, narrative essays don't need to stick to certain requirements or include a bibliography.

  11. 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.

  12. How to Start a Narrative Essay

    For example, you may have a really funny story about the time you ate grass as a kid and threw up at school. But, what will the reader take away from the story? Don't eat grass? Well, we already know that. Perhaps you also have a story about the first time you cut the lawn. You remember it being fun, exciting.

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

    4. Write a draft. Now, it's time to write your narrative essay. Follow the outline and start crafting each paragraph step by step. Stick to the narrative arc, but remember that you are writing an academic paper, not a fictional story. Operate within the structure of a standard college essay.

  14. Narrative Essay Introduction Examples

    The introduction should not be a lengthy one. It is not a place tо explain the entire story. The first sentence should be a hook that will grab the reader аnd make him read on. It is important to start the essay with a strong statement. This sentence will be your thesis statement.

  15. Unit 5 Narrative Paragraphs

    Learning Objectives. To understand and practice narrative paragraphs with a focus on the use of time transitions, past tenses, descriptive vocabulary, and specific supporting details. To study narrative paragraphs through analyzing multiple models. To apply the writing process to plan and write narrative paragraphs.

  16. Easy Way to Craft a Perfect Narrative Essay

    Here are the main parts of the narrative essay: Introduction Paragraph. ... In narrative essays, the introduction section is typically shorter than most and ultimately works to set the stage for the personal story about to unfold. While the story itself will be personal, it should link to larger ideas. ... Here is an example of the structure of ...

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

    Part 2 Typical Narrative Essay Structure. A narrative essay typically follows a three-part structure: introduction, body, and conclusion. Introduction: Start with a hook to grab attention and introduce your story. Provide some background to set the stage for the main events. Body: Develop your story in detail. Describe scenes, characters, and ...

  18. 4 Ways to Start a Narrative Essay

    3. Map out the plot of your story with a beginning, middle, and end. A narrative essay usually follows a typical story arc. Begin your story by introducing your characters and setting, followed by the incident that hooks readers into the action of the story. Next, present the rising action and climax of your story.

  19. 20+ Easy Narrative Essay Examples and Writing Tips

    1. Narrative Essay Examples 2. The Essentials of Narrative Essays 3. Narrative Essay Writing Tips Narrative Essay Examples Before writing, go through narrative essay examples to ensure that outlining and formatting are done correctly.

  20. Personal Narrative Essay

    20+ Top Narrative Essay Examples by Experts A personal narrative essay can be a fun way to share your life story with friends and family. However, most students have no idea how to write a personal narrative essay. This can be a challenge. On top of that, it's one of the most common assignments in school.

  21. Examples of Great Introductory Paragraphs

    An introductory paragraph, as the opening of a conventional essay , composition, or report, is designed to grab people's attention. It informs readers about the topic and why they should care about it but also adds enough intrigue to get them to continue to read. In short, the opening paragraph is your chance to make a great first impression.

  22. Four Examples of Introductory Paragraph for Your Essay or Paper

    1. Argumentative Essay An argumentative essay clearly defines the author's stance on a topic or debate, often providing evidence and looking at both sides of an issue. Example Introduction As society becomes increasingly interconnected, the debate over whether individuals should have an absolute right to privacy online intensifies.

  23. How to Write a Narrative Essay Introduction: Does a ...

    For example, you may formulate your hook sentence by employing a quote, rhetoric question, anecdotes, statistics, a shocking statement, or an interesting fact. Usher in the principal characters Since the reader needs to have a general idea of what and who your narrative is about, introduce and distinguish your main characters concisely.