How to write a narrative essay

Are you ready to craft a captivating tale that leaves your readers spellbound? Look no further, because in this blog post, we’re going to dive deep into the world of narrative essays.

From picking the perfect topic to creating a memorable conclusion, we’ll guide you through each step of the process. So grab a pen and paper, and let’s get started on crafting a narrative that will have your audience begging for more.

A short narrative essay example

Before we start with the steps, you’ll see a short example of a narrative essay. Please dive deep into the underlying sentences to have initial insight and information.

When I was five years old, I always favored exploring new things in streets and different places. I found deep satisfaction in analyzing the things I found when I was walking as a kid. Background: Set the background of your story. My grandfather taught me a life lesson that I still don’t forget: Always think good for other people. Theme: You introduce the theme of your narrative essay.

As usual, I was looking for different objects in our backyard, covered with apple trees. When I came down from a tree, I came up with an exceptionally exciting pin needle. The pinhead was cubic, and I could easily put it on the floor, heading upwards. I really didn’t want to hurt someone. I was only shocked by the fact that I found a pin needle with a cubic head, and I started playing with it. Description: This part expands on author’s feelings and story.

My grandfather, who was around his 60s, saw me placing the pin needle heading upwards. He warned me –“You can hurt someone walking by putting the pin needle like this, watch out!” Character introduction: This part introduces the teacher (a character) in the story. After a while, I somehow left it heading upwards rather than getting rid of the pin needle. When I was running towards the backyard, I stepped on the needle and felt a crazy pain in my hell. Yes, I totally forgot the needle, and I was the one who stepped on it. When the doctor came, I instantly remember my grandfather’s advice. Development: Here, you develop and detail your story.

The experience has taught me to think more “deeply” when making an action—It may hurt someone even if you don’t want to. I also learned that I should listen to older adults as they have much more experience than us. Conclusion: You conclude your essay, preferably with a memorable sentence.

What is a narrative essay?

“To narrate” refers to telling a story. So you simply tell a story in this type of essay. The story is usually about your personal experiences. 

In narrative essays, the way you write is much more important than your topic selection. In other words, narrative essays rely highly on the writing style rather than the topic itself.

Narrative essay best practice

Unlike other types of essays, you can use first-person pronouns and others (you, we, they, etc.) in a narrative essay.

Remember, you’re testing your ability of storytelling with a narrative essay. Therefore, your style, word choice, creative syntax, and other linguistic elements are significant. Your story should fascinate the reader, and the way you tell your experience should outweigh all grammar rules!

Finding a narrative essay topic

You’ll be asked to write in a specific prompt, or you’ll be able to choose your own topic. For example, you may be asked to:

Or, you may be asked to write in a wider topic, here you decide what to and how to tell:

You can narrate your experiences and personal stories in a narrative essay. However, your readers should be enthusiastic.

They shouldn’t get bored when reading your paper. So, think of an interesting story, maybe with a surprising end.

The best approach is to tell your vivid memories and experiences. You’re more likely to remember all the details of your own significant experiences. After all, they must be interesting enough for the readers now that you still remember them.

Narrative essay best practices

For many students, narrative essays are the most difficult ones because they require a great deal of creativity, effort, and linguistic knowledge.  

Before writing, understanding the nature of a narrative essay is essential. Unlike other types of essays, a narrative essay is where you express your feelings and experiences.

Let’s see the following  steps based on the topic,  “Your Qualities for Application.”

List and deliver your own qualities

Now, you’re writing a personal narrative essay, and you need to define your character that shine through every difficulty. Rather than using mainstream words such as “funny” or “smart”, you better try to find interesting words.

A good approach is that you may ask your friends or family to describe your strong skills. When you list your qualities, then you’re all set to move on to the next step.

Now that you defined your qualities, it’s time to mix them with actual experiences. You may take notes while wandering between your memories. How did you show that quality? What lesson did you take? 

For example:

Showing qualities in personal narrative essay

....(essay starts)
....(essay continues)
....I remember the time when I was in a forest in my parent’s village during night time. It was filled with wild animals, even snakes! Without any hesitation, my curiosity led me to wander around the jungle, and I was leading my friends into such an adventure!”
....(essay continues)
....(essay continues)

Writing your memories and experiences as a draft doesn’t have to be perfect. Just gather your feelings and experiences and move them on paper.

Introduce a problem and lesson learned

When you read a good article or story, you don’t realize why it becomes so catchy, and you want to finish it. The thing is, experienced authors make their stories enjoyable by introducing a problem.

When you introduce a problem, your reader is likely to become curious. They want to see the solution, the ending. So, it would help if you did the same thing with your narrative essay.

You took so many German lessons in primary and high school. You know all the grammatical rules and words, but you don’t have chance to practice German. You went to Germany for six months. However, German people spoke differently. It wasn’t similar to those in Netflix shows with German dubbing.

You should spend more time with native speakers to understand their daily words and expressions. They don’t speak their language as in German movies. When I was patient enough, I was able to speak fluent German in the 5th month of my stay. I learned that speaking a language takes significant time and effort. But after all, it is worth it.

Introduce something unexpected for readers

Your personal narrative essay should describe you, but it shouldn’t be a monotonous storyline. A predictable storyline will surely bore the readers. You should come up with interesting facts with yourself to create a twist in the storyline.

When you narrate an essay about speaking a new language and its challenges, you may write an unexpected incident on the way. For example:

Paint your story and give details

As you write your story, it is vital to give details and paint the environment. Remember, unlike a descriptive essay, a narrative essay tends to paint a picture with your words.  So, feel free to describe your environment, elaborate on your feelings, and share your lessons.

Painting/depicting the environment in narrative essay

....As I stepped off the plane, the heat hit me like a wall. The air was thick with humidity, and the scent of saltwater lingered in my nostrils. I walked down the stairs and onto the tarmac, squinting against the bright Caribbean sun. Palm trees swayed gently in the breeze, their leaves rustling like a soft whisper....

It is also important to create a connection between past and present. Instead of just telling your past experience, you need to connect your past experiences with present lessons. You need to create a bridge between your past and present by storytelling.

Connecting past with present lessons example

...As I stood on the podium, accepting my award, I couldn't help but think back to the time I had failed my first public speaking class. It had been a humbling experience, but it had taught me the importance of preparation and practice. Now, years later, I had learned to channel my nervous energy into a powerful delivery, and I was grateful for the lessons of my past...

Your story needs to trigger the emotions and senses of your reader. You aren’t just answering 5Ws (why, where, when, who, what).

Instead, you’re filling a gap in words: the feelings. Remember, you’re aiming at your reader’s feelings when you’re writing a narrative essay.

Write a breathtaking conclusion

As you’re writing your conclusion, just make sure that your story is now in the present day. Rather than ending your story in the past, you conclude your story with present experiences, awareness, and lessons.

Merely describing an experience would look like an expository essay. Don’t forget to create a connection between your past experience and current lessons.

Narrative essay conclusion example


"Looking back on this experience, I realize just how much I have grown and changed as a person. I used to be afraid to take risks, to step outside of my comfort zone. But now, I know that those are the moments that define us, that push us to become our best selves. Make sure your story is now in present And while the road may not always be easy, I am grateful for the lessons I have learned along the way. Whether it's the importance of perseverance or the power of human connection, each experience has taught me something new. As I continue on this journey of self-discovery, I know that I will face new challenges and obstacles. But I also know that I am capable of overcoming them, of turning them into opportunities for growth and transformation. And for that, I am truly grateful."

Key takeaways

5-Paragraph Narrative Essay Example

A Trip to Istanbul You Never Forget


Istanbul, a vibrant city that has been standing for centuries as the bridge between the East and the West, is a place that offers a unique blend of cultures, cuisines, and history. A catchy hook sentence to grab the reader's attention Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Istanbul for the first time and it was a trip I will never forget. From the moment I arrived in the city, I was captivated by its energy and charm. A strong thesis statement

Body paragraphs

The first day of my trip was spent exploring the old city of Istanbul, which is home to some of the most famous landmarks in the world.Topic sentence: First day of trip I visited the Blue Mosque, which was built in the 17th century and is renowned for its stunning blue tiles and intricate design. After that, I wandered through the bustling Grand Bazaar, where vendors sold everything from handmade carpets to spices and Turkish delight.

The second day of my trip was dedicated to exploring the Asian side of Istanbul, which is often overlooked by tourists. .Topic sentence: Second day I took a ferry across the Bosphorus to Kadikoy, where I spent the day wandering through local markets and trying traditional Turkish dishes. The highlight of the day was visiting the Maiden's Tower, an iconic tower located on a small island off the coast of Istanbul.

On the third day, I took a boat tour along the Bosphorus, which is the strait that divides Istanbul into two continents. Topic sentence: Third day From the boat, I had a breathtaking view of Istanbul's skyline and was able to see some of the city's most famous landmarks from a different perspective. The tour also included a stop at the Dolmabahce Palace, which is a stunning example of Ottoman architecture. As my trip came to an end, I found myself feeling both sad to leave and grateful for the experience. Istanbul is a city that has something to offer everyone, from history buffs to foodies and everything in between.


After all, Istanbul is a city that has a unique and unforgettable charm that leaves a lasting impression on visitors. Reiterate the thesis statement and main points My trip to Istanbul was filled with adventure, delicious food, and stunning architecture. From the old city to the Asian side, every part of Istanbul has its own story to tell. Reflection on your experience This trip was an experience that I will always cherish and will continue to recommend to others. Recommendation to others

Writing a narrative essay is not a complicated task. It just requires a great deal of time and effort. As you practice, you’ll eventually get better at narrating your emotions and feelings. It’s like drawing with your words.

When you finish writing, don’t forget to proofread your paper’s common mistakes; go back for your spelling, capitalization, headings, and grammar mistakes like active and passive voice.

You’ll eventually write excellent narrative essays for your reader as long as you follow instructions and read examples given in this article. 

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Osman Sirin
Founder @Tamara Research, Linguistics major and full time digital marketeer, loves dogs, sports, and nature