How to write a narrative essay
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.
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.
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.
ExampleYou’re serious, diligent, curious, and brave.
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?
Showing qualities in personal narrative essay
....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!”
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:
Unexpected detail on the way:If you have a foreign girlfriend, it is good to mention her. Your story will get more personal, and readers will become even more curious. You may write your feelings about her culture, language, and the drawbacks of speaking a third language with your lover. Some people will surely become interested.
Paint your story and give details
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.
Pro tipDon’t overuse complicated, advanced, and extreme words, as they may seem to boast or to brag to your reader. It would help if you sounded natural. Then, you narrate what happened, how it happened, and most importantly, what happened to your character and feelings at the present time.
5-Paragraph Narrative Essay Example
A Trip to Istanbul You Never Forget
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.
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.
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.
You’ll eventually write excellent narrative essays for your reader as long as you follow instructions and read examples given in this article.