How to Write a Narrative Essay

Writing is an important part of any language studying course or any exam assessing students’ skills. To write narratives is a typical assignment students get to assess their creativity. So, what is narrative writing? This is the question every student needs to answer being given a narrative essay assignment. According to the narrative essay definition it is the description of some events; in other words a narrative is a story which provides readers with the account of some events, places, people or even objects.

Find below some tips on how to write a narrative essay.

To create a really interesting and engaging story you need to think carefully of a plot. It is a bad idea to get down to writing without a clear picture of how the narrative is going to evolve. You may either invent a plot and describe imaginary people and events or write about the things from your personal experience. The ideas for a narrative essay may come from observing people, watching news or reading newspapers. You may only need a headline to dwell on and develop it in an absorbing story. Take to writing down ideas that come to your mind or interesting words or phrases you hear. This way, you will get enough material for writing.

Once the plot is clearly pictured, you can start a narrative. As in case of any writing, either argumentative or narrative, there are certain tips on how to start a narrative essay. One of the best ways to engage the readers into exploring the contents of the narrative is to begin it with some suspense or mystery. Another idea of the beginning is to ask the readers a rhetoric question or address them directly. This way, the writer creates a kind of close relationships with the reader implying they may have experienced the same things. Describing the reaction of people or using the direct speech is also helpful in creating a good beginning of a narrative essay. Whatever technique is chosen, make sure a narrative is interesting for the readers and they are eager to read it to the end. As for the ways of ending a narrative essay, they are quite similar to those which are used to start it.

A good narrative essay should be well-organised so that the readers were able to follow the track of events logically and continuously. The narrative essay structure includes three main parts. The purpose of the introductory paragraph is to set the scene for the action. A good idea for a writer is to become an artist for an instant and create a perfect landscape using words. The picture should include the description of the place, the time of an action, the weather conditions and the people involved in a story with their feeling being mentioned as well.

The introduction is followed by two or three paragraphs more in which the action is gradually evolving leading to the most crucial moment in a narrative which is called the climax.

The last paragraph of a narrative composition is aimed at telling the readers what has happened at the end of the story and describing the feelings and reactions of the characters.

It should be mentioned that there are certain peculiarities concerning narrative style writing. Narrative essays are typically written from the first- or the third-person perspective. This way a narrative is usually informal and may sometimes sound humorous and funny. In terms of grammar the tenses used in a narrative essay are past, e.g. Past Simple is used to speak about the succession of the actions while Past Continuous is used to describe the settings of the story. Present tenses are quite often used as well. As a narrative essay involves describing places and objects, people and their feeling and reactions, it is of great importance to use strong adjectives, adverbs and verbs instead of neutral ones. For instance rushed instead of ran or fabulous instead of good. A narrative should be coherent so the use of linking words is important. The sentences must be quite extended and linked with the help of prepositions of time, place, manner, reason and others.  
The narrative essay format is conditioned by certain principles. The first is the perspective from which a narrative is written. As it was mentioned before, a narrative essay may be written in the first or the third person singular, so it is allowed to use the sentences starting with “I”. The second characteristic feature of a narrative essay format is that it uses strong sensory points as its purpose is to affect the readers emotionally.

The question of how to write a personal narrative should be approached similarly to that of writing a narrative essay. The main point, though, is that a personal narrative gives account of real events. It describes a specific real life situation which was decisive or crucial in the writer’ life. Personal narratives are often required while applying for a university or college or may come as a class assignment as well. Personal narrative writing prompts are quite the same as those guiding you through writing a narrative essay. The most important thing is to think of an interesting idea and develop it using the techniques above. Having finished a personal narrative read and reread it to avoid spelling, grammar or syntax mistakes. Try reading an essay aloud as it helps to perceive it as if you were a reader. The range of personal narrative essay topics is wide. The following are some examples:

Writing a narrative essay is not as challenging as it may seem. Learning to write any type of an essay needs practising. Reading examples of narrative compositions may be helpful in terms of gaining useful writing experience.

  1. Describe your first day at high school.
  2. Describe the most disastrous party ever.
  3. Describe the situation when you had to make a decision for the rest of your family members.
  4. Write a story about the most embarrassing situation you have ever been in.
  5. Write a story about the first dollar you earned.
  6. Describe a challenge you have taken and how it changed your life.
  7. Describe the most valuable advice you were given.
  8. Describe the most expensive present you received.
  9. Describe your first working experience.
  10. Describe the first foreign language lesson.

An autobiographical narrative is quite similar to a personal narrative. The difference, though, lies in the fact that the latter describes a single event or a life experience of a writer whereas the former may involve describing some period of his life with a range of events included. As for an autobiography, it is the account of the whole life of a person. Reading a good autobiographical narrative example will help get a clear idea of how it should be written.

To develop writing skills it is advisable to practise creative writing. Creative writing topics are numerous ranging from describing a single object from different points of view to telling a story from the perspective of an unanimated object. To make writing real fun follow fun narrative writing prompts: make your story humorous, include jokes and never get down to writing in a bad mood!

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