As the name suggests, narrative essays tell or narrate stories, anecdotes, experiences, whether these are personal or non-personal, individual or collective. Very often, students in US academic institutions are asked to talk about their personal experiences as part of such assignments. Narrative essays are normally expected to make a point, to come with life lessons, or to cause readers to appreciate certain life truths, human traits, importance of certain things or memories.
An essential step facilitating work on such essays is writing narrative essay outline, which helps organize content, present it in an appropriate order, estimate each section’s size, but also ensure that all key parts of narrative essay structure are present.
Narrative Essay Outline Parts
Below is narrative outline template that reveals the structure and key elements required in a narrative essay. Use it as an example or checklist while working on your outline.
Introduction consists of the following parts:
Hook – captivating readers is essential, especially in a narrative essay, that often wants to be personal, moving, reflective, or inviting feelings of appreciation or admiration. Also, it is highly advisable to set a proper tone from the very first lines of text. You could start with shocking confession, with an uncharacteristic and intriguing description of people or setting.
Thesis – an indispensable element of any introduction, since it states what claim or point is made in a paper. It should always be an arguable sentence that describes shortly and comprehensively paper’s essence. It is typically among the last sentences in an introduction – all following content comes to prove this statement.
Introductory background – introduction would also typically contain additional information that helps take readers into the author’s world and help them visualize, imagine, or recreate narrated facts. This could be information about this story’s relevance for you or for everybody else. For instance, it could be mentioning that this story is about your first encounter with a negative manifestation of human nature and describing how shocking this was for you as a child, adolescent, young adult.
Main body, as a part of narrative essay outline, should have such constituents:
Setting. Authors might or might not have details about time and place in the introduction – if not, these should be normally described at the beginning of the essay body. If already partially provided previously, here, one should normally offer a more comprehensive description, covering missing details. Typically, both time and space are mentioned given how informative these are in initializing a certain scene. A place could be defined by the country where action happens – the USA or some place abroad.
Background of events – this part shines light upon some preceding occurrences or circumstances that are important for better understanding of facts. Such info would normally accompany a setting description to fully initialize readers but could also be mentioned somewhat later, as needed.
Characters. Main characters are often introduced along with the setting or early enough in a story, while secondary ones could be introduced later, as the story unfolds. Speaking about character types, there are protagonists – central figures around which narration revolves and antagonists – figures that come in opposition with protagonists not necessary evil. Protagonist or antagonist descriptions may include appearance, beliefs, thoughts, worldviews, manners, behavior, feelings, dreams, their past, society’s attitude and interaction with them.
Unfolding of events or action – this part describes facts in chronological order. It normally starts with the plot rising action – a description of the plot as it complicates and leads to the conflict. Conflict is defined as any form of struggle faced by protagonists – it could be an internal struggle or a conflict with external forces, such as people, authorities, circumstances.
Verdict – it comes as a final critical decision: an interpretation of the story from author’s or protagonist’s perspective, why everything happened as it did, who was wrong (if applicable), what would have been the implications if participants had behaved otherwise or if things had unfolded otherwise.
Experts suggest such a structure of typical conclusion:
Summary of key points – this conclusion section could briefly revisit described facts or situations, role of certain characters, conflict’s essence, it could list key moral judgements derived, lessons learned, attitude changes inflicted on the author or protagonist.
Thesis restatement. An important element of any conclusion is restating the thesis – doing this shows that author’s effort of proving claim made in the introduction has a finality. However, a restatement of the thesis shouldn’t be formulated with exactly the same words. In addition, it should be a restatement through the prism of content that has been covered making appropriate connections with content.
Tips on How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline
There are a few recommendations that help produce a solid outline that would prove really helpful in producing narrative essay:
- Choose an interesting topic and an aspect of it that is really worth addressing. For instance, your general topic could be friendship and you could specifically focus on betrayal, various types of friendship, what makes friendship last for years. If it is personal narrative outline, be sure to pick proper personal narrative topics that interest you, about which you feel you have something valuable to say.
- Write short – narrative is not a novel, while an outline should be even shorter. An outline has to be helpful guide that allows to quickly overview your narrative’s skeleton, all content to be covered and its relative order, to see all ramifications of each major point, situation, etc. It could only serve such purpose if it is concise.
- Make it as detailed and comprehensive as possible. List everything you intend to cover – you might even write keywords below each point of the outline to designate other minor pieces of information that need coverage. Avoid unstructured text.
- After listing all content elements, revise them and rearrange ideas, scenes, action episodes to enforce a logical flow and facilitate easy reading. Think ahead about which elements could be excluded if it happens that maximum text volume is exceeded and try writing these parts last – this may save you both time and effort.
- Mark in your outline which scenes would be described in greater detail. A plot may unfold with different speed and with different attention to detail. Thus, there could be scenes where much sensory information and many minor details are provided in order to depict the moment in vivid colors.
Example Outline for Narrative Essay
Below is an extended personal narrative essay outline to serve as additional guidance to the hints above:
- hook. Opening scene: A person sitting next to me in a bus is talking loud about his atheist beliefs while I’m embarrassed other people can hear
- introductory background. I was in my 11th grade, still reflecting on belief in God, trying hard to compromise opposing views, and abstaining from picking a definite position.
- thesis. Sometimes, the humblest people may be an impactful examples that can force us to reconsider our attitudes.
- setting: where I was going with the bus and with what purpose, when this happened, what the weather was like
- characters: description of my interlocutor, complete stranger, with very unremarkable and even somewhat unflattering appearance.
- unfolding of action: how my interlocutor entered the bus and sat next to me; how he started conversation; how we got from discussing my interests and school subjects to things like universe, free will, and eventually, God; how he started reasoning and explaining his position with cold arguments, loudly and undisturbed by neighbors; what his focused speech and mimics were like; how I reacted; how we parted.
- event background – here, in the US, atheists are often viewed worse than members of any religious minority, which could have partially explained my attitude
- verdict. Despite his appearance and traits, this person left me thoughtful for days to come, not because of his arguments but because of his freedom of pursuing his thoughts.
- Restatement of thesis. Even if my interlocutor was an absolute stranger and not the most pleasant company, he was not afraid to follow his reasoning wherever it took him, without any imaginary self-imposed taboos.
- key lessons: one needs to always stay open-minded and think beyond self-imposed limits; every human might have a valuable lesson to teach and such lessons may come from strangers at any moment in life.
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