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How to Write a Narrative Essay

During your academic studies, you will encounter a myriad of essay types. You will undoubtedly be asked to complete a range of different essays for your college work and assignments. We know that learning the different assignment types can be difficult – how can you possibly remember the structure of each one? Fear not as we can help. A narrative essay is one of the main types of paper you will encounter. Because of this fact and their frequency, we have provided a host of narrative writing tips to help with your narrative research papers – good luck!

What is a narrative essay?

First, a short definition of what is a narrative essay. The most basic definition – a narrative essay is a story. It is the recollection of an event that has happened in the past. It is usually told from the perspective of the narrator themselves.

For example, if you were to write a good narrative essay, you may choose a story about a particularly interesting holiday you had. This is another key point – this type of paper should be interesting and engaging – you are telling a story and want to intrigue your readers. Bold and exciting language should be used, and other engaging literary techniques – we will look at this in more detail below as we discuss how to write a narrative paper.

What should a narrative essay include?

This type of assignment usually should follow a set structure. You can find some of the main features to your narrative essay below.

  • First person perspective – This is an important aspect – usually a narrative essay is told from a first-person perspective, i.e. you were there and part of the event. The writer is re-telling a story. You must, therefore, use first person language.

For example, you could write; “I could see the first colossal icebergs rearing into view – they loomed eerily in the distance and floated past our ship like gigantic white skyscrapers – I had arrived in Antarctica”. This is using a first-person account of the events – it adds a personal element to the story.

  • Storytelling elements – Another hugely important aspect, your narrative essay should tell a story. This means that it should have structure and the events should unfold in a logical manner. The story should have a beginning, main events and ending. It should usually run in a linear timeline, but you can switch between places and locations to give excitement and build suspense.
  • Characters – Even an autobiographical narrative should still have characters. Characters add a human element and make the story more relatable. Using characters can help convey emotion, behavior and actions – it helps give depth to your paper.
  • Central Theme or Motif – Most effective narrations will have a central theme. For example, the narrative paragraph written above about Antarctica could have a theme of travel and adventure, or exploring the unknown. By giving a story a central theme, you can help focus your writing. Continually reference the theme and try to build up the motif within your text.
  • Dialogue – Dialogue is another hugely important part of this form of paper. Dialogue is an essential speech between two or more people. Dialogue helps to create characters’ interactions and also helps you build their personality within the story. Without dialogue, your characters will appear bland and uninteresting – they will seem fake.

We could add to the above Antarctica text, for example, the following: “…I had arrived in Antarctica. Jamie echoed my sentiments, “I can’t believe we are finally here – those icebergs are just the beginning” he said.” This shows that Jamie is also inspired and that the reader should expect more excitement and fantastic sites to come.

How to structure and write your narrative essay?

Now we can look at how to write a narrative essay. The narrative essay structure is quite straightforward. There are usually only three main parts to the structure – an introduction, main body, and conclusion. These parts must be fleshed out with interesting and engaging content to keep your readers hooked and intrigued. We look at these three specific structural sections in more detailed way below:

  • Introduction – The introduction helps set the tone of the text. It should include a thesis statement, i.e. what your story is about and what subjects will be discussed. Without an intro, your readers will stay without a clear idea of what they are reading or why. The intro should answer these questions – introduce the central theme, main characters, and location. When a reader has finished the intro, they should have a clear idea of what to expect from the rest of the text.
  • Body – The body is the main bulk of your text. This is where you will regale your story. The body should include a description of the location and the key people involved. Moreover, it should then go on to build up the key events and unfold them in a logical manner.

For example, if we look at the Antarctica journey, you could start by describing the wild and barren continent of Antarctica itself. You could then describe some of your fellow travelers who have taken the journey with you. Next, you could describe the approach by boat and culminate with the main event – stepping foot on the continent and seeing the huge colonies of Gentoo penguins. The body should be finished with the main event and a resolution to the story.

  • Conclusion – The conclusion neatly ties up the story. A conclusion can describe the significance of the event, or outline the moral that should be learned. It could also include a call to action that prompts the reader to do something such as make a purchase, read some material, or attempt the adventure themselves. For example, using our Antarctica example, the call to action could be to inspire people to travel to the white continent themselves.

What topics could be suitable for a narrative essay?

Now that you understand what a narrative essay is and how it is structured, we will finish by providing some examples. Before we start, a narrative essay could be about practically anything. Providing that it follows the outline and structure we listed above and contains elements such as speech and character development, the subject could be any type of story.

The following are some examples of narrative essay subject:

  • A sporting event
  • An incident at work or college
  • A holiday
  • A seasonal event such as Christmas day
  • A party
  • Childhood memories
  • A romantic encounter
  • A family gathering

As you can see the subject really can be varied – anything you can think of or any personal experience you have had could be used as a narrative story. Be creative! Think of what subjects are interesting and what would make an exciting story.

We hope you have found this article enlightening. It is quite easy to describe this form of paper and delight your readers. You just need to understand the format and structure – make use of our guidelines, tips and help, and you will be writing superb narrative essays in no time at all! Don’t forget that if you are struggling on a personal level, you can ask our custom writing service for help. Our experts can help write your essay and take away an unnecessary strain and stress!

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