In many subjects, you will have to compose a narrative essay that will show how good you are at exploring your own attitudes, experiences, emotions, etc. A common narrative piece of writing focuses on one single event from the writer’s life or on series of events that significantly influenced the way he/she perceives modern world. Usually a narrative essay includes two parts: a discussion of the story and a reflection of its significance and meaning to the writer.

Narrative essays can be a part of bigger projects in academic writing. They explore personal experiences and emotions in relation to the given topic. However, oftentimes, students are asked to make up narrative stories and discuss whatever topic they want. In any narrative paper, there should be a “higher context,” meaning that you should not only discuss an event or sequence of events in detail, but also prove that there was something more than just a story. The second part of your narrative paper should be dedicated to the discussion of what it takes to experience the same situation and what conclusions you can draw from it.

Since narrative pieces of writing are usually deeply personal, it is very hard to start writing and organize ideas in your head. You should remember that it is highly advisable to begin your work from writing a draft, which will give you a chance to get a good grade for the assignment.

When Are Narrative Essays Assigned?

Writing a narrative essay is mostly seen during the first year of studying, especially in literature classes. At the same time, you can be asked to write a narrative essay if you would like to apply for a grant or scholarship, win a trip to another country, become a member of a volunteer organization, etc. In addition, students might also write narrative papers in philosophy classes, when their teachers want to see how good they are at critiquing themselves; in religion classes, when instructors want to see if students’ religious background influences their attitudes and behaviors, etc.

Get Started: Resort to Brainstorming

If you do not know how to start a narrative essay, you should think which event you would like to discuss. It will guide you in the right direction. The easiest way to generate appropriate ideas is to use some brainstorming techniques that will help you gather all possible ideas about the topic. Be very careful with the choice of topic. People usually remember negative experiences more vividly than positive ones. At the same time, mind your future audience and the purpose of writing. If your narrative paper will be read by your instructor, do not discuss very personal moments. There should be a clear boarder between your personal life and experiences you can share with others. While brainstorming ideas about the chosen topic, simply write down what you think, without investigating their meaning. Later on, you will cross our irrelevant ideas and check if the existing ones will constitute high quality writing.

Writing Your First Draft

A good narrative essay is the one that goes down to an outline, draft, and its revision. Do not think that you will be able to write an excellent paper without revisions and drafting. If you have already chosen a topic and generated some good ideas, now it’s time to explore the issue from multiple perspectives. In narrative writing, you should focus on many sensory and descriptive details that will make reading compelling and cognitive. Your task is not only to re-tell the events, but make readers “absorb” a lesson through your own words.

Here are some questions that might be useful for your narrative paper:

  • Where did the situation happen? Focus on the setting of event.
    • How everything looked like?
    • What did you hear?
    • What was the smell?
    • Was there anything unusual from the common life situations?
  • Who participated in the event?
    • Give a precise analysis and description of participants: who they are, how they looked like, and so on.
    • Did you notice anything strange/unusual in communication?
  • What were your feelings?
    • Was there a change of feelings?
    • What was the reason for it?

Revise the Draft

In any narrative essay definition, you will see that the primary purpose of writing is to retell a story. However, you should adhere to modern writing standards and choose at least one writing pattern. You can describe events from the least important to the most important or do it in a chronological order.

While writing narrative essays, your teacher will always ask you to write in a chronological order, so that your discussion will sound sensible and logical. However, in order to make your piece of writing interesting, you can begin writing from the middle of an event and then go back to the beginning. Sometimes students discuss the results of an event and then go back to the exploration of what happened. Your teacher will definitely appreciate it and will see that you are not afraid to explore something new in your writing. However, make sure that there are no logical gaps if you intend to use flashbacks to the past or future.

You can find some ideas for a narrative essay on the web. However, if you borrow some of them for your paper, be sure you properly cite them to avoid plagiarism. You can also read some sample papers to know for sure how your future paper should be organized.

Here is a checklist to see if you succeeded in writing or not:

  • Did you discuss a story from a particular point of view?
  • Is there a thesis statement?
  • Did you include interesting details?
  • Do you have enough supporting examples?
  • Did you include all the elements of storytelling?
  • Is there a clear paper organization or division into paragraphs?
  • Did you proofread your essay before submission?
  • Did you adhere to one of the referencing styles?