How to Write a Narrative Essay and Get the Top Mark? — Topics, Definition, Structure

There comes a time when you have to write a narrative essay. It is not hard to come up with one but if you want something to endear your readers then there are some things you should know. Now that I’ve got your attention let’s try to understand how to go into writing a top narrative paper.


  • What Is a Narrative Essay?
  • Finding the Purpose of a Narrative Paper
  • Features that You Must Have in Your Narrative Paper
  • Planning Your Essay
  • 5 Steps to Write a Narrative Paper
  • Rules for Writing a Narrative Essay
  • Things to Remember

narrative essay

What Is a Narrative Essay?

narrative essay

It is a story written based on a personal experience. It may be written on how you developed a new skill, an adventure you had or any other personal story you can come up with. You only rely on your experience and writing skills to come up with this essay. Nevertheless, this does not give you freedom to write it just how you want. In fact, there is a defined way to go about it. Moreover, if you want a story that will appeal to the readers you have to follow some rules.

narrative essay

Now that you know what a narrative paper is you would want to know how to write it and come up with an A+ plus essay.

Finding the Purpose of a Narrative Paper

narrative essay

When writing such essay you need to know why you are writing it. You ought to have a reason why you are doing it. Here are a few purposes that you may focus on as you write your paper:

  • Source of insights: do you want your essay to be used by people as a source of ideas on how to do or overcome situations? If this is what you want then your sole reason is to write an insightful piece. You are trying to reach out to people and tell them how you did something and if you did it in the right way.
  • Psychological healing essay: we all go through troubling periods. Good news is that you never gave up. You should let people know how you were able to do what you did and now you are here telling them about it. Such an essay provides some kind of healing and it is good to be read by others.
  • Entertaining Narrative story: you may want to tell your story but only to entertain others. This is one of the most popular narratives that people find easy to read and follow. But do not be carried away by the fun and do not forget this was all about your personal experience story.
  • Bring people together by sharing a story: you have your story and others have theirs too. By sharing it you may reach out to others who have a similar tale. You get to bring people together and they learn of their shared history.

The purpose of your narrative is the first step to coming up with something thrilling; an essay that people will not stop reading until they get to the last full stop. So find your purpose of the story and tell it with that purpose as your focus.

narrative essay

Features that You Must Have in Your Narrative Paper

narrative essaynarrative essay

Each of the essays has specific features that differ them from one another. The same goes for a narrative story. For it to be called a narrative, here are the characteristics you must have in yours:

  • Communicate the main idea: your story may be so diversified that you can cover too much. But most importantly it must have the main idea: you are not writing aimlessly. This is what you have set out to tell people about you. It is what your story is all about and it should come out strongly. Do not let readers start guessing what you are talking about. Get them to the main idea as soon as you start writing.
  • Personal point of view: you are the author and you are telling a story. Your voice and your ideas should be clear. Let readers identify you and want to know more about you. Your narrative is not complete if your persona is missing from it.
  • Keen observation: as people read your story they want to feel like they were there with you. They want to feel as they were a part of your story. The only way to do that is to bring in vivid descriptions from your personal observations on places, people and things around you.
  • Create conflicts, tension and at the end bring a change: you are not telling a story just because it is good. In fact, most narratives are about bad times. You should create tensions and conflicts in your essay. Let readers see how it was difficult to be you at that time. But at the end, bring a change (and a good one for that matter).

Planning Your Essay

narrative essay

There is a formula for writing this kind of an essay. It is not just grabbing a pen and paper to tell your story. If you are looking forward to coming up with a story that will meet your goals then you have to plan it. Here are 3 crucial aspects that should go into your plans:

  • Select an incidence worth telling: there are so many things that have happened in your life. But not all of them are worth telling. You need a story that will be read by others, thus it should be interesting. Sort out all the incidents in your life and find the one that will be a catch. We always have a story to tell so you will find at least one.
  • Create relevance in that incidence: how relevant is your story to the people you target as readers? It must be relevant or else you are just writing for yourself. It should be informative and add value to their lives. If you capture this in your story then be assured it will be read wide and far.
  • Adding up details to make your story real: this is not a fiction; it is your true story. You have to find a way to make it real. You should craft your story in such a way readers can relate to it. Give it a personal touch with befitting details.

This is the phase you have been waiting for: Getting down and writing your essay. Let’s get down to it with 5 crucial steps.

5 Steps to Write a Narrative Paper

narrative essay

  1. Prewriting stage: this is just before you begin to write. You should sit down and think about the most interesting incidences in your life. Pick out the best one and prepare to write on it. Get all the things you need, for once you start writing the story must never stop.

Choosing your topic falls here and you should consider all the things we discussed in part one. It is easier to find a purpose for your narrative once you have settled for a title so do them in that order. It is still here where you should come up with an outline. This will come in handy once you start working on your draft.

  1. The draft: you are now all set to have ink on paper. You are beginning to write. You already have an outline so go for the opening sentence. How you break into your story will have so much to do with how people are going to react to it. They will either read it or dismiss it for lack of convincing touch at the beginning.

Open the story with some pomp. Not that much of a colorful first sentence but something you are sure will make everyone out there want to read it. There are so many dramatic ways to open a story so you will find one that works.

Once you start do not let your hands off the pen. Keep writing. Personal stories flow better if you do not stop thinking. Follow your outline and ensure that there are transitions from one part to the other.

Remember that you will be using “I” since this is your story. You will beef up your true scenarios with descriptions from your personal observations. As you do so, remember to bring the readers into it. Make them feel like they are right there observing what you are telling them.

  1. Revising your draft: you did not stop to make any corrections in your draft. That is because you wanted your narrative to flow. It means you need to go over it and see any errors you might have made. See whether each section fits into each other. Look for grammar, syntax and morphology mistakes. Correct them as you go through the story.

One revision is not enough; go over it for the second time. Your main focus will be on how the story unfolds. You should ensure that you have captured all that is expected in this kind of an essay. Ask yourself these questions: have I involved the audience? Do I have vivid descriptions and observations? Does each part fit into each other? And so forth.

  1. Ending your story: just like starting your narrative, ending well is crucial. You do not just leave where you decide that it is enough. You have to go all the way until you give an indication that this is the end. It must be an ending that will leave readers wanting to read your next piece. Probably you leave them in a good suspense or hint to them that you will be back with another tale. Do not let readers regret that they came all the way to the end only to be disappointed with how you wrap up things.
  2. Giving your essay to a second party just to make sure: you do not want the embarrassment that may come when you are presenting your narrative only to find that you made gross errors. Your friend should help you to avoid such scenarios. Give him or her to go over your piece. Accept any corrections that may come. Now after this, you are sure your paper is almost 100% perfect.

Rules for Writing a Narrative Essay

narrative essay

This essay does not end with just writing your tale. There are conventions that you must adhere to. Here they are:

  • Narratives should be written in the first person voice i.e. I and we. In very rare occasions you can use the third person such as he, she, they or it.
  • There is a format for all narratives: there is the plot, characters, setting, the beginning, climax and the ending. All of these should be in your piece to make it complete.
  • You have to give details: the success of your essay is hinged on your details. You may have the best story to tell but without details, it is just a skeleton that no one will spare time to read. Get details around your incidences and make them real. Do not focus much on adding gloss to your story and forget that this is something true you are telling.

Things to Remember

narrative essay

There are things that you should not leave out in your story. They should be present at all time if you intend to make this a catching narrative that everyone wants to read. Here are a few things to remember:

  • A narrative is all about the story. Without the story, you do not have anything to tell and your intentions will fall apart. Find a way to build your ideas around the story but make sure you narrate it from the start to the end.
  • Involving the audience is vital. Readers are not just mere followers of what you are writing. They would really appreciate if you take them into your story. Instead of retelling them an incidence, recreate it for them. Make them feel like they are there with you. This is one of the best ways to grab the attention of readers and have them reading your essay not once but a couple of times.
  • Find a generalization that supports your story. It will be boring if you just tell your story plainly. You need to find a generalization to make things livelier. Creativity should be seen in all your scenarios. This is sure bait that will get readers going over your story and still want to do it all over again. But as you do this, ensure that you do not steer away from your purpose and the course of truth.

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