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Tips for Writing a Personal Narrative Essay

What is a Narrative Essay

❶Still, you need an introductory paragraph that sets the tone and tells the reader what this story is about.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

Tips for Writing your Personal Narrative Essay
Example of Narrative Writing
Writing an Impactful Personal Narrative Essay

Where does it end? Writing up a quick list of the major plot points in the story is a good way of making sure you hit all the high points. Every story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. It helps to limit things as much as possible. While it might seem like we need to know a bunch of specific details from your senior year, try to think of a particularly tumultuous day from that year and tell us that story.

Where does that story start? Not the first day of school that year. Find a better starting point. If you want to tell the story of your prom night, does it start when you get dressed? Does it start when you spill spaghetti sauce all down your dress before the dance? While that might seem like the climax of a story you want to tell, it might make a better starting place. Go straight to the drama. You don't need to write up a formal outline for a narrative essay unless it's part of the assignment or it really helps you write.

Listing the major scenes that need to be a part of the story will help you get organized and find a good place to start. Use a consistent point of view. Generally, narrative essays will be written in first person, making use of "I" statements, which is a little unusual compared to other assignments you'll be given in school. Whether you're giving us scenes with dialog, or discussing what happened in past-tense, it's perfectly fine to use first person in a narrative essay. This is a difficult and advanced technique to try to pull off, and it usually has the effect of being too complicated.

There should only be one "I" in the story. In general, narrative essays and short stories for that matter should also be told in past tense. So, you would write "Johnny and I walked to the store every Thursday" not "Johnny and I are walking to the store, like we do every Thursday.

If so, be consistent with your pronouns throughout the story. Describe the important characters. Who else is important to the story, other than yourself? Who else was present when the story took place. Who affected the outcome of the story?

What specific, particular details can you remember about the people in the story? Use these to help build the characters into real people. Particular details are specific and only particular to the character being described.

While it may be specific to say that your friend has brown hair, green eyes, is 5 feet tall with an athletic build, these things don't tell us much about the character. The fact that he only wears silk dragon shirts? Now that gives us something interesting. Try writing up a brief sketch of each principal character in your narrative essay, along with the specific details you remember about them. Pick a few essentials. Find the antagonist and conflict. Good narratives often have a protagonist and an antagonist, which is what creates the conflict.

The protagonist is usually the main character in most narrative essays, that'll be you who is struggling with something. It might be a situation, a condition, or a force, but whatever the case, a protagonist wants something and the reader roots for them. The antagonist is the thing or person who keeps the protagonist from getting what they want. Who or what is the antagonist in your story? To answer this question, you also need to find out what the protagonist wants.

What is the goal? What's the best case scenario for the protagonist? What stands in the protagonist's way? The antagonist isn't "the bad guy" of the story, necessarily, and not every story has a clear antagonist.

Also keep in mind that for some good personal narratives, you might be the antagonist yourself. Just as important to a good story as the characters and the plot is the setting. Where does the story take place? In the city or the country? Describe the location that the story takes place and let the setting become part of your story.

Do a freewrite about the location that your story takes place. What do you know about the place? What can you remember? What can you find out? If you do any research for your narrative essay, it will probably be here. Try to find out extra details about the setting of your story, or double-check your memory to make sure it's right. Good writing is in the details. Even the most boring office environment or the dullest town can be made compelling with the right kinds of details in the writing.

Remember to use particulars—unique details that don't describe anything else but the specific thing you're writing about, and let these vivid details drive the story. You might tell us something like, "My dad was always sad that year," but if you wrote "Dad never spoke when he got home from work. We heard his truck, then heard as he laid his battered hardhat on the kitchen table. Then we heard him sigh deeply and take off his work clothes, which were stained with grease.

Make sure your theme is clearly illustrated in the story. After you've written your rough draft, read back over it with an eye for your theme. Whatever the purpose of your telling us the story that you're telling us needs to be made very clear. The last thing you want is for the reader to get to the end and say, "Good story, but who cares?

Get the theme into the very beginning of the essay. Just as a researched argument essay needs to have a thesis statement somewhere in the first few paragraphs of the essay, a narrative essay needs a topic statement or a thesis statement to explain the main idea of the story.

This isn't "ruining the surprise" of the story, this is foreshadowing the important themes and details to notice over the course of the story as you tell it. A good writer doesn't need suspense in a narrative essay.

The ending should seem inevitable. Use scenes and analyses. All narratives are made of two kinds of writing: Scenes happen when you need to slow down and tell specific details about an important moment of the story.

Scenes are small moments that take a while to read. An analysis is used to narrate the time between scenes. They are longer moments that you read over more quickly. I didn't know what to tell him. I fidgeted, kicked an empty paint bucket that was rusted over at the edge of the lot. We got a turkey, cornbread, cranberries.

The store was crazy-packed with happy holiday shoppers, but we walked through them all, not saying a word to each other. It took forever to lug it all home. Use and format dialogue correctly. When you're writing a narrative essay, it's typically somewhere between a short story and a regular essay that you might write for school. You'll have to be familiar with the conventions of formatting both types of writing, and since most narrative essays will involve some dialogue, you should make formatting that dialogue correctly a part of your revision process.

Anything spoken by a character out loud needs to be included in quotation marks and attributed to the character speaking it: Each time a new character speaks, you need to make a new paragraph. If the same character speaks, multiple instances of dialog can exist in the same paragraph. Revision is the most important part of writing.

Nobody, even the most experienced writers, get it right on the very first run through. Get a draft finished ahead of time and give yourself the chance to go back through your story carefully and see it again. How could it be improved? Revise for clarity first. Are your main points clear? If not, make them clear by including more details or narration in the writing.

Hammer home your points. Was the decision you made about the starting place of the story correct? Or, now that you've written, might it be better to start the story later? Ask the tough questions. Proofreading is one part of revision, but it's a very minor part and it should be done last. Checking punctuation and spelling is the last thing you should be worried about in your narrative essay. Sample Essay Sample Narrative Essay.

You could start a narrative with adjectives describing the setting. For example, "It was a cold, rainy night. This can't be happening. Not Helpful 23 Helpful Can I write in the third person to narrate my personal story or does it have to be in the first person? Yes, of course you can write in the third person, just try to stay consistent.

Not Helpful 1 Helpful In the introduction, you may want to put the reader right into the story, so consider jumping right into the story. The introduction should help the reader understand what the essay will be about, but keep it short. Not Helpful 33 Helpful In a narrative essay, the conclusion sums up what has already been written, and should neatly wrap up the topic. Don't repeat yourself word for word, but paraphrase the main idea.

The first sentence should be similar to the topic sentence, and you should work your way to an interesting thought in the last sentence which will leave the reader with something to think about. Not Helpful 31 Helpful Include the date in the opening sentence. You may say "It was November 27, Not Helpful 22 Helpful A narrative essay is focused on telling a story and can include dialogue; a descriptive essay is more focused on describing something in detail.

Sometimes a descriptive essay can also be a narrative essay, if what you're describing is an event. And a narrative essay can certainly contain some description. But generally, they are distinct types of essays. Not Helpful 25 Helpful It really depends on the given task. Not all essays really have a moral.

A tale about a trip to Canada or a continuation of a story wouldn't have a moral. Not Helpful 18 Helpful I am writing a narrative. It has to be about an animal, yet the readers are not allowed to know it is an animal.

What can I do? You can describe what you do that "shows" what you are. For example, if you are a squirrel, you can say you scrambled up a tree to escape from a dog. Not Helpful 4 Helpful Revising will help you fix any mistakes you've made, and everyone makes mistakes. You might even want to have someone else read over your essay to make sure everything makes sense. Not Helpful 1 Helpful 8. The focus of a narrative essay is the plot, which is told using enough details to build to a climax.

All of these elements need to seamlessly combine. A few examples of narrative essays follow. Narrative essays can be quite long, so here only the beginnings of essays are included:. This excerpt about learning new things and new situations is an example of a personal narrative essay that describes learning to swim.

The following excerpt is a narrative essay about a manager who was a great leader. Notice the intriguing first sentence that captures your attention right away. This excerpt from The Climb also captures your attention right away by creating a sense of mystery. The reader announces that he or she has "this fear" and you want to read on to see what that fear is.

The following narrative essay involves a parent reflecting on taking his kids to Disneyland for the first time. The following essay contains descriptive language that helps to paint a vivid picture for the reader of an interesting encounter.

When writing a narrative essay, remember that you are sharing sensory and emotional details with the reader. Retrieved September 14th, , from http: By continuing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Please set a username for yourself. People will see it as Author Name with your public flash cards.

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While narrative essays are non-fiction, elements of fiction should not be ignored. True stories also benefit from the writer’s ability to use plot-building techniques. 3. Revising a Narrative Essay. In the revision phase, students review, modify, and reorganize their work with the goal of making it the best it can be.

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Tips for Writing a Personal Narrative Essay By YourDictionary Writing an engaging personal narrative essay requires you to focus on both the key points of information to be conveyed as well as the many details which make the narrative essay interesting.

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How to Write Narrative Essay: Basic Steps and Tips. Writing process of this kind of a paper is also a great experience to feel. Your future depends on narrative essay topics extremely. You are reflecting the event and giving the experience to other people – your readers; this is the most exciting part of this type of articles. When writing your personal narrative essay, you’ll want to lead your readers on and get them interested in your story from the get-go. You can do that by throwing them right into the middle of your story and giving the minute (but relevant!) details of the scene so they can imagine what’s going one.

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A narrative college essay is a type of assignment that tells a story from your own life. It’s not as structured and demanding as other types of academic papers, such as argumentative projects for instance. Tips For Writing Narrative Essay What structure does a narrative essay have? The structure of such texts is pretty simple and is the same as a standard paper structure but it’s always good to have something to rely on while writing an essay.