Narrative Essay Main Idea

In a narrative essay you tell a story, often about a personal experience, but you also make a point. So, the purpose is not only to tell an entertaining tale but also show the reason for the story and the importance of the experience.    

Narrative Essays: To Tell a Story

There are four types of essays:

  • Exposition - gives factual information about various topics to the reader. 
  • Description - describes in colorful detail the characteristics and traits of a person, place, or thing. 
  • Argument - convinces the reader by demonstrating the truth or falsity of a topic. 
  • Narrative - tells a vivid story, usually from one person’s viewpoint.

A narrative essay uses all the story elements - a beginning, middle and ending, plot, characters, setting and climax - all coming together to complete the story.

Essential Elements of Narrative Essays

The focus of a narrative essay is the plot, which is told using enough details to build to a climax. Here's how:

  • It is usually told chronologically.
  • It has a purpose, which is usually stated in the opening sentence.
  • It may use dialogue.
  • It is written with sensory details and bright descriptions to involve the reader. All these details relate in some way to the main point the writer is making.

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:

Learning Can Be Scary

This excerpt about learning new things and new situations is an example of a personal narrative essay that describes learning to swim.

“Learning something new can be a scary experience. One of the hardest things I've ever had to do was learn how to swim. I was always afraid of the water, but I decided that swimming was an important skill that I should learn. I also thought it would be good exercise and help me to become physically stronger. What I didn't realize was that learning to swim would also make me a more confident person.
New situations always make me a bit nervous, and my first swimming lesson was no exception. After I changed into my bathing suit in the locker room, I stood timidly by the side of the pool waiting for the teacher and other students to show up. After a couple of minutes the teacher came over. She smiled and introduced herself, and two more students joined us. Although they were both older than me, they didn't seem to be embarrassed about not knowing how to swim. I began to feel more at ease.”

The Manager. The Leader.

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.

“Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, 'If I were any better, I would be twins!' He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.”

The Climb

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.

“I have this fear. It causes my legs to shake. I break out in a cold sweat. I start jabbering to anyone who is nearby. As thoughts of certain death run through my mind, the world appears a precious, treasured place. I imagine my own funeral, then shrink back at the implications of where my thoughts are taking me. My stomach feels strange. My palms are clammy. I am terrified of heights. Of course, it’s not really a fear of being in a high place. Rather, it is the view of a long way to fall, of rocks far below me and no firm wall between me and the edge. My sense of security is screamingly absent. There are no guardrails, flimsy though I picture them, or other safety devices. I can rely only on my own surefootedness—or lack thereof.”

Disneyland

The following narrative essay involves a parent reflecting on taking his kids to Disneyland for the first time.

“It was a hot, sunny day, when I finally took my kids to the Disneyland. My son Matthew and my daughter Audra endlessly asked me to show them the dreamland of many children, with Mickey Mouse and Snow White walking by and arousing a huge portion of emotions. Somehow these fairy-tale creatures can make children happy without such 'small' presents as $100 Lego or a Barbie house with six rooms and garden furniture. Therefore, I thought that Disneyland was a good invention for loving parents.”

The Sacred Grove of Oshogbo by Jeffrey Tayler

The following essay contains descriptive language that helps to paint a vivid picture for the reader of an interesting encounter.

“As I passed through the gates I heard a squeaky voice. A diminutive middle-aged man came out from behind the trees — the caretaker. He worked a toothbrush-sized stick around in his mouth, digging into the crevices between algae'd stubs of teeth. He was barefoot; he wore a blue batik shirt known as a buba, baggy purple trousers, and an embroidered skullcap. I asked him if he would show me around the shrine. Motioning me to follow, he spat out the results of his stick work and set off down the trail.”

Playground Memory

This excerpt from “Playground Memory” has very good sensory details.

“Looking back on a childhood filled with events and memories, I find it rather difficult to pick on that leaves me with the fabled “warm and fuzzy feelings.” As the daughter of an Air Force Major, I had the pleasure of traveling across America in many moving trips. I have visited the monstrous trees of the Sequoia National Forest, stood on the edge of the Grande Canyon and have jumped on the beds at Caesar’s Palace in Lake Tahoe. However, I have discovered that when reflecting on my childhood, it is not the trips that come to mind, instead there are details from everyday doings; a deck of cards, a silver bank or an ice cream flavor. One memory that comes to mind belongs to a day of no particular importance. It was late in the fall in Merced, California on the playground of my old elementary school; an overcast day with the wind blowing strong. I stood on the blacktop, pulling my hoodie over my ears. The wind was causing miniature tornados; we called them “dirt devils”, to swarm around me.”

Christmas Cookies

This excerpt from “Christmas Cookies” makes good use of descriptive language.

“Although I have grown up to be entirely inept at the art of cooking, as to make even the most wretched chef ridicule my sad baking attempts, my childhood would have indicated otherwise; I was always on the countertop next to my mother’s cooking bowl, adding and mixing ingredients that would doubtlessly create a delicious food. When I was younger, cooking came intrinsically with the holiday season, which made that time of year the prime occasion for me to unite with ounces and ounces of satin dark chocolate, various other messy and gooey ingredients, numerous cooking utensils, and the assistance of my mother to cook what would soon be an edible masterpiece. The most memorable of the holiday works of art were our Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, which my mother and I first made when I was about six and are now made annually.”  

Tips on Writing a Narrative Essay

When writing a narrative essay, remember that you are sharing sensory and emotional details with the reader.

  • Your words need to be vivid and colorful to help the reader feel the same feelings that you felt.
  • Elements of the story need to support the point you are making and you need to remember to make reference to that point in the first sentence.
  • You should make use of conflict and sequence like in any story.
  • You may use flashbacks and flash forwards to help the story build to a climax.
  • It is usually written in the first person, but third person may also be used.

Remember, a well-written narrative essay tells a story and also makes a point.

Do you have a good example to share? Add your example here.

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Narrative Essay Examples

By YourDictionary

In a narrative essay you tell a story, often about a personal experience, but you also make a point. So, the purpose is not only to tell an entertaining tale but also show the reason for the story and the importance of the experience.    

How to write a narrative essay and how to make it an interesting piece of art to read? You don’t need to get something big and fancy. Just tell a story in an interesting manner and create a perfectly-organized paper.

Let our team of writers explain to you what is a narrative essay, its goal, mission. Remember, you can always order any paper from us at the most reasonable price.

What is a Narrative Essay

What is a narrative essay? These are writing tasks that students are assigned to complete at various moments of their high school and college life. This type of writing involves telling a story from your life that is relevant to the theme you have in class. The narrative essay may be enjoyable and fun if you take a right approach. Proceed reading to learn how to write a narrative essay.

The structure of your paper is very similar to all those typical essays you’ve already written. It goes with the same typical 5 paragraph structure:

  • Introduction – goes with one paragraph to present your topic and idea.
  • Body – has three or more paragraphs to tell the actual story.
  • Conclusion – is the short summary of your thoughts and consequences.

How to Choose Narrative Essay Topics

It is always hard to start. Think about a story that describes a topic given by your tutor. The paper should involve two components:

  • Narration (story)
  • Analysis of that narrative

Your essay can be about some theme, concept, or topic illustrated with the help of your personal narrative essay story.

These papers do not involve any outside sources or research. Various how to write a narrative essay articles state that your personal story is the source of evidence. It is a support for a statement you are up to make. It is absolutely true.

It is a perfect way to test students’ creative skills of storytelling, their ability to connect your experience to a theme discussed in class.

How to Write a Narrative Essay Introduction

An effective essay tells a specific story with clear details. The way is comprehensive.  It is not a novel. You should make it concise and fairly contained.  Limit it regarding setting, plot, and characters. Choose a story from your life, like a family vacation, a weekend with a friend, a spoiled holiday, or anything like that.

  • Broad stories make a bad essay. Avoid narrative essay introduction starting with “This summer,” or “In my childhood” as they are far too big to highlight specific details required for a story writing.
  • Pick an event from your childhood or your summer, not something that takes a long time to unfold.
  • Also, limit the number of characters in your story. Include only those who are essential. Every friend from your childhood years will be too much. Pick one of them. Then come up with the title for your paper.

How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline

Outline the plot before you begin your writing. Where does it start and where does it end? Write down a list of the most important marks in your story. It is the best way of making sure you will include everything and do not miss anything. You need to include the components of a narrative:

  • The beginning
  • The middle
  • And the end

An outline helps to limit things and keeps you focused on the important marks only. Your narrative essay outline should not be a formal one. This part really helps you write. Include major scenes and organize them.

How to Write a Narrative Essay Conclusion

The Conclusion is your last step and final word in the story. Restate your aim and consider few main tips:

  • Do not forget that your Conclusion is not just the end of a story.
  • A conclusion has to continue a sequence of facts presented earlier.
  • Do not blur the timeline as you write: let the audience track your sequence of events.
  • You learn something and tell about your discovery to the others in Conclusion.
  • Do not leave the reader without a finale, which is not very good if it is not your literary device.
  • Your essay has to make people interested even after they finished reading.

Narrative Essay Example of Storytelling

The setting is a very important part of a good story. You should mention the place where the characters are and where the story occurs. Is it a city, or a country? Is it home? Outside? Describe the location where the situation occurs and make it a part of your narration. 

Make sure that a topic is illustrated in the story clearly

After you have written your narrative essay conclusion, read the entire paper once more and look for your theme. The relevance to the main statement you make should be very clear. Don’t leave your reader with a question. Answer it before he/she gets the chance to ask.

How to Write Narrative Essay: Basic Steps and Tips     

Writing process of this type of a paper is also a great experience. 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. We are going to talk about it later. Now let’s get some tips structured:

  • A piece of writing recreating the experience through time is called a narrative essay.
  • You can base your essay on your own experiences on the experiences of other people. No matter past or present.
  • You are not just telling a story; you are also giving the idea and lesson to your reader.
Starting steps:
  • You should find and identify the experience you are going to write about.
  • The experience should be significant.
  • You should focus on recollecting the details of your experience.
  • You should create an outline and imagine the basic parts.
Writing:
  • You should use your outline to describe all parts of your essay.
  • Try not just to describe the thing was happening. Tell your reader how and why it was happening.
  • Try to become your reader and to think like them.
  • Remember that for your readers you are the main source of information about your experience.
  • Don’t forget about small details.
Revising:
  • If you have finished your draft, try to spend some time away from it. Then read it with your fresh mind and eye.
  • You can ask some people to read your narrative and tell you their impressions.
  • Ed more details where they are needed.
  • Remove some parts and sentences that seem to be unnecessary.
  • Try to use the most effective order to present your information.

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What is a Personal Narrative Essay

This type of papers is often quite personal. That is why people call this type of papers a personal narrative essay. You give the readers insight into your experience. Just tell them about the things that changed you somehow making a difference for the rest of your life. We’ve all had these moments something changes our views. It influences our personality. This task is a great opportunity to write about it.

Choose a topic that allows you to provide a relevant story. Then just follow it. The idea of a compelling first-person narration is not the only one. The paper can entertain your readers, excite them or even help them get over a hard period in their lives. The stories of people who’ve overcome disorders or those who managed to get out of a really difficult crisis are very similar to narrative essays. Think of the way your essay can help others follow you. It will help them to overcome the problems they have.

The narrative essay seems to take its rightful place among the most exciting writing tasks for those who fancy creative assignments. It is not a definition essay or anything of that type. It is quite close to the experience of a real writer: you have to tell a story a personal narrative essay story that will touch the readers. It is a great chance to unleash your creative side not worrying about enough research or referencing. You just write from your heart.

How to Present Your Story

The way you tell your story and the way you felt at that time is just as important as the sequence of facts itself. The same situation can be perceived in different ways by different people. All the important things in your narrative essay are about the changes in your life, your ideas, your worldview.

Your story does not have to be too serious if the subject is not tough. The stories of serious crises are a good. It is not the only option. You can write about a funny situation that affected you somehow or can tell about something important. Or how you have learned that it is necessary to be more forgiving to people.

Why is it Important to Learn How to Write a Narrative Essay

Why write a narrative essay? Most of the students don’t see any reason for it. They take it as yet another kill-time writing task and do it just for the sake of a grade. Who would take the tell-the-story assignment seriously? 

That is a shallow perception of narrative essay writing. It seems to be a waste of time for students. It is an opportunity for them to display their creativity and writing style. I admit it. This type of essay may not be the most important academic assignment like a research paper. It is rather a tool that helps reach the summit of writing craft.

Narratives Teach Us to:

  • To be concise. This is a problem with many students and even professional writers who don’t want to learn how to write a narrative essay correctly. They drag out an idea for several paragraphs if it can be covered in few words. This isn’t the message of great value that they convey, it’s just waffling without a concrete answer to the question. This is where narrating stories can help you work out brevity of writing. Just define the purpose of the story and try to stick to the core.
  • To be creative. It’s not for nothing that an essay is that frequently assigned at schools and colleges. Every time you are asked to tell a story you are expected to come up with new, fresh ideas. If you practice different approaches, you make progress. You write in monotonous style, you just make no headway. Hence your writing and thinking skills remain at the old-time level.
  • To be eloquent. A good engaging story depends on words. Carefully chosen, targeted to get the message across the audience, they absorb reader in a story. This is a good way to enrich your vocabulary and polish writing style. This is because story includes descriptions, characters, and a plot that has to be dynamic.
  • To express yourself with confidence. Remember, you write narratives not just to fit academic standards and earn a grade. The real value of this genre lies in making you express your bold views without being afraid that it’s not appropriate. It also helps a writer find his voice and come to realize that his ideas have value.

Few Classic Narrative Essay Topics

  • A childhood event. You can tell about your any first-time experience.
  • Achieving a goal. Tell people about the greatest important achievement in your life? It can be some easy achievement. It will be very important exactly for you.
  • A failure. Sometimes reading about someone’s failures can also be interesting and very instructive.
  • A good or bad deed. It is always a great challenge for a writer to talk about things like that. Readers will appreciate that.
  • A change in your life. Some important and significant change in your life.

Conclusion

We hope this article has answered your question about what is a narrative essay. In the end, any essay writing skills won’t gather dust like an old grandma’s chest because they are sure to come into play either in professional life or everyday communication. If you still have doubts about how to write a narrative essay or want to make sure you are doing everything correctly, just call us anytime, and our team would like to help you out right away.

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