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Narrative Essay Type

Narrative essays usually tell a story about your personal experience. You need to be creative here, so it is not exactly what common academic writing implies. The way you choose to describe your experience and impressions should be compelling for readers. You also have to keep to a certain narrative structure.

Such assignments are common in high school or university when taking a composition course. You can also use the structure for a personal statement when you apply to some courses.

These essays are always based on real-life anecdotes, the personality of a narrator, and experience, so you are allowed to express your feelings and emotions here. This article includes several tips and recommendations on narrative essay structure.

Why Do You Need a Narrative Essay?

The first question you may want to ask when you receive an assignment to write a narrative essay is - Why is my teacher interested in this story? The answer depends on the topic, which can be either trivial or quite specific and important. The teacher’s task is not to learn something about you but to check how well you can write an essay.

You need to compose your essay in an interesting and entertaining way. You should think beforehand about where your story starts, how it ends, and what language to use to express what you want to say attractively and clearly. You can see that creativity is not exactly what you need for formal academic assignments. In narrative essays, you can use personal ‘I’ or ‘We’. Dialogues, suspense, and figurative language are also encouraged.

How to Choose a Topic

You can choose any topic for your narrative essay, or your professor may assign the topic. You can also be provided with certain directions on what to write about or a set of topics to choose from. Anyway, you will get prompts that can be specific or open-ended.

The examples of specific prompts are:

  • ✔️ Write a story about your first traveling experience.
  • Or:
  • ✔️ Write a story about how you make friends with someone.

However, open-ended prompts leave you a lot of space for choosing and formulating more specific topics:

  • ✔️ Write about one positive trait of character you are proud of.
  • Or:
  • ✔️ Write about your most painful failure. How did you feel about it, and how do you feel about it now?

In the latter examples, you need to think carefully about what story to tell. The best option here is to choose one particular episode and describe it in detail to illustrate your experience. For example, when you are supposed to speak about your traveling experience, do not describe the entire journey you have had but choose the episode when something strange or unexpected happened and focus on it. Such an experience can surprise or entertain your reader or even teach them some lessons.

How to Write Narrative Essays in College Applications

When you have chosen a college to continue your study and want to compose an application, you will get an assignment to write something about your character, strengths, weaknesses, or personal qualities. It is required because the college wants to know whether you have chosen your field of study or subject correctly and what you can add to their academic environment.


Recollect the time when you came across the challenge. How did it influence your personal life or studies? What kind of experience was it, and did you learn anything from it?

In this case, you should not choose the only interesting episode. The essay has to demonstrate the qualities the prompt implies, such as the ability to withstand hardships and learn lessons from them. So, structure your story in a way to emphasize your qualities.

Tips for Writing Narrative Essays

There are certain rules and requirements you need to follow while writing a narrative essay and certain tricks you can use to make it more successful.

  1. Narrative essays should include all the parts inherent to the narration- the introduction, plot, characters, setting, climax, and conclusion.
  2. Sometimes, a narrative essay will not look like a story, so you need to be careful while reading an assignment. It occurs when you need to write a book report. You will not have to observe the order of the story but make up an informative narrative that will be useful for a reader.
  3. Every narrative essay must have an aim or purpose. It is something like a thesis in an academic essay. You should indicate why you tell this story because if there is no aim, why should you tell this story at all?
  4. Usually, narrative essays are written from the author's perspective. However, you can find other narrators and provide your story in a creative and engaging way.
  5. The language you use in your essay should be clear and logical. It should be thoroughly and artfully chosen to evoke certain emotions and reactions on the part of a reader.
  6. The best way to express yourself is to use the first-person ‘I.’ However, in many cases, it is not necessary. You should not overuse it, either, because your narration will sound clumsy and ridiculous.
  7. 7. Organize your essay properly and choose the correct tone. Alongside the concrete purpose of your story, finalize it logically and do not leave your reader guessing why you have described something. Be sure that your readers can follow your story and the main idea of it from the beginning to the end.

Final Thoughts

Now you know the structure of a narrative essay and the main principles and techniques of writing it. If you understand that such an essay differs a lot from formal academic writing pieces and that it is the best chance to express your creativity, your essay will carry out its task and be a success.

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