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Sharing good stories with one another is one of the greatest pleasures in life. Who among us doesn’t know the feeling of hearing or telling a good story? But while narrating a story over a cup of coffee can be rewarding, the same is not always true when narrating a story through writing. After all, the ability to tell a good story in person does not always translate well into skill in writing. As a student, you will be asked to write a narrative essay at least once in your life whether you like it or not. Completing this project will probably come easy for you if you have had some experience writing a story. For those who don’t, writing a narrative essay may prove to be more than a simple challenge. What is a narrative essay? What are suitable narrative essay topics? How do you write a narrative essay? In this post, we will discuss this type of essay and look at some strategies for writing this project.

What is a narrative essay?

A narrative essay, as the term itself suggests, is a type of essay that narrates a story. The topic of a narrative essay varies, but most of the time it involves an event, anecdote, or experience. A narrative essay is also usually personal in nature. This means that the story being narrated was experienced firsthand by the writer. This essay, however, is not just about narrating what happened. It also looks beyond the immediate details of the story to reveal some deeper significance. A narrative essay is therefore required to present both the story itself and the meaning behind the story. Meaning can take different forms. It can be a realization about yourself, a valuable lesson that you learned, new insight about the world you live in, a crucial change in your life, or an important shift in your perspective among many others.

A good example of a narrative essay is the admission essay. Not all admission essays are narrative essays. But if you are familiar with how an admission essay is written , you would know that a lot of schools require applicants to narrate personal stories and explain the meaning behind them.

What is the purpose of a narrative essay?

A narrative essay serves many purposes. For one, this essay is a way of sharing stories with one another. Storytelling is a vital part of life. People share stories with one another for different reasons. Some see it is a way to bond while some consider it an opportunity to learn from each other. Writing a narrative essay is another way to share stories. For another, this essay also serves to enhance your writing skills. A narrative essay needs to be interesting, organized, and insightful. Therefore, writing one is an excellent exercise. Crafting this essay enables students to develop both technical and creative aspects of writing, since a narrative essay needs to conform to academic standards of writing as well as exhibit creativity in handling language. Finally, writing a narrative essay also encourages critical thinking. Writing this essay requires students to reflect on their stories and find meaning behind them. By asking students to articulate aspects that are not obvious, they are able to develop their critical thinking skills.

Sample narrative essay topics

As mentioned earlier, narrative essays are usually personal stories. This means that there are so many topics that you can write about. In most cases, your professor will provide you with a specific topic or a short list of topics to choose from. In some cases, however, you will be asked to come up with a topic of your own. If you are unsure what topics are acceptable, remember that professors generally prefer a narrative essay about life experiences. Some examples are provided below:

  • Think of a time when you faced a big challenge. Did you overcome it? How?
  • Narrate the best vacation in your life. Did this change how you view the world? How?
  • Think of a time when you got into an argument with a friend. What lessons did you learn from this experience?
  • What is the toughest decision that you’ve ever made?
  • What do you consider is your greatest accomplishment? Why?
  • Think of a time when you were proven wrong. What happened?
  • Think of a time when you were alone. How did it affect you?

Narrative essay structure

Like other types of essays, the narrative essay follows the standard structure of an academic essay. However, note that this essay is unique because it also serves as a story. Thus, the narrative essay is an essay and a story at the same time. When writing this paper, you have two considerations: the paper’s structure as an essay and its structure as a story.

Essay structure

Essay structure refers to the paper’s need to have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. If you already know how to write an introduction , you would know that this part of the paper is where you make your first impression. This needs to be interesting so that your reader will be enticed to continue. The introduction also needs to provide the context of your paper’s topic. This means you need to be able to justify why your story is important or why it deserves your reader’s attention. Finally, the introduction needs to present your paper’s message or thesis. Do not forget that the thesis should refer directly to the story you’re about to tell.

The introduction is followed by the body of your paper. The body of the paper is where you narrate the story itself. These should be composed of details such as when and where the story took place, the people who were involved, and the events that occurred. Apart from the story itself, the body should also present your interpretation of the story. You need to answer the question of what you make of the story. Whether you learned a lesson, realized something new about yourself, or changed your perspective of the world around you, you need to be able to express these thoughts and feelings.

Lastly, like your paper should also have a conclusion. While the typical conclusion restates the thesis and summarizes the main points of the essay, the approach in a narrative essay is quite different. Here, your focus is more on providing a fitting ending to your paper. Your main goal here is to wrap up your essay so that it does not come off as incomplete.

Plot structure

Just as your paper has to have an introduction, body, and conclusion, the story itself should have three main sections: the beginning, the middle, and the end. If you know the main elements of a short story , you would know that a plot should have distinct parts. A good story should feel like a journey. The beginning is where you describe the setting, the characters involved, and the context. The middle is where the main events take place. Similar to how a story should have a climax, your narrative essay should have a high point: the moment when the most important events take place. Finally, the story should have an end. You have to wind down the action and tie up loose ends.

How to write a narrative essay

Writing a narrative essay is challenging, especially if it’s your first time to tell a story in written form. Fortunately, there are ways to make the process easier. Below are some strategies for writing an engaging narrative essay.

Choose a topic that is of value to you

The first step towards successfully writing a good narrative essay is to choose a topic that you believe is important or valuable. The topic should be meaningful to you. Instructions for narrative essays are often broad enough to give you the chance to find an experience that meets requirements. For example, “your favorite vacation” is something that most people have an answer for. Choosing a topic you truly want to write about will make the writing process more interesting. When you are emotionally invested on a topic, you’re more likely to do your best. Consulting a list of possible narrative essay topics can also help you find the right one.

Use creative language

An important requirement in a narrative essay is creative use of language. Because you are telling a story, you need to make your paper interesting. Dull language, on the other hand, will make your paper boring. One way to improve your paper is by using vivid language. Use words that appeal to the senses and stimulate your reader’s imagination. Do not be afraid to infuse your paper with rich and detailed descriptions. Include dialogues to add variety and improve the texture of your paper. Finally, familiarize yourself with literary devices such as similes and metaphors.

Find inspiration

Finding inspiration is another way to get your mind going. If you find yourself at a loss for words, reading your favorite stories should help you bring out your more creative side. Observe how your favorite authors use language. If there’s one lesson these authors will tell you, it’s that you should not be afraid to play with words.

Ask for help

If you truly cannot find the words to narrate your story in the most interesting way possible, you might be in need of a professional’s help. Writing a narrative essay may seem easy, but the reality is that there is so much more to it than simply telling a story. If you are the typical college student swamped by mountains of coursework, consider asking a professional writer to craft your narrative essay. There are advantages to hiring a professional writer. First, you get to save on time and energy. Why waste hours staring at a blank page when you can do something else while a writer completes your paper? Second, working with a professional writer allows you to learn. Once your writer delivers the paper, you can study it to learn techniques in writing. If you are worried about the cost, know that such services tend to be reasonably priced. Hiring a writer is a small price to pay for your peace of mind. 

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