Narrative Essays Writing Guide: Tips from an Expert

With the writing requirements in today’s schools, many teachers are assigning fewer persuasive and informative essays because they are assigning more creative pieces, like narrative essays. Since these have not been traditionally assigned in many upper level courses, it is common for students to be skittish about the requirements and purpose of narrative essays. Most students think that a narrative essays is simply an essay that tells a story, but those students are wrong. Narrative essays include so much more. Here are a few tips about writing narrative essays from an expert writer:

  1. Your narrative essay needs a purpose.
  2. Narrative essays accomplish a few things. While they often tell stories, they need to provide a purpose for telling the story. Many students will write about what they learned from their experience. Some will try to prove a point by including an anecdotal story. The goal is to share the experience and the purpose in a way that will get your reader to connect to your story and lesson.

  3. You may use the first-person pronouns.
  4. Since narrative essays are often personal in nature, you can safely use the first-person pronouns, like I, we, and mine. In most other essays, those pronouns should be avoided, but not in narratives. Be aware of how often you use the pronouns and where you put them so you do not unintentionally begin every sentence with “I.”

  5. You should include story-telling techniques.
  6. In a narrative essay, your story needs to be complete. Be sure your story completes the plot outline with exposition, rising action, turning point, and denouement. Since you are writing an essay and not a short story, you can intersperse your reflections and realizations as you move through the narrative of the story.

  7. Your body paragraphs should be highly focused.
  8. Many students get jumbled in the organization of a narrative essay. They should be organized just like every other essay, with an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. You should also have a thesis statement. Each individual body paragraph should be about one part of your story. It can be too confusing to the reader to tell the whole story and then reflect. When you keep the paragraphs focused, your reader will enjoy following your thoughts as you tell the story.

  9. You should remember your reader was not there.
  10. When you tell a good story, your reader will feel like he or she is there with you. This means that your narrative should be detailed enough that you reader can live through your words. Your reader cannot ask you questions for clarification, so make everything clear and easy to understand.

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