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A narrative essay is one of the most intimidating assignments you can be handed at any level of your education. Where you've previously written argumentative essays that make a point or analytic essays that dissect meaning, a narrative essay asks you to write what is effectively a story .

But unlike a simple work of creative fiction, your narrative essay must have a clear and concrete motif —a recurring theme or idea that you’ll explore throughout. Narrative essays are less rigid, more creative in expression, and therefore pretty different from most other essays you’ll be writing.

But not to fear—in this article, we’ll be covering what a narrative essay is, how to write a good one, and also analyzing some personal narrative essay examples to show you what a great one looks like.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

At first glance, a narrative essay might sound like you’re just writing a story. Like the stories you're used to reading, a narrative essay is generally (but not always) chronological, following a clear throughline from beginning to end. Even if the story jumps around in time, all the details will come back to one specific theme, demonstrated through your choice in motifs.

Unlike many creative stories, however, your narrative essay should be based in fact. That doesn’t mean that every detail needs to be pure and untainted by imagination, but rather that you shouldn’t wholly invent the events of your narrative essay. There’s nothing wrong with inventing a person’s words if you can’t remember them exactly, but you shouldn’t say they said something they weren’t even close to saying.

Another big difference between narrative essays and creative fiction—as well as other kinds of essays—is that narrative essays are based on motifs. A motif is a dominant idea or theme, one that you establish before writing the essay. As you’re crafting the narrative, it’ll feed back into your motif to create a comprehensive picture of whatever that motif is.

For example, say you want to write a narrative essay about how your first day in high school helped you establish your identity. You might discuss events like trying to figure out where to sit in the cafeteria, having to describe yourself in five words as an icebreaker in your math class, or being unsure what to do during your lunch break because it’s no longer acceptable to go outside and play during lunch. All of those ideas feed back into the central motif of establishing your identity.

The important thing to remember is that while a narrative essay is typically told chronologically and intended to read like a story, it is not purely for entertainment value. A narrative essay delivers its theme by deliberately weaving the motifs through the events, scenes, and details. While a narrative essay may be entertaining, its primary purpose is to tell a complete story based on a central meaning.

Unlike other essay forms, it is totally okay—even expected—to use first-person narration in narrative essays. If you’re writing a story about yourself, it’s natural to refer to yourself within the essay. It’s also okay to use other perspectives, such as third- or even second-person, but that should only be done if it better serves your motif. Generally speaking, your narrative essay should be in first-person perspective.

Though your motif choices may feel at times like you’re making a point the way you would in an argumentative essay, a narrative essay’s goal is to tell a story, not convince the reader of anything. Your reader should be able to tell what your motif is from reading, but you don’t have to change their mind about anything. If they don’t understand the point you are making, you should consider strengthening the delivery of the events and descriptions that support your motif.

Narrative essays also share some features with analytical essays, in which you derive meaning from a book, film, or other media. But narrative essays work differently—you’re not trying to draw meaning from an existing text, but rather using an event you’ve experienced to convey meaning. In an analytical essay, you examine narrative, whereas in a narrative essay you create narrative.

The structure of a narrative essay is also a bit different than other essays. You’ll generally be getting your point across chronologically as opposed to grouping together specific arguments in paragraphs or sections. To return to the example of an essay discussing your first day of high school and how it impacted the shaping of your identity, it would be weird to put the events out of order, even if not knowing what to do after lunch feels like a stronger idea than choosing where to sit. Instead of organizing to deliver your information based on maximum impact, you’ll be telling your story as it happened, using concrete details to reinforce your theme.

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3 Great Narrative Essay Examples

One of the best ways to learn how to write a narrative essay is to look at a great narrative essay sample. Let’s take a look at some truly stellar narrative essay examples and dive into what exactly makes them work so well.

A Ticket to the Fair by David Foster Wallace

Today is Press Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, and I’m supposed to be at the fairgrounds by 9:00 A.M. to get my credentials. I imagine credentials to be a small white card in the band of a fedora. I’ve never been considered press before. My real interest in credentials is getting into rides and shows for free. I’m fresh in from the East Coast, for an East Coast magazine. Why exactly they’re interested in the Illinois State Fair remains unclear to me. I suspect that every so often editors at East Coast magazines slap their foreheads and remember that about 90 percent of the United States lies between the coasts, and figure they’ll engage somebody to do pith-helmeted anthropological reporting on something rural and heartlandish. I think they asked me to do this because I grew up here, just a couple hours’ drive from downstate Springfield. I never did go to the state fair, though—I pretty much topped out at the county fair level. Actually, I haven’t been back to Illinois for a long time, and I can’t say I’ve missed it.

Throughout this essay, David Foster Wallace recounts his experience as press at the Illinois State Fair. But it’s clear from this opening that he’s not just reporting on the events exactly as they happened—though that’s also true— but rather making a point about how the East Coast, where he lives and works, thinks about the Midwest.

In his opening paragraph, Wallace states that outright: “Why exactly they’re interested in the Illinois State Fair remains unclear to me. I suspect that every so often editors at East Coast magazines slap their foreheads and remember that about 90 percent of the United States lies between the coasts, and figure they’ll engage somebody to do pith-helmeted anthropological reporting on something rural and heartlandish.”

Not every motif needs to be stated this clearly , but in an essay as long as Wallace’s, particularly since the audience for such a piece may feel similarly and forget that such a large portion of the country exists, it’s important to make that point clear.

But Wallace doesn’t just rest on introducing his motif and telling the events exactly as they occurred from there. It’s clear that he selects events that remind us of that idea of East Coast cynicism , such as when he realizes that the Help Me Grow tent is standing on top of fake grass that is killing the real grass beneath, when he realizes the hypocrisy of craving a corn dog when faced with a real, suffering pig, when he’s upset for his friend even though he’s not the one being sexually harassed, and when he witnesses another East Coast person doing something he wouldn’t dare to do.

Wallace is literally telling the audience exactly what happened, complete with dates and timestamps for when each event occurred. But he’s also choosing those events with a purpose—he doesn’t focus on details that don’t serve his motif. That’s why he discusses the experiences of people, how the smells are unappealing to him, and how all the people he meets, in cowboy hats, overalls, or “black spandex that looks like cheesecake leotards,” feel almost alien to him.

All of these details feed back into the throughline of East Coast thinking that Wallace introduces in the first paragraph. He also refers back to it in the essay’s final paragraph, stating:

At last, an overarching theory blooms inside my head: megalopolitan East Coasters’ summer treats and breaks and literally ‘getaways,’ flights-from—from crowds, noise, heat, dirt, the stress of too many sensory choices….The East Coast existential treat is escape from confines and stimuli—quiet, rustic vistas that hold still, turn inward, turn away. Not so in the rural Midwest. Here you’re pretty much away all the time….Something in a Midwesterner sort of actuates , deep down, at a public event….The real spectacle that draws us here is us.

Throughout this journey, Wallace has tried to demonstrate how the East Coast thinks about the Midwest, ultimately concluding that they are captivated by the Midwest’s less stimuli-filled life, but that the real reason they are interested in events like the Illinois State Fair is that they are, in some ways, a means of looking at the East Coast in a new, estranging way.

The reason this works so well is that Wallace has carefully chosen his examples, outlined his motif and themes in the first paragraph, and eventually circled back to the original motif with a clearer understanding of his original point.

When outlining your own narrative essay, try to do the same. Start with a theme, build upon it with examples, and return to it in the end with an even deeper understanding of the original issue. You don’t need this much space to explore a theme, either—as we’ll see in the next example, a strong narrative essay can also be very short.

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Death of a Moth by Virginia Woolf

After a time, tired by his dancing apparently, he settled on the window ledge in the sun, and, the queer spectacle being at an end, I forgot about him. Then, looking up, my eye was caught by him. He was trying to resume his dancing, but seemed either so stiff or so awkward that he could only flutter to the bottom of the window-pane; and when he tried to fly across it he failed. Being intent on other matters I watched these futile attempts for a time without thinking, unconsciously waiting for him to resume his flight, as one waits for a machine, that has stopped momentarily, to start again without considering the reason of its failure. After perhaps a seventh attempt he slipped from the wooden ledge and fell, fluttering his wings, on to his back on the window sill. The helplessness of his attitude roused me. It flashed upon me that he was in difficulties; he could no longer raise himself; his legs struggled vainly. But, as I stretched out a pencil, meaning to help him to right himself, it came over me that the failure and awkwardness were the approach of death. I laid the pencil down again.

In this essay, Virginia Woolf explains her encounter with a dying moth. On surface level, this essay is just a recounting of an afternoon in which she watched a moth die—it’s even established in the title. But there’s more to it than that. Though Woolf does not begin her essay with as clear a motif as Wallace, it’s not hard to pick out the evidence she uses to support her point, which is that the experience of this moth is also the human experience.

In the title, Woolf tells us this essay is about death. But in the first paragraph, she seems to mostly be discussing life—the moth is “content with life,” people are working in the fields, and birds are flying. However, she mentions that it is mid-September and that the fields were being plowed. It’s autumn and it’s time for the harvest; the time of year in which many things die.

In this short essay, she chronicles the experience of watching a moth seemingly embody life, then die. Though this essay is literally about a moth, it’s also about a whole lot more than that. After all, moths aren’t the only things that die—Woolf is also reflecting on her own mortality, as well as the mortality of everything around her.

At its core, the essay discusses the push and pull of life and death, not in a way that’s necessarily sad, but in a way that is accepting of both. Woolf begins by setting up the transitional fall season, often associated with things coming to an end, and raises the ideas of pleasure, vitality, and pity.

At one point, Woolf tries to help the dying moth, but reconsiders, as it would interfere with the natural order of the world. The moth’s death is part of the natural order of the world, just like fall, just like her own eventual death.

All these themes are set up in the beginning and explored throughout the essay’s narrative. Though Woolf doesn’t directly state her theme, she reinforces it by choosing a small, isolated event—watching a moth die—and illustrating her point through details.

With this essay, we can see that you don’t need a big, weird, exciting event to discuss an important meaning. Woolf is able to explore complicated ideas in a short essay by being deliberate about what details she includes, just as you can be in your own essays.

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Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

On the twenty-ninth of July, in 1943, my father died. On the same day, a few hours later, his last child was born. Over a month before this, while all our energies were concentrated in waiting for these events, there had been, in Detroit, one of the bloodiest race riots of the century. A few hours after my father’s funeral, while he lay in state in the undertaker’s chapel, a race riot broke out in Harlem. On the morning of the third of August, we drove my father to the graveyard through a wilderness of smashed plate glass.

Like Woolf, Baldwin does not lay out his themes in concrete terms—unlike Wallace, there’s no clear sentence that explains what he’ll be talking about. However, you can see the motifs quite clearly: death, fatherhood, struggle, and race.

Throughout the narrative essay, Baldwin discusses the circumstances of his father’s death, including his complicated relationship with his father. By introducing those motifs in the first paragraph, the reader understands that everything discussed in the essay will come back to those core ideas. When Baldwin talks about his experience with a white teacher taking an interest in him and his father’s resistance to that, he is also talking about race and his father’s death. When he talks about his father’s death, he is also talking about his views on race. When he talks about his encounters with segregation and racism, he is talking, in part, about his father.

Because his father was a hard, uncompromising man, Baldwin struggles to reconcile the knowledge that his father was right about many things with his desire to not let that hardness consume him, as well.

Baldwin doesn’t explicitly state any of this, but his writing so often touches on the same motifs that it becomes clear he wants us to think about all these ideas in conversation with one another.

At the end of the essay, Baldwin makes it more clear:

This fight begins, however, in the heart and it had now been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair. This intimation made my heart heavy and, now that my father was irrecoverable, I wished that he had been beside me so that I could have searched his face for the answers which only the future would give me now.

Here, Baldwin ties together the themes and motifs into one clear statement: that he must continue to fight and recognize injustice, especially racial injustice, just as his father did. But unlike his father, he must do it beginning with himself—he must not let himself be closed off to the world as his father was. And yet, he still wishes he had his father for guidance, even as he establishes that he hopes to be a different man than his father.

In this essay, Baldwin loads the front of the essay with his motifs, and, through his narrative, weaves them together into a theme. In the end, he comes to a conclusion that connects all of those things together and leaves the reader with a lasting impression of completion—though the elements may have been initially disparate, in the end everything makes sense.

You can replicate this tactic of introducing seemingly unattached ideas and weaving them together in your own essays. By introducing those motifs, developing them throughout, and bringing them together in the end, you can demonstrate to your reader how all of them are related. However, it’s especially important to be sure that your motifs and clear and consistent throughout your essay so that the conclusion feels earned and consistent—if not, readers may feel mislead.

5 Key Tips for Writing Narrative Essays

Narrative essays can be a lot of fun to write since they’re so heavily based on creativity. But that can also feel intimidating—sometimes it’s easier to have strict guidelines than to have to make it all up yourself. Here are a few tips to keep your narrative essay feeling strong and fresh.

Develop Strong Motifs

Motifs are the foundation of a narrative essay . What are you trying to say? How can you say that using specific symbols or events? Those are your motifs.

In the same way that an argumentative essay’s body should support its thesis, the body of your narrative essay should include motifs that support your theme.

Try to avoid cliches, as these will feel tired to your readers. Instead of roses to symbolize love, try succulents. Instead of the ocean representing some vast, unknowable truth, try the depths of your brother’s bedroom. Keep your language and motifs fresh and your essay will be even stronger!

Use First-Person Perspective

In many essays, you’re expected to remove yourself so that your points stand on their own. Not so in a narrative essay—in this case, you want to make use of your own perspective.

Sometimes a different perspective can make your point even stronger. If you want someone to identify with your point of view, it may be tempting to choose a second-person perspective. However, be sure you really understand the function of second-person; it’s very easy to put a reader off if the narration isn’t expertly deployed.

If you want a little bit of distance, third-person perspective may be okay. But be careful—too much distance and your reader may feel like the narrative lacks truth.

That’s why first-person perspective is the standard. It keeps you, the writer, close to the narrative, reminding the reader that it really happened. And because you really know what happened and how, you’re free to inject your own opinion into the story without it detracting from your point, as it would in a different type of essay.

Stick to the Truth

Your essay should be true. However, this is a creative essay, and it’s okay to embellish a little. Rarely in life do we experience anything with a clear, concrete meaning the way somebody in a book might. If you flub the details a little, it’s okay—just don’t make them up entirely.

Also, nobody expects you to perfectly recall details that may have happened years ago. You may have to reconstruct dialog from your memory and your imagination. That’s okay, again, as long as you aren’t making it up entirely and assigning made-up statements to somebody.

Dialog is a powerful tool. A good conversation can add flavor and interest to a story, as we saw demonstrated in David Foster Wallace’s essay. As previously mentioned, it’s okay to flub it a little, especially because you’re likely writing about an experience you had without knowing that you’d be writing about it later.

However, don’t rely too much on it. Your narrative essay shouldn’t be told through people explaining things to one another; the motif comes through in the details. Dialog can be one of those details, but it shouldn’t be the only one.

Use Sensory Descriptions

Because a narrative essay is a story, you can use sensory details to make your writing more interesting. If you’re describing a particular experience, you can go into detail about things like taste, smell, and hearing in a way that you probably wouldn’t do in any other essay style.

These details can tie into your overall motifs and further your point. Woolf describes in great detail what she sees while watching the moth, giving us the sense that we, too, are watching the moth. In Wallace’s essay, he discusses the sights, sounds, and smells of the Illinois State Fair to help emphasize his point about its strangeness. And in Baldwin’s essay, he describes shattered glass as a “wilderness,” and uses the feelings of his body to describe his mental state.

All these descriptions anchor us not only in the story, but in the motifs and themes as well. One of the tools of a writer is making the reader feel as you felt, and sensory details help you achieve that.

What’s Next?

Looking to brush up on your essay-writing capabilities before the ACT? This guide to ACT English will walk you through some of the best strategies and practice questions to get you prepared!

Part of practicing for the ACT is ensuring your word choice and diction are on point. Check out this guide to some of the most common errors on the ACT English section to be sure that you're not making these common mistakes!

A solid understanding of English principles will help you make an effective point in a narrative essay, and you can get that understanding through taking a rigorous assortment of high school English classes !

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Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

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Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay Examples

Caleb S.

10+ Interesting Narrative Essay Examples Plus Writing Tips!

Narrative Essay Examples

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Narrative Essay - A Complete Writing Guide with Examples

Writing a Personal Narrative Essay: Everything You Need to Know

Best Narrative Essay Topics 2023 for Students

Crafting a Winning Narrative Essay Outline: A Step-by-Step Guide

Many students struggle with crafting engaging and impactful narrative essays. They often find it challenging to weave their personal experiences into coherent and compelling stories.

If you’re having a hard time, don't worry! 

We’ve compiled a range of narrative essay examples that will serve as helpful tools for you to get started. These examples will provide a clear path for crafting engaging and powerful narrative essays.

So, keep reading and find our expertly written examples!

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  • 1. Narrative Essay Definition
  • 2. Narrative Essay Examples
  • 3. Narrative Essay Examples for Students
  • 4. Narrative Essay Topics
  • 5. Narrative Essay Writing Tips

Narrative Essay Definition

Writing a narrative essay is a unique form of storytelling that revolves around personal experiences, aiming to immerse the reader in the author's world. It's a piece of writing that delves into the depths of thoughts and feelings. 

In a narrative essay, life experiences take center stage, serving as the main substance of the story. It's a powerful tool for writers to convey a personal journey, turning experiences into a captivating tale. This form of storytelling is an artful display of emotions intended to engage readers, leaving the reader feeling like they are a part of the story.

By focusing on a specific theme, event, emotions, and reflections, a narrative essay weaves a storyline that leads the reader through the author's experiences. 

The Essentials of Narrative Essays

Let's start with the basics. The four types of essays are argumentative essays , descriptive essays , expository essays , and narrative essays.

The goal of a narrative essay is to tell a compelling tale from one person's perspective. A narrative essay uses all components you’d find in a typical story, such as a beginning, middle, and conclusion, as well as plot, characters, setting, and climax.

The narrative essay's goal is the plot, which should be detailed enough to reach a climax. Here's how it works:

  • It's usually presented in chronological order.
  • It has a function. This is typically evident in the thesis statement's opening paragraph.
  • It may include speech.
  • It's told with sensory details and vivid language, drawing the reader in. All of these elements are connected to the writer's major argument in some way.

Before writing your essay, make sure you go through a sufficient number of narrative essay examples. These examples will help you in knowing the dos and don’ts of a good narrative essay.

It is always a better option to have some sense of direction before you start anything. Below, you can find important details and a bunch of narrative essay examples. These examples will also help you build your content according to the format. 

Here is a how to start a narrative essay example:

Sample Narrative Essay

The examples inform the readers about the writing style and structure of the narration. The essay below will help you understand how to create a story and build this type of essay in no time.

Here is another narrative essay examples 500 words:

Narrative Essay Examples for Students

Narrative essays offer students a platform to express their experiences and creativity. These examples show how to effectively structure and present personal stories for education.

Here are some helpful narrative essay examples:

Narrative Essay Examples Middle School

Narrative Essay Examples for Grade 7

Narrative Essay Examples for Grade 8

Grade 11 Narrative Essay Examples

Narrative Essay Example For High School

Narrative Essay Example For College

Personal Narrative Essay Example

Descriptive Narrative Essay Example

3rd Person Narrative Essay Example

Narrative Essay Topics

Here are some narrative essay topics to help you get started with your narrative essay writing.

  • When I got my first bunny
  • When I moved to Canada
  • I haven’t experienced this freezing temperature ever before
  • The moment I won the basketball finale
  • A memorable day at the museum
  • How I talk to my parrot
  • The day I saw the death
  • When I finally rebelled against my professor

Need more topics? Check out these extensive narrative essay topics to get creative ideas!

Narrative Essay Writing Tips

Narrative essays give you the freedom to be creative, but it can be tough to make yours special. Use these tips to make your story interesting:

  • Share your story from a personal viewpoint, engaging the reader with your experiences.
  • Use vivid descriptions to paint a clear picture of the setting, characters, and emotions involved.
  • Organize events in chronological order for a smooth and understandable narrative.
  • Bring characters to life through their actions, dialogue, and personalities.
  • Employ dialogue sparingly to add realism and progression to the narrative.
  • Engage readers by evoking emotions through your storytelling.
  • End with reflection or a lesson learned from the experience, providing insight.

Now you have essay examples and tips to help you get started, you have a solid starting point for crafting compelling narrative essays.

However, if storytelling isn't your forte, you can always turn to our essay service for help.

Our writers are specialists who can tackle any type of essay with great skill. With their experience, you get a top-quality, 100% plagiarism-free essay everytime.

So, let our narrative essay writing service make sure your narrative essay stands out. Order now!

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Narrative essay

The Ultimate Narrative Essay Guide for Beginners

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A narrative essay tells a story in chronological order, with an introduction that introduces the characters and sets the scene. Then a series of events leads to a climax or turning point, and finally a resolution or reflection on the experience.

Speaking of which, are you in sixes and sevens about narrative essays? Don’t worry this ultimate expert guide will wipe out all your doubts. So let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Everything You Need to Know About Narrative Essay

What is a narrative essay.

When you go through a narrative essay definition, you would know that a narrative essay purpose is to tell a story. It’s all about sharing an experience or event and is different from other types of essays because it’s more focused on how the event made you feel or what you learned from it, rather than just presenting facts or an argument. Let’s explore more details on this interesting write-up and get to know how to write a narrative essay.

Elements of a Narrative Essay

Here’s a breakdown of the key elements of a narrative essay:

A narrative essay has a beginning, middle, and end. It builds up tension and excitement and then wraps things up in a neat package.

Real people, including the writer, often feature in personal narratives. Details of the characters and their thoughts, feelings, and actions can help readers to relate to the tale.

It’s really important to know when and where something happened so we can get a good idea of the context. Going into detail about what it looks like helps the reader to really feel like they’re part of the story.

Conflict or Challenge 

A story in a narrative essay usually involves some kind of conflict or challenge that moves the plot along. It could be something inside the character, like a personal battle, or something from outside, like an issue they have to face in the world.

Theme or Message

A narrative essay isn’t just about recounting an event – it’s about showing the impact it had on you and what you took away from it. It’s an opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings about the experience, and how it changed your outlook.

Emotional Impact

The author is trying to make the story they’re telling relatable, engaging, and memorable by using language and storytelling to evoke feelings in whoever’s reading it.

Narrative essays let writers have a blast telling stories about their own lives. It’s an opportunity to share insights and impart wisdom, or just have some fun with the reader. Descriptive language, sensory details, dialogue, and a great narrative voice are all essentials for making the story come alive.

The Purpose of a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is more than just a story – it’s a way to share a meaningful, engaging, and relatable experience with the reader. Includes:

Sharing Personal Experience

Narrative essays are a great way for writers to share their personal experiences, feelings, thoughts, and reflections. It’s an opportunity to connect with readers and make them feel something.

Entertainment and Engagement

The essay attempts to keep the reader interested by using descriptive language, storytelling elements, and a powerful voice. It attempts to pull them in and make them feel involved by creating suspense, mystery, or an emotional connection.

Conveying a Message or Insight

Narrative essays are more than just a story – they aim to teach you something. They usually have a moral lesson, a new understanding, or a realization about life that the author gained from the experience.

Building Empathy and Understanding

By telling their stories, people can give others insight into different perspectives, feelings, and situations. Sharing these tales can create compassion in the reader and help broaden their knowledge of different life experiences.

Inspiration and Motivation

Stories about personal struggles, successes, and transformations can be really encouraging to people who are going through similar situations. It can provide them with hope and guidance, and let them know that they’re not alone.

Reflecting on Life’s Significance

These essays usually make you think about the importance of certain moments in life or the impact of certain experiences. They make you look deep within yourself and ponder on the things you learned or how you changed because of those events.

Demonstrating Writing Skills

Coming up with a gripping narrative essay takes serious writing chops, like vivid descriptions, powerful language, timing, and organization. It’s an opportunity for writers to show off their story-telling abilities.

Preserving Personal History

Sometimes narrative essays are used to record experiences and special moments that have an emotional resonance. They can be used to preserve individual memories or for future generations to look back on.

Cultural and Societal Exploration

Personal stories can look at cultural or social aspects, giving us an insight into customs, opinions, or social interactions seen through someone’s own experience.

Format of a Narrative Essay

Narrative essays are quite flexible in terms of format, which allows the writer to tell a story in a creative and compelling way. Here’s a quick breakdown of the narrative essay format, along with some examples:

Introduction

Set the scene and introduce the story.

Engage the reader and establish the tone of the narrative.

Hook: Start with a captivating opening line to grab the reader’s attention. For instance:

Example:  “The scorching sun beat down on us as we trekked through the desert, our water supply dwindling.”

Background Information: Provide necessary context or background without giving away the entire story.

Example:  “It was the summer of 2015 when I embarked on a life-changing journey to…”

Thesis Statement or Narrative Purpose

Present the main idea or the central message of the essay.

Offer a glimpse of what the reader can expect from the narrative.

Thesis Statement: This isn’t as rigid as in other essays but can be a sentence summarizing the essence of the story.

Example:  “Little did I know, that seemingly ordinary hike would teach me invaluable lessons about resilience and friendship.”

Body Paragraphs

Present the sequence of events in chronological order.

Develop characters, setting, conflict, and resolution.

Story Progression : Describe events in the order they occurred, focusing on details that evoke emotions and create vivid imagery.

Example : Detail the trek through the desert, the challenges faced, interactions with fellow hikers, and the pivotal moments.

Character Development : Introduce characters and their roles in the story. Show their emotions, thoughts, and actions.

Example : Describe how each character reacted to the dwindling water supply and supported each other through adversity.

Dialogue and Interactions : Use dialogue to bring the story to life and reveal character personalities.

Example : “Sarah handed me her last bottle of water, saying, ‘We’re in this together.'”

Reach the peak of the story, the moment of highest tension or significance.

Turning Point: Highlight the most crucial moment or realization in the narrative.

Example:  “As the sun dipped below the horizon and hope seemed lost, a distant sound caught our attention—the rescue team’s helicopters.”

Provide closure to the story.

Reflect on the significance of the experience and its impact.

Reflection : Summarize the key lessons learned or insights gained from the experience.

Example : “That hike taught me the true meaning of resilience and the invaluable support of friendship in challenging times.”

Closing Thought : End with a memorable line that reinforces the narrative’s message or leaves a lasting impression.

Example : “As we boarded the helicopters, I knew this adventure would forever be etched in my heart.”

Example Summary:

Imagine a narrative about surviving a challenging hike through the desert, emphasizing the bonds formed and lessons learned. The narrative essay structure might look like starting with an engaging scene, narrating the hardships faced, showcasing the characters’ resilience, and culminating in a powerful realization about friendship and endurance.

Different Types of Narrative Essays

There are a bunch of different types of narrative essays – each one focuses on different elements of storytelling and has its own purpose. Here’s a breakdown of the narrative essay types and what they mean.

Personal Narrative

Description : Tells a personal story or experience from the writer’s life.

Purpose: Reflects on personal growth, lessons learned, or significant moments.

Example of Narrative Essay Types:

Topic : “The Day I Conquered My Fear of Public Speaking”

Focus: Details the experience, emotions, and eventual triumph over a fear of public speaking during a pivotal event.

Descriptive Narrative

Description : Emphasizes vivid details and sensory imagery.

Purpose : Creates a sensory experience, painting a vivid picture for the reader.

Topic : “A Walk Through the Enchanted Forest”

Focus : Paints a detailed picture of the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings experienced during a walk through a mystical forest.

Autobiographical Narrative

Description: Chronicles significant events or moments from the writer’s life.

Purpose: Provides insights into the writer’s life, experiences, and growth.

Topic: “Lessons from My Childhood: How My Grandmother Shaped Who I Am”

Focus: Explores pivotal moments and lessons learned from interactions with a significant family member.

Experiential Narrative

Description: Relays experiences beyond the writer’s personal life.

Purpose: Shares experiences, travels, or events from a broader perspective.

Topic: “Volunteering in a Remote Village: A Journey of Empathy”

Focus: Chronicles the writer’s volunteering experience, highlighting interactions with a community and personal growth.

Literary Narrative

Description: Incorporates literary elements like symbolism, allegory, or thematic explorations.

Purpose: Uses storytelling for deeper explorations of themes or concepts.

Topic: “The Symbolism of the Red Door: A Journey Through Change”

Focus: Uses a red door as a symbol, exploring its significance in the narrator’s life and the theme of transition.

Historical Narrative

Description: Recounts historical events or periods through a personal lens.

Purpose: Presents history through personal experiences or perspectives.

Topic: “A Grandfather’s Tales: Living Through the Great Depression”

Focus: Shares personal stories from a family member who lived through a historical era, offering insights into that period.

Digital or Multimedia Narrative

Description: Incorporates multimedia elements like images, videos, or audio to tell a story.

Purpose: Explores storytelling through various digital platforms or formats.

Topic: “A Travel Diary: Exploring Europe Through Vlogs”

Focus: Combines video clips, photos, and personal narration to document a travel experience.

How to Choose a Topic for Your Narrative Essay?

Selecting a compelling topic for your narrative essay is crucial as it sets the stage for your storytelling. Choosing a boring topic is one of the narrative essay mistakes to avoid . Here’s a detailed guide on how to choose the right topic:

Reflect on Personal Experiences

  • Significant Moments:

Moments that had a profound impact on your life or shaped your perspective.

Example: A moment of triumph, overcoming a fear, a life-changing decision, or an unforgettable experience.

  • Emotional Resonance:

Events that evoke strong emotions or feelings.

Example: Joy, fear, sadness, excitement, or moments of realization.

  • Lessons Learned:

Experiences that taught you valuable lessons or brought about personal growth.

Example: Challenges that led to personal development, shifts in mindset, or newfound insights.

Explore Unique Perspectives

  • Uncommon Experiences:

Unique or unconventional experiences that might captivate the reader’s interest.

Example: Unusual travels, interactions with different cultures, or uncommon hobbies.

  • Different Points of View:

Stories from others’ perspectives that impacted you deeply.

Example: A family member’s story, a friend’s experience, or a historical event from a personal lens.

Focus on Specific Themes or Concepts

  • Themes or Concepts of Interest:

Themes or ideas you want to explore through storytelling.

Example: Friendship, resilience, identity, cultural diversity, or personal transformation.

  • Symbolism or Metaphor:

Using symbols or metaphors as the core of your narrative.

Example: Exploring the symbolism of an object or a place in relation to a broader theme.

Consider Your Audience and Purpose

  • Relevance to Your Audience:

Topics that resonate with your audience’s interests or experiences.

Example: Choose a relatable theme or experience that your readers might connect with emotionally.

  • Impact or Message:

What message or insight do you want to convey through your story?

Example: Choose a topic that aligns with the message or lesson you aim to impart to your readers.

Brainstorm and Evaluate Ideas

  • Free Writing or Mind Mapping:

Process: Write down all potential ideas without filtering. Mind maps or free-writing exercises can help generate diverse ideas.

  • Evaluate Feasibility:

The depth of the story, the availability of vivid details, and your personal connection to the topic.

Imagine you’re considering topics for a narrative essay. You reflect on your experiences and decide to explore the topic of “Overcoming Stage Fright: How a School Play Changed My Perspective.” This topic resonates because it involves a significant challenge you faced and the personal growth it brought about.

Narrative Essay Topics

50 easy narrative essay topics.

  • Learning to Ride a Bike
  • My First Day of School
  • A Surprise Birthday Party
  • The Day I Got Lost
  • Visiting a Haunted House
  • An Encounter with a Wild Animal
  • My Favorite Childhood Toy
  • The Best Vacation I Ever Had
  • An Unforgettable Family Gathering
  • Conquering a Fear of Heights
  • A Special Gift I Received
  • Moving to a New City
  • The Most Memorable Meal
  • Getting Caught in a Rainstorm
  • An Act of Kindness I Witnessed
  • The First Time I Cooked a Meal
  • My Experience with a New Hobby
  • The Day I Met My Best Friend
  • A Hike in the Mountains
  • Learning a New Language
  • An Embarrassing Moment
  • Dealing with a Bully
  • My First Job Interview
  • A Sporting Event I Attended
  • The Scariest Dream I Had
  • Helping a Stranger
  • The Joy of Achieving a Goal
  • A Road Trip Adventure
  • Overcoming a Personal Challenge
  • The Significance of a Family Tradition
  • An Unusual Pet I Owned
  • A Misunderstanding with a Friend
  • Exploring an Abandoned Building
  • My Favorite Book and Why
  • The Impact of a Role Model
  • A Cultural Celebration I Participated In
  • A Valuable Lesson from a Teacher
  • A Trip to the Zoo
  • An Unplanned Adventure
  • Volunteering Experience
  • A Moment of Forgiveness
  • A Decision I Regretted
  • A Special Talent I Have
  • The Importance of Family Traditions
  • The Thrill of Performing on Stage
  • A Moment of Sudden Inspiration
  • The Meaning of Home
  • Learning to Play a Musical Instrument
  • A Childhood Memory at the Park
  • Witnessing a Beautiful Sunset

Narrative Essay Topics for College Students

  • Discovering a New Passion
  • Overcoming Academic Challenges
  • Navigating Cultural Differences
  • Embracing Independence: Moving Away from Home
  • Exploring Career Aspirations
  • Coping with Stress in College
  • The Impact of a Mentor in My Life
  • Balancing Work and Studies
  • Facing a Fear of Public Speaking
  • Exploring a Semester Abroad
  • The Evolution of My Study Habits
  • Volunteering Experience That Changed My Perspective
  • The Role of Technology in Education
  • Finding Balance: Social Life vs. Academics
  • Learning a New Skill Outside the Classroom
  • Reflecting on Freshman Year Challenges
  • The Joys and Struggles of Group Projects
  • My Experience with Internship or Work Placement
  • Challenges of Time Management in College
  • Redefining Success Beyond Grades
  • The Influence of Literature on My Thinking
  • The Impact of Social Media on College Life
  • Overcoming Procrastination
  • Lessons from a Leadership Role
  • Exploring Diversity on Campus
  • Exploring Passion for Environmental Conservation
  • An Eye-Opening Course That Changed My Perspective
  • Living with Roommates: Challenges and Lessons
  • The Significance of Extracurricular Activities
  • The Influence of a Professor on My Academic Journey
  • Discussing Mental Health in College
  • The Evolution of My Career Goals
  • Confronting Personal Biases Through Education
  • The Experience of Attending a Conference or Symposium
  • Challenges Faced by Non-Native English Speakers in College
  • The Impact of Traveling During Breaks
  • Exploring Identity: Cultural or Personal
  • The Impact of Music or Art on My Life
  • Addressing Diversity in the Classroom
  • Exploring Entrepreneurial Ambitions
  • My Experience with Research Projects
  • Overcoming Impostor Syndrome in College
  • The Importance of Networking in College
  • Finding Resilience During Tough Times
  • The Impact of Global Issues on Local Perspectives
  • The Influence of Family Expectations on Education
  • Lessons from a Part-Time Job
  • Exploring the College Sports Culture
  • The Role of Technology in Modern Education
  • The Journey of Self-Discovery Through Education

Narrative Essay Comparison

Narrative essay vs. descriptive essay.

Here’s our first narrative essay comparison! While both narrative and descriptive essays focus on vividly portraying a subject or an event, they differ in their primary objectives and approaches. Now, let’s delve into the nuances of comparison on narrative essays.

Narrative Essay:

Storytelling: Focuses on narrating a personal experience or event.

Chronological Order: Follows a structured timeline of events to tell a story.

Message or Lesson: Often includes a central message, moral, or lesson learned from the experience.

Engagement: Aims to captivate the reader through a compelling storyline and character development.

First-Person Perspective: Typically narrated from the writer’s point of view, using “I” and expressing personal emotions and thoughts.

Plot Development: Emphasizes a plot with a beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Character Development: Focuses on describing characters, their interactions, emotions, and growth.

Conflict or Challenge: Usually involves a central conflict or challenge that drives the narrative forward.

Dialogue: Incorporates conversations to bring characters and their interactions to life.

Reflection: Concludes with reflection or insight gained from the experience.

Descriptive Essay:

Vivid Description: Aims to vividly depict a person, place, object, or event.

Imagery and Details: Focuses on sensory details to create a vivid image in the reader’s mind.

Emotion through Description: Uses descriptive language to evoke emotions and engage the reader’s senses.

Painting a Picture: Creates a sensory-rich description allowing the reader to visualize the subject.

Imagery and Sensory Details: Focuses on providing rich sensory descriptions, using vivid language and adjectives.

Point of Focus: Concentrates on describing a specific subject or scene in detail.

Spatial Organization: Often employs spatial organization to describe from one area or aspect to another.

Objective Observations: Typically avoids the use of personal opinions or emotions; instead, the focus remains on providing a detailed and objective description.

Comparison:

Focus: Narrative essays emphasize storytelling, while descriptive essays focus on vividly describing a subject or scene.

Perspective: Narrative essays are often written from a first-person perspective, while descriptive essays may use a more objective viewpoint.

Purpose: Narrative essays aim to convey a message or lesson through a story, while descriptive essays aim to paint a detailed picture for the reader without necessarily conveying a specific message.

Narrative Essay vs. Argumentative Essay

The narrative essay and the argumentative essay serve distinct purposes and employ different approaches:

Engagement and Emotion: Aims to captivate the reader through a compelling story.

Reflective: Often includes reflection on the significance of the experience or lessons learned.

First-Person Perspective: Typically narrated from the writer’s point of view, sharing personal emotions and thoughts.

Plot Development: Emphasizes a storyline with a beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Message or Lesson: Conveys a central message, moral, or insight derived from the experience.

Argumentative Essay:

Persuasion and Argumentation: Aims to persuade the reader to adopt the writer’s viewpoint on a specific topic.

Logical Reasoning: Presents evidence, facts, and reasoning to support a particular argument or stance.

Debate and Counterarguments: Acknowledge opposing views and counter them with evidence and reasoning.

Thesis Statement: Includes a clear thesis statement that outlines the writer’s position on the topic.

Thesis and Evidence: Starts with a strong thesis statement and supports it with factual evidence, statistics, expert opinions, or logical reasoning.

Counterarguments: Addresses opposing viewpoints and provides rebuttals with evidence.

Logical Structure: Follows a logical structure with an introduction, body paragraphs presenting arguments and evidence, and a conclusion reaffirming the thesis.

Formal Language: Uses formal language and avoids personal anecdotes or emotional appeals.

Objective: Argumentative essays focus on presenting a logical argument supported by evidence, while narrative essays prioritize storytelling and personal reflection.

Purpose: Argumentative essays aim to persuade and convince the reader of a particular viewpoint, while narrative essays aim to engage, entertain, and share personal experiences.

Structure: Narrative essays follow a storytelling structure with character development and plot, while argumentative essays follow a more formal, structured approach with logical arguments and evidence.

In essence, while both essays involve writing and presenting information, the narrative essay focuses on sharing a personal experience, whereas the argumentative essay aims to persuade the audience by presenting a well-supported argument.

Narrative Essay vs. Personal Essay

While there can be an overlap between narrative and personal essays, they have distinctive characteristics:

Storytelling: Emphasizes recounting a specific experience or event in a structured narrative form.

Engagement through Story: Aims to engage the reader through a compelling story with characters, plot, and a central theme or message.

Reflective: Often includes reflection on the significance of the experience and the lessons learned.

First-Person Perspective: Typically narrated from the writer’s viewpoint, expressing personal emotions and thoughts.

Plot Development: Focuses on developing a storyline with a clear beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Character Development: Includes descriptions of characters, their interactions, emotions, and growth.

Central Message: Conveys a central message, moral, or insight derived from the experience.

Personal Essay:

Exploration of Ideas or Themes: Explores personal ideas, opinions, or reflections on a particular topic or subject.

Expression of Thoughts and Opinions: Expresses the writer’s thoughts, feelings, and perspectives on a specific subject matter.

Reflection and Introspection: Often involves self-reflection and introspection on personal experiences, beliefs, or values.

Varied Structure and Content: Can encompass various forms, including memoirs, personal anecdotes, or reflections on life experiences.

Flexibility in Structure: Allows for diverse structures and forms based on the writer’s intent, which could be narrative-like or more reflective.

Theme-Centric Writing: Focuses on exploring a central theme or idea, with personal anecdotes or experiences supporting and illustrating the theme.

Expressive Language: Utilizes descriptive and expressive language to convey personal perspectives, emotions, and opinions.

Focus: Narrative essays primarily focus on storytelling through a structured narrative, while personal essays encompass a broader range of personal expression, which can include storytelling but isn’t limited to it.

Structure: Narrative essays have a more structured plot development with characters and a clear sequence of events, while personal essays might adopt various structures, focusing more on personal reflection, ideas, or themes.

Intent: While both involve personal experiences, narrative essays emphasize telling a story with a message or lesson learned, while personal essays aim to explore personal thoughts, feelings, or opinions on a broader range of topics or themes.

5 Easy Steps for Writing a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is more than just telling a story. It’s also meant to engage the reader, get them thinking, and leave a lasting impact. Whether it’s to amuse, motivate, teach, or reflect, these essays are a great way to communicate with your audience. This interesting narrative essay guide was all about letting you understand the narrative essay, its importance, and how can you write one.

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Narrative Essay Writing

Narrative Essay Examples

Cathy A.

20+ Top Narrative Essay Examples by Experts

12 min read

Published on: Apr 12, 2020

Last updated on: Mar 24, 2024

narrative essay examples

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How to Write a Narrative Essay in Simple Steps

Interesting Narrative Essay Topics and Ideas

Personal Narrative Essay - Easy Guide & Examples

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Narrative essays are a common assignment in school, but many students struggle to write them. 

The problem with narrative essays is that they can be difficult to write. They require students to think about their own experiences and to put those experiences into words. This can be a challenge, especially for students who are not used to writing about themselves.

The solution to the problem of writing narrative essays is to provide students with examples. By reading examples of narrative essays, students can see how other students have successfully written about their own experiences. 

In this blog post, we will provide you with examples of narrative essays.By the end of this blog post, you will have a better understanding of how to write a narrative essay.

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Before writing, go through narrative essay examples to ensure that outlining and formatting are done correctly. Moreover, looking at examples will allow the writer to understand sensory details and vocabulary to describe events, settings, characters, and emotions.

Here are some famous narrative essays that you can consider adding to your reading wishlist:

“A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift

“Once More to the Lake” by EB White

“The Fourth of July” by Audre Lorde

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

“The Crisis” by Thomas Paine

But it doesn't end here! To help our students, CollegeEssay.org has gathered many other narrative essay sample. These examples will help you learn the correct formation of a narrative essay.

Read on to discover!

Personal Narrative Essay Example

Are you looking for a sample to draft a personal narrative essay ? Go through the example provided below to understand how the first-person and third-person perspectives are used in a narrative essay.

Sample Personal Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay Example for Middle School

A narrative essay is frequently assigned to middle school students to assess their writing and creative skills. If you are a student looking for a sample narrative essay for your middle school assignment, go through the example provided below.

Narrative Essay Example: 7th Grade

Narrative Essay Example for Grade 8

Grade 9 Narrative Essay Example

Sample Narrative Essay Grade 12

Narrative Essay Example for High School

When drafting assignments for high school, professional writing is essential. Your essays and papers should be well structured and written in order to achieve better grades. If you are assigned a narrative essay, go through the sample provided to see how an effective essay is written.

Sample Narrative Essay For High School

Good Narrative Essay Examples for College

College essays are more complex in nature than other academic levels. They require a better understanding of the concept, following a proper writing procedure, and an outline.

Although you are to draft a narrative essay for your college assignment, make sure it is professionally written. Read the sample narrative essay provided below.

Descriptive Narrative Essay Example

If you are to draft a document on the recreation of an event, a descriptive narrative essay is written. It presents an incident that happened to the writer and the backed-up information that supports the story.

The following is a perfect example of a descriptive narrative essay.

Sample Descriptive Narrative Essay

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Literacy Narrative Essay Example

Academic assignments often require students to draft essays on education. Education is the most significant topic of discussion, and for this purpose, almost every essay type and research paper studies it.

If you are drafting a narrative essay on literacy, go through the sample provided.

Fictional Narrative Essay Example

Drafting a fictional piece of document requires a more vivid description and detail. If you are assigned a narrative essay to draft on a fictional theme, read the example provided below.

Sample Fictional Narrative Essay

The Essentials of Narrative Essays

In a narrative essay, the goal is to write a story from one person's perspective. To do this well requires incorporating all of these aspects: 

Below are some golden points that you should keep in mind when writing a narrative essay.

  • Chronological order is the most common way to present information.
  • A thesis statement has a function in an essay. This is typically evident in the opening paragraph.
  • The writer's argument is clearly communicated through the use of sensory details and vivid language.
  • This draws the reader in and makes them interested in what the writer has to say. Everything in the passage is somehow related to the main point.

How to Start a Narrative Essay?

When you start writing the narrative essay, you should follow some steps and make your writing process easy.

For your help, we gathered some steps that you should follow when starting writing the essay.

  • Choose a narrative essay topic that is engaging and interesting.
  • Do some research and then start writing the essay.
  • Create an outline.
  • Start writing the essay. The way you describe things should be creative and colorful. Thus, the reader can feel as if they are right there with what's happening.
  • Proofread the essay before submitting it.

Watch the video below for tips on how to write a narrative essay:

Narrative Essay Writing Tips 

Professional essay writers of CollegeEssay.org have gathered some tips and tricks for you to follow to make your narrative essay remarkable. Even if you are aware of the writing procedure, it is advised to use expert tips to make your documents flawless. 

Follow the tips provided below to draft an exceptional narrative essay.

  • Clear Content: The narrative essay content should be clear. All the details and descriptions provided should be readable and understandable by the audience. Avoid using complex words and distribute content into paragraphs.
  • Keep it concise: Avoid describing every minor detail or movement. Provide only explanations that are important for the readers to imagine. 
  • Use first-person perspective: To make something believable and interesting for the readers, state it from the first-person perspective. Share your personal experiences, stories, and opinions to make the content impactful. 
  • Use limited referencing: When drafting an essay, according to the instructed format, avoid using frequent in-text citations. 
  • Use Clear Stance: Write your point of view clearly, so the readers feel that it is a genuine piece of writing. 

Keep in mind that a narrative essay is different from an expository essay but the same as a descriptive essay .  

In conclusion,

Using the tips provided by the professionals and going through the narrative essay examples will let you draft an effective paper. 

Looking for top-tier essay writing help online ?

Our narrative essay writing service offers unparalleled expertise to bring your stories to life with clarity and creativity.

Also, elevate your writing journey with the best essay writer , our AI-driven tool that combines cutting-edge technology with user-friendly functionality. Experience the blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern innovation in your next essay. Try it now!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a narrative paragraph.

Paragraphs vary in length depending on the content, but a standard 5-sentence paragraph usually isn't enough to tell an interesting story. 

How do I write a narrative essay?

Here are some steps that will help you to write a great narrative essay. 

  • Consider the topic 
  • Start writing the draft 
  • Provide supporting facts 
  • Revise your essay 

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  • How To Write a Narrative Essay: Guide With Examples
  • Learn English
  • James Prior
  • No Comments
  • Updated December 12, 2023

Welcome to the creative world of narrative essays where you get to become the storyteller and craft your own narrative. In this article, we’ll break down how to write a narrative essay, covering the essential elements and techniques that you need to know.

Writing a narrative essay

Table of Contents

What is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is a form of writing where the author recounts a personal experience or story. Unlike other types of essays, a narrative essay allows you to share a real-life event or sequence of events, often drawing from personal insights and emotions.

In a narrative essay, you take on the role of a storyteller, employing vivid details and descriptive language to transport the reader into the world of your story. The narrative often unfolds in chronological order, guiding the audience through a journey of experiences, reflections, and sometimes, a lesson learned.

The success of a narrative essay lies in your ability to create a compelling narrative arc. This means establishing a clear beginning, middle, and end. This structure helps build suspense, maintain the reader’s interest, and deliver a cohesive and impactful story. Ultimately, a well-crafted narrative essay not only narrates an event but also communicates the deeper meaning or significance behind the experience, making it a powerful and memorable piece of writing and leaving a lasting impression on the reader.

Types of Narrative Essays

Narrative essays come in various forms, each with unique characteristics. The most common type of narrative essay are personal narrative essays where you write about a personal experience. This can cover a whole range of topics as these examples of personal narrative essays illustrate. As a student in school or college, you’ll often be asked to write these types of essays. You may also need to write them later in life when applying for jobs and describing your past experiences.

However, this isn’t the only type of narrative essay. There are also fictional narrative essays that you can write using your imagination, and various subject specific narrative essays that you might have come across without even realizing it.

So, it’s worth knowing about the different types of narrative essays and what they each focus on before we move on to how to write them.

Here are some common types of narrative essays:

  • Focus on a personal experience or event from the author’s life.
  • Use the first-person perspective to convey the writer’s emotions and reflections.
  • Can take many forms, from science fiction and fantasy to adventure and romance.
  • Spark the imagination to create captivating stories.
  • Provide a detailed account of the author’s life, often covering a significant timespan.
  • Explore key life events, achievements, challenges, and personal growth.
  • Reflect on the writer’s experiences with language, reading, or writing.
  • Explore how these experiences have shaped the writer’s identity and skills
  • Document the author’s experiences and insights gained from a journey or travel.
  • Describe places visited, people encountered, and the lessons learned during the trip.
  • Explore historical events or periods through a personal lens.
  • Combine factual information with the writer’s perspective and experiences.

The narrative essay type you’ll work with often depends on the purpose, audience, and nature of the story being told. So, how should you write narrative essays?

How To Write Narrative Essays

From selecting the right topic to building a captivating storyline, we explore the basics to guide you in creating engaging narratives. So, grab your pen, and let’s delve into the fundamentals of writing a standout narrative essay.

Before we start, it’s worth pointing out that most narrative essays are written in the first-person. Through the use of first-person perspective, you get to connect with the reader, offering a glimpse into your thoughts, reactions, and the significance of the story being shared.

Let’s get into how to create these stories:

Write your plot

If you want to tell a compelling story you need a good plot. Your plot will give your story a structure. Every good story includes some kind of conflict. You should start with setting the scene for readers. After this, you introduce a challenge or obstacle. Readers will keep reading until the end to find out how you managed to overcome it.

Your story should reach a climax where tension is highest. This will be the turning point that leads to a resolution. For example, moving outside of your comfort zone was difficult and scary. It wasn’t easy at first but eventually, you grew braver and more confident. Readers should discover more about who you are as a person through what they read.

A seasoned writer knows how to craft a story that connects with an audience and creates an impact.

Hook readers with your introduction

In your introduction, you will introduce the main idea of your essay and set the context. Ways to make it more engaging are to:

  • Use sensory images to describe the setting in which your story takes place.
  • Use a quote that illustrates your main idea.
  • Pose an intriguing question.
  • Introduce an unexpected fact or a statement that grabs attention.

Develop your characters

You need to make readers feel they know any characters you introduce in your narrative essay. You can do this by revealing their personalities and quirks through the actions they take. It is always better to show the actions of characters rather than giving facts about them. Describing a character’s body language and features can also reveal a great deal about the person. You can check out these adjectives to describe a person to get some inspiration.

Use dialogue

Dialogue can bring your narrative essay to life. Most fiction books use dialogue extensively . It helps to move the story along in a subtle way. When you allow characters to talk, what they have to say seems more realistic. You can use similes , metaphors, and other parts of speech to make your story more compelling. Just make sure the dialogue is written clearly with the right punctuation so readers understand exactly who is talking.

Work on the pace of the story

Your story must flow along at a steady pace. If there’s too much action, readers may get confused. If you use descriptive writing, try not to overdo it. The clear, concise language throughout will appeal to readers more than lengthy descriptions.

Build up towards a climax

This is the point at which the tension in your story is the highest. A compelling climax takes readers by surprise. They may not have seen it coming. This doesn’t mean your climax should come out of left field. You need to carefully lead up to it step by step and guide readers along. When you reveal it they should be able to look back and realize it’s logical.

Cut out what you don’t need

Your story will suffer if you include too much detail that doesn’t move your story along. It may flow better once you cut out some unnecessary details. Most narrative essays are about five paragraphs but this will depend on the topic and requirements.

In a narrative essay, you share your experiences and insights. The journey you take your readers on should leave them feeling moved or inspired. It takes practice to learn how to write in a way that causes this reaction. With a good plot as your guide, it’s easier to write a compelling story that flows toward a satisfying resolution.

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How to write a narrative essay [Updated 2023]

How to write a narrative essay

A narrative essay is an opportunity to flex your creative muscles and craft a compelling story. In this blog post, we define what a narrative essay is and provide strategies and examples for writing one.

What is a narrative essay?

Similarly to a descriptive essay or a reflective essay, a narrative essay asks you to tell a story, rather than make an argument and present evidence. Most narrative essays describe a real, personal experience from your own life (for example, the story of your first big success).

Alternately, your narrative essay might focus on an imagined experience (for example, how your life would be if you had been born into different circumstances). While you don’t need to present a thesis statement or scholarly evidence, a narrative essay still needs to be well-structured and clearly organized so that the reader can follow your story.

When you might be asked to write a narrative essay

Although less popular than argumentative essays or expository essays, narrative essays are relatively common in high school and college writing classes.

The same techniques that you would use to write a college essay as part of a college or scholarship application are applicable to narrative essays, as well. In fact, the Common App that many students use to apply to multiple colleges asks you to submit a narrative essay.

How to choose a topic for a narrative essay

When you are asked to write a narrative essay, a topic may be assigned to you or you may be able to choose your own. With an assigned topic, the prompt will likely fall into one of two categories: specific or open-ended.

Examples of specific prompts:

  • Write about the last vacation you took.
  • Write about your final year of middle school.

Examples of open-ended prompts:

  • Write about a time when you felt all hope was lost.
  • Write about a brief, seemingly insignificant event that ended up having a big impact on your life.

A narrative essay tells a story and all good stories are centered on a conflict of some sort. Experiences with unexpected obstacles, twists, or turns make for much more compelling essays and reveal more about your character and views on life.

If you’re writing a narrative essay as part of an admissions application, remember that the people reviewing your essay will be looking at it to gain a sense of not just your writing ability, but who you are as a person.

In these cases, it’s wise to choose a topic and experience from your life that demonstrates the qualities that the prompt is looking for, such as resilience, perseverance, the ability to stay calm under pressure, etc.

It’s also important to remember that your choice of topic is just a starting point. Many students find that they arrive at new ideas and insights as they write their first draft, so the final form of your essay may have a different focus than the one you started with.

How to outline and format a narrative essay

Even though you’re not advancing an argument or proving a point of view, a narrative essay still needs to have a coherent structure. Your reader has to be able to follow you as you tell the story and to figure out the larger point that you’re making.

You’ll be evaluated on is your handling of the topic and how you structure your essay. Even though a narrative essay doesn’t use the same structure as other essay types, you should still sketch out a loose outline so you can tell your story in a clear and compelling way.

To outline a narrative essay, you’ll want to determine:

  • how your story will start
  • what points or specifics that you want to cover
  • how your story will end
  • what pace and tone you will use

In the vast majority of cases, a narrative essay should be written in the first-person, using “I.” Also, most narrative essays will follow typical formatting guidelines, so you should choose a readable font like Times New Roman in size 11 or 12. Double-space your paragraphs and use 1” margins.

To get your creative wheels turning, consider how your story compares to archetypes and famous historical and literary figures both past and present. Weave these comparisons into your essay to improve the quality of your writing and connect your personal experience to a larger context.

How to write a narrative essay

Writing a narrative essay can sometimes be a challenge for students who typically write argumentative essays or research papers in a formal, objective style. To give you a better sense of how you can write a narrative essay, here is a short example of an essay in response to the prompt, “Write about an experience that challenged your view of yourself.”

Narrative essay example

Even as a child, I always had what people might call a reserved personality. It was sometimes framed as a positive (“Sarah is a good listener”) and at other times it was put in less-than-admiring terms (“Sarah is withdrawn and not very talkative”). It was the latter kind of comments that caused me to see my introverted nature as a drawback and as something I should work to eliminate. That is, until I joined my high school’s student council.

The first paragraph, or introduction, sets up the context, establishing the situation and introducing the meaningful event upon which the essay will focus.

The other four students making up the council were very outspoken and enthusiastic. I enjoyed being around them, and I often agreed with their ideas. However, when it came to overhauling our school’s recycling plan, we butted heads. When I spoke up and offered a different point of view, one of my fellow student council members launched into a speech, advocating for her point of view. As her voice filled the room, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I wondered if I should try to match her tone, volume, and assertiveness as a way to be heard. But I just couldn’t do it—it’s not my way, and it never has been. For a fleeting moment, I felt defeated. But then, something in me shifted.

In this paragraph, the writer goes into greater depth about how her existing thinking brought her to this point.

I reminded myself that my view was valid and deserved to be heard. So I waited. I let my fellow council member speak her piece and when she was finished, I deliberately waited a few moments before calmly stating my case. I chose my words well, and I spoke them succinctly. Just because I’m not a big talker doesn’t mean I’m not a big thinker. I thought of the quotation “still waters run deep” and I tried to embody that. The effect on the room was palpable. People listened. And I hadn’t had to shout my point to be heard.

This paragraph demonstrates the turn in the story, the moment when everything changed. The use of the quotation “still waters run deep” imbues the story with a dash of poetry and emotion.

We eventually reached a compromise on the matter and concluded the student council meeting. Our council supervisor came to me afterward and said: “You handled that so well, with such grace and poise. I was very impressed.” Her words in that moment changed me. I realized that a bombastic nature isn't necessarily a powerful one. There is power in quiet, too. This experience taught me to view my reserved personality not as a character flaw, but as a strength.

The final paragraph, or conclusion, closes with a statement about the significance of this event and how it ended up changing the writer in a meaningful way.

Narrative essay writing tips

1. pick a meaningful story that has a conflict and a clear “moral.”.

If you’re able to choose your own topic, pick a story that has meaning and that reveals how you became the person your are today. In other words, write a narrative with a clear “moral” that you can connect with your main points.

2. Use an outline to arrange the structure of your story and organize your main points.

Although a narrative essay is different from argumentative essays, it’s still beneficial to construct an outline so that your story is well-structured and organized. Note how you want to start and end your story, and what points you want to make to tie everything together.

3. Be clear, concise, concrete, and correct in your writing.

You should use descriptive writing in your narrative essay, but don’t overdo it. Use clear, concise, and correct language and grammar throughout. Additionally, make concrete points that reinforce the main idea of your narrative.

4. Ask a friend or family member to proofread your essay.

No matter what kind of writing you’re doing, you should always plan to proofread and revise. To ensure that your narrative essay is coherent and interesting, ask a friend or family member to read over your paper. This is especially important if your essay is responding to a prompt. It helps to have another person check to make sure that you’ve fully responded to the prompt or question.

Frequently Asked Questions about narrative essays

A narrative essay, like any essay, has three main parts: an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Structuring and outlining your essay before you start writing will help you write a clear story that your readers can follow.

The first paragraph of your essay, or introduction, sets up the context, establishing the situation and introducing the meaningful event upon which the essay will focus.

In the vast majority of cases, a narrative essay should be written in the first-person, using “I.”

The 4 main types of essays are the argumentative essay, narrative essay, exploratory essay, and expository essay. You may be asked to write different types of essays at different points in your education.

Most narrative essays will be around five paragraphs, or more, depending on the topic and requirements. Make sure to check in with your instructor about the guidelines for your essay. If you’re writing a narrative essay for a college application, pay close attention to word or page count requirements.

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What is a Narrative Essay Examples Format and Techniques Featured

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What is a Narrative Essay — Examples, Format & Techniques

I was in the Amazon jungle the first time I wrote a narrative essay, enlightened and enraptured by the influence of ayahuasca. That’s not true. I’ve never been to South America nor have I ever taken ayahuasca. The purpose of that opening is to show how to craft a narrative essay intro — hook, line, and sinker. Narrative essays rely on hooking the reader, and enticing them to read on. But what is a narrative essay? We’re going to break down everything you need to know about these essays — definition, examples, tips and tricks included. By the end, you’ll be ready to craft your own narrative essay for school or for publication.

What’s a Narrative Essay?

First, let’s define narrative essay.

Narrative essays share a lot of similarities with personal essays, but whereas the former can be fictional or non-fictional, the latter are strictly non-fictional. The goal of the narrative essay is to use established storytelling techniques, like theme , conflict , and irony , in a uniquely personal way.

The responsibility of the narrative essayist is to make the reader feel connected to their story, regardless of the topic. This next video explores how writers can use structural elements and techniques to better engage their readers. 

Personal Narrative Essay Examples With Essay Pro

Narrative essays rely on tried and true structure components, including:

  • First-person POV
  • Personal inspiration
  • Focus on a central theme

By keeping these major tenets in mind, you’ll be better prepared to recognize weaknesses and strengths in your own works.

NARRATIVE ESSAY DEFINITION

What is a narrative essay.

A narrative essay is a prose-written story that’s focused on the commentary of a central theme. Narrative essays are generally written in the first-person POV, and are usually about a topic that’s personal to the writer. Everything in these essays should take place in an established timeline, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

Famous Narrative Essay Examples

  • Ticker to the Fair by David Foster Wallace
  • After Life by Joan Didion
  • Here is a Lesson in Creative Writing by Kurt Vonnegut

Narrative Writing Explained

How to start a narrative essay.

When you go to sleep at night, what do you think of? Flying squirrels? Lost loved ones? That time you called your teacher ‘mom’? Whatever it is, that’s what you need to write about. There’s a reason those ideas and moments have stuck with you over time. Your job is to figure out why.

Once you realize what makes a moment important to you, it’s your job to make it important to the reader too. In this next video, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker J. Christian Jensen explains the power of the personal narrative. 

Narrative Writing and the Personal Narrative Essay  •  Video by TEDx Talks

Anything and everything can be the topic of your essay. It could be as benign as a walk to school or as grandiose as a trip to the moon — so long as that narrative exists within reality. Give your thoughts and opinions on the matter too — don’t be afraid to say “this is what I think” so long as it’s supported by storytelling techniques. Remember, never limit yourself as a writer, just keep in mind that certain topics will be harder to make engaging than others.

Narrative Essay Outline

How to write a narrative essay.

First step, game plan. You’re going to want to map out the story from beginning to end, then mark major story beats in your document.

Like all stories, your narrative essay needs a clear beginning, middle, and end. Each section should generally conform to a specifically outlined structure. For reference, check out the outline below.

Structure of A Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay Format  •  How to Write a Narrative Essay Step by Step

Make sure to reference back to this outline throughout the writing process to make sure you have all your major beats covered.

Purpose of narrative essay writing

Narrative essays give writers the ability to freely express themselves within the structure of a traditional story. Nearly all universities ask applicants to submit a narrative essay with their formal application. This is done for two reasons: they allow institutions to judge the linguistic and grammar capabilities of its applicants, as well as their raw creative side.

If you’re considering studying creative writing in an undergraduate or graduate program, then you’re going to write A LOT of narrative style essays. This process may seem indomitable; How am I supposed to write hundreds of pages about… me? But by the end, you’ll be a better writer and you’ll have a better understanding of yourself.

One thing that all successful essayists have in common is that they make radical, often defiant statements on the world at large. Think Ralph Waldo Emerson, Virginia Woolf, and Langston Hughes for example.

Being a professional essayist isn’t easy, and it’s near-impossible to be one who makes a lot of money. Many essayists work as professors, editors, and curriculum designers as well. 

This next video features the late, award-winning essayist Brian Doyle. He explains all the things you need to hear when thinking about writing a story.

Narrative Essay Examples “Lecture” via Boston University

We can learn a lot from the way Doyle “opens” his stories. My favorite is how he begins with the statement, “I met the Dalai Lama once.” How can we not be interested in learning more? 

This brings us all the way back to the beginning. Start with a hook, rattle off the line, then reel in the sinker. If you entice the reader, develop a personal plot, and finish with a resolute ending, you’ll have a lot of success in essay writing. 

 Up Next

Narrative essay topics.

We've curated a collection of narrative essay topics that will spark your creativity and bring your experiences to life. Dive into the rich tapestry of your memories, explore the unique threads of your life, and let your narrative unfold.

Up Next: Narrative Essay Topics →

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The system format you using on line is very concise ,I encourage to those who are talented to continue puplish their examples of essays so that we student we can crasp.

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Narrative Essay Guide

Narrative Essay Outline

Last updated on: Feb 9, 2023

How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline - Tips & Examples

By: Nathan D.

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Jun 2, 2020

Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay is a type of academic essay in which the writer narrates a story. It is the most commonly assigned form of academic writing. Students have to face the narrative essay writing task quite often, so it is essential to know how to handle it. 

A narrative essay is a story, so it's important to know how to write one. The best way to start your outline is by brainstorming ideas.

Who are the characters? What do they want? How does this conflict with their goals and who wins in the end?

There are many different types of essays you can write about, but all will have some sort of conflict. Once you've figured out the basics, be creative! You could explore an event that happened in your life or tell a fictional story.

In this blog, you’ll learn to write an outline for a narrative essay with examples. Start reading!

Narrative Essay Outline

On this Page

A  narrative essay  is a type of academic essay in which the writer narrates a story. It is the most commonly assigned form of academic writing. Students have to face the narrative essay writing task quite often, so it is essential to know how to handle it.

Narrative Essay Outline Format

The narrative essay outline follows the standard structure. Like other types of essays, this essay normally follows a typical 5 paragraph essay format. The 5 paragraph outline includes one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and one conclusion paragraph.

However, unlike other essays, the paragraphs of the narrative essay have specifically designated purposes:

1. Introduction Paragraph:  Gives an insight into the story

2. First Body Paragraph:  Discuss the rising action

3. Second Body Paragraph:  Present the climax of the story

4. Third Body Paragraph:  Provide the falling action

5. Conclusion Paragraph:  Discussion of the lesson learned from the story

Paragraph Narrative Essay Outline Template

Let's look at the detailed 5 paragraph narrative essay outline for college students.

How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline?

A narrative essay is all about sharing the stories. Therefore, you need to organize your story into an essay format. As a writer, you are supposed to tell a story from your personal experience and why you are sharing that specific experience. Later, you need to discuss why this story or experience is important to share.

Let's look at how to craft an outline for a narrative essay. Follow the steps in the same sequence, and at the end, you’ll get a perfect outline. The writing process will become less stressful and daunting if you follow the steps given below.

1. Write the Introduction

The introduction paragraph is meant to engage the reader with the story. The first paragraph plays the most crucial role in making an impression on the reader’s mind. It allows you to share your perspective and how it relates to you. The following elements are involved in writing a strong narrative essay introduction.

  • Create a Hook Statement  Draw the reader in with an intriguing and attention-grabbing hook statement. Create a strong hook that makes your reader want to read further. You can use a quote, rhetorical question, or fact to create a persuasive hook statement.
  • Set the Scene:  Give your reader an idea of what is going to happen. Do not tell the whole story; just give a glimpse into it and keep your reader intrigued. Tell the reader how the points of the story relate to you.
  • Define the Thesis Statement:  Finally, tell your reader what your story is all about with the help of a thesis statement. Give a sneak peek of what is about to come but avoid telling the lesson you have learned from the situation yet; just give a hint.

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2. Draft the Body Paragraphs

The main body of a narrative essay is the most important part because it tells the whole story. This is where you state the facts, provide examples, give details, and guide the reader through the plot. According to the five paragraphs essay structure, it has three body paragraphs, but it can depend on the length and word count.

Below elements must be kept in mind while writing the narrative essay body paragraphs:

  • Write Chronologically:  The timelines of a story should be presented in chronological order. Otherwise, the reader will get confused, and it becomes hard for them to understand the story. To keep your paper organized, you should present things in sequential order.
  • Share the Relevant and Vivid Details:  As a narrative essay is all about creating a mood and scene to follow, do that creatively. Set up the story with descriptive and concise language. Provide the reader with the most important details of your story. These details may include the characters, setting, plot, and the onset of the story.
  • Avoid Narration Deviation:  The narrative essay is usually written in the first person unless you share someone else’s story. The third-person narrative only works best when you are telling a story you heard from someone else.

3. Write a Compelling Conclusion

The conclusion paragraph is the final section of the essay where you give some final comments about the story. Summarize your essay and connect your reader back to the story. Follow these steps to write an impressive conclusion.

  • Restate Some Key Details:  Restate the thesis statement and some key details you have shared in the body. It will help you connect your reader with your story.
  • Share the Lesson:  Stress the lesson you have learned from the story and leave the reader with something to think about.
  • Call to Action:  In the end, provide a call to action that convinces the reader to think more about the topic.

Narrative Essay Outline Worksheet

Use the given worksheet below to write a narrative essay with ease.

Narrative Essay Outline Example

Here are some  narrative essay examples  and samples for your convenience. Use these templates and learn to write a good narrative essay easily.

Narrative Essay Outline for Middle School

College Narrative Essay Outline

Personal Narrative Essay Outline Template

Descriptive Narrative Essay Outline

Literacy Narrative Essay Outline

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However, if you still have some concerns about writing a perfect outline, you can contact our essay writers. 5StarEssays.com is a legit and reliable ‘ write my essay for me? ’ service that provides you with highly qualified and professional writers.

You can trust us with all of your academic writing assignments. So waste no more time and place your  order  now!

Nathan D.

Literature, College Essay

Nathan completed his Ph.D. in journalism and has been writing articles for well-respected publications for many years now. His work is carefully researched and insightful, showing a true passion for the written word. Nathan's clients appreciate his expertise, deep understanding of the process, and ability to communicate difficult concepts clearly.

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37 Student Narrative Essay Examples

The pot calling the kettle black….

“You aren’t acting normal,” my dad said with a dopy, concerned look on his face. He was a hard-working, soft and loving man. He was smaller than my mother, physically and figuratively. She sat beside him. She had a towering stature, with strong, swimmers’ shoulders, but she was hunched often. She didn’t really have eyebrows, but she didn’t need them. She had no problem conveying emotion on her face, especially negative ones.

“What’s wrong?” my mother asked. She took my hand frantically. Not the way one might take someone’s hand to connect with or comfort them. She needed reassurance more than I did.

My parents were sitting across from me on cushioned, bland-colored chairs in my dad’s office, while I sat on a rickety, torturous wooden chair. My dad’s office generally utilized natural light due to the expansive glass windows that allowed the light to drown the room, enclosing us in the chamber. I felt like an inmate being prepped for lethal injection. The weather was particularly gray and dismal. Perhaps it was the ambiguous, gray, confusing feelings I was breathing through. My parents had somewhat regular “interventions” to address my somewhat regular (sometimes public) emotional breakdowns, my self-medicating habits, and my general shitty attitude.

This week in particular, I had purposely destroyed two of my mother’s collectible horses. She had a maniacal obsession for them. She also maniacally collected sunflower artwork, which was the one obsession, of many, I found endearing. My old babysitter noted at one point there were 74 collectible horses in the house. After my outburst, there were 72.

I could see behind my parents, through the glass-paned door, my two younger sisters were secretly observing the altercation from the dining room, hiding under the table. They were illuminated by the ominous weather, which was also watching in on the dismal conversation through the windows. I was envious, jealous even, of my spectating sisters. My sisters didn’t have overflowing, excessive emotions. They didn’t have emotions that were considered “excessive.” I felt like an offender being put at the stocks: my parents were the executioners, and my sisters were the jesters.

“I’m angry.”

“What about?” my dad asked, puzzled. “Did someone do something to you?”

“Honey, were you—” my mother looked to my dad, then concealed her mouth slightly with the other hand, “ raped ?”

I couldn’t help but raise my voice. “No, Mom, I wasn’t raped, Jesus.” I took a moment to grind on my teeth and imagine the bit I was chomping at. Calm, careful, composed, I responded. “I’m just angry. I don’t feel—”

“What don’t you feel?” She practically jumped on me, while yanking my imprisoned hand toward her. She yanked at my reins.

“I don’t feel understood!” My mind was bucking. I didn’t know why I needed to react by raising my voice. It felt instinctive, defensive. Shouting forcefully, I jerked my hand away from her, but it remained in her clutches. I didn’t feel satisfied saying it, though what I said was the truth.

“What are you talking about?” my dad asked mournfully. I knew he felt betrayed. But he didn’t understand. He didn’t know what it’s like for things to be too much. Or to be too much. My dad looked at me longingly, hoping I would correct what I had said. He looked lost, incapable of understanding why I was doing what I was doing. My mother interjected, cutting off my dad’s hypnotic, silent cry for connection.

“You’re crazy!” she said, maintaining eye contact. My mother then let go of my hand, flipped it back to me. She reclined in her chair, retracting from me and the discussion entirely. She crossed her legs, then her arms. She turned her head away, toward the glass windows, and (mentally) left.

I was and am not “too much.”

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18 years old.

I had just stepped off a squealing MAX line onto a broken sidewalk slab, gnarled from tree roots, when I felt my phone buzz rhythmically.

“I need you to come to the hospital. Mom had a little accident.” My dad’s voice was distant and cracking, like a wavering radio signal, calling for help.

“What’s going on? Is she okay?” I asked while making my way to campus.

“Where are you?” He wasn’t going to tell me anything over the phone. Adrenaline set in. I let him know I was downtown and headed to campus, but that I would catch a Lyft to wherever they were. “We’re at Milwaukie Providence. How soon can you get here?

“I’ll let you know soon.” My assumption was that my parents had been in an argument, my mother left the house in a rage, and crashed her car. She’d been an erratic driver for as long as I could remember, and my parents had been arguing more than usual recently, as many new “empty-nesters” do. The lack of information provided by my dad, however, was unsettling. I don’t really recall the ride to the hospital. I do remember looking over the river while riding from the west to east side of town. I remember the menacing, dark clouds rolling in faster than the driver could transport me. I remember it was quick, but it was too much time spent without answers.

When I arrived at Providence, I jumped out of the sedan and galloped into the lobby of the emergency room like a race horse on its final lap. My younger sister and Dad were seated on cushioned, bland-colored chairs in the waiting room. There were expansive glass windows that allowed the light to drown the room. The weather was particularly gray and dismal. Perhaps it was the ambiguous, gray, confusing feelings I was breathing through. I sat down beside my dad, in a firmer-than-anticipated waiting room chair beside him. He took my hand frantically. He took it in the way one might take someone’s hand to connect with or comfort them. He needed reassurance more than I did.

“Where did she get in the accident?” I asked.

My sister, sitting across from me with her head in her knees, looked up at me with aquamarine, tear-filled eyes. She was staring through me, an unclouded window. “Mom tried to kill herself.”

“What?” My voice crescendoed from a normal volume to a shriek in the span of a single word. My mind felt like it was bucking. I grabbed at my hair, pulling it back tight with my spare hand. The tears and cries reared, no matter how hard I yanked my mane.

“We got in another argument this morning, and she sent me a message saying she didn’t want to be in pain anymore. She told me to tell you girls she’s sorry. I’m so sorry.” I’d never seen my dad cry before; I didn’t know he could. I didn’t know his tears would stream like gushing water from a broken dam. He looked lost, incapable of understanding why she was doing what she was doing. I looked from my dad to my sister to my hands. One hand remained enveloped by my dad’s gentle palm. At this point in life, I had not yet learned to be gentle with myself, or others. I cut off my dad’s hypnotic, silent cry for connection.

“She’s crazy!” I let go of my dad’s hand, flipped it back to him. I reclined in the

chair, retracting from the situation entirely. I crossed my legs, then my arms. I turned my head away, toward the glass windows, and (mentally) left.

“Crazy” is a term devised to dismiss people.

My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 50 years old.

Teacher Takeaways

“This essay makes excellent use of repetition as a narrative strategy. Throughout the essay, terms and phrases are repeated, generally with slight alterations, drawing the reader’s attention to the moment in question and recontextualizing the information being conveyed. This strategy is especially powerful when used to disclose the separate diagnoses of bipolar disorder, which is central to the narrative. I also appreciate the use of dialogue, though it mostly serves an expository function here. In itself that’s effective, but this narrative would be strengthened if that dialogue could serve to make some of the characters, especially the mother, more rounded.”

– Professor Dunham

My College Education

The following essay, “My College Education” is from Chapter 15.2 – Narrative Essay , Writing for Success , University of Minnesota Libraries.

The first class I went to in college was philosophy, and it changed my life forever. Our first assignment was to write a short response paper to the Albert Camus essay “The Myth of Sisyphus.” I was extremely nervous about the assignment as well as college. However, through all the confusion in philosophy class, many of my questions about life were answered.

I entered college intending to earn a degree in engineering. I always liked the way mathematics had right and wrong answers. I understood the logic and was very good at it. So when I received my first philosophy assignment that asked me to write my interpretation of the Camus essay, I was instantly confused. What is the right way to do this assignment, I wondered? I was nervous about writing an incorrect interpretation and did not want to get my first assignment wrong. Even more troubling was that the professor refused to give us any guidelines on what he was looking for; he gave us total freedom. He simply said, “I want to see what you come up with.”

Full of anxiety, I first set out to read Camus’s essay several times to make sure I really knew what was it was about. I did my best to take careful notes. Yet even after I took all these notes and knew the essay inside and out, I still did not know the right answer. What was my interpretation? I could think of a million different ways to interpret the essay, but which one was my professor looking for? In math class, I was used to examples and explanations of solutions. This assignment gave me nothing; I was completely on my own to come up with my individual interpretation.

Next, when I sat down to write, the words just did not come to me. My notes and ideas were all present, but the words were lost. I decided to try every prewriting strategy I could find. I brainstormed, made idea maps, and even wrote an outline. Eventually, after a lot of stress, my ideas became more organized and the words fell on the page. I had my interpretation of “The Myth of Sisyphus,” and I had my main reasons for interpreting the essay. I remember being unsure of myself, wondering if what I was saying made sense, or if I was even on the right track. Through all the uncertainty, I continued writing the best I could. I finished the conclusion paragraph, had my spouse proofread it for errors, and turned it in the next day simply hoping for the best.

Then, a week or two later, came judgment day. The professor gave our papers back to us with grades and comments. I remember feeling simultaneously afraid and eager to get the paper back in my hands. It turned out, however, that I had nothing to worry about. The professor gave me an A on the paper, and his notes suggested that I wrote an effective essay overall. He wrote that my reading of the essay was very original and that my thoughts were well organized. My relief and newfound confidence upon reading his comments could not be overstated.

What I learned through this process extended well beyond how to write a college paper. I learned to be open to new challenges. I never expected to enjoy a philosophy class and always expected to be a math and science person. This class and assignment, however, gave me the self-confidence, critical-thinking skills, and courage to try a new career path. I left engineering and went on to study law and eventually became a lawyer. More important, that class and paper helped me understand education differently. Instead of seeing college as a direct stepping stone to a career, I learned to see college as a place to first learn and then seek a career or enhance an existing career. By giving me the space to express my own interpretation and to argue for my own values, my philosophy class taught me the importance of education for education’s sake. That realization continues to pay dividends every day.

Model Student Essay

Innocence again.

Imagine the sensation of the one split second that you are floating through the air as you were thrown up in the air as a child, that feeling of freedom and carefree spirit as happiness abounds. Looking at the world through innocent eyes, all thoughts and feelings of amazement. Being free, happy, innocent, amazed, wowed. Imagine the first time seeing the colors when your eyes and brain start to recognize them but never being able to name the shade or hue. Looking at the sky as it changes from the blackness with twinkling stars to the lightest shade of blue that is almost white, then the deep red of the sunset and bright orange of the sun. All shades of the spectrum of the rainbow, colors as beautiful as the mind can see or imagine.

I have always loved the sea since I was young; the smell of saltiness in the air invigorates me and reminds me of the times spent with my family enjoying Sundays at the beach. In Singapore, the sea was always murky and green but I continued to enjoy all activities in it. When I went to Malaysia to work, I discovered that the sea was clear and blue and without hesitation, I signed up for a basic diving course and I was hooked. In my first year of diving, I explored all the dive destinations along the east coast of Malaysia and also took an advanced diving course which allowed me to dive up to a depth of thirty meters. Traveling to a dive site took no more than four hours by car and weekends were spent just enjoying the sea again.

Gearing up is no fun. Depending on the temperature of the water, I might put on a shortie, wetsuit or drysuit. Then on come the booties, fins and mask which can be considered the easiest part unless the suit is tight—then it is a hop and pull struggle, which reminds me of how life can be at times. Carrying the steel tank, regulator, buoyancy control device (BCD) and weights is a torture. The heaviest weights that I ever had to use were 110 pounds, equivalent to my body weight; but as I jump in and start sinking into the sea, the contrast to weightlessness hits me. The moment that I start floating in the water, a sense of immense freedom and joy overtakes me.

Growing up, we have to learn the basics: time spent in classes to learn, constantly practicing to improve our skills while safety is ingrained by our parents. In dive classes, I was taught to never panic or do stupid stuff: the same with the lessons that I have learned in life. Panic and over-inflated egos can lead to death, and I have heard it happens all the time. I had the opportunity to go to Antarctica for a diving expedition, but what led to me getting that slot was the death of a very experienced diver who used a drysuit in a tropic climate against all advice. He just overheated and died. Lessons learned in the sea can be very profound, but they contrast the life I live: risk-taker versus risk-avoider. However, when I have perfected it and it is time to be unleashed, it is time to enjoy. I jump in as I would jump into any opportunity, but this time it is into the deep blue sea of wonders.

A sea of wonders waits to be explored. Every journey is different: it can be fast or slow, like how life takes me. The sea decides how it wants to carry me; drifting fast with the currents so that at times, I hang on to the reef and corals like my life depends on it, even though I am taught never to touch anything underwater. The fear I feel when I am speeding along with the current is that I will be swept away into the big ocean, never to be found. Sometimes, I feel like I am not moving at all, kicking away madly until I hyperventilate because the sea is against me with its strong current holding me against my will.

The sea decides what it wants me to see: turtles popping out of the seabed, manta rays gracefully floating alongside, being in the middle of the eye of a barracuda hurricane, a coral shelf as big as a car, a desert of bleached corals, the emptiness of the seabed with not a fish in sight, the memorials of death caused by the December 26 tsunami—a barren sea floor with not a soul or life in sight.

The sea decides what treasures I can discover: a black-tipped shark sleeping in an underwater cavern, a pike hiding from predators in the reef, an octopus under a dead tree trunk that escapes into my buddy’s BCD, colorful mandarin fish mating at sunset, a deadly box jellyfish held in my gloved hands, pygmy seahorses in a fern—so tiny that to discover them is a journey itself.

Looking back, diving has taught me more about life, the ups and downs, the good and bad, and to accept and deal with life’s challenges. Everything I learn and discover underwater applies to the many different aspects of my life. It has also taught me that life is very short: I have to live in the moment or I will miss the opportunities that come my way. I allow myself to forget all my sorrow, despair and disappointments when I dive into the deep blue sea and savor the feelings of peacefulness and calmness. There is nothing around me but fish and corals, big and small. Floating along in silence with only the sound of my breath— inhale and exhale . An array of colors explodes in front of my eyes, colors that I never imagine I will discover again, an underwater rainbow as beautiful as the rainbow in the sky after a storm. As far as my eyes can see, I look into the depth of the ocean with nothing to anchor me. The deeper I get, the darker it turns. From the light blue sky to the deep navy blue, even blackness into the void. As the horizon darkens, the feeding frenzy of the underwater world starts and the watery landscape comes alive. Total darkness surrounds me but the sounds that I can hear are the little clicks in addition to my breathing. My senses overload as I cannot see what is around me, but the sea tells me it is alive and it anchors me to the depth of my soul.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.” … In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man in spite of real sorrows….” The sea and diving have given me a new outlook on life, a different planet where I can float into and enjoy as an adult, a new, different perspective on how it is to be that child again. Time and time again as I enter into the sea, I feel innocent all over again.

Write What Matters Copyright © 2020 by Liza Long; Amy Minervini; and Joel Gladd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Writing Beginner

30 Narrative Writing Examples to Elevate Your Writing

In this guide, I’ll share 30 examples that have not only influenced my work but have the power to elevate yours, too.

These are snippets of made-up stories, each demonstrating a key aspect of storytelling.

Read through these narrative writing examples to find the ones that speak to you.

Classic Literature

Colorful collage of symbols representing diverse narrative genres -- narrative writing examples

Table of Contents

As we explore classic literature, let’s consider how historical narrative writing examples have shaped our understanding of effective storytelling.

1. The Whispering Woods

“In the heart of the Whispering Woods, where the leaves spoke secrets to those who would listen, Elizabeth found her courage. It was in the gentle sway of the ancient trees, in the soft murmur of the wind, that her true purpose whispered back to her.”

Why it Works: This example draws on descriptive language and setting to immerse the reader in the story. Classic literature often relies on rich, evocative descriptions to create a vivid mental picture and evoke emotions.

2. The Last Candle

“Thomas stood before the last candle, its flame dancing like the hopes within him. Around him, darkness threatened to consume everything. With a steady hand, he lit the candle, a defiant beacon in the night.”

Why it Works: The symbolism of the candle’s light against darkness reflects the character’s internal struggle. Classic narratives frequently use such symbols to convey deeper meanings and themes.

3. A Duel of Wits

“Under the watchful eyes of the gathered crowd, Eleanor and her adversary circled each other. Words were their weapons, sharp and ready. ‘Your move,’ she taunted, her voice a melody of confidence.”

Why it Works: This example showcases dialogue as a narrative tool. In classic literature, dialogue often serves to reveal character, advance the plot, and create tension.

Contemporary Fiction

Moving into contemporary fiction, it’s fascinating to see how modern narrative writing examples push the boundaries of traditional storytelling.

4. The City that Never Sleeps

“Jamie navigated the neon-lit streets of the city, each step echoing the rhythm of a world that never paused. Here, in the heart of chaos, he found his peace, a paradox as complex as the city itself.”

Why it Works: Contemporary fiction thrives on the contrast and contradictions of modern life. This example uses the setting and the protagonist’s internal reflection to highlight the complexity of urban existence.

5. Echoes of the Past

“Sarah stood at the edge of the abandoned house, the past and present blurring into one. She could hear the echoes of laughter, the remnants of memories long faded but never forgotten.”

Why it Works: Contemporary narratives often explore themes of memory, identity, and the passage of time. This snippet uses sensory details and introspection to delve into these themes.

6. Crossroads

“Mark found himself at a crossroads, literal and metaphorical. To the left, the road to his past. To the right, an uncertain future. With a deep breath, he stepped forward, choosing the path less traveled.”

Why it Works: The use of a crossroads as a motif effectively illustrates the protagonist’s dilemma and moment of decision. Contemporary fiction frequently employs such motifs to represent pivotal moments in the characters’ lives.

Nonfiction Narratives

In this section on nonfiction narratives, we’ll look at how real-life narrative writing examples can be just as compelling as fiction.

7. The Unseen Journey

“Amidst the chaos of war, Dr. Ellis found solace in the small acts of kindness that went unnoticed by the many but meant the world to the few. Her journal entries, a testament to the human spirit, painted a vivid picture of resilience.”

Why it Works: Nonfiction narratives often rely on personal anecdotes to highlight broader themes. This example illustrates how individual stories can reflect universal truths about resilience and humanity.

8. Echoes from the Summit

“Reaching the summit after a grueling climb, Alex looked out over the world below, realizing the mountain was not just a physical challenge but a metaphor for his own personal struggles and triumphs.”

Why it Works: By weaving together personal achievement with introspection, this snippet showcases the reflective quality that makes nonfiction narratives compelling. It highlights the journey, both literal and metaphorical, as a source of insight.

9. The Heart of the City

“In the heart of the city, there was an old bookstore that had witnessed the ebb and flow of generations. Its owner, Mrs. Green, had stories that encapsulated the essence of the city’s soul, tales of love, loss, and rebirth.”

Why it Works: This narrative captures the essence of place and history through the eyes of an individual. Nonfiction narratives excel in bringing to life the stories of places and people, making them relatable and real.

Science Fiction & Fantasy

 futuristic sci-fi city

Our dive into science fiction and fantasy will highlight narrative writing examples that transport readers to entirely new worlds.

10. The Last Starship

“As the last starship prepared to leave Earth, Captain Vega reflected on the journey ahead. Humanity’s hope rested on their shoulders, a new beginning among the stars, where the rules of reality were yet to be written.”

Why it Works: Science fiction narratives like this one expand the imagination to explore what could be. They blend scientific principles with creative speculation, offering a vision of future possibilities and ethical dilemmas.

11. The Forest of Illusions

“In the Forest of Illusions, reality bent and twisted like the ancient trees. Aria, the realm’s guardian, navigated the ever-changing paths, her magic the only light in the darkness, guiding those lost back to truth.”

Why it Works: Fantasy narratives invite readers into worlds where magic is real and moral codes are tested. This example uses the setting and magical elements to create a sense of mystery and adventure.

12. Between Worlds

“Trapped between worlds, Leo discovered a realm where time flowed differently, and every moment was a lifetime. Here, he learned the true value of time, each second a precious gift not to be wasted.”

Why it Works: This snippet explores the theme of time, a common motif in science fiction and fantasy. It challenges readers to think about the nature of time and existence, showcasing the genre’s ability to question reality.

Mystery & Thriller

This mystery and thriller category (one of my personal favorites) will showcase narrative writing examples that masterfully build suspense and intrigue.

13. The Shadow on Elm Street

“As the fog settled on Elm Street, Detective Harper’s instincts told her the quiet was deceptive. The shadow lurking in the mist held secrets, secrets that could unravel the tranquility of this small town.”

Why it Works: Mystery narratives thrive on suspense and the gradual unveiling of secrets. This example sets up an atmosphere of tension and anticipation, essential elements for a gripping mystery.

14. The Forgotten Code

“Inside the dusty library, an ancient code hidden in a forgotten manuscript awaited discovery. Sam, a cryptologist with a penchant for puzzles, found himself entangled in a historical mystery that could change the world.”

Why it Works: The allure of uncovering hidden truths and solving puzzles is at the heart of thriller narratives. This snippet combines history, mystery, and technology, highlighting the genre’s ability to intertwine various elements to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

15. Echoes of Betrayal

“In a world where trust was currency, Lena found the cost of betrayal was higher than she could have imagined. The echoes of her choices reverberated, leading her down a path of suspense and revelation.”

Why it Works: This narrative example showcases the psychological depth and complexity of characters in mystery and thriller stories, emphasizing the consequences of actions and the intricate web of human relationships.

Children’s Stories

For children’s stories, examining narrative writing examples helps us understand how to craft tales that captivate young minds.

16. The Adventures of Wobbly Bob

“Wobbly Bob was a penguin with a sense of adventure larger than himself. Despite his wobbly stance, he dreamed of flying. With the help of his friends, Bob discovered that true courage meant trying, no matter the odds.”

Why it Works: Children’s stories often carry messages of resilience, friendship, and the importance of dreams. This example uses a relatable character and a simple plot to convey life lessons in an engaging and accessible way for young readers.

17. The Magic Paintbrush

“Lily’s paintbrush was no ordinary tool; it was a gateway to worlds born from her imagination. Each stroke was a leap into another adventure, teaching her that creativity was the most powerful magic of all.”

Why it Works: This example emphasizes the power of imagination and creativity, fundamental themes in children’s literature. It encourages young readers to explore their own creativity and the endless possibilities it brings.

18. The Tale of the Timid Turtle

“Timmy, the timid turtle, preferred the safety of his shell. But when his friends needed him, Timmy discovered bravery wasn’t about the absence of fear, but the will to overcome it.”

Why it Works: Through the journey of a relatable character, this story teaches children about bravery and self-confidence. Children’s narratives excel in delivering moral lessons through simple, compelling storytelling.

Young Adult (YA) Fiction

A group of young people in a colorful city

Narrative writing examples in this genre often tackle complex themes relatable to a younger audience.

19. Shadows of Tomorrow

“In a dystopian world, Zoe’s ability to see glimpses of the future branded her an outcast. Yet, this very gift could be the key to saving her people. Amidst chaos, she found her strength and destiny.”

Why it Works: YA fiction often explores themes of identity, belonging, and transformation. This example combines the struggles of growing up with fantastical elements, resonating with the genre’s target audience through an empowering narrative.

20. Echoes of the Heart

“Faced with the turmoil of first love, Alex navigated his feelings for Jamie through a series of letters never meant to be sent. Each word was a step towards understanding his heart’s true echo.”

Why it Works: This narrative captures the intensity and confusion of young love, a central theme in YA fiction. It highlights the genre’s ability to delve into the emotional and psychological development of its characters.

21. The Rebel of Riverdale

“Cassie wasn’t just any student at Riverdale High; she was a voice for the voiceless, a rebel with a cause. Her fight against injustice didn’t just change the school—it changed her.”

Why it Works: This example reflects YA fiction’s engagement with social issues and the journey towards self-discovery and advocacy. It demonstrates how personal growth and societal change can intertwine in compelling narratives.

Horror & Gothic Tales

Our exploration of horror and gothic tales includes narrative writing examples that excel in creating atmosphere and tension.

22. The Whispering Hallways

“In the depths of the night, the hallways of the old mansion whispered with voices of the past. Clara, drawn by curiosity, discovered that some doors, once opened, reveal truths better left hidden.”

Why it Works: Horror narratives excel in creating an atmosphere of suspense and fear, often through the supernatural or the unknown. This example uses setting and mood to build tension, playing on the reader’s fear of what lies beyond the known.

23. The Shadow Beneath the Moon

“Under the full moon’s eerie glow, the shadow moved against the laws of nature, a formless dread that stalked Ethan. The truth of its origin was as horrifying as its intent.”

Why it Works: Gothic tales often blend the horror of the supernatural with psychological depth. This snippet illustrates the genre’s power to evoke terror not just from external threats but from the internal struggle with the unknown.

24. The Curse of the Black Rose

“The Black Rose, once a symbol of unyielding love, became a curse for those who dared to love too deeply. Amelia’s discovery of its legend entwined her fate with a history of darkness and despair.”

Why it Works: Horror and gothic narratives frequently explore themes of curses and doomed love. This example uses a symbolic object to drive the narrative, intertwining the protagonist’s fate with the supernatural.

Romance Novels

Let’s explore narrative writing examples that make our hearts flutter and our minds race with the possibilities of love.

25. Echoes of Love

“In a small town where everyone knew your name, Julia and Michael’s love story unfolded, defying odds and expectations. Their love, echoing through the streets, proved that true connections could break barriers.”

Why it Works: Romance narratives focus on the development of relationships, often overcoming obstacles to love. This example highlights the genre’s emphasis on emotional depth and the power of love to transcend circumstances.

26. The Dance of Hearts

“At the annual masquerade ball, hidden behind masks of pretense, Elizabeth and Alexander’s paths crossed. The dance floor became their world, where unspoken desires and truths danced in the shadows.”

Why it Works: This snippet captures the romantic and mysterious allure of hidden identities and forbidden love, common themes in romance novels that heighten the tension and emotional engagement of the reader.

27. Letters to a Stranger

“Through a series of letters to a stranger, Emma found herself pouring out her heart, finding solace and understanding in an unexpected connection. What started as words on a page blossomed into an unbreakable bond.”

Why it Works: The slow build of a relationship through letters showcases the romance genre’s ability to explore the growth of love and intimacy over time, emphasizing emotional depth and the transformative power of love.

Historical Fiction

We’re about to uncover narrative writing examples that breathe life into the whispers of the past, making history dance vividly in our present imagination.

28. The Painter of the Revolution

“In the turmoil of the revolution, Jeanne’s art became a beacon of hope and defiance. Through her paintings, the story of a nation’s struggle for freedom was etched in colors and shadows, a testament to the indomitable human spirit.”

Why it Works: Historical fiction allows readers to explore past eras through the eyes of its characters. This example illustrates how personal stories can illuminate broader historical events, blending facts with the emotional truths of the human experience.

29. The Whispering Sands

“Amidst the shifting sands of time, Mariam found ancient secrets buried beneath the desert. Her journey into the past revealed the interconnectedness of history and destiny, where each grain of sand held stories of old.”

Why it Works: This narrative uses the setting as a character, exploring the mystery and allure of ancient civilizations. Historical fiction often delves into the discovery of the past and its impact on the present, offering a bridge between eras.

30. The Sea Captain’s Promise

“Bound by a promise made in the heat of battle, Captain Ellis sailed the seven seas, his heart tethered to a land he may never see again. His tale, woven through time, spoke of loyalty, love, and the sacrifices of the sea.”

Why it Works: By focusing on the personal dilemmas of historical figures or characters set in a historical context, this example shows how historical fiction can provide insight into the complexities of human nature and the timeless themes of honor, duty, and love.

This video goes over a few additional examples to really help you:

Tips for Narrative Writing

Here are my top tips, honed from 25 years of writing and storytelling, designed to elevate your narrative writing game.

Each tip is a doorway to a new way of thinking about storytelling.

  • The Emotional Compass: Always anchor your narrative in emotion. Whether it’s joy, fear, sadness, or excitement, the emotional journey of your characters is what truly resonates with readers. Make sure every scene, dialogue, and action adds a layer to this emotional landscape.
  • Dialogue Dynamics: Make your dialogue do double duty. Good dialogue reveals character, advances the plot, and adds to the tension or humor of the situation. Each line should feel essential and reflective of the character’s unique voice.
  • Sensory Immersion: Engage all five senses in your descriptions. The more you can immerse your reader in the world of your story through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste, the more vivid and memorable your narrative will become.
  • The Conflict Crucible: Conflict is the heartbeat of narrative. It’s about more than pitting good versus evil. Rather, it’s about the internal and external struggles that drive your characters to grow and change. Every story needs a crucible—moments that test and refine your characters.
  • Memory Mining: Draw from your own experiences to add authenticity and depth to your narratives. Even if you’re writing fantasy or science fiction, the emotions and truths you’ve lived through can bring your story to life in unique ways.
  • The Plot Twist Plow: Don’t be afraid to surprise your readers. A well-timed plot twist can reinvigorate interest and keep the pages turning. However, ensure it’s earned and fits organically within the story’s framework.
  • Character Kaleidoscope: Create characters as diverse and complex as real people. Avoid stereotypes by giving your characters a mix of strengths, weaknesses, goals, and fears that reflect a wide range of human experiences.
  • Setting as a Character: Treat your setting with the same care as your characters. Whether it’s a bustling city or a quiet village, your setting can influence the mood of the story, reflect themes, and affect the plot and characters in meaningful ways.
  • The Revision Revelation: Embrace the revision process as an opportunity to refine and deepen your narrative. The first draft is just the beginning; it’s in revisiting and revising your work that true storytelling emerges.
  • Reader Resonance: Always keep your reader in mind. Craft your narrative to resonate with them, creating moments of connection that transcend the page. Whether through relatable characters, universal themes, or gripping plots, aim to leave a lasting impact.

Final Thoughts: Narrative Writing Examples

The true journey lies in the stories you have yet to write, the characters you have yet to create, and the worlds you have yet to imagine.

Let these examples be your guide, your inspiration, but always strive to find your own path in the vast universe of storytelling. For in the end, it is not just about the stories we tell but about the stories that tell us, shaping who we are and who we aspire to be.

To further help you with narrative writing, check out these AI tools:

  • How to Show Anger in Writing (13 Fiery Tips + Examples)
  • How To Write a Superhero Story (Ultimate Guide + Examples)
  • What Is A Personal Account In Writing? (47 Examples)
  • What Is Social Writing? (Explained + 20 Examples)
  • What Is a Summary In Writing? (Explained + 40 Examples)

How to Write a Good Narrative Essay: Tips, Examples, & Step-by-Step Guide

How to write a narrative essay? To do that, you need to know what a narrative essay is. It is an academic text usually written as a story and containing all the usual elements of a story. Narrative essays are often personal, experiential, and creative. Still, they should be made according to the rules of academic writing.

Want to know how to write a good narrative essay for college or middle school? In this guide by Custom Writing experts, you’ll find a step-by-step guide, narrative essay examples, advice on choosing a topic, outlining and writing your text, as well as useful narrative essay tips.

❔ What Makes a Good Narrative Essay?

  • 👣 Narrative Writing Guide
  • 💡 Writing Tips

🔗 References

A narrative essay is usually a story about your own or somebody’s experience. We tell stories every day. So, when you ask “How to write a narrative essay,” you should think of a story you want to write about. Stories don’t need to be very accurate. They should be engaging, that is their most important quality. If written as a story, your narrative essay should contain all the necessary parts of it: an introduction, a rising action, a climax, a falling action, and a denouement.

The Main Elements of a Narrative Essay Are: Introduction, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, & Lessons Learned.

Check out information below to learn what each part of a good narrative essay includes:

📌 Introduction

The introduction of a narrative essay consists of exposition and conflict:

  • The exposition presents the setting (time and place), characters, and mood.
  • The conflict is the main problem that drives the plot. It is an internal or external challenge the main character faces.

📌 Rising action

The rising action includes the events that lead up to the climax. They usually make the issue worse.

The climax is a turning point in the plot. It is the moment when opposing forces confront each other, make significant decisions, or take action.

📌 Falling action

The falling action refers to the events that occur after the climax, such as character development, answers to key questions, etc.

📌 Denouement

The denouement, also known as resolution, reveals how things turn out in the end, leaving readers with questions, answers, frustration, or satisfaction.

👣 How to Write a Good Narrative Essay

Below are five simple writing steps for a narrative essay. Here are simple things you should do before you start writing your story:

  • Think about your narrative essay topic and how your life experience correlates with it. Even a small fact, idea, or goal can become a good story idea.
  • Think about your emotions. The more passionate you will be – the more effective your assignment.
  • Recall your story’s details : people and objects, setting, and season. Think about the sequence of events and remember; no detail is too small. Remember: the small details reveal big ideas!

Step 1. Choose Your Narrative Essay Topic

If you are free to select your own topic for a narrative essay, you still need to read what is expected from you carefully and to follow the requirements stated in the assignment. These are the most common characteristics of a narrative essay for college students to mind when choosing a topic:

  • A challenge or conflict: an exciting or dangerous incident that creates suspense.
  • A protagonist: a character facing the challenge or conflict as mentioned above. If you are not the protagonist and the story is a third-person, it is better to choose a relatable character.
  • Evolution, growth, and change: when protagonists live through a conflict or challenge, their personality changes. Difficulties spark insights that may be used as a moral of the story.

To come up with a successful narrative topic, brainstorm the following directions of thought:

  • Think of a problem that bothers you and you’d like to share
  • Have you had any memorable experiences that have changed your view on life?
  • What kind of stories raises your interest? You can invent something similar.

Step 2. Make Your Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay is a less formal kind of academic paper. Still, it shall also conform with arrangement rules. This outline template will help you structure a narrative essay according to the traditional format.

Narrative Essay Outline

  • Background information about the protagonist
  • Thesis statement
  • Setting (place and time)
  • Preceding events
  • Secondary characters
  • Action and culmination
  • Outcome or morale
  • Summary of main events
  • Thesis restatement

Narrative Essay Introduction

The components of an introduction are:

  • Hook. Your narration needs to be moving, personal, and reflective. But in the first place, you shall engage your reader with the story. A hook sets the necessary tone from the beginning. An intriguing revelation or confession is the best choice here.
  • Background. Who is the protagonist of your story? Additional information helps the reader to put themselves into your shoes.
  • Thesis . It is an argumentative sentence where you specify the point of the piece of writing.

Narrative Essay Body

The components of a body are:

  • Setting. Make a visual and emotional description that suggests what experiences you will share. State when and where the action takes place.
  • Preceding events. In continuation of the previous point, sketch the circumstances under which the scenario unfolds.
  • Characters. Describe the secondary characters of your story.
  • Action and climax. Use the chronological order format throughout the main part. All the events shall culminate with a climax, the most emotional point of the plot.
  • Morale. What was the result of everything described above? What lessons can be learned from your story?

Narrative Essay Conclusion

The components of a conclusion are:

  • Summarizing paragraph . List the key points of your narration.
  • Thesis restatement. Reiterating your purpose in different words relating to the content of the main body finalizes your paper.

Step 3. Write Your Narrative Essay Introduction

Well, you have chosen the topic of your future writing and created your narrative essay outline. What’s next? Start writing your narrative essay with an introduction.

The introduction is an important part of your essay paper as it grabs the reader’s attention. And here are some basic guidelines for a narrative essay introduction.

  • Start with an introductory phrase. It has to be short and catchy. An unexpected point of view is always interesting to get acquainted with.
  • State the thesis. It doesn’t need to be as formal as in other types of academic papers. However, it’s worth saying a couple of words on why you decided to tell this particular story to the reader.
  • Write supporting sentences. Give reasons why the story you are sharing is significant.
  • Remember that the reader was not there when the story happened. He (or she)  is trying to catch up with it while reading. Be polite and thoughtful, don’t get into useless details or get swept away by the story, leaving your reader wondering and wandering.

Step 4. Create Your Narrative Essay Body

Your entire story is concentrated in body paragraphs: from three to as many as you wish.

Check the general guidelines on how to write a good narrative body!

  • Provide one idea per paragraph. Don’t try to put too many details in each of the logical parts.
  • Follow some logical pattern when presenting your narrative. Chronological is the easiest one.
  • Search for your personal writing style. It can be philosophical (careful! That requires specific knowledge), ironical, critical, romantic. Whatever you choose, it has to be you from top to bottom. The writing style is like an autograph. Work on it.

Step 5. Make a Narrative Essay Conclusion

You’re almost there. You just need to write good concluding sentences for your essay.

The conclusion is as important as an introduction. It leaves the aftertaste. Here you should make some final comments about your narrative. Restate some of the essential ideas and details and mention the most important lessons learned from your shared experience.

How to End a Narrative Essay?

  • Summarize. If you don’t like summarizing, or it doesn’t fit the style of the story, wrap it up with a rhetorical question or plans for the future.
  • Give your readers an idea. Think about the central message of the story and remind them of it.
  • Leave your readers experiencing a pleasant aftertaste. Give them a feeling that they need to sit back and think about the problems you brought up.

Step 6. Revise & Format Your Narrative Essay

Huh! You’ve done it. You finished the assignment. Now take a deep breath, go for a walk, or have some sleep. And then revise it. Here are some questions you should keep in mind when you review, reorganize, and modify your narrative essay to make it the best possible.

If you have any questions on how to format your narrative essay in MLA or APA, use our complete citation style guidebook .

Narrative Essay Checklist

  • Does the reader easily understand the progression of events? Do the transitions confuse or facilitate your readers?
  • Do I involve my readers in my experience? Should I add some details or remove extraneous ones that distract the attention?
  • How adequately did I convey the primary message of the essay? Does the experience described and its significance to me have a connection?

By the way, do you know which part of the writing process is usually the most underestimated? Proofreading . At this point, you should check and correct punctuation and grammar mistakes, improve clarity, and writing style. Ask your friend to read your narrative paper. You’ll get a fresh look at your writing.

📚 Narrative Essay Topics

If you need specific ideas to write your story about, explore the following narrative essay topics:

  • The most exciting day of your life.
  • A serious life lesson you learned.
  • A rebellious act that made a change .
  • A revelation that made you a different kind of person .
  • A moment you took a stand for yourself.
  • A situation when you protected someone.
  • An exciting discovery.
  • A moment when you had to overcome fear .
  • A dangerous situation you managed to escape.
  • What type of learner are you?
  • Detail how you used to handle stress at high school.
  • Describe the situation that helped you to understand the notion of race and ethnicity.
  • Discuss your experience of keeping to a financial plan .
  • Outline the day you attended court and how it influenced you.
  • Describe your experience of riding a bicycle .
  • Detail the parenting style of your parents and its impact on your personality.
  • Tell about the day you or your friend tried challenging gender norms.
  • Discuss your experience with writing.
  • Describe your traveling experience and the lessons you learned thanks to it.
  • Narrate how getting a degree changed your life.
  • Give details about your visit to a jazz concert.
  • What was the most embarrassing episode in your life?
  • Describe the peculiarities of the celebration of the traditional Thai New Year.
  • Tell a story that illustrates the influence of culture on human life.
  • Discuss the challenges you’ve faced when buying your first laptop .
  • Specify the situation when you faced racism.
  • What was the most memorable event in your childhood?
  • Write about your experience of trying dance movement therapy and its results.
  • Describe the case when you had a conflict and how you managed to resolve it.
  • Your experience of learning English.
  • Tell about your high school challenges and how you overcame them.
  • Give details about your experience of a cover conflict .
  • Recall and describe the moment of happiness .
  • Depict the last live concert you visited and the impression it made.
  • Write about your job experience.
  • Describe your visit to Australia and what you’ve learned from it.
  • Detail your experience of starting college and how it changed your life.
  • Tell about your first date .
  • Explain how a vacation in Mexico City added to your life experience.
  • Discuss the effect of the logic course on your life.
  • Describe your experience of bullying and its impact on your life.
  • Give details about your experience of global lockdown and how it changed your life values.
  • Tell a story that shows the role of technology in your life.
  • How was your first day at college?
  • Describe the most memorable event that had a positive impact on your life .
  • Narrate the story that happened to you on Christmas .
  • How did you meet your best friend ?
  • Write about the case of jealousy in friendship and how you managed to cope with it.
  • Describe your experience of adopting a cat from Humane Society.
  • Tell the story that shows how practicing mindfulness changed your life.

😸 Narrative Essay Examples

Example #1: live-saving experience.

In this essay, I would like to narrate a story that occurred with me and my friend when we were visiting a large shopping mall. It was the weekends, and our meeting in the café was planned in advance, but my friend suggested that we can go to the mall as she needed a new dress. I agreed with her and arrived a little earlier than it was arranged. I took a seat on the bench near the mall, sipping my cappuccino and looking around while waiting for my friend. The next 20 minutes were one of the most stressful and important in my life as I significantly contributed to saving a human life.

Example #2: Creating a Business with a Friend

I have been in business for more than ten years. I have seen crises, success, failures, tears, sweat, and hard work everywhere. Nevertheless, each time it was also about opportunities to grow both as an individual and as an entrepreneur. But I had one that was particularly memorable emotionally. This is a story about creating a business with a friend. I worked in various fields, and I started four of my companies with friends.

💡 Narrative Essay Tips

Do you need more tips for narrative writing? Keep reading!

  • Keep it clear. Avoid complex words and syntax.
  • Search for the balance when describing details . Don’t go into them too deeply. At the same time, even a single lost detail can skew the reader’s understanding.
  • Use the first-person narrative . Good narrative stories are usually written in the first person. When you use “I”, you’re engaging your readers with an immediacy of the story.
  • Use dynamic words and active voice . Think about your writing as it was the speech: what words, idioms, slang, and turns of phrase would you use? Try not to sound too clinical – no passive constructions.
  • Limit references . When you look through citation style guides, you’ll find the recommendations to include citations into your assignment. But not in a narrative essay – it is disruptive. When you find a useful piece of content, just cite it in the reference list after the essay.

Thank you for reading! Whenever you feel that you could use some help in writing your paper, take a closer look at these tips – you’ll definitely be able to develop your own signature style once you start following them. Keep up the good work!

  • Essay Writing: Purdue Online Writing Lab
  • How to Write an Making an Argument: Creating a Thesis (BMCC Writing Center)
  • Beginning the Academic Essay: Harvard College Writing Center
  • Conclusions: University of North Carolina Writing Center
  • Editing and Revision Tips: Indiana University Northwest
  • Narrative Essays // Purdue Writing Lab
  • Narrative Essay: Definition, Examples & Characteristics
  • Narrative Essays – National Geographic Learning – Cengage
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I will comment as soon as i finish reading your samples

Thanks guys it helped alot. i have my exam in 2 hours!

Thanks for sharing this 🙂

Thanks alot

Thank u so much… your tips have really helped me to broaden my scope on the idea of a narrative. This is so thoughtful of you… Thanks again!❤

This passage is really good, it helps me a lot. I think I can get a good result in my next exam if I follow these tips. I hope you can give some more other examples of essay writing. Thank you.

Thanx for the tips. Tomorrow I’m writing p3 pre-exam n ur tips are superb

narrative text essay example

How to Write a Narrative Essay Step by Step

narrative text essay example

Essay writing comes in various styles, many of which do not demand extensive research. One such style is the narrative essay, which combines personal storytelling with academic reflection. Unlike other essay types, narrative essays are not bound by strict requirements or the need for a bibliography. They feature a more flexible structure, creative language, and a singular focus: to tell a story.

This genre provides a special opportunity for writers to connect with readers on a personal level. By sharing personal experiences and reflections, authors engage their audience emotionally while imparting meaningful messages or lessons. In the sections that follow, our custom term paper writing experts will delve into different aspects of narrative writing, from selecting a topic to structuring your essay effectively.

What Is a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay, as the name suggests, is characterized by the presence of a narrative. Unlike argumentative essays, which present and defend a position, or analytical essays, which dissect another text, narrative essays tell a coherent story. Their goal is to convey a point or impart a lesson through personal experiences. These essays are frequently assigned in high school and for college admissions.

An effective narrative essay generally follows a chronological sequence of events and exhibits three main traits:

  • Centers on one main idea.
  • Utilizes specific details to illustrate that idea.
  • Adheres to a clear sequence of events.

Structurally, a narrative essay resembles short stories, featuring vivid descriptions, plots, characters, and discussions. However, there are key differences. These essays focus on a central theme or argument and conclude decisively, whereas short stories often leave readers with a more abstract moral or message.

A narrative essay is typically written in the first person and follows a standard format with an introduction, body, and conclusion. In contrast, short stories can adopt various formats and may not adhere to the same structured approach.

What is the Purpose of a Narrative Essay

No matter what you write — fiction, non-fiction, memoir, biography — grasping narrative writing helps you connect with your reader, giving them a glimpse of your world. Here, we outline its key purposes:

What is the Purpose of a Narrative Essay

  • Academic Assignments: They fulfill requirements for school assignments, allowing students to demonstrate their understanding and creativity.
  • Self-Reflection: As a key purpose of a narrative essay, this type of writing enables individuals to reflect on personal achievements or significant events, fostering introspection and self-awareness.
  • Professional Endeavors: They are used when applying for jobs or scholarships, showcasing one's communication skills, experiences, and character.
  • Literary Analysis: Narrative storytelling is employed in analyzing literature, providing a medium to explore themes, characters, and storytelling techniques.
  • Cultural Exploration: They facilitate the exploration of different cultures, allowing individuals to share insights and experiences from diverse perspectives.
  • Creative Expression: These essays offer a means of expressing oneself creatively, weaving personal narratives into compelling stories.
  • Communication of Messages: Through storytelling, narrative writing conveys messages or lessons, engaging readers and imparting wisdom or insights.
  • Engagement: Above all, these essays connect with the audience on a personal level, fostering empathy, understanding, and emotional resonance.

Meanwhile, if you’re willing to describe your life in greater depth, our guide on how to write an autobiography might be just what you need!

How to Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps

Writing a narrative essay is a unique process compared to other types of school essays. Rather than analyzing topics or defending a position, it focuses on sharing personal experiences through storytelling. By following a few straightforward steps, you can transform your ideas into an engaging narrative.

How to Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps

Step 1: Start with a Topic Selection

When crafting a narrative essay, begin by selecting a topic that either relates to your personal experiences or aligns with a given prompt. If a prompt is provided, consider its requirements and brainstorm ideas that fit within its scope.

As you brainstorm, jot down key moments or points you want to include in your essay. Evaluate how each point will fit into the overall structure of your narrative and ensure it adheres to any word count limits.

Think about the tone and style you wish to adopt. Will your essay be reflective, humorous, or something else? Consider incorporating specific stylistic elements, such as repeated phrases or cliffhanger endings, to enhance your storytelling and engage your reader.

Remain flexible throughout this process. As you explore different ideas, be open to tweaking your topic, tone, and style to better suit your narrative.

For more inspiration and to skip the brainstorming phase, check out a ready-made Narrative Essay Topic list!

Step 2: Make a Clear Outline

Once you have your topic, it's time to draft your narrative essay outline. This outline serves as a blueprint, guiding you in crafting a coherent and engaging story. Start by pinpointing the main points you wish to address, such as pivotal moments or insights gained, and allocate each to a separate paragraph to maintain a clear sequence.

Your outline should help you structure the flow of your narrative, planning out the sequence of events and the level of detail to include. For example, if your essay is about a memorable trip, your outline might start with a paragraph setting the scene, followed by paragraphs describing key experiences and interactions, and concluding with reflections on how the trip impacted you.

When outlining your conclusion, think about how to effectively wrap up your story by summarizing the main events and the significance they hold. For a more systematic approach, make sure to check out how to write an essay conclusion .

Step 3: Write Your Narrative Essay

Using your outline as a guide, now, it's time to start writing a narrative essay.  Remember that narrative essays provide you with a creative outlet, so feel free to break away from the constraints of traditional academic writing styles. Captivating the reader and giving your narrative life should be your main goals.

Tip 💡 Use first-person : Infuse your essay with personal authenticity and engagement by embracing pronouns like 'I' and 'me'.

Tip 💡 Employ storytelling techniques : Draw upon the techniques employed in fiction and creative nonfiction, such as dialogue and symbolism, to enrich your narrative and captivate your audience.

Tip 💡 Demonstrate, don't merely state : Instead of blandly presenting facts, immerse your reader in your narrative by employing vivid descriptions and sensory details.

Tip 💡 Remain authentic: Preserve the integrity of your voice and experiences. Candidly share your thoughts and emotions to ensure your narrative essay resonates as genuine and relatable.

Step 4: Don't Forget to Revise

After completing your initial draft, it's essential to revise and polish your essay. Begin by taking a break to refresh your perspective before returning with a clear mind - this is one of the best tips for writing a narrative essay!

When revisiting your essay, carefully review it to ensure logical coherence and flow. Address any inconsistencies or narrative gaps, refining your essay for improved clarity. Pay attention to elements such as tense, point of view, and narrative voice throughout.

Step 5: Proofread Your Writing

Now that you understand how to end a narrative essay, don’t forget to dedicate time to meticulous proofreading to catch any lingering errors or typos. Pay close attention to formatting and citation style, if applicable.

Sharing your essay with trusted individuals such as friends, family, or educators can provide valuable feedback and fresh insights. Incorporate the feedback received, along with your own observations from the revision process, to strengthen the impact and effectiveness of your essay. 

Narrative Essay Topics: The List 

Let's go back to the topics and give you some handy, ready-made options. Sure, you can think of ideas on your own, but we can lend a hand with these suggestions before you commit to the writing process.

  • Reflecting on earning my first degree: a pivotal milestone in my life.
  • The most awful dish I’ve ever tasted: my unforgettable tale.
  • How a personal experience changed my attitudes and actions.
  • The worst exam experience I’ve ever had: a harrowing tale.
  • Encountering something eerie: a chilling moment in my life.
  • Fond memories of summer vacations during my childhood.
  • The story of a heroic act that saved someone's life.
  • My top tunes: songs that resonate deeply with me.
  • The origins and meanings of my nicknames.
  • The superpower I wish I had and why.
  • A lecture that profoundly changed my perspective.
  • Does my school prioritize digital skills for students?
  • Great summer reads for book lovers: my top suggestions.
  • The music genres and melodies that reflect my tastes and emotions.
  • Passions and interests that drive my aspirations.
  • My ultimate guide to spending Sundays efficiently.
  • Questions and curiosities about how the world works.
  • Values and principles I'd risk my life for.
  • How much do I follow global current events?
  • Steps I’ve taken to achieve my dream job.

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Narrative Essay Examples

For inspiration on your upcoming essay, check out these excellent samples from our essay writer . Use them as a guide to help craft your own story, ensuring that your unique voice and experiences come through in your work.

If sharing your personal stories is not your cup of tea, you can buy essays online from our expert writers, who will customize the paper to your particular writing style and tone.

Final Recap

Now that you understand what makes a narrative essay tick, you're probably itching to write your own standout piece. Let our skilled research paper writing service lend you a hand! We're here to offer personalized services tailored to your needs. By providing value with flexible pricing and quick turnaround times, we'll bring your narrative to life together!

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What Is A Narrative Essay?

How to start a narrative essay, how to write a good narrative essay.

Daniel Parker

Daniel Parker

is a seasoned educational writer focusing on scholarship guidance, research papers, and various forms of academic essays including reflective and narrative essays. His expertise also extends to detailed case studies. A scholar with a background in English Literature and Education, Daniel’s work on EssayPro blog aims to support students in achieving academic excellence and securing scholarships. His hobbies include reading classic literature and participating in academic forums.

narrative text essay example

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

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Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students

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MASTERING THE CRAFT OF NARRATIVE WRITING

Narratives build on and encourage the development of the fundamentals of writing. They also require developing an additional skill set: the ability to tell a good yarn, and storytelling is as old as humanity.

We see and hear stories everywhere and daily, from having good gossip on the doorstep with a neighbor in the morning to the dramas that fill our screens in the evening.

Good narrative writing skills are hard-won by students even though it is an area of writing that most enjoy due to the creativity and freedom it offers.

Here we will explore some of the main elements of a good story: plot, setting, characters, conflict, climax, and resolution . And we will look too at how best we can help our students understand these elements, both in isolation and how they mesh together as a whole.

Visual Writing

WHAT IS A NARRATIVE?

What is a narrative?

A narrative is a story that shares a sequence of events , characters, and themes. It expresses experiences, ideas, and perspectives that should aspire to engage and inspire an audience.

A narrative can spark emotion, encourage reflection, and convey meaning when done well.

Narratives are a popular genre for students and teachers as they allow the writer to share their imagination, creativity, skill, and understanding of nearly all elements of writing.  We occasionally refer to a narrative as ‘creative writing’ or story writing.

The purpose of a narrative is simple, to tell the audience a story.  It can be written to motivate, educate, or entertain and can be fact or fiction.

A COMPLETE UNIT ON TEACHING NARRATIVE WRITING

narrative writing | narrative writing unit 1 2 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

Teach your students to become skilled story writers with this HUGE   NARRATIVE & CREATIVE STORY WRITING UNIT . Offering a  COMPLETE SOLUTION  to teaching students how to craft  CREATIVE CHARACTERS, SUPERB SETTINGS, and PERFECT PLOTS .

Over 192 PAGES of materials, including:

TYPES OF NARRATIVE WRITING

There are many narrative writing genres and sub-genres such as these.

We have a complete guide to writing a personal narrative that differs from the traditional story-based narrative covered in this guide. It includes personal narrative writing prompts, resources, and examples and can be found here.

narrative writing | how to write quest narratives | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

As we can see, narratives are an open-ended form of writing that allows you to showcase creativity in many directions. However, all narratives share a common set of features and structure known as “Story Elements”, which are briefly covered in this guide.

Don’t overlook the importance of understanding story elements and the value this adds to you as a writer who can dissect and create grand narratives. We also have an in-depth guide to understanding story elements here .

CHARACTERISTICS OF NARRATIVE WRITING

Narrative structure.

ORIENTATION (BEGINNING) Set the scene by introducing your characters, setting and time of the story. Establish your who, when and where in this part of your narrative

COMPLICATION AND EVENTS (MIDDLE) In this section activities and events involving your main characters are expanded upon. These events are written in a cohesive and fluent sequence.

RESOLUTION (ENDING) Your complication is resolved in this section. It does not have to be a happy outcome, however.

EXTRAS: Whilst orientation, complication and resolution are the agreed norms for a narrative, there are numerous examples of popular texts that did not explicitly follow this path exactly.

NARRATIVE FEATURES

LANGUAGE: Use descriptive and figurative language to paint images inside your audience’s minds as they read.

PERSPECTIVE Narratives can be written from any perspective but are most commonly written in first or third person.

DIALOGUE Narratives frequently switch from narrator to first-person dialogue. Always use speech marks when writing dialogue.

TENSE If you change tense, make it perfectly clear to your audience what is happening. Flashbacks might work well in your mind but make sure they translate to your audience.

THE PLOT MAP

narrative writing | structuring a narrative | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

This graphic is known as a plot map, and nearly all narratives fit this structure in one way or another, whether romance novels, science fiction or otherwise.

It is a simple tool that helps you understand and organise a story’s events. Think of it as a roadmap that outlines the journey of your characters and the events that unfold. It outlines the different stops along the way, such as the introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution, that help you to see how the story builds and develops.

Using a plot map, you can see how each event fits into the larger picture and how the different parts of the story work together to create meaning. It’s a great way to visualize and analyze a story.

Be sure to refer to a plot map when planning a story, as it has all the essential elements of a great story.

THE 5 KEY STORY ELEMENTS OF A GREAT NARRATIVE (6-MINUTE TUTORIAL VIDEO)

This video we created provides an excellent overview of these elements and demonstrates them in action in stories we all know and love.

Story Elements for kids

HOW TO WRITE A NARRATIVE

How to write a Narrative

Now that we understand the story elements and how they come together to form stories, it’s time to start planning and writing your narrative.

In many cases, the template and guide below will provide enough details on how to craft a great story. However, if you still need assistance with the fundamentals of writing, such as sentence structure, paragraphs and using correct grammar, we have some excellent guides on those here.

USE YOUR WRITING TIME EFFECTIVELY: Maximize your narrative writing sessions by spending approximately 20 per cent of your time planning and preparing.  This ensures greater productivity during your writing time and keeps you focused and on task.

Use tools such as graphic organizers to logically sequence your narrative if you are not a confident story writer.  If you are working with reluctant writers, try using narrative writing prompts to get their creative juices flowing.

Spend most of your writing hour on the task at hand, don’t get too side-tracked editing during this time and leave some time for editing. When editing a  narrative, examine it for these three elements.

  • Spelling and grammar ( Is it readable?)
  • Story structure and continuity ( Does it make sense, and does it flow? )
  • Character and plot analysis. (Are your characters engaging? Does your problem/resolution work? )

1. SETTING THE SCENE: THE WHERE AND THE WHEN

narrative writing | aa156ee009d91a57894348652da98b58 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

The story’s setting often answers two of the central questions in the story, namely, the where and the when. The answers to these two crucial questions will often be informed by the type of story the student is writing.

The story’s setting can be chosen to quickly orient the reader to the type of story they are reading. For example, a fictional narrative writing piece such as a horror story will often begin with a description of a haunted house on a hill or an abandoned asylum in the middle of the woods. If we start our story on a rocket ship hurtling through the cosmos on its space voyage to the Alpha Centauri star system, we can be reasonably sure that the story we are embarking on is a work of science fiction.

Such conventions are well-worn clichés true, but they can be helpful starting points for our novice novelists to make a start.

Having students choose an appropriate setting for the type of story they wish to write is an excellent exercise for our younger students. It leads naturally onto the next stage of story writing, which is creating suitable characters to populate this fictional world they have created. However, older or more advanced students may wish to play with the expectations of appropriate settings for their story. They may wish to do this for comic effect or in the interest of creating a more original story. For example, opening a story with a children’s birthday party does not usually set up the expectation of a horror story. Indeed, it may even lure the reader into a happy reverie as they remember their own happy birthday parties. This leaves them more vulnerable to the surprise element of the shocking action that lies ahead.

Once the students have chosen a setting for their story, they need to start writing. Little can be more terrifying to English students than the blank page and its bare whiteness stretching before them on the table like a merciless desert they must cross. Give them the kick-start they need by offering support through word banks or writing prompts. If the class is all writing a story based on the same theme, you may wish to compile a common word bank on the whiteboard as a prewriting activity. Write the central theme or genre in the middle of the board. Have students suggest words or phrases related to the theme and list them on the board.

You may wish to provide students with a copy of various writing prompts to get them started. While this may mean that many students’ stories will have the same beginning, they will most likely arrive at dramatically different endings via dramatically different routes.

narrative writing | story elements | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

A bargain is at the centre of the relationship between the writer and the reader. That bargain is that the reader promises to suspend their disbelief as long as the writer creates a consistent and convincing fictional reality. Creating a believable world for the fictional characters to inhabit requires the student to draw on convincing details. The best way of doing this is through writing that appeals to the senses. Have your student reflect deeply on the world that they are creating. What does it look like? Sound like? What does the food taste like there? How does it feel like to walk those imaginary streets, and what aromas beguile the nose as the main character winds their way through that conjured market?

Also, Consider the when; or the time period. Is it a future world where things are cleaner and more antiseptic? Or is it an overcrowded 16th-century London with human waste stinking up the streets? If students can create a multi-sensory installation in the reader’s mind, then they have done this part of their job well.

Popular Settings from Children’s Literature and Storytelling

  • Fairytale Kingdom
  • Magical Forest
  • Village/town
  • Underwater world
  • Space/Alien planet

2. CASTING THE CHARACTERS: THE WHO

Now that your student has created a believable world, it is time to populate it with believable characters.

In short stories, these worlds mustn’t be overpopulated beyond what the student’s skill level can manage. Short stories usually only require one main character and a few secondary ones. Think of the short story more as a small-scale dramatic production in an intimate local theater than a Hollywood blockbuster on a grand scale. Too many characters will only confuse and become unwieldy with a canvas this size. Keep it simple!

Creating believable characters is often one of the most challenging aspects of narrative writing for students. Fortunately, we can do a few things to help students here. Sometimes it is helpful for students to model their characters on actual people they know. This can make things a little less daunting and taxing on the imagination. However, whether or not this is the case, writing brief background bios or descriptions of characters’ physical personality characteristics can be a beneficial prewriting activity. Students should give some in-depth consideration to the details of who their character is: How do they walk? What do they look like? Do they have any distinguishing features? A crooked nose? A limp? Bad breath? Small details such as these bring life and, therefore, believability to characters. Students can even cut pictures from magazines to put a face to their character and allow their imaginations to fill in the rest of the details.

Younger students will often dictate to the reader the nature of their characters. To improve their writing craft, students must know when to switch from story-telling mode to story-showing mode. This is particularly true when it comes to character. Encourage students to reveal their character’s personality through what they do rather than merely by lecturing the reader on the faults and virtues of the character’s personality. It might be a small relayed detail in the way they walk that reveals a core characteristic. For example, a character who walks with their head hanging low and shoulders hunched while avoiding eye contact has been revealed to be timid without the word once being mentioned. This is a much more artistic and well-crafted way of doing things and is less irritating for the reader. A character who sits down at the family dinner table immediately snatches up his fork and starts stuffing roast potatoes into his mouth before anyone else has even managed to sit down has revealed a tendency towards greed or gluttony.

Understanding Character Traits

Again, there is room here for some fun and profitable prewriting activities. Give students a list of character traits and have them describe a character doing something that reveals that trait without ever employing the word itself.

It is also essential to avoid adjective stuffing here. When looking at students’ early drafts, adjective stuffing is often apparent. To train the student out of this habit, choose an adjective and have the student rewrite the sentence to express this adjective through action rather than telling.

When writing a story, it is vital to consider the character’s traits and how they will impact the story’s events. For example, a character with a strong trait of determination may be more likely to overcome obstacles and persevere. In contrast, a character with a tendency towards laziness may struggle to achieve their goals. In short, character traits add realism, depth, and meaning to a story, making it more engaging and memorable for the reader.

Popular Character Traits in Children’s Stories

  • Determination
  • Imagination
  • Perseverance
  • Responsibility

We have an in-depth guide to creating great characters here , but most students should be fine to move on to planning their conflict and resolution.

3. NO PROBLEM? NO STORY! HOW CONFLICT DRIVES A NARRATIVE

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This is often the area apprentice writers have the most difficulty with. Students must understand that without a problem or conflict, there is no story. The problem is the driving force of the action. Usually, in a short story, the problem will center around what the primary character wants to happen or, indeed, wants not to happen. It is the hurdle that must be overcome. It is in the struggle to overcome this hurdle that events happen.

Often when a student understands the need for a problem in a story, their completed work will still not be successful. This is because, often in life, problems remain unsolved. Hurdles are not always successfully overcome. Students pick up on this.

We often discuss problems with friends that will never be satisfactorily resolved one way or the other, and we accept this as a part of life. This is not usually the case with writing a story. Whether a character successfully overcomes his or her problem or is decidedly crushed in the process of trying is not as important as the fact that it will finally be resolved one way or the other.

A good practical exercise for students to get to grips with this is to provide copies of stories and have them identify the central problem or conflict in each through discussion. Familiar fables or fairy tales such as Three Little Pigs, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Cinderella, etc., are great for this.

While it is true that stories often have more than one problem or that the hero or heroine is unsuccessful in their first attempt to solve a central problem, for beginning students and intermediate students, it is best to focus on a single problem, especially given the scope of story writing at this level. Over time students will develop their abilities to handle more complex plots and write accordingly.

Popular Conflicts found in Children’s Storytelling.

  • Good vs evil
  • Individual vs society
  • Nature vs nurture
  • Self vs others
  • Man vs self
  • Man vs nature
  • Man vs technology
  • Individual vs fate
  • Self vs destiny

Conflict is the heart and soul of any good story. It’s what makes a story compelling and drives the plot forward. Without conflict, there is no story. Every great story has a struggle or a problem that needs to be solved, and that’s where conflict comes in. Conflict is what makes a story exciting and keeps the reader engaged. It creates tension and suspense and makes the reader care about the outcome.

Like in real life, conflict in a story is an opportunity for a character’s growth and transformation. It’s a chance for them to learn and evolve, making a story great. So next time stories are written in the classroom, remember that conflict is an essential ingredient, and without it, your story will lack the energy, excitement, and meaning that makes it truly memorable.

4. THE NARRATIVE CLIMAX: HOW THINGS COME TO A HEAD!

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The climax of the story is the dramatic high point of the action. It is also when the struggles kicked off by the problem come to a head. The climax will ultimately decide whether the story will have a happy or tragic ending. In the climax, two opposing forces duke things out until the bitter (or sweet!) end. One force ultimately emerges triumphant. As the action builds throughout the story, suspense increases as the reader wonders which of these forces will win out. The climax is the release of this suspense.

Much of the success of the climax depends on how well the other elements of the story have been achieved. If the student has created a well-drawn and believable character that the reader can identify with and feel for, then the climax will be more powerful.

The nature of the problem is also essential as it determines what’s at stake in the climax. The problem must matter dearly to the main character if it matters at all to the reader.

Have students engage in discussions about their favorite movies and books. Have them think about the storyline and decide the most exciting parts. What was at stake at these moments? What happened in your body as you read or watched? Did you breathe faster? Or grip the cushion hard? Did your heart rate increase, or did you start to sweat? This is what a good climax does and what our students should strive to do in their stories.

The climax puts it all on the line and rolls the dice. Let the chips fall where the writer may…

Popular Climax themes in Children’s Stories

  • A battle between good and evil
  • The character’s bravery saves the day
  • Character faces their fears and overcomes them
  • The character solves a mystery or puzzle.
  • The character stands up for what is right.
  • Character reaches their goal or dream.
  • The character learns a valuable lesson.
  • The character makes a selfless sacrifice.
  • The character makes a difficult decision.
  • The character reunites with loved ones or finds true friendship.

5. RESOLUTION: TYING UP LOOSE ENDS

After the climactic action, a few questions will often remain unresolved for the reader, even if all the conflict has been resolved. The resolution is where those lingering questions will be answered. The resolution in a short story may only be a brief paragraph or two. But, in most cases, it will still be necessary to include an ending immediately after the climax can feel too abrupt and leave the reader feeling unfulfilled.

An easy way to explain resolution to students struggling to grasp the concept is to point to the traditional resolution of fairy tales, the “And they all lived happily ever after” ending. This weather forecast for the future allows the reader to take their leave. Have the student consider the emotions they want to leave the reader with when crafting their resolution.

While the action is usually complete by the end of the climax, it is in the resolution that if there is a twist to be found, it will appear – think of movies such as The Usual Suspects. Pulling this off convincingly usually requires considerable skill from a student writer. Still, it may well form a challenging extension exercise for those more gifted storytellers among your students.

Popular Resolutions in Children’s Stories

  • Our hero achieves their goal
  • The character learns a valuable lesson
  • A character finds happiness or inner peace.
  • The character reunites with loved ones.
  • Character restores balance to the world.
  • The character discovers their true identity.
  • Character changes for the better.
  • The character gains wisdom or understanding.
  • Character makes amends with others.
  • The character learns to appreciate what they have.

Once students have completed their story, they can edit for grammar, vocabulary choice, spelling, etc., but not before!

As mentioned, there is a craft to storytelling, as well as an art. When accurate grammar, perfect spelling, and immaculate sentence structures are pushed at the outset, they can cause storytelling paralysis. For this reason, it is essential that when we encourage the students to write a story, we give them license to make mechanical mistakes in their use of language that they can work on and fix later.

Good narrative writing is a very complex skill to develop and will take the student years to become competent. It challenges not only the student’s technical abilities with language but also her creative faculties. Writing frames, word banks, mind maps, and visual prompts can all give valuable support as students develop the wide-ranging and challenging skills required to produce a successful narrative writing piece. But, at the end of it all, as with any craft, practice and more practice is at the heart of the matter.

TIPS FOR WRITING A GREAT NARRATIVE

  • Start your story with a clear purpose: If you can determine the theme or message you want to convey in your narrative before starting it will make the writing process so much simpler.
  • Choose a compelling storyline and sell it through great characters, setting and plot: Consider a unique or interesting story that captures the reader’s attention, then build the world and characters around it.
  • Develop vivid characters that are not all the same: Make your characters relatable and memorable by giving them distinct personalities and traits you can draw upon in the plot.
  • Use descriptive language to hook your audience into your story: Use sensory language to paint vivid images and sequences in the reader’s mind.
  • Show, don’t tell your audience: Use actions, thoughts, and dialogue to reveal character motivations and emotions through storytelling.
  • Create a vivid setting that is clear to your audience before getting too far into the plot: Describe the time and place of your story to immerse the reader fully.
  • Build tension: Refer to the story map earlier in this article and use conflict, obstacles, and suspense to keep the audience engaged and invested in your narrative.
  • Use figurative language such as metaphors, similes, and other literary devices to add depth and meaning to your narrative.
  • Edit, revise, and refine: Take the time to refine and polish your writing for clarity and impact.
  • Stay true to your voice: Maintain your unique perspective and style in your writing to make it your own.

NARRATIVE WRITING EXAMPLES (Student Writing Samples)

Below are a collection of student writing samples of narratives.  Click on the image to enlarge and explore them in greater detail.  Please take a moment to read these creative stories in detail and the teacher and student guides which highlight some of the critical elements of narratives to consider before writing.

Please understand these student writing samples are not intended to be perfect examples for each age or grade level but a piece of writing for students and teachers to explore together to critically analyze to improve student writing skills and deepen their understanding of story writing.

We recommend reading the example either a year above or below, as well as the grade you are currently working with, to gain a broader appreciation of this text type.

narrative writing | Narrative writing example year 3 1 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

NARRATIVE WRITING PROMPTS (Journal Prompts)

When students have a great journal prompt, it can help them focus on the task at hand, so be sure to view our vast collection of visual writing prompts for various text types here or use some of these.

  • On a recent European trip, you find your travel group booked into the stunning and mysterious Castle Frankenfurter for a single night…  As night falls, the massive castle of over one hundred rooms seems to creak and groan as a series of unexplained events begin to make you wonder who or what else is spending the evening with you. Write a narrative that tells the story of your evening.
  • You are a famous adventurer who has discovered new lands; keep a travel log over a period of time in which you encounter new and exciting adventures and challenges to overcome.  Ensure your travel journal tells a story and has a definite introduction, conflict and resolution.
  • You create an incredible piece of technology that has the capacity to change the world.  As you sit back and marvel at your innovation and the endless possibilities ahead of you, it becomes apparent there are a few problems you didn’t really consider. You might not even be able to control them.  Write a narrative in which you ride the highs and lows of your world-changing creation with a clear introduction, conflict and resolution.
  • As the final door shuts on the Megamall, you realise you have done it…  You and your best friend have managed to sneak into the largest shopping centre in town and have the entire place to yourselves until 7 am tomorrow.  There is literally everything and anything a child would dream of entertaining themselves for the next 12 hours.  What amazing adventures await you?  What might go wrong?  And how will you get out of there scot-free?
  • A stranger walks into town…  Whilst appearing similar to almost all those around you, you get a sense that this person is from another time, space or dimension… Are they friends or foes?  What makes you sense something very strange is going on?   Suddenly they stand up and walk toward you with purpose extending their hand… It’s almost as if they were reading your mind.

NARRATIVE WRITING VIDEO TUTORIAL

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Teaching Resources

Use our resources and tools to improve your student’s writing skills through proven teaching strategies.

When teaching narrative writing, it is essential that you have a range of tools, strategies and resources at your disposal to ensure you get the most out of your writing time.  You can find some examples below, which are free and paid premium resources you can use instantly without any preparation.

FREE Narrative Graphic Organizer

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THE STORY TELLERS BUNDLE OF TEACHING RESOURCES

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A MASSIVE COLLECTION of resources for narratives and story writing in the classroom covering all elements of crafting amazing stories. MONTHS WORTH OF WRITING LESSONS AND RESOURCES, including:

NARRATIVE WRITING CHECKLIST BUNDLE

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OTHER GREAT ARTICLES ABOUT NARRATIVE WRITING

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Narrative Writing for Kids: Essential Skills and Strategies

narrative writing | narrative writing lessons | 7 Great Narrative Lesson Plans Students and Teachers Love | literacyideas.com

7 Great Narrative Lesson Plans Students and Teachers Love

narrative writing | Top narrative writing skills for students | Top 7 Narrative Writing Exercises for Students | literacyideas.com

Top 7 Narrative Writing Exercises for Students

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How to Write a Scary Story

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How to Write a Narrative Essay to Score Top Marks: Top Tips

How to write a narrative essay to score top marks

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With a Juris Bachelor's degree and a decade of legal practice, Darious Davson excels in creating compelling and authoritative academic papers in Law and Ethics. His work is a testament to his profound knowledge of the legal system and commitment to upholding ethical writing practices. So, this experienced paper writer is your top-tier pick!

How to write a narrative essay? This task has never been an easy task for students. The fact is that it requires showing off your experiences, life-changing moments, and outstanding events that had an impact on your personality. So, what is the main challenge of a narrative essay, and how to write it? 

First, it is difficult to determine the moment you want to describe. Second, the writing process itself requires excellent skills and the ability to convey facts excitingly. Moreover, you need to understand the requirements and choose a suitable format. And all this is just the top of a glacier! 

However, there is good news. I’m here to help! So, get ready to find the answers to the crucial questions about effective writing right here.

Let’s begin with identifying the core features of personal narratives. What do most successful academic papers have in common? 

  • First-person perspective: The key feature of this type of paper is that it must be written in the first person. You need to write about yourself, not your favorite artists or teachers. 
  • Engaging opening: Your essay must grab the readers' attention from its first lines. 
  • Detailed descriptions: Each sentence matters. Don’t be afraid to add bright descriptions of the environment, mood, and other aspects that make your story unique. 
  • Emotional resonance: Your essay should touch the hearts of the readers. Avoid composing a long monologue with a list of simple facts. 
  • Clear goal: According to the narrative format rules, your paper must not be a biography or a story without a clear purpose. Make sure it has an easily recognizable goal. 

Logical organization: Looking at most narrative essay examples, you will notice that they all have a logical flow.

https://cdn.static.express/storage/WPF/FDHHwDMN91U55EEvXNFd6Z92horuFqPCo5FOte3V.webp

When writing a narrative essay, you must follow the main rules of completing this academic assignment. To make your job easier, I developed this guide to cover all the questions and blind spots most students usually face. So, it’s high time to discover all the critical aspects of crafting an excellent paper.

What is a narrative essay: defining the concept

Before you jump into writing and exploring the main rules for this tricky academic paper, it is necessary to have a closer look at the basics. So, what is a narrative essay? The main thing you need to know about it is that it must be a unique story from the writer’s viewpoint. As a rule, it covers topics related to your experiences, events, and memories. However, your writing shouldn’t be a monotonous bunch of facts. Make sure to describe facts easily, interestingly, and engagingly.

Unlike other types of academic papers, a personal narrative puts storytelling first. You can also use the following elements to make your story catchier:

  • Diverse descriptions; 
  • Chronological order.

Grasping the Fundamentals of Narrative Essays

You can effortlessly find many narrative essay examples online. However, you need to know that college and high school papers of this kind usually have some differences. Moreover, each one usually has a long list of requirements and unique features. Here is a list of what you should take into account when exploring the needs of narrative writing:

  • Essay structure;
  • Paper length;
  • Style of writing;
  • Rules for creating a thesis statement;
  • Requirements for the introduction;
  • Requirements for the body paragraphs;
  • Requirements for the conclusion.

Even experienced students often feel lost when facing this type of academic assignment. What is more, this challenge makes them ask one crucial question: “Is there anyone who can write my essay for me?”. This issue disturbs even the most talented and skilled students. Fortunately, there are professional writing services that are always ready to help. But if you still want to complete your assignment yourself, it’s time to choose a topic!  

Top narrative essay topics for academic success

There are hundreds of narrative essay topics available online. Still, I highly recommend you develop your own. Feel free to use the tips below to identify your only idea. 

  • Think of your experiences: This prompt might sound obvious. However, many students often start by looking for ideas online or asking artificial intelligence platforms to generate a list of possible solutions. But what about diving into your own memories?
  • Find out particular lessons: You surely have a particular experience that shaped your character. What about telling about it in your personal narrative?
  • Don’t think only about yourself: Your audience matters, too! Select an intriguing and relevant topic that will not make your readers yawn.
  • Make a list: Sometimes, you might invent a few personal narrative topics that look good. Write all your ideas down. The reason is that a chosen idea might suddenly turn out to be unsuitable when you start writing. For this case, you need a plan B (or even plan C). 
  • Choose an uncommon angle: If you select a common topic, you must find a unique approach to describe it. Try to add some fresh ideas to your storytelling. 
  • Test: If you can’t choose a topic between several alternatives, try to compare them. You can also draw a small draft for each to define narrative writing that will likely suit all your requirements and expectations. 
  • Listen to your gut: Intuition works not only to teach important life lessons. It might help you with choosing a good topic, too. 

Narrative essay examples

You may use dozens of literacy narrative topics and other solutions for your paper. Here is a list of some ideas for you:

  • A Moment of Courage: Overcoming a Fear That Changed My Life
  • Lost and Found: A Journey of Self-Discovery during Travel
  • The Day Everything Changed: A Personal Reflection on a Major Life Event
  • Lessons from Failure: How Setbacks Have Shaped My Character
  • An Unforgettable Friendship: The Story of a Lifelong Bond
  • From Dream to Reality: Pursuing a Passion against All Odds
  • The Power of Forgiveness: Healing Wounds and Moving Forward

Crafting an excellent narrative essay structure 

After you’ve decided on a topic, it’s time to build a skeleton for your essay. Learners often have issues when creating their first narrative essay structure. Still, if you understand the basic elements of your paper, you will get almost half of the job done:

  • Plot: It is a sequence of events that organically come one after another in your story. Avoid jumping between facts from different parts of your paper.  
  • Characters: Of course, you must be your story’s protagonist. However, don’t focus only on your personality. There should be other people, too.
  • Setting: This is a description of the environment where your story takes place. Pay more attention to this part, as it can spice up your narration. 
  • Dialogs: Double-check whether all the dialogues add value to your personal narrative and are realistic. 
  • Climax: This is the heart of your story. It is better to describe it with the highest tension and feature-rich facts.
  • Final: This is the resolution of your story. After you’ve reached a final thought, you can add a brief summary and end your paper.

Narrative essay outline: top prompts

Now that you know your paper's critical elements, it’s time for a narrative essay outline. As a rule, it must have a chronological order and traditional essay structure:

Introduction

  • Hook: Similar to many other academic papers, your narrative should have a hook and a good-looking opening sentence. Make sure your intro attracts attention and doesn’t look obvious or boring. A good introduction is one of the keys to receiving an excellent grade for your assignment. 
  • Background: Here, you are expected to describe some settings, characters, and minor details to allow the readers to imagine your story better.
  • Thesis statement: Your thesis statement must briefly describe the main goal of your narrative writing. 
  • Flow of events: Your paragraphs should be organized and chronological. Always follow your story’s timeline. 
  • Dialogs: Although the traditional narrative essay format doesn’t require using dialogs, most students add them to their papers. This approach allows them to describe all the events and characters much easier. 
  • Reflection: Remember that your essay must demonstrate your feelings and emotions. 
  • Summary: Almost any academic paper requires a short and powerful summary. Personal narratives are not an exception to this rule.
  • Reflective end-up: Use your closing to connect with the thesis.
  • Impression: Try to leave an impression on the readers and make them think about your paper a few moments after you’ve finished it. 

Types of narratives: learning from examples

There are several types of narratives you need to distinguish:  

  • Personal: Focuses on a specific experience or event. It usually shares insights or lessons learned.
  • Descriptive: This one usually describes a scene or event with the help of diverse sensory details.
  • Autobiographical: This solution recounts the author's life story and highlights milestones, challenges, and achievements.
  • Travel: Documents the author's experiences and observations during traveling.
  • Historical: This narrative writing recounts significant historical events or periods from a personal perspective, blending historical facts with reflections.
  • Literary: Explores themes, characters, and motifs of a literary work or genre, offering personal interpretation.
  • Ethnographic: Draws on the author's observations within a cultural or social context, offering insights into individuals or communities.

The narrative essay definition for high school students is not difficult. Moreover, it’s the same for all learners. However, you are expected to tell a story about the most important lessons in your life and share something meaningful for you. It shouldn’t be only funny or entertaining. You may also describe how you’ve made mature choices and the right decisions (regardless of how tough they were.)

If you google “define narrative essay for college students,” you will find out that it is developed to demonstrate your best qualities through the description of a particular life event. Don’t hesitate to put your creativity into practice and use unique writing approaches. A few things most professors value in this type of academic paper created by college learners:

  • Your ability to be flexible and adapt to drastically changing life situations;
  • Your creative problem-solving skills;
  • Your ability to take lessons from the mistakes you’ve made.

How to write a narrative essay: tips to achieve top marks 

  • Choose a compelling topic: What is the purpose of narrative writing? Make sure you find the answer and then select a meaningful topic.
  • Create a strong thesis: Develop a clear thesis statement that conveys your narrative's main message or lesson.
  • Use vivid descriptions: Engage the reader by incorporating sensory details and descriptive language to picture the events and characters vividly.
  • Establish a clear structure: When writing a narrative essay, organize it chronologically. Develop a clear beginning, middle, and end.
  • Maintain a consistent point of view: Stick to a consistent narrative perspective throughout the essay.
  • Include dialogue: Dialogs can bring your characters to life and add authenticity to your narrative.
  • Show, don't tell: Instead of simply stating events, you must show them through actions, emotions, and sensory experiences.
  • Reflect on significance: Reflect on the event's significance and share insights when writing a narrative essay.
  • Edit and revise: Don’t forget to revise your essay for clarity, coherence, and impact.
  • Seek feedback: Get feedback from peers, instructors, or mentors to improve your narrative.

Many students report serious difficulties with completing a narrative academic assignment. Can I pay someone to write my paper? Hundreds of learners often ask this question. And the answer is “Yes!” In this case, you will get a perfectly written, proofread, and original paper crafted according to all your requirements.

But what if you decide to write on your own? This way, the best answer to how to write a narrative essay is to understand its core concepts and strictly follow your professor’s guidelines.

FAQs on writing brilliant narrative essays

How can i make my narrative essay stand out from others.

Many narrative essay ideas can be found online. However, to stand out, it is better to find a unique topic for your assignment. 

What are common mistakes most students make in narrative writing?

The most common mistakes in a personal narrative are failing to follow an essay structure, failing to include a thesis statement, and sharing too many diverse facts. 

How can I revise my narrative essay?

You must review your paper for clarity, consistency, and coherence, edit grammar and mechanics, enhance descriptive language, trim unnecessary details, check a narrative format, ensure a strong conclusion, and conduct a final proofread.

Should I use dialogues in a narrative essay?

This rule is not 100% obligatory. However, if you search for successful narrative essay examples online, you will discover that almost all have dialogs. 

What are the best ways to improve the essay’s flow?

Use a chronological order and a strict timeline when polishing your academic paper. 

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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / MLA Format / MLA In-text Citations

MLA In-Text Citations

An in-text citation is a reference to a source that is found within the text of a paper ( Handbook 227). This tells a reader that an idea, quote, or paraphrase originated from a source. MLA in-text citations usually include the last name of the author and the location of cited information.

This guide focuses on how to create MLA in-text citations, such as citations in prose and parenthetical citations in the current MLA style, which is in its 9th edition. This style was created by the Modern Language Association . This guide reviews MLA guidelines but is not related directly to the association.

Table of Contents

Here’s a quick rundown of the contents of this guide on how to use in-text citations.

Fundamentals

  • Why in-text citations are important
  • Prose vs parenthetical in-text citation differences
  • Parenthetical citation reference chart

In-text citation examples

  • In-text citation with two authors
  • In-text citation with 3+ authors
  • In-text citation with no authors
  • In-text citation with corporate authors
  • In-text citation with edited books and anthologies
  • In-text citation with no page numbers and online sources
  • Citing the same sources multiple times
  • Citing 2+ sources in the same in-text citation
  • Citing multiple works by the same author in the same in-text citation
  • Abbreviating titles
  • Citing religious works and scriptures
  • Citing long or block quotes

Why are in-text citations important?

In-text citations

  • Give full credit to sources that are quoted and paraphrased in a work/paper.
  • Help the writer avoid plagiarism.
  • Are a signal that the information came from another source.
  • Tell the reader where the information came from.

In-text citation vs. in-prose vs. parenthetical

An in-text citation is a general citation of where presented information came from. In MLA, an in-text citation can be displayed in two different ways:

  • In the prose
  • As a parenthetical citation

While the two ways are similar, there are slight differences. However, for both ways, you’ll need to know how to format page numbers in MLA .

Citation in prose

An MLA citation in prose is when the author’s name is used in the text of the sentence. At the end of the sentence, in parentheses, is the page number where the information was found.

Here is an example

When it comes to technology, King states that we “need to be comfortable enough with technology tools and services that we can help point our patrons in the right direction, even if we aren’t intimately familiar with how the device works” (11).

This MLA citation in prose includes King’s name in the sentence itself, and this specific line of text was taken from page 11 of the journal it was found in.

Parenthetical citation

An MLA parenthetical citation is created when the author’s name is NOT in the sentence. Instead, the author’s name is in parentheses after the sentence, along with the page number.

Here is an MLA parenthetical citation example

When it comes to technology, we “need to be comfortable enough with technology tools and services that we can help point our patrons in the right direction, even if we aren’t intimately familiar with how the device works” (King 11).

In the above example, King’s name is not included in the sentence itself, so his name is in parentheses after the sentence, with 11 for the page number. The 11 indicates that the quote is found on page 11 in the journal.

Full reference

For every source that is cited using an in-text citation, there is a corresponding full reference. This allows readers to track down the original source.

At the end of the assignment, on the MLA works cited page , is the full reference. The full reference includes the full name of the author, the title of the article, the title of the journal, the volume and issue number, the date the journal was published, and the URL where the article was found.

Here is the full reference for King’s quote

King, David Lee. “Why Stay on Top of Technology Trends?” Library Technology Reports , vol. 54, no. 2, Feb.-Mar. 2018, ezproxy.nypl.org/login?url=//search-proquest-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/docview/2008817033?accountid=35635.

Readers can locate the article online via the information included above.

Citation overview

mla-in-text-citations-reference-overview

The next section of this guide focuses on how to structure an MLA in-text citation and reference in parentheses in various situations.

A narrative APA in-text citation and APA parenthetical citation are somewhat similar but have some minor differences. Check out our helpful guides, and others, on EasyBib.com!

Wondering how to handle these types of references in other styles? Check out our page on APA format , or choose from more styles .

Parenthetical Citation Reference Chart

Sources with two authors.

There are many books, journal articles, magazine articles, reports, and other source types written or created by two authors.

When a source has two authors, place both authors’ last names in the body of your work ( Handbook 232). The last names do not need to be listed in alphabetical order. Instead, follow the same order as shown on the source.

In an MLA in-text citation, separate the two last names with the word “and.” After both authors’ names, add a space and the page number where the original quote or information is found on.

Here is an example of an MLA citation in prose for a book with two authors

Gaiman and Pratchett further elaborate by sharing their creepy reminder that “just because it’s a mild night doesn’t mean that dark forces aren’t abroad. They’re abroad all of the time. They’re everywhere” (15).

Here is an example of an MLA parenthetical citation for a book with two authors

Don’t forget that “just because it’s a mild night doesn’t mean that dark forces aren’t abroad. They’re abroad all of the time. They’re everywhere” (Gaiman and Pratchett 15).

If you’re still confused, check out EasyBib.com’s MLA in-text citation generator, which allows you to create MLA in-text citations and other types of references in just a few clicks!

If it’s an APA book citation you’re looking to create, we have a helpful guide on EasyBib.com. While you’re at it, check out our APA journal guide!

Sources With Three or More Authors

There are a number of sources written or created by three or more authors. Many research studies and reports, scholarly journal articles, and government publications are developed by three or more individuals.

If you included the last names of all individuals in your MLA in-text citations or in parentheses, it would be too distracting to the reader. It may also cause the reader to lose sight of the overall message of the paper or assignment. Instead of including all last names, only include the last name of the first individual shown on the source. Follow the first author’s last name with the Latin phrase, “et al.” This Latin phrase translates to “and others.” Add the page number after et al.

Here’s an example of an MLA parenthetical citation for multiple authors

“School library programs in Croatia and Hong Kong are mainly focused on two major educational tasks. One task is enhancing students’ general literacy and developing reading habits, whereas the other task is developing students’ information literacy and research abilities” (Tam et al. 299).

The example above only includes the first listed author’s last name. All other authors are credited when “et al.” is used. If the reader wants to see the other authors’ full names, the reader can refer to the final references at the end of the assignment or to the full source.

The abbreviation et al. is used with references in parentheses, as well as in full references. To include the authors’ names in prose, you can either write each name out individually or, you can type out the meaning of et al., which is “and others.”

Here is an acceptable MLA citation in prose example for sources with more than three authors

School library programming in Croatia and Hong Kong is somewhat similar to programming in the United States. Tam, Choi, Tkalcevic, Dukic, and Zheng share that “school library programs in Croatia and Hong Kong are mainly focused on two major educational tasks. One task is enhancing students’ general literacy and developing reading habits, whereas the other task is developing students’ information literacy and research abilities” (299).

If your instructor’s examples of how to do MLA in-text citations for three or more authors looks different than the example here, your instructor may be using an older edition of this style. To discover more about previous editions, learn more here .

Need some inspiration for your research project? Trying to figure out the perfect topic? Check out our Dr. Seuss , Marilyn Monroe , and Malcolm X topic guides!

Sources Without an Author

It may seem unlikely, but there are times when an author’s name isn’t included on a source. Many digital images, films and videos, encyclopedia articles, dictionary entries, web pages, and more do not have author names listed.

If the source you’re attempting to cite does not have an author’s name listed, the MLA in-text citation or parenthetical citation should display the title. If the title is rather long, it is acceptable to shorten it in the body of your assignment. If you choose to shorten the title, make sure the first word in the full citation is also the first word used in the citation in prose or parenthetical citation. This is done to allow the reader to easily locate the full citation that corresponds with the reference in the text.

If, in the Works Cited list, the full reference has the title within quotation marks, include those quotation marks in the in-text citation or reference in parentheses. If the title is written in italics in the full reference, use italics for the title in the in-text citation or reference in parentheses as well.

Parenthetical Citations MLA Examples

The example below is from a poem found online, titled “the last time.” the poem’s author is unknown..

“From the moment you hold your baby in your arms you will never be the same. You might long for the person you were before, when you had freedom and time and nothing in particular to worry about” (“The Last Time”).

The example below is from the movie, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain .

“Perhaps it would have been different if there hadn’t been a war, but this was 1917, and people were exhausted by loss. Those that were allowed to stay manned the pits, mining the coal that would fuel the ships. Twenty-four hours a day they labored” ( Englishman ).

Notice the shortened title in the above reference. This allows the reader to spend more time focusing on the content of your project, rather than the sources.

If you’re looking for an MLA in-text citation website to help you with your references, check out EasyBib Plus on EasyBib.com! EasyBib Plus can help you determine how to do in-text citations MLA and many other types of references!

Corporate Authors

Numerous government publications, research reports, and brochures state the name of the organization as the author responsible for publishing it.

When the author is a corporate entity or organization, this information is included in the MLA citation in prose or parenthetical citation.

“One project became the first to evaluate how e-prescribing standards work in certain long-term care settings and assessed the impact of e-prescribing on the workflow among prescribers, nurses, the pharmacies, and payers” (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 2).

If the full name of the organization or governmental agency is long in length, it is acceptable to abbreviate some words, as long as they are considered common abbreviations. These abbreviations should only be in the references with parentheses. They should not be used in citations in prose.

Here is a list of words that can be abbreviated in parentheses:

  • Department = Dept.
  • Government = Govt.
  • Corporation = Corp.
  • Incorporated = Inc.
  • Company = Co.
  • United States = US

Example of a shortened corporate author name in an MLA parenthetical citation

“Based on our analysis of available data provided by selected states’ departments of corrections, the most common crimes committed by inmates with serious mental illness varied from state to state” (US Govt. Accountability Office 14).

Here is how the same corporate author name would look in an MLA citation in prose

The United States Government Accountability Office states, “Based on our analysis of available data provided by selected states’ departments of corrections, the most common crimes committed by inmates with serious mental illness varied from state to state” (14).

Remember, citations in prose should not have abbreviations; other types of references can.

Looking for more information on abbreviations? Check out our page on MLA format.

Edited Books and Anthologies

Edited books and anthologies often include chapters or sections, each written by an individual author or a small group of authors. These compilations are placed together by an editor or a group of editors. There are tons of edited books and anthologies available today, ranging from ones showcasing Black history facts and literature to those focusing on notable individuals such as scientists like Albert Eintein and politicians such as Winston Churchill .

If you’re using information from an edited book or an anthology, include the chapter author’s name in your MLA citation in prose or reference in parentheses. Do not use the name(s) of the editor(s). Remember, the purpose of these references is to provide the reader with some insight as to where the information originated. If, after reading your project, the reader would like more information on the sources used, the reader can use the information provided in the full reference, at the very end of the assignment. With that in mind, since the full reference begins with the author of the individual chapter or section, that same information is what should be included in any citations in prose or references in parentheses.

Here is an example of an MLA citation in prose for a book with an editor

Weinstein further states that “one implication of this widespread adaptation of anthropological methods to historical research was the eclipse of the longstanding concern with “change over time,” and the emergence of a preference for synchronic, rather than diachronic, themes” (195).

Full reference at the end of the assignment

Weinstein, Barbara. “History Without a Cause? Grand Narratives, World History, and the Postcolonial Dilemma.” Postcolonial Studies: An Anthology , edited by Pramod K. Nayar, Wiley-Blackwell, 2015, p. 196. Wiley , www.wiley.com/en-us/Postcolonial+Studies%3A+An+Anthology-p-9781118780985.

Once you’re through with writing and citing, run your paper through our innovative plagiarism checker ! It’s the editor of your dreams and provides suggestions for improvement.

Sources Without Page Numbers and Online Sources

When a source has no page numbers, which is often the case with long web page articles, e-books, and numerous other source types, do not include any page number information in the body of the project. Do not estimate or invent your own page numbering system for the source. If there aren’t any page numbers, omit this information from the MLA in-text citation. There may, however, be paragraph numbers included in some sources. If there are distinct and clear paragraph numbers directly on the source, replace the page number with this information. Make it clear to the reader that the source is organized by paragraphs by using “par.” before the paragraph number, or use “pars.” if the information is from more than one paragraph.

Here is an example of how to create an MLA parenthetical citation for a website

“She ran through the field with the wind blowing in her hair and a song through the breeze” (Jackson par. 5).

Here’s an example of an MLA citation in prose for a website

In Brenner’s meeting notes, he further shared his motivation to actively seek out and secure self help resources when he announced, “When we looked at statistical evidence, the most commonly checked out section of the library was self-help. This proves that patrons consistently seek out help for personal issues and wish to solve them with the help of the community’s resources” (pars. 2-3).

Here’s another MLA in-text citation example for a website

Holson writes about a new mindful app, which provides listeners with the soothing sound of not only Bob Ross’ voice, but also the “soothing swish of his painter’s brush on canvas.”

In above example, the information normally found in the parentheses is omitted since there aren’t any page, parentheses, or chapter numbers on the website article.

Looking for APA citation website examples? We have what you need on EasyBib.com!

Need an in-text or parenthetical citation MLA website? Check out EasyBib Plus on EasyBib.com! Also, check out MLA Citation Website , which explains how to create references for websites.

Citing the Same Source Multiple Times

It may seem redundant to constantly include an author’s name in the body of a research project or paper. If you use an author’s work in one section of your project, and the next piece of information included is by the same individual(s), then it is not necessary to share in-text, whether in prose or in parentheses, that both items are from the same author. It is acceptable to include the last name of the author in the first use, and in the second usage, only a page number needs to be included.

Here is an example of how to cite the same source multiple times

“One of the major tests is the Project for Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills. This measurement was developed over four years as a joint partnership between the Association of Research Libraries and Kent State University” (Tong and Moran 290). This exam is just one of many available to measure students’ information literacy skills. It is fee-based, so it is not free, but the results can provide stakeholders, professors, curriculum developers, and even librarians and library service team members with an understanding of students’ abilities and misconceptions. It is not surprising to read the results, which stated that “upper-level undergraduate students generally lack information literacy skills as evidenced by the results on this specific iteration of the Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills test” (295).

The reader can assume that the information in the second quote is from the same article as the first quote. If, in between the two quotes, a different source is included, Tong and Moran’s names would need to be added again in the last quote.

Here is the full reference at the end of the project:

Tong, Min, and Carrie Moran. “Are Transfer Students Lagging Behind in Information Literacy?” Reference Services Review , vol. 45, no. 2, 2017, pp. 286-297. ProQuest , ezproxy.nypl.org/login?url=//search-proquest-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/docview/1917280148?accountid=35635.

Citing Two or More Sources in the Same In-text Citation

According to section 6.30 of the Handbook , parenthetical citations containing multiple sources in a single parenthesis should be separated by semicolons.

(Granger 5; Tsun 77) (Ruiz 212; Diego 149)

Citing Multiple Works by the Same Author in One In-text Citation

Just as you might want to cite two different sources at the same time, it can also be useful to cite different works by the same author all at once.

Section 6.30 of the Handbook specifies that “citations of different locations in a single source are separated by commas” (251).

(Maeda 59, 174-76, 24) (Kauffman 7, 234, 299)

Furthermore, if you are citing multiple works by the same author, the titles should be joined by and if there are only two. Otherwise, use commas and and .

(Murakami, Wild Sheep Chase and Norwegian Wood ) (Murakami, Wild Sheep Chase , Norwegian Wood , and “With the Beatles”)

Abbreviating Titles

When listing the titles, be aware that long titles in parenthetical citations can distract the reader and cause confusion. It will be necessary to shorten the titles appropriately for in-text citations. According to the Handbook , “shorten the title if it is longer than a noun phrase” (237). The abbreviated title should begin with the word by which the title is alphabetized.

Best practice is to give the first word the reference is listed by so the source is easily found in the works cited. Omit articles that start a title: a, an, the. When possible, use the first noun (and any adjectives before it). For more on titles and their abbreviations, head to section 6.10 of the Handbook .

  • Full title :  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 
  • Abbreviated: Curious
  • Full title:  The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks 
  • Abbreviated:  Disreputable History

Religious Works and Scriptures

There are instances when religious works are italicized in the text of a project, and times when it is not necessary to italicize the title.

If you’re referring to the general religious text, such as the Bible, Torah, or Qur’an, it is not necessary to italicize the name of the scripture in the body of the project. If you’re referring to a specific edition of a religious text, then it is necessary to italicize it, both in text and in the full reference.

Here are some commonly used editions:

  • King James Bible
  • The Orthodox Jewish Bible
  • American Standard Bible
  • The Steinsaltz Talmud
  • The Babylonian Talmud
  • New International Bible

When including a reference, do not use page numbers from the scripture. Instead, use the designated chapter numbers and verse numbers.

MLA example of an in-text citation for a religious scripture

While, unacceptable in today’s society, the Bible is riddled with individuals who have two, three, and sometimes four or more spouses. One example in the King James Bible , states that an individual “had two wives, the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children” (1 Sam. 1.2)

The only religious scripture that is allowed to be in the text of a project, but not in the Works Cited list, is the Qur’an. There is only one version of the Qur’an. It is acceptable to include the name of the Qur’an in the text, along with the specific chapter and verse numbers.

If you’re attempting to create a reference for a religious work, but it’s not considered a “classic” religious book, such as a biography about Mother Teresa , or a book about Muhammed Ali’s conversion, then a reference in the text and also on the final page of the project is necessary.

If you’re creating an APA bibliography , you do not need to create a full reference for classic religious works on an APA reference page .

For another MLA in-text citation website and for more on the Bible and other source types, click here .

Long or Block Quotes

Quotes longer than four lines are called, “block quotes.” Block quotes are sometimes necessary when you’re adding a lengthy piece of information into your project. If you’d like to add a large portion of Martin Luther King ’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a lengthy amount of text from a Mark Twain book, or multiple lines from Abraham Lincoln ’s Gettysburg Address, a block quote is needed.

MLA block quotes are formatted differently than shorter quotes in the body of a project. Why? The unique formatting signals to the reader that they’re about to read a lengthy quote.

Block quotes are called block quotes because they form their own block of text. They are set apart from the body of a project with different spacing and margins.

Begin the block quote on a new line. The body of the full project should run along the one inch margin, but the block quote should be set in an inch and a half. The entire quote should be along the inch and a half margin.

If there aren’t any quotation marks in the text itself, do not include any in the block quote. This is very different than standard reference rules. In most cases, quotation marks are added around quoted material. For block quotes, since the reader can see that the quoted material sits in its own block, it is not necessary to place quotation marks around it.

Here is an MLA citation in prose example of a block quote

Despite Bruchac’s consistent difficult situations at home, basketball kept his mind busy and focused:

When I got off the late bus that afternoon, my grandparents weren’t home. The store was locked and there was a note from Grama on the house door. Doc Magovern had come to the house because Grampa was “having trouble with his blood.” Now they were off to the hospital and I “wasn’t to worry.” This had happened before. Grampa had pernicious anemia and sometimes was very sick. So, naturally, it worried the pants off me. I actually thought about taking my bike down the dreaded 9N the three miles to the Saratoga Hospital. Instead, I did as I knew they wanted. I opened the store and waited for customers. None came, though, and my eye was caught by the basketball stowed away as usual behind the door. I had to do something to take my mind off what was happening to Grampa. I took out the ball and went around the side. (13)

Notice the use of the colon prior to the start of the block quote. Do not use a colon if the block quote is part of the sentence above it.

Here is an example of the same block quote, without the use of the colon:

Despite Bruchac’s consistent difficult situations at home, it was clear that basketball kept his mind busy and focused when he states

When I get off the late bus that afternoon, my grandparents weren’t home…

If two or more paragraphs are included in your block quote, start each paragraph on a new line.

Looking for additional helpful websites? Need another MLA in-text citation website? Check out the style in the news . We also have other handy articles, guides, and posts to help you with your research needs. Here’s one on how to write an MLA annotated bibliography .

Visit our EasyBib Twitter feed to discover more citing tips, fun grammar facts, and the latest product updates.

Overview of MLA in-text citation structures

If you’re looking for information on styling an APA citation , EasyBib.com has the guides you need!

MLA Handbook . 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.

Published October 31, 2011. Updated July 5, 2021.

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.

MLA Formatting Guide

MLA Formatting

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Bibliography
  • Block Quotes
  • et al Usage
  • In-text Citations
  • Paraphrasing
  • Page Numbers
  • Sample Paper
  • Works Cited
  • MLA 8 Updates
  • MLA 9 Updates
  • View MLA Guide

Citation Examples

  • Book Chapter
  • Journal Article
  • Magazine Article
  • Newspaper Article
  • Website (no author)
  • View all MLA Examples

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In MLA style, if multiple sources have the same author , the titles should be joined by and if there are only two. Otherwise, use commas and and .

  • In-text citation: (Austen Emma and Mansfield Park )
  • Structure: (Last name 1st Source’s title and 2nd Source’s title )
  • In-text citation: (Leung et al. 58)

If the author is a corporate entity or organization, included the name of the corporate entity or organization in the in-text citation.

  • In-text citation: (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 2)

Yes, there’s an option to download source citations as a Word Doc or a Google Doc. You may also copy citations from the EasyBib Citation Generator and paste them into your paper.

Yes! Whether you’d like to learn how to construct citations on your own, our Autocite tool isn’t able to gather the metadata you need, or anything in between, manual citations are always an option. Click here for directions on using creating manual citations.

An in-text citation is a shortened version of the source being referred to in the paper. As the name implies, it appears in the text of the paper. A works cited list entry, on the other hand, details the complete information of the source being cited and is listed within the works cited list at the end of the paper after the main text. The in-text citation is designed to direct the reader to the full works cited list entry. An example of an in-text citation and the corresponding works cited list entry for a journal article with one author is listed below:

In-text citation template and example:

Only the author surname (or the title of the work if there is no author) is used in in-text citations to direct the reader to the corresponding reference list entry. For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the author for the first occurrence. In subsequent citations, use only the surname. In parenthetical citations, always use only the surname of the author. If you are directly quoting the source, the page number should also be included in the in-text citation.

Citation in prose:

First mention: Christopher Collins ….

Subsequent occurrences: Collins ….

Parenthetical:

….(Collins)

….(Collins 5)

Works cited list entry template and example:

The title of the article is in plain text and title case and is placed inside quotation marks. The title of the journal is set in italics.

Surname, F. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title , vol. #, no. #, Publication Date, page range.

Collins, Christopher. “On Posthuman Materiality: Art-Making as Rhizomatic Rehearsal.” Text and Performance Quarterly , vol. 39, no. 2, 2019, pp. 153–59.

Note that because the author’s surname (Collins) was included in the in-text citation, the reader would then be able to easily locate the works cited list entry since the entry begins with the author’s surname.

An in-text citation is a short citation that is placed next to the text being cited. The basic element needed for an in-text citation is the author’s name . The publication year is not required in in-text citations. Sometimes, page numbers or line numbers are also included, especially when text is quoted from the source being cited. In-text citations are mentioned in the text in two ways: as a citation in prose or a parenthetical citation.

Citations in prose are incorporated into the text and act as a part of the sentence. Usually, citations in prose use the author’s full name when cited the first time in the text. Thereafter, only the surname is used. Avoid including the middle initial even if it is present in the works-cited-list entry.

Parenthetical

Parenthetical citations add only the author’s surname at the end of the sentence in parentheses.

Examples of in-text citations

Here are a few tips to create in-text citations for sources with various numbers and types of authors:

Use both the first name and surname of the author if you are mentioning the author for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the author’s surname. Always use only the surname of the author in parenthetical citations.

First mention: Sheele John asserts …. (7).

Subsequent occurrences: John argues …. (7).

…. (John 7).

Two authors

Use the first name and surname of both authors if you are mentioning the work for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the surnames of the two authors. Always use only the authors’ surnames in parenthetical citations. Use “and” to separate the two authors in parenthetical citations.

First mention: Katie Longman and Clara Sullivan ….

Subsequent occurrences: Longman and Sullivan ….

…. ( Longman and Sullivan).

Three or more authors

For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the first author followed by “and others” or “and colleagues.” For parenthetical citations, use only the surname of the first author followed by “et al.”

Lincy Mathew and colleagues…. or Lincy Mathew and others ….

…. (Mathew et al.).

Corporate author

For citations in prose, treat the corporate author like you would treat the author’s name. For parenthetical citations, shorten the organization name to the shortest noun phrase. For example, shorten the Modern Language Association of America to Modern Language Association.

The Literary Society of Malaysia….

…. (Literary Society).

If there is no author for the source, use the source’s title in place of the author’s name for both citations in prose and parenthetical citations.

When you add such in-text citations, italicize the text of the title. If the source title is longer than a noun phrase, use a shortened version of the title. For example, shorten the title Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to Fantastic Beasts .

Knowing Body of Work explains …. (102).

….( Knowing Body 102).

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IMAGES

  1. Explore Free Narrative Essay Examples: Topics, Outlines, Samples

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  2. W..E: Sample narrative essay

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  3. FREE 8+ Sample Narrative Essay Templates in MS Word

    narrative text essay example

  4. What is a Narrative Essay

    narrative text essay example

  5. The Secrets of Narrative Essay Writing

    narrative text essay example

  6. NARRATIVE TEXT

    narrative text essay example

VIDEO

  1. Essay Writing: Narrative Text by. Group 3F 2024

  2. Essay Writing: Narrative Text by. Group 3E 2024

  3. Essay Writing: Narrative Text by. Group 3G 2024

  4. How to Write a Perfect Narrative Essay? #shorts

  5. Essay Writing: Narrative Text by. Group 3D 2024

  6. BAHASA INGGRIS SMA

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Narrative Essay

    Interactive example of a narrative essay. An example of a short narrative essay, responding to the prompt "Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself," is shown below. Hover over different parts of the text to see how the structure works.

  2. 3 Great Narrative Essay Examples + Tips for Writing

    A narrative essay is one of the most intimidating assignments you can be handed at any level of your education. Where you've previously written argumentative essays that make a point or analytic essays that dissect meaning, a narrative essay asks you to write what is effectively a story.. But unlike a simple work of creative fiction, your narrative essay must have a clear and concrete motif ...

  3. Free Narrative Essay Examples

    Narrative Essay Definition. Writing a narrative essay is a unique form of storytelling that revolves around personal experiences, aiming to immerse the reader in the author's world. It's a piece of writing that delves into the depths of thoughts and feelings. In a narrative essay, life experiences take center stage, serving as the main substance of the story. It's a powerful tool for writers ...

  4. A Complete Narrative Essay Guide

    Purpose: Reach the peak of the story, the moment of highest tension or significance. Elements: Turning Point: Highlight the most crucial moment or realization in the narrative. Example: "As the sun dipped below the horizon and hope seemed lost, a distant sound caught our attention—the rescue team's helicopters.".

  5. 20+ Easy Narrative Essay Examples and Writing Tips

    Go through the example provided below to understand how the first-person and third-person perspectives are used in a narrative essay. The Day I Learned to Swim. I was 10 years old when I learned to swim. I had always been afraid of water, but my parents decided it was time for me to learn how to swim.

  6. How To Write a Narrative Essay: Guide With Examples

    Here are some common types of narrative essays: Personal Narrative Essays: Focus on a personal experience or event from the author's life. Use the first-person perspective to convey the writer's emotions and reflections. Fictional Narrative Essays: Can take many forms, from science fiction and fantasy to adventure and romance.

  7. Narrative Essay Writing Guide + Examples

    The first step in writing a narrative essay is to create an outline. An outline is an important part, and it helps to organize and structure the main ideas. It helps to stay focused and maintain a consistent flow throughout the essay. To help you understand better, we have attached a sample outline of a good essay.

  8. What Is a Narrative Essay? Learn How to Write A Narrative Essay With

    Not every form of essay writing involves meticulous research. One form in particular—the narrative essay—combines personal storytelling with academic argument. Narrative essay authors illustrate universal lessons in their unique experiences of the world. Below, you'll find some tips to guide in this style of narrative writing. <br> ## What Is a Narrative Essay? Narrative essays make an ...

  9. How to write a narrative essay [Updated 2023]

    1. Pick a meaningful story that has a conflict and a clear "moral.". If you're able to choose your own topic, pick a story that has meaning and that reveals how you became the person your are today. In other words, write a narrative with a clear "moral" that you can connect with your main points. 2.

  10. Narrative Essay

    Narrative essay examples. To guide you in writing a foolproof narrative essay, we've constructed an example of a narrative essay. The following is a personal narrative essay example that explores the challenges faced by a student who was bullied in school. This personal narrative essay example will guide you on how you write a personal ...

  11. What is a Narrative Essay

    A narrative essay is a prose-written story that's focused on the commentary of a central theme. Narrative essays are generally written in the first-person POV, and are usually about a topic that's personal to the writer. Everything in these essays should take place in an established timeline, with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

  12. Narrative Essays

    Here are some guidelines for writing a narrative essay. If written as a story, the essay should include all the parts of a story. This means that you must include an introduction, plot, characters, setting, climax, and conclusion. When would a narrative essay not be written as a story? A good example of this is when an instructor asks a student ...

  13. Narrative Essay Examples and Key Elements

    Before you write your narrative essay, you can get a better idea of what to do with a narrative essay example. See real samples along with essential tips.

  14. Top Narrative Essay Examples To Help You Write Better

    A Spontaneous Visit to Ukraine. "Travelling has always been one of my favorite activities. By the time I was 30, I had already visited a number of countries in North America. However, I had never been to Europe. Visiting the grand places like Venice, London and Paris are one of my unfulfilled and burning desires.

  15. Narrative Essay Outline

    A narrative essay is a type of academic essay in which the writer narrates a story. It is the most commonly assigned form of academic writing. Students have to face the narrative essay writing task quite often, so it is essential to know how to handle it. Narrative Essay Outline Format. The narrative essay outline follows the standard structure.

  16. Student Narrative Essay Examples

    The following essay, "My College Education" is from Chapter 15.2 - Narrative Essay, Writing for Success, University of Minnesota Libraries. The first class I went to in college was philosophy, and it changed my life forever. Our first assignment was to write a short response paper to the Albert Camus essay "The Myth of Sisyphus.".

  17. 30 Narrative Writing Examples to Elevate Your Writing

    3. A Duel of Wits. "Under the watchful eyes of the gathered crowd, Eleanor and her adversary circled each other. Words were their weapons, sharp and ready. 'Your move,' she taunted, her voice a melody of confidence.". Why it Works: This example showcases dialogue as a narrative tool.

  18. 5 Narrative Writing Examples

    For good narrative essay examples, these application prompts are a great place to start. Take a look at some of the suggestions and then try writing a narrative essay.They usually keep them open-ended so that any student can use them—something like "recall a time when you faced a struggle or challenge, how you were impacted by this, and what you did to overcome it" is typical for this ...

  19. How to Write a Good Narrative Essay: Tips, Examples, & Step-by-Step Guide

    Be polite and thoughtful, don't get into useless details or get swept away by the story, leaving your reader wondering and wandering. Step 4. Create Your Narrative Essay Body. Your entire story is concentrated in body paragraphs: from three to as many as you wish.

  20. EssayPro Blog

    How to Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps. Writing a narrative essay is a unique process compared to other types of school essays. Rather than analyzing topics or defending a position, it focuses on sharing personal experiences through storytelling. By following a few straightforward steps, you can transform your ideas into an engaging narrative.

  21. Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students

    A narrative can spark emotion, encourage reflection, and convey meaning when done well. Narratives are a popular genre for students and teachers as they allow the writer to share their imagination, creativity, skill, and understanding of nearly all elements of writing. We occasionally refer to a narrative as 'creative writing' or story writing.

  22. How to Write a Narrative Essay to Score Top Marks: Top Tips

    Logical organization: Looking at most narrative essay examples, you will notice that they all have a logical flow. When writing a narrative essay, you must follow the main rules of completing this academic assignment. To make your job easier, I developed this guide to cover all the questions and blind spots most students usually face.

  23. Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

    The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue. Students, members of the community, and users worldwide will find information to assist with many writing projects. Teachers and trainers may use this material for in-class and out ...

  24. MLA In-Text Citations

    3.4. ( 145) An in-text citation is a reference to a source that is found within the text of a paper ( Handbook 227). This tells a reader that an idea, quote, or paraphrase originated from a source. MLA in-text citations usually include the last name of the author and the location of cited information. This guide focuses on how to create MLA in ...

  25. Evidence Essay Examples and Strategies: Key Insights

    Basically, any type of evidence can be used in your argument as long as it provides credible and reliable proof. As already mentioned, essay evidence examples include statistical data, expert statements, and research results. You can find this information online, in textbooks, on web pages, and in scholarly articles.