How to Write a Narrative Essay: Easy Guide and Useful Tips for Narrative Writing

What is the best way to write a narrative essay? To do so, you must first understand what a narrative essay is. It is an academic text that is typically written in the form of a story and contains all of the elements of a story. Narrative essays are frequently personal, experiential, and creative in nature. They should, however, be written in accordance with academic writing standards.


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Do you want to learn how to write an effective narrative essay for college or middle school? You will find a step-by-step guide, narrative essay examples, advice on choosing a topic, outlining and writing your text, and also useful narrative essay hints in this guide by Custom Writing professionals.


  1. ❔ What Is a Narrative Essay?
  2. 👣 Narrative Writing Guide
  3. 😸 Examples
  4. 💡 Writing Tips
  5. 🔗 References

❔ What Is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is typically a story about your or someone else’s experience. Nearly everyday, we tell stories. So, if you’re wondering “How to Write a Narrative Essay,” think of a story you’d like to write about. It is not necessary for stories to be completely accurate. Their most important quality should be their ability to engage. If written in the form of a story, your narrative essay should include all of the following elements: an introduction, a rising action, a climax, a falling action, and a denouement.

👣 Step-by-Step Instructions for Writing a Narrative Essay

Here are five easy steps to writing a narrative essay. Here are some simple things you should do before beginning to write your story:

  • Consider your narrative essay topic and how your personal experience relates to it. Even a minor fact, idea, or goal can inspire a good story.
  • Consider your emotions. The more enthusiastic you are, the more effective your assignment will be.
  • If you’re wondering how to start writing a narrative essay, think about the details of your story: the people and objects, the setting, and the season. Consider the sequence of events and keep in mind that no detail is too small. Keep in mind that small details reveal big ideas!

Step 1. Select a Topic for Your Narrative Essay

If you are allowed to choose your own topic for a narrative essay, you must still carefully read what is expected of you and adhere to the guidelines outlined in the assignment. When selecting a topic for a narrative essay, college students should keep the following characteristics in mind:

  • A challenge or conflict: a thrilling or perilous incident that creates suspense
  • A protagonist is a character who faces the aforementioned challenge or conflict. If you are not the protagonist and the story is told in the third person, choose a relatable character.
  • Evolution, growth, and change: When protagonists face a conflict or adversity, their personalities change. Difficulties bring about insights that can be used as the story’s moral.

Brainstorm the following thought paths to generate a successful narrative topic:


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  • Can you think of a problem that bothers you that you’d like to share?
  • Have you had any memorable experiences that have changed your perspective on life?
  • What types of stories pique your interest? You can come up with something similar.

If you’re looking for a more specific idea, look into the narrative essay topics listed below:

  1. The happiest day of your life.
  2. A harrowing life lesson you’ve learned.
  3. A defiant act that resulted in a change.
  4. A revelation that transformed you into a different person.
  5. A time when you stood up for yourself.
  6. A situation in which you defended someone.
  7. A fascinating discovery.
  8. Describe a time when you had to overcome fear.
  9. A perilous situation from which you were able to flee.
  10. What kind of learner am I?

Step 2. Create an outline for your narrative essay

A narrative essay is a type of academic paper that is less formal. It must, however, adhere to the arrangement rules. This outline template will assist you in structuring a narrative essay in the traditional format.


Narrative Essay Outline

  1. Introduction and foreword
    • Hook
    • Background information about the protagonist
    • Thesis statement
  2. Main body
    • Setting (place and time)
    • Preceding events
    • Secondary characters
    • Action and culmination
    • Outcome or morale
  3. Conclusion
    • Summary of main events
    • Thesis restatement

Narrative Essay Introduction

An introduction consists of the following elements:

  • Hook. Your narration should be emotional, personal, and reflective. But first and foremost, you must captivate your reader with the story. A hook establishes the necessary tone right away. The best option here is an intriguing revelation or confession.
  • Background. Who is the main character in your story? More information allows the reader to put themselves in your shoes.
  • Thesis. It is an argumentative sentence in which you state the purpose of the piece of writing.

Narrative Essay Body

The components of a body include:

  • Setting. Create a visual and emotional description of the experiences you will share. Specify the time and location of the action.
  • Previous events. Sketch the occasions under which the scenario unfolds in continuation of the previous point.
  • Characters. Describe your story’s supporting characters.
  • Action and climax. Throughout the main section, use a chronological order format. All of the events must culminate in the end, the plot’s most emotional moment.
  • Morale. What was the end result of everything that was described above? What are the takeaways from your story?

Narrative Essay Conclusion

A Narrative Essay Conclusion is made of this components:

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  • Paragraph Summary. Make a list of your narration’s main points.
  • Reiteration of the thesis. Reiterating your purpose in different words in relation to the main body content completes your paper.

Step 3. Create an Introduction for Your Narrative Essay

So, you’ve selected a topic for your future writing and created an outline for your narrative essay. What comes next? Begin by writing an introduction to your narrative essay.

The introduction is a crucial part of your essay paper because it captures the reader’s attention. Here are some general guidelines for writing a narrative essay introduction:

  • Begin with a catchy phrase. It must be brief and memorable. An unexpected point of view is always interesting to learn about.
  • Begin the thesis. It does not have to be as formal as it would be in other types of academic papers. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to say a few words about why you chose to tell this particular story to the reader.
  • Compose supporting sentences. Give reasons why the story you’re telling is important.
  • Keep in mind that the reader was not present when the story occurred. While reading, he (or she) is attempting to catch up. Be polite and thoughtful; don’t get bogged down in unnecessary details or become swept up in the story, leaving your reader wondering and wandering.

Step 4. Create the Body of Your Narrative Essay

Your entire story is simplified into body paragraphs, which can range from three to as many as you want.

Examine the general guidelines for writing a good narrative body!

  • Limit yourself to one idea per paragraph. Don’t try to squeeze too many details into each logical section.
  • When presenting your narrative, stick to a logical pattern. The simplest is chronological.
  • Look for your own writing style. It can be philosophical (caution: this requires specialized knowledge), ironic, critical, or romantic. Whatever you choose, it must be you from head to toe. The writing style is similar to that of an autograph. Put some effort into it.

Step 5. Develop a Narrative Essay Conclusion

You’re almost done. All you have to do is write good concluding sentences for your essay.


The conclusion is just as crucial as the introduction. It has an aftertaste. You should make some final comments about your story here. Try to clarify some of the key ideas and details, as well as the most important lessons learned from your collaborative experience.

How Should a Narrative Essay Be Concluded?

  • Summarize. If you despise summarizing or it does not fit the style of the story, end with a rhetorical question or future goals.
  • Give your audience a thought. Consider the story’s central message and remind them of it.
  • Give your readers a pleasant aftertaste. Give them the impression that they need to take a step back and consider the issues you’ve raised.

Step 6. Revise and Format Your Narrative Essay

Hmmm! You have completed. You completed the assignment. Take a deep breath, go for a walk, or get some sleep now. Then go back and revise it. Here are some questions to consider as you review, reorganize, and modify your narrative essay to make it the best it can be.

If you need help formatting your narrative essay in MLA or APA, consult our complete citation style guidebook.

Narrative Essay Checklist

  • Is the reader able to follow the sequence of events? Do the transitions confuse or help your readers?
  • Do I include my readers in my personal experience? Should I include more details or eliminate those that are distracting?
  • How well did I communicate the essay’s main point? Is there a link between the experience described and its significance to me?

By the way, do you know which part of the writing process is typically undervalued? Reviewing. At this point, you should double-check and correct any punctuation and grammar errors, as well as improve clarity and writing style. Request that a friend read your narrative paper. You’ll get a new perspective on your writing.

😸 Samples of Narrative Essay

Example #1: Live-Saving Experience


In this essay, I’d like to tell you about an incident that happened to me and a friend while we were visiting a large shopping mall. It was the weekend, and our meeting in the café had been planned ahead of time, but my friend suggested we go to the mall because she needed a new dress. I agreed with her and arrived a few minutes earlier than planned. While waiting for my friend, I sat on a bench near the mall, sipping my cappuccino and looking around. The next 20 minutes were among the most stressful and significant of my life, as I made a significant contribution to saving a human life.


Nursing narrative essay

Complete Sample

Example #2: Starting a Business with a Friend


I’ve been in business for over ten years. Everywhere I look, I see crises, successes, failures, tears, sweat, and hard work. Nonetheless, it was always about opportunities to grow as an individual and as an entrepreneur. But there was one that stood out emotionally for me. This is a story about starting a company with a friend. I worked in a variety of fields and co-founded four businesses with friends.


Art and design narrative essay

Complete Sample

💡 Tips on Completing Narrative Essay

Do you want to learn more about narrative writing? Continue reading!

  • Maintain a clear path. Avoid using complicated words and syntax.
  • When describing details, look for balance. Don’t delve too deeply into them. At the same time, even a single omitted detail can distort the reader’s comprehension. Make use of the first-person narrative. In most cases, good narrative stories are written in the first person. When you use “I,” you give your readers a sense of the story’s immediacy.
  • Use active language and dynamic words. Consider your writing as if it were a speech: what words, idioms, slang, and turns of phrase would you employ? Avoid using passive constructions to avoid sounding too clinical.
  • Limit your references. When you look through citation style guides, you’ll find suggestions for incorporating citations into your assignment. But not in a narrative essay – it’s too distracting. When you come across a useful piece of content, simply include it in the reference list at the end of the essay.

Thank you for your time! Look more closely at these tips whenever you feel you could use some assistance in writing your paper – you’ll definitely be able to establish your own signature style once you start following them. Continue your excellent work!

🔗 References

  1. Essay Writing: Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab
  2. Creating a Thesis for a Making an Argument (BMCC Writing Center)
  3. How to Begin an Academic Essay: Harvard College Writing Center?
  4. Concluding Remarks: The University of North Carolina Writing Center
  5. Editing an Academic Paper: Indiana University Northwest
  6. Narrative Essays // Purdue Writing Lab
  7. Narrative Essay: Definition, Outstanding example, and Characteristics
  8. Narrative Essays – National Geographic Learning – Cengage