A narrative, by its very definition, is a spoken or written account of several connected events. Likewise, the Narrative Essay generally tells a story, which involves the student-writer conveying some kind of experience to the reader. It is often anecdotal, experiential and personal in nature.
Unlike the Descriptive Essay, in which the student-writer vividly describes a person, object or event, the Narrative Essay focuses on action and conflict, and includes, or covers, every key component of a story: an introduction, setting, characters, plot, climax and a conclusion.
The Narrative Essay is fundamentally an exercise in creative nonfiction; it is read like a true-to-life short story.
Most academic essays require student-writers to make an argument, which calls for them developing a case for something – one they are to defend with logical evidence and often research.
The Narrative Essay, rather, requires one to illustrate a point through sharing their narrative – which could be how they learned a valuable lesson, gained a lifelong friend, or traveled to and learned from another culture, for example. This becomes the point of the story, as it essentially becomes their Thesis (or general argument).
Lastly, the Narrative Essay allows students to take a first-person point of view, which means they can tell their story using “I” (themselves) as the primary subject – though this tool isn’t to be overused.
Steps to Writing a Narrative Essay
Much of the process involved in writing the Narrative Essay involves student-writers reflecting on a personal experience. It should be one they know well and can relive in their imagination – summoning up most important details, the basis of action, the emotions and sensations they experienced, etc. In most cases, the story they are to convey should have a general theme or point to it.
Once they have decided on an experience to share, to narrate, the student-writer may want to jot down some notes about the experience, whatever first comes to their mind when they think about it and remember various aspects of their experience.
Using their brainstorming notes, students can then begin to develop an outline for their Narrative Essay. The outline should illustrate each paragraph or point of transition the essay will cover, with each made up of key elements the student-writer will implement into their essay.
For many student-writers, the Narrative Essay will be an inevitable challenge to produce. Some people are natural-born storytellers, while others consider such a creative assignment very daunting. Nonetheless, if the student-writer understands the purpose of the assignment, if they visualize their experience, then do their best to share it in simple words and sentences, most times they will see this assignment as even being fun, worthwhile and fulfilling.
For those having trouble telling their story, their Narrative Essay, it may be best if they focus on this approach when starting out: to show the reader what event or action is taking place, one event at a time, then how that event transitions to another one.
Some writers say the really good writing comes in the revision stages. And it’s true. After reading their first draft, writers are presented with a wonderful opportunity to improve their story – their Narrative Essay – making it more readable, more interesting, more thorough and more helpful and enjoyable for the reader.
In this stage, students should read their essay to make sure it is free of incomplete sentences, grammatical errors and misspellings, and that each sentence has a specific purpose of moving the story’s action forward; their focus should also be developing a setting, a mood, building characters and creating a sensory experience for the reader.
Lastly, once they have read and reread their Narrative Essay, the student-writer will want to have a close friend give a subjective evaluation of the essay.
After getting their friend’s input on their essay, and after they make the essay as perfect as they possibly can, the students must submit their essay for evaluation.
If you have read this article, but still have questions about structuring your narrative essay, feel free to ask our professional writers for advice.