How to Write a Narrative Essay: Pro Tips and Examples

Every student has to Google words, “How to write a narrative essay?” at some point in their studies. This task is common across all high schools, colleges, and universities, no matter in what state or country you live. Narrative writing is a piece of academic work where a student describes their personal experience with something, making an emphasis on their feelings, thoughts, and conclusions. For the most part, it’s a non-fiction type of story, though sometimes professors allow their pupils to make an event up. The purpose behind such tasks lies in triggering creativity, developing critical analysis skills, and expanding vocabulary. If you need more information on how to create stories like this, look at these guidelines below.

Five Tips for Writing a Narrative Essay

Writing something as complex as narrative paper for the first time can be intimidating. Doing research and presenting facts won’t be needed here — students have to rely on their own experiences and sensations, which isn’t something everyone is ready for. The following five tips will be a good starting point for preparing and learning how to handle this type of writing effectively!

  1. Learn about technical aspects. Before you start writing on any narrative essay topic, understand what narrative format is. First, there is length. Narratives usually take about 900-1200 words, which is 3-4 pages respectively. Exceptions are possible, but unless you got specific instructions from professor, this is what you should aim for. Then there are writing technicalities: in general, these essays should be written from the first person’s point of view, meaning that you should use “I” and related pronouns. Getting an idea about essay structure is also important: since narrative papers function as stories, they require a special approach. Don’t jump between tenses: stick to good old Past Simple because otherwise, you might confuse yourself and your readers.
  2. Write chronologically. Unless you’re an experienced writer who’s composed many narrative essays before, it is better to write in chronological order. Discuss events leading to a big conclusion one by one, gradually unpacking its meaning. Establish background of the event, approach it, hint at what’s coming, then describe and analyze it. Tell this story in the exact order it happened to you.
  3. Be descriptive. Most academic essays require  scientific official tone, but narrative essay format is different. Students should make their language rich and descriptive in nature here, to the point where they should look into dictionaries for some synonyms or adjectives if they can’t come up with anything by themselves. “Show, don’t tell” is great rule to remember: don’t simply list events that happened, point out what they made you feel and how you reacted. Writing style can be relatively informal, so include dialogues and contractions if you want, but it should remain clear and cohesive.
  4. Build emotional links. A big part of writing success depends on how well you connect with your readers. This is personal narrative essay, so make sure you’re truly sharing a part of yourself. Make readers empathize with you, let them feel what you felt during that event. Don’t appeal to them directly, this won’t go well: do it by being descriptive, personal, and passionate. Show what kind of person you are before reaching the climax because audience is supposed to start caring about what happens to you.
  5. Mention implications. This is a vital part that many students miss. How to end a narrative essay? By pointing out what this experience taught you. Professors always pay specific attention to this bit, so students must dedicate at least several thoughtful sentences to it. The event itself might be over, but its consequences live on. How did it affect the writer? Did it change anything about their worldview, beliefs, or personal connection? Maybe they stopped being friends with someone, developed fear before flying, or discovered new meaning? Give answers to at least some of these questions.

How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline: Key Suggestions

Students should never underestimate the power and value of an essay outline. When people have been writing for years, they can do without it, though many of them still prefer to create it. But if you are writing for the first time or lack substantial experience, your grade basically depends on it. Outline stores all ideas writer has and displays them when they start writing. If you forget what you wanted to say or start backing yourself into a corner, one look at the outline could reveal where you’ve gone wrong and set you back onto the right path. How to do a narrative essay outline in particular? It’s easy — students only have to break their future paper into parts.

1. Choose an event. Remember as many details about it as possible.

2. Divide it into logical sections. For example, “pre-event,” “event,” “post-event.”

3. Break each section into separate points. Mention several key things that should take place there. As an example for “pre-event” part: “Arriving into Vegas; meeting Bruce; visiting casino.”

4. Add one line about implications. State what lesson you’ve learned.

Writers could include as many details as they prefer. There are no hard guidelines since purpose of outlines is to help. By having a concise plan of action, you won’t feel stuck during any stage of writing process.

Learn from the best: college essays that worked.

What Is a Narrative Essay Structure?

All papers have intro, body, and conclusion, but for most types, there are some structural differences. Narratives aren’t an exception here. Here’s the stuff students should keep in mind.


This section gives writers a chance for making an impression on their readers. First time reactions are important, so try being as engaging as possible. Include these three writing elements.

a) Hook. Like in all other papers, narrative introduction must begin with a hook. The first sentence can be anything, from an exclamation to wish expression and quotes, so writers get a lot of freedom here. Since narratives are creative in nature, apply all your imagination. Come up with a shocking or impactful claim that will instantly trigger an interest in your readers. For instance, this line could be a great beginning: “I have never thought I would find myself in a situation like this, soaking wet, lost, and unable to see anything other than the sea of trees.” It indicates that something awful has happened to narrator, leaving them in a miserable condition; it also sounds poetic enough for making it clear that writer possesses descriptive writing skills. Try creating a similarly effective hook tailored for your unique event.

b) Background. Introduction stands out in narrative writing format because it’s distanced from timeline. Writer is supposed to reminisce here: they already lived through an event, and now they recall how naïve, innocent, or ignorant they had been before it occurred. So, introduce some lines about it. Tease at essay foundation by pointing out who you were, what you thought, and what you were planning on doing.  

c) Thesis. Students generally hate thesis, and good news is, narrations don’t really need it, at least not in a typical way. Bad news: writers must still compose a sentence that reflects purpose of their story. They should clearly point out what has happened and how it affected them. It’s easier to look at this part as a one-line annotation for the entire work, so think carefully before writing it. Here is one of the possible examples: “I was always confident in my ability to stay collected in all situations, which is why losing my way in the forest and facing the idea of my mortality became such a life-changing shock for me.”


As we already mentioned in the section about outline for narrative essay, this is the part where writers need to break their main content into points as well as sub-points. They’ll need the application of all possible descriptive techniques for making the impact stick. Opening sentence for each paragraph must reflect its essence. In turn, writers should try creating tension with every paragraph. It’s all right if they add some made-up bits here — for instance, about having a premonition that something is about to happen. Readers must be getting worried along with you. Closing sentences should summarize paragraph or lead toward the next one.


When finishing your narration essay, talk about consequences and effect the event had on you. Voice some opinion on it now that everything is over: are you grateful that it happened or was it terrible experience? Did it make you more careful or did it scare you? Be genuine and the audience will eat it up.

Need Help Looking For Topics? You’ve Found It

Many students have no idea which essay topic they should choose, especially since it is often related to its size. For example, how long is a narrative that focuses on writer’s heartbreak? It should take at least 3 pages because anything else wouldn’t be long enough for producing the required impact. If you cannot settle on anything that would fit your requirements or interests, check our website. We’ve composed new and interesting titles for students of all levels, so you could find high school or uni options in our collection. They were all verified by experts repeatedly.

Look At Examples Before Writing

Seeing a narrative essay outline example could help students create perfect paper. We’ve built a collection like this for you to use. Look at these works, check out their technical aspects and strong sides. When you start writing, try using what you learned. These samples were crafted by professional writers, so they are absolutely trustworthy.

Be Creative and Captivate Your Audience

Interesting types of writing are a great gift for students. They could diversify the routine and offer a chance at doing something new. Pick an important event and you’ll likely enjoy the process! But of course, knowing narrative essay definition and following the rules cannot supply everyone with inspiration. If you are experiencing any problems, chat with operators from college paper writing services and let them know. They’ll find a great writer who’ll do what you need in no time.

Posted by Diana B., January 22, 2021

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