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What Is a Narrative Essay?

Let us start with breaking news – every college student can become a fantastic narrative essay writer just because we all have weird, awkward, or hilarious stories that are worth to be heard. And a narrative essay is the best way to start developing your writing skills. Take it easy, we won’t encourage you to write at least 500 words a day to become the next George R. R. Martin and earn $3,000,000 a year (well, maybe in the next article). We want you to understand that a narrative essay is an easy thing to write when you follow the structure and the steps mentioned below.

Does not it feel like being asked to write a narrative essay is like being asked to become an author? Do you feel like you are not up for the challenge? Read this article, and these questions won’t bother you anymore.


Narrative essay writing


Narrative Essay: Definition and Meaning

A narrative essay is a personal story based on your experience (a good or bad one.) The word “personal” is vital in this definition. Yes, it is that simple. The narrative essay is a short novel that is written descriptively and concisely. So, in your paper, you can write about a fantastic or terrible first date that has changed your life, a random running into Zac Efron, an awful trip to Greece, or a hilarious family moment. Here is another clue, tell us about what moment of your life you would like to live over again. Write about your crazy adventure, once-in-a-lifetime-experience, or the achievements you are proud of.

Writing a narrative essay is like telling a joke to your friends. When they ask you to do so, you completely forget every single funny story you have heard. To make your life easier and save you a couple of hours on research, Icheapessay writers have gathered all the information and come up with essentials steps you should take to write a killer narrative essay.

10 Steps to Writing a Narrative Essay That Everyone Will Love

1. Make Sure You Have Something to Say

To put it simply, make sure you adore the topic. If you are emotionally disengaged, it will be obvious in your writing. Think of whatever you love, an issue that you constantly think about. Got one in mind? The logic is simple: if you spent so much time thinking about it, you are likely to have a lot to say about it with a vivid language. It is usually a passion that drives the best work.

But, if you can’t think of anything, come up with a bunch of ideas and narrow it down to the one that hooks you the most. It is better than nothing.

2. Plan and Start with the First Draft

If Rupert Giles taught us anything in “Buffy” (shame on you if you do not remember the show or have not watched it yet), it is that you always start with research and planning. You have to plan it like a heist film, for instance, “Oceans 11.” In our case, it is best to start with an outline in order to organize our thoughts to help everything flow.

Formulas exist because they work. So, despite how much you might want to break out of the mold, first master the structures that already exist. Once you are ready, start your first draft. Here is the perfect example of the formula you should use in a narrative essay.

Introduction (introduce the setting, plot, and anything relevant to the progression of the story):

  • Hook
  • Significance of a topic to you and your audience
  • Thesis Statement

Body paragraphs (where the action happens, where climax rises, reaches its peak and resolves):

  • Background information
  • People involved in the narrative
  • Start of the event
  • Climax
  • Ending

Conclusion (it deals with the part that asks, “What did we learn from this?”):

  • Moral of the narrative
  • Call-to-action (if applicable)

This is the universal essay structure you should be working with. The narrative essay is no different.

3. Storyline Elements


Elements of writing


Make sure your narrative contains the elements of a plot, characters, a setting, the conflict, the resolution. These things help the text to attract the attention of readers and make them psychologically invested. Your plot should be divided into a setup, the main part, and the climax.

Think of any coming-of-age film. The hero and his problems are introduced (that is the setup), the journey to resolving the conflict is the main part, and the climax is where it all builds up and is released.

And according to the rules of writing and cinematography, your plot of the narrative essay could feature:

  • The individual against the individual (for example, the rivalry between people);
  • The individual against nature (natural disaster or being lost in the rainforest);
  • The individual against society (for instance, going against what most people accept);
  • The individual against his own demons (battling guilt, or loss).

Make the characters real by adding dimensions to their personalities. When describing the setting, be consistent and maintain continuity, unless you are trying to set the story in a fever dream. The conflict should be engaging, and the reader should care about it. This works through getting the reader to relate to the protagonist by setting up circumstances of emotional turmoil and writing out his or her reaction. If most readers would react the same way, they will be interested.

“South Park” creators once gave a lecture at NYU, explaining that they write their episodes in the action structure of “But” and “Therefore”, as opposed to a story that progresses with the words “and then.” So, if you have something happen, it must have exciting, glued-together consequences rather than a dull order of one event that follows another.

4. The Point of View

Your role in the narrative must be understandable. Basically, work as a defense attorney for why the role is the way it is, by presenting “evidence and witness testimony” in the form of details about the past. These details should try to justify the behavior of the character. When you do that, you humanize the character, but only if you keep their personalities consistent.

J. D. Salinger’s “The Cather in the Rye” features an example of this in the character of Holden Caulfield, whose actions are immature in the eyes of an adult but “justifiable” in the eyes of the 16-year-old Holden.

5. Proving and Supporting

Like the previous element, do not only show your opinion but offer arguments to support it. Convince the reader that the actions make sense even if the protagonist is not justified in his actions. The sense comes from a detailed logical chain, but be careful and avoid describing too much.

Let us give you an example of descriptive language: “At the age of 8, the first thing that came to my head when someone said “the holiday season” was cooking. Immediately, I have thought of ounces of bittersweet dark chocolate, numerous gooey ingredients, various cooking utensils, and the assistance to my mother to cook something that would soon be an edible masterpiece.”

6. Avoid Irrelevant Details

If there are details added that neither progress the plot nor help describe anything of value, you risk cluttering your work and confusing the reader. The worst offender has to be the infamous fan fiction titled “My Immortal” – a Google search will expose you to this notorious monstrosity, consisting of what not to do when writing a narrative.

Other examples of irrelevant details include writing mostly about golf when the narrative is supposed to be about your character becoming a basketball player.

7. Clear Writing

Do not try to show off your vocabulary because that just makes the readers think you are very interested in the Thesaurus. To get most people to like what is written, make sure the narrative is easy to swallow. Keep it simple. Expensive vocabulary will stay expensive if used sparingly.

8. Describe Events Chronologically

Despite the popularity of a broken chronology in many films, it is best done by experts. Otherwise, having a narrative be out of sequence might be way too confusing to readers. Do not try to copy “Pulp Fiction” and impress the reader with how you arranged the timeline out of order. It requires excellent knowledge of storytelling format (that is where the emotions progress within the formula and how to organize the timeline to match it).

If you have ever studied music, you will know about something called “Chords”, which is like playing several notes at the same time; and “Chord Progressions”, which is where you take chords and play them in a sequence that creates a musical story, where the sounds exhibit joy, sadness, curiosity, aggression, etc. Writing a narrative is like that, except if you have it in chronological order, it is easy to follow an effective structure.

But, when you mix your timeline, if you are an amateur writer, you risk stepping outside the safe formula, and the story progression could “sound” off.

9. Double-Check the Provided Requirements


Grammar check


For full marks, you must follow the given instructions. If they are unclear, do not hesitate to contact whoever assigned it to you and have them explain what to do.

10. Revise Your Essay

Look through it again and make sure you did not make grammar or spelling errors. Otherwise, it will be painful to read. Do not skip over this step unless you have someone else doing it for you.

We are going to leave you with this the golden rule of any writing – your narrative has to lead somewhere and should be worth the time the person spent to read it.

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