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10 Great Essay Writing Tips
Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses. Impress your professors with your knowledge and skill by using these great essay writing tips.
Prepare to Answer the Question
Most college essays ask you to answer a question or synthesize information you learned in class. Review notes you have from lectures, read the recommended texts and make sure you understand the topic. You should refer to these sources in your essay.
Plan Your Essay
Many students see planning as a waste of time, but it actually saves you time. Take a few minutes to think about the topic and what you want to say about it. You can write an outline, draw a chart or use a graphic organizer to arrange your ideas. This gives you a chance to spot problems in your ideas before you spend time writing out the paragraphs.
Choose a Writing Method That Feels Comfortable
You might have to type your essay before turning it in, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. Some people find it easy to write out their ideas by hand. Others prefer typing in a word processor where they can erase and rewrite as needed. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.
View It as a Conversation
Writing is a form of communication, so think of your essay as a conversation between you and the reader. Think about your response to the source material and the topic. Decide what you want to tell the reader about the topic. Then, stay focused on your response as you write.
Provide the Context in the Introduction
If you look at an example of an essay introduction, you’ll see that the best essays give the reader a context. Think of how you introduce two people to each other. You share the details you think they will find most interesting. Do this in your essay by stating what it’s about and then telling readers what the issue is.
Explain What Needs to be Explained
Sometimes you have to explain concepts or define words to help the reader understand your viewpoint. You also have to explain the reasoning behind your ideas. For example, it’s not enough to write that your greatest achievement is running an ultra marathon. You might need to define ultra marathon and explain why finishing the race is such an accomplishment.
Answer All the Questions
After you finish writing the first draft of your essay, make sure you’ve answered all the questions you were supposed to answer. For example, essays in compare and contrast format should show the similarities and differences between ideas, objects or events. If you’re writing about a significant achievement, describe what you did and how it affected you.
Stay Focused as You Write
Writing requires concentration. Find a place where you have few distractions and give yourself time to write without interruptions. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due to start working on it.
Read the Essay Aloud to Proofread
When you finish writing your essay, read it aloud. You can do this by yourself or ask someone to listen to you read it. You’ll notice places where the ideas don’t make sense, and your listener can give you feedback about your ideas.
Avoid Filling the Page with Words
A great essay does more than follow an essay layout. It has something to say. Sometimes students panic and write everything they know about a topic or summarize everything in the source material. Your job as a writer is to show why this information is important.
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Howe Center for Writing Excellence
Narrative: The spoken or written account of connected events; a story
The introduction of a narrative essay sets the scene for the story that follows. Interesting introductions—for any kind of writing—engage and draw readers in because they want to know more.
Since narratives tell a story and involve events, the introduction of a narrative quite often starts in the middle of the action in order to bring the reader into the story immediately, as shown in examples 1, 3, and 5 below. Other effective introductions briefly provide background for the point of the story—often the lesson learned—as in 4 below and the first example on the reverse side.
Below are some strategies for writing effective openings. Remember your introduction should be interesting and draw your reader in. It should make your audience want to read more. If it’s a person , begin with a description of the person and then say why that person mattered. If it’s an event , begin with the action or begin by reflecting back on why the event mattered, then go into the narrative.
- “Potter...take off!” my coach yelled as I was cracking yet another joke during practice.
- Why do such a small percentage of high school athletes play Division One sports?
- It was a cold, rainy night, under the lights on the field. I lined up the ball on the penalty line under the wet grass. After glancing up at the tied score, I stared into the goalkeeper’s eyes.
- My heart pounds in my chest. My stomach full of nervous butterflies. I hear the crowd talking and names being cheered.
- Slipping the red and white uniform over my head for the first time is a feeling I will never forget.
- “No football.” Those words rang in my head for hours as I thought about what a stupid decision I had made three nights before.
- “SNAP!” I heard the startling sound of my left knee before I ever felt the pain.
- According to the NCAA, there are over 400,000 student-athletes in the United States.
- Unified: Ensure all actions in your story develop a central idea or argument.
- Interesting: Draw your readers into your scene(s), making them feel as if they’re experiencing them first-hand.
- Coherent: Indicate changes in time, location, and characters clearly (even if your story is not chronological).
- Climactic: Include a moment (the climax) when your ending is revealed or the importance of events is made clear.
- Remember the 5 W’s : Who? What? When? Where? Why?
- Write vividly : Include significant sensory information in the scene (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) to make readers feel they are there
- Develop “ Thick Descriptions ”
Clifford Geertz describes thick descriptions as accounts that include not only facts but also commentary and interpretation . The goal is to vividly describe an action or scene, often through the use of metaphors, analogies, and other forms of interpretation that can emote strong feelings and images in your readers’ minds.
“The flatness of the Delta made the shack, the quarters, and the railroad tracks nearby seem like some tabletop model train set. Like many Mississippi shacks, this one looked as if no one had lived there since the birth of the blues. Four sunflowers leaned alongside a sagging porch. When the front door creaked open, cockroaches bigger than pecans scurried for cover [...] walls wept with mildew.”
—from Bruce Watson’s Freedom Summer
- Does the story have a clear and unifying idea? If not, what could that idea be?
- If the story doesn’t include a thesis sentence, is the unifying idea of the story clear without it?
- Is the story unified, with all the details contributing to the central idea?
- Is the story arranged chronologically? If not, is the organization of ideas and events still effective and clear?
- Do the transitions show the movement from idea to idea and scene to scene?
- Are there enough details?
- Is there dialogue at important moments?
- Is there a climax to the story—moment at which the action is resolved or a key idea is revealed?
How to Write an Introductory Paragraph for a Narrative
26 sep 2017.
The term “narrative” can refer to a type of essay, a short story or a novel. Although these types of works have slightly different elements, they all serve to tell a story. When you work with narrative writing, the introductory paragraph of your work can have an important impact on your reader. Understanding the components of the first paragraph, as well as narrative writing in general, will help you create an effective opening to your story.
Explore this article
- First Sentence
- Middle Sentences
- Fiction Components
1 First Sentence
In a narrative essay, you tell a true, personal story about an event, person or other aspect of your life. A short story or novel tells a fictional account of a series of events. However, whether writing an essay, short story or novel, the opening sentence of your narrative should grab your readers' attention. You want them to read this line and feel compelled to continue reading to the end. How you choose to open your narrative depends on your personal style of writing and the story you tell in your work. Try to use vivid language that sets the tone for the rest of the story. For example, whether an essay or work of fiction, you may have a first line that appears as: “The moment my sister got married, I was on the other side of the world.” This type of statement will raise questions that encourage your reader to continue reading your paper.
In a narrative, you have a theme or purpose that runs through your story. With a short story or novel, the theme is not stated directly. Instead, your characters, setting and plot help develop the theme throughout the story. When you begin a narrative essay, you should know the purpose of your story and create a thesis statement in the first paragraph. Typically, you place your thesis as the last or next to last sentence in the introduction.
3 Middle Sentences
After your opening sentence and before your thesis statement, you need to begin setting up the narrative essay. You can build off the first sentence and start giving your reader some background information before you dive into telling the story. For example, “The moment my sister got married, I was on the other side of the world. We hadn’t spoken in three years, and no one bothered to tell me Susan was planning on walking down the aisle for the seventh time in as many years.” With that background information, you can then move into your thesis statement and show how this moment impacted you.
4 Fiction Components
In a short story or novel, your first paragraph should begin to introduce the main character and what lies at the heart of the story. You may have action taking place from the first line or start creating the setting. Some writers choose to begin a story with dialogue, but this can sometimes confuse the reader since she doesn’t know the characters yet or how to react to the character’s words. However you choose to open your story, make sure you build tension from the beginning so your reader will stay connected.
- 1 Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft
- 2 Purdue Online Writing Lab: Narrative Essays
- 3 Appalachian State University: Creating a Thesis Statement
About the Author
Kate Beck started writing for online publications in 2005. She worked as a certified ophthalmic technician for 10 years before returning to school to earn a Masters of Fine Arts degree in writing. Beck is currently putting the finishing touches on a novel.
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- Introduction to Narrative Essay
Reflect for a moment on the last memorable story you heard, told, or read. What made the story remain with you? Was it a compelling character or participant in the action? An interesting set of circumstances? Was it told in an amusing or serious manner, and did it make you react emotionally?
Everyone loves a good story, and each day we seek out good stories in a variety of media: novels, short stories, newspapers, works of fine art, blogs, even notes and posts on social media pages.
Narration is the art of storytelling, and in this module, you will investigate the ways in which writers employ common narration strategies to engage readers from the beginning to the end of a significant event. You will also look critically at some examples of effective narration as you draft your narrative essay.
After successfully completing this module, you should be able to:
- Describe the purpose, basic components, characteristics, and structure of narrative writing
- Demonstrate writing techniques of a narrative essay
- Provided by : Lumen Learning. Located at : http://lumenlearning.com/ . License : CC BY: Attribution
- Authored by : Daryl Smith O' Hare and Susan C. Hines. Provided by : Chadron State College. Project : Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative. License : CC BY: Attribution
- Table of Contents
Instructor Resources (Access Requires Login)
- Overview of Instructor Resources
An Overview of the Writing Process
- Introduction to the Writing Process
- Introduction to Writing
- Your Role as a Learner
- What is an Essay?
- Reading to Write
- Defining the Writing Process
- Videos: Prewriting Techniques
- Thesis Statements
- Organizing an Essay
- Creating Paragraphs
- Editing and Proofreading
- Matters of Grammar, Mechanics, and Style
- Peer Review Checklist
- Comparative Chart of Writing Strategies
- Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism
- Formatting the Works Cited Page (MLA)
- Citing Paraphrases and Summaries (APA)
- APA Citation Style, 6th edition: General Style Guidelines
- Definitional Argument Essay
- How to Write a Definition Essay
- Critical Thinking
- Video: Thesis Explained
- Effective Thesis Statements
- Student Sample: Definition Essay
- Student Sample: Narrative Essay
- "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell
- "Sixty-nine Cents" by Gary Shteyngart
- Video: The Danger of a Single Story
- How to Write an Annotation
- How to Write a Summary
- Writing for Success: Narration
- Introduction to Illustration/Example Essay
- "She's Your Basic L.O.L. in N.A.D" by Perri Klass
- "April & Paris" by David Sedaris
- Writing for Success: Illustration/Example
- Student Sample: Illustration/Example Essay
- Introduction to Compare/Contrast Essay
- "Disability" by Nancy Mairs
- "Friending, Ancient or Otherwise" by Alex Wright
- "A South African Storm" by Allison Howard
- Writing for Success: Compare/Contrast
- Student Sample: Compare/Contrast Essay
- Introduction to Cause-and-Effect Essay
- "Cultural Baggage" by Barbara Ehrenreich
- "Women in Science" by K.C. Cole
- Writing for Success: Cause and Effect
- Student Sample: Cause-and-Effect Essay
- Introduction to Argument Essay
- Rogerian Argument
- "The Case Against Torture," by Alisa Soloman
- "The Case for Torture" by Michael Levin
- How to Write a Summary by Paraphrasing Source Material
- Writing for Success: Argument
- Student Sample: Argument Essay
- Grammar/Mechanics Mini-lessons
- Mini-lesson: Subjects and Verbs, Irregular Verbs, Subject Verb Agreement
- Mini-lesson: Sentence Types
- Mini-lesson: Fragments I
- Mini-lesson: Run-ons and Comma Splices I
- Mini-lesson: Comma Usage
- Mini-lesson: Parallelism
- Mini-lesson: The Apostrophe
- Mini-lesson: Capital Letters
- Grammar Practice - Interactive Quizzes
- De Copia - Demonstration of the Variety of Language
- Style Exercise: Voice
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How to Start a Narrative Essay
Last Updated: October 10, 2022 References
This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. This article has been viewed 174,326 times.
A narrative essay tells a story, which allows you to flex your creative muscles. Your story may be fictional or nonfictional, depending on the requirements of your assignment. At first, starting your narrative essay might seem hard, but you can make your work simpler by narrowing down your topic and planning out your story. Then, you’ll be able to easily write your story’s introduction.
Choosing a Topic for Your Narrative
- If your instructor provides a rubric, read over it thoroughly to identify the expectations for full credit. Later, you can measure your essay against the rubric before turning in the assignment.
- If you have questions about the assignment, ask your instructor for clarification.
- List the first thoughts that come to mind when you think about the prompt or question.
- Make a mind map to sort out your ideas.
- Use freewriting to uncover story ideas. Simply write whatever comes to mind without worrying about grammar or making sense.
- Make an outline to help put your ideas in order.
- Don’t try to cover too much in one essay, as this will be too hard for your reader to follow.
- For example, let’s say the prompt reads: “Write about a setback that taught you perseverance.” You might want to write about an injury you overcame. To narrow down your story, you might focus on the first time you exercised your injured limb after the accident, as well as the difficulties you faced.
- For instance, the story about recovering from an injury might have a theme of overcoming hardships or persevering to reach a goal. You might want your reader to finish your story feeling inspired and uplifted. To achieve this feeling, you'd want to focus on your successes throughout the process and end the story with a positive thought.
Planning Your Story
- If you are a character in your story, you will still need to complete this step. It's up to you how much detail you want to write down about yourself. However, it's helpful to take note of your description, interests, and desires at the time the story takes place, especially if a lot of time has passed.
- A main character description might look like this: “Kate, 12 - An athletic basketball player who suffers an injury. She wants to recover from her injury so she can return to the court. She’s the patient of Andy, a physical therapist who is helping her recover.”
- A side character description might read like this: “Dr. Lopez is a friendly, fatherly middle-aged doctor who treats Kate in the emergency room.”
- For example, a story about overcoming a sports injury might include a few settings, such as the basketball court, the ambulance, the hospital, and a physical therapy office. Although you want to show your reader each setting, you'll spend the most time on the main setting of your story.
- You might list the following descriptors about the basketball court: “squeaky floor,” “roar of the crowd,” “bright overhead lights,” “team colors in the stands,” “smell of sweat and sports drinks,” and “wet jersey sticking to my back.”
- Your story may feature several different settings, but you don't need to provide the same level of detail about each one. For instance, you may be in an ambulance for a brief moment in the scene. You don't need to fully describe the ambulance, but you might tell the reader about "feeling cold and alone in the sterile ambulance."
- For example, you might introduce a young basketball player who is about to make a big play. The incident that kicks off the story might be her injury. Then, the rising action is the basketball player’s efforts to complete physical therapy and get back into the game. The climax might be the day of tryouts for the team. You might resolve the story by having her find her name on the team list, at which point she realizes she can overcome any obstacle.
- It’s helpful to use Freytag’s triangle or a graphic organizer to plan your essay. Freytag's triangle looks like a triangle with a long line to its left and a short line to its right. It's a tool that helps you plan out your story's beginning (exposition), an incident that starts your story's events, the rising action, a climax, the falling action, and the resolution of your story.
- You can find a Freytag's triangle template or a graphic organizer for your narrative essay online.  X Research source
- The most common types of conflict include person vs. person, person vs. nature, and person vs. self. Some stories will have more than one type of conflict.
- In the story about the young athlete who gets injured, her conflict might be person vs. self, as she’s having to push through her pain and limitations.
- In most cases, a personal narrative will use the 1st person “I” point-of-view. For example, “Over my last summer with my grandfather, I learned more than how to fish.”
- If you’re telling a fictional story, you might use the 3rd person point of you. Use your character’s name, as well as the appropriate pronouns like “he” or “she.” For instance, “Mia picked up the locket and opened it.”
Writing Your Introduction
- Start your essay with a rhetorical question. For instance, “Have you ever faced losing something that’s important to you?”
- Give a quote that fits your essay. You might write, “According to Rosa Gomez, ‘You don’t know how strong you are until a setback breaks you.”
- Provide an interesting fact that’s related to your story. As an example, “About 70% of kids will stop playing sports by the age of 13, and I was almost one of them.”
- Use a short anecdote that relates to the larger story. For your essay about overcoming an injury, you might include a short story about your best moment playing sports before your injury.
- Start with a shocking statement. You might write, “As soon as they loaded me into the ambulance, I knew I might never play sports again.”
- Let’s say your main character is you. You could write, “As a tall, lean 12-year-old, I easily outplayed the other girls on the court.” This gives the reader a picture about what you might look like, as well as your interest in sports and athletic ability.
- If you’re telling a fictional story, you might introduce your character like this: “As she walked toward the high school debate podium, Luz exuded confidence from her Kate Spade headband down to her thrift shop Betsey Johnson pumps.” Not only does this help the audience picture Luz, but it also shows that she puts effort into her appearance. The fact that she shops at thrift stores might indicate that her family isn’t as wealthy as she portrays.
- You might write, “It was my 7th-grade year, and I knew I had to make varsity if I were going to get attention from the high school coaches.”
- Sensory details trigger your senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. As an example, “My shoes squeaked across the court as I dribbled toward the goal line, the red basket in sight. Sweat made the ball feel slippery against my fingertips, and its salty taste coated my lips.”
- For instance, you might write, “I never expected that pass across the court to be my last for the season. However, recovering from my injury taught me I’m a strong person who can accomplish anything I set out to do.”
- A narrative essay will always tell a story, so make sure your essay has a clear plot. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 1 Not Helpful 1
- Don’t borrow someone else’s ideas for your story or copy someone else’s writing. This is plagiarism and can result in severe academic penalties, including loss of credit. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 36 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ https://www.nova.edu/tutoring-testing/study-resources/forms/planning-narrative-essay.pdf
- ↑ https://spcollege.libguides.com/c.php?g=254430&p=1697470
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/narrative_essays.html
- ↑ https://human.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Literature_and_Literacy/Writing_and_Critical_Thinking_Through_Literature_(Ringo_and_Kashyap)/02%3A_About_Creative_Nonfiction/2.02%3A_Elements_of_Creative_Nonfiction
- ↑ https://penandthepad.com/start-narrative-essay-english-7667341.html
About This Article
If you’re struggling to start your narrative essay, find a way to encourage your reader to keep reading and introduce your main characters. Since opening lines can pull a reader in, choose something catchy that’s related to your story. For example, if your essay is about loss, you could open with a question like, “Have you ever faced losing something that’s important to you?” Then, add some details about your story’s setting that will interest the reader, such as describing how your trainers squeaked as you dribbled across the court if your story is about sports. You should also include enough information about the main character to peak the reader’s interest, like “She was a tall, lean 12-year-old,” but not too much so they know everything. For tips from our Writing co-author on how to plan out your entire narrative essay before you start writing, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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- How to write a narrative essay | Example & tips
How to Write a Narrative Essay | Example & Tips
Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on December 6, 2021.
A narrative essay tells a story. In most cases, this is a story about a personal experience you had. This type of essay , along with the descriptive essay , allows you to get personal and creative, unlike most academic writing .
Table of contents
What is a narrative essay for, choosing a topic, interactive example of a narrative essay, frequently asked questions about narrative essays.
When assigned a narrative essay, you might find yourself wondering: Why does my teacher want to hear this story? Topics for narrative essays can range from the important to the trivial. Usually the point is not so much the story itself, but the way you tell it.
A narrative essay is a way of testing your ability to tell a story in a clear and interesting way. You’re expected to think about where your story begins and ends, and how to convey it with eye-catching language and a satisfying pace.
These skills are quite different from those needed for formal academic writing. For instance, in a narrative essay the use of the first person (“I”) is encouraged, as is the use of figurative language, dialogue, and suspense.
Narrative essay assignments vary widely in the amount of direction you’re given about your topic. You may be assigned quite a specific topic or choice of topics to work with.
- Write a story about your first day of school.
- Write a story about your favorite holiday destination.
You may also be given prompts that leave you a much wider choice of topic.
- Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself.
- Write about an achievement you are proud of. What did you accomplish, and how?
In these cases, you might have to think harder to decide what story you want to tell. The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to talk about a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.
For example, a trip where everything went according to plan makes for a less interesting story than one where something unexpected happened that you then had to respond to. Choose an experience that might surprise the reader or teach them something.
Narrative essays in college applications
When applying for college , you might be asked to write a narrative essay that expresses something about your personal qualities.
For example, this application prompt from Common App requires you to respond with a narrative essay.
In this context, choose a story that is not only interesting but also expresses the qualities the prompt is looking for—here, resilience and the ability to learn from failure—and frame the story in a way that emphasizes these qualities.
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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.
Since elementary school, I have always favored subjects like science and math over the humanities. My instinct was always to think of these subjects as more solid and serious than classes like English. If there was no right answer, I thought, why bother? But recently I had an experience that taught me my academic interests are more flexible than I had thought: I took my first philosophy class.
Before I entered the classroom, I was skeptical. I waited outside with the other students and wondered what exactly philosophy would involve—I really had no idea. I imagined something pretty abstract: long, stilted conversations pondering the meaning of life. But what I got was something quite different.
A young man in jeans, Mr. Jones—“but you can call me Rob”—was far from the white-haired, buttoned-up old man I had half-expected. And rather than pulling us into pedantic arguments about obscure philosophical points, Rob engaged us on our level. To talk free will, we looked at our own choices. To talk ethics, we looked at dilemmas we had faced ourselves. By the end of class, I’d discovered that questions with no right answer can turn out to be the most interesting ones.
The experience has taught me to look at things a little more “philosophically”—and not just because it was a philosophy class! I learned that if I let go of my preconceptions, I can actually get a lot out of subjects I was previously dismissive of. The class taught me—in more ways than one—to look at things with an open mind.
If you’re not given much guidance on what your narrative essay should be about, consider the context and scope of the assignment. What kind of story is relevant, interesting, and possible to tell within the word count?
The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to reflect on a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.
Don’t worry too much if your topic seems unoriginal. The point of a narrative essay is how you tell the story and the point you make with it, not the subject of the story itself.
Narrative essays are usually assigned as writing exercises at high school or in university composition classes. They may also form part of a university application.
When you are prompted to tell a story about your own life or experiences, a narrative essay is usually the right response.
The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.
Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.
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A Step-by-Step Guide to Write a Narrative Essay
There are numerous kinds of essays you may be assigned to complete. Sometimes, it can be hard to understand the difference between two similar papers. A narrative essay is commonly confused with the descriptive one. This article will lead you through all the necessary steps and help you write a successful piece adhering to the particular formatting rules.
What Is a Narrative Essay?
The main purpose of a narrative essay is to tell the reader about events, interactions, and experiences that have happened to the author during a particular period of time. It always has a vivid plot. On the contrary, the descriptive essay is aimed at providing an image of a person, a place, some experience, or an object without demonstrating a chain of events. The plot is absent or vague.
To write a breathtaking narrative essay quickly, let us introduce you the most compelling step-by-step sequence:
Before your creative process actually starts, you should learn a bit more about the general requirements inherent in this kind of paper, choose the topic, and collect some relevant information to use as a reference.
What to Write About?
Your potential theme should be interesting for both you and your audience. The topic of the narrative essay usually refers to the writer’s experience and there is no need to use any data from outside sources. Besides, there are 3 signs of a successful title of your essay whether it is narrative or something else:
- You could barely see it on the web;
- It’s quite narrower than wide;
- It encourages reading the first sentence of the paper.
How to choose a topic to impress the tutor? Professionals give several tips to follow.
Tip 1. research.
What is narrative writing for a student? It is a great opportunity to create a fascinating story about things that interest them. It is not obligatory to select a scientific topic about innovations or discoveries. On the one hand, one can simply write about love, friendship, hobbies, and many other things. On the other hand, significant topics attract the attention of target readers. When reading different literature, students learn about what is happening in the world. So, they feel more knowledgeable and inspired to write.
Tip 2. Brainstorm
Narration is a story that describes different topics beautifully. Students are often full of gorgeous ideas, but they forget them quickly. Brainstorming is the method to collect ideas and select the best one. Students should just sit and jot down everything that comes into their heads. Afterward, one can study the approached ideas and select the most intriguing one. This step should be done after research because a student has already got much information to discuss. So, it will be simple to find something that still needs their attention.
Tip 3. Read more
Can you build a house without materials? Of course, you cannot. The same one can say about essay writing. How to start a narrative essay without a decent vocabulary in your memory pocket? People who read a lot learn new words daily. It is essential to explore various sources to get acquainted with words of different complexity levels. Fairy tales are full of cool comparisons and metaphors. Scientific periodicals provide us with high-level English. Newspapers inform us about the latest events and true-life stories. So, an educated student has more chances to find a worthy topic and introduce it on the required level in the narration.
Tip 4. Ask your tutor or senior students
Some tutors want to check papers about specific topics. So, it is smart to discuss the topic choice with a teacher. Educators can either concretize it or give selection criteria. Another variant is to ask advanced students about things that deserve attention in your college. They have performed lots of written tasks, so they are aware of what college tutors like and dislike.
Tip 5. Turn to professionals
Custom writing agencies hire experts only. They are educated and specialize in various college disciplines. Consequently, they know what topics need research and how to describe them in a paper on a top-level. They guide students throughout their writing and can edit and proofread a paper to make sure that your paper is top-notch.
What is Required of Me?
Asking to compose such a specific kind of academic paper, professors don’t demand their students to follow strict rules as for other writing assignments and only give them a basic structure. The idea is simple: you take a story from real life and dwell upon the most vibrant points as far as events are unfolding. The narrative’s parts should be coherent and convey a particular mood.
Where to Search for Evidence?
You may take them from your own memories since you started writing them. Forget about the exhausting web research and let your memories pour out on paper.
#2. Writing Process
Obviously, this stage is the most time-consuming. It can be less if you take into account the following:
Where to search for evidence? Students deal with two types of sources – fiction and non-fiction.
- Fiction deals with something imagined and unreal . Even though some books take roots in real-life stories, their authors create another world, add new characters, change appearance, and provide other alterations. Its main goal is to entertain the reader. A person should read it from the first to the last sentence to get the idea.
- Non-fiction is about real events and personalities . It includes newspapers, textbooks, encyclopedias, documentary literature and movies, and more. Its main goal is to teach the reader. Such books and articles contain photos or detailed illustrations that echo reality. One can read extracts to get the required information.
If a person needs verified data, students should prefer nonfiction. Their authors research, experiment, and add visual evidence to prove the veracity of the introduced information. The best variants are magazines, journals, newspapers, and scientific publications. Except for traditional sources, students often search for reliable facts online. Reputable websites are updated, have Copyright signs, and authors of publications. If posts have no authors, there should be a company’s logo or something similar.
Fiction is good for narratives because novels have lots of bright stories. Students can use them to support the main idea with an excellent illustration. It can be a novel, a poem, a short story, or comics.
It is essential to mention all the used sources either in the footnotes or the bibliography section. Furthermore, it helps students avoid problems with plagiarism. Moreover, all references must be formatted in accordance with the narrative essay format. MLA, ASA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, and IEEE are the most popular citation styles. Students introduce the applied works by giving information about their authors, titles, publication years, companies, and places in a specific order. The examples below show the main difference:
- Staff, Science. “Scientists May Have Solved Stephen Hawking’s Black Hole Paradox.” Phys.Org, 18 Mar. 2022, phys.org/news/2022-03-scientists-stephen-hawking-black-hole.html. (MLA style)
- Staff, S. X. (2022, March 18). Scientists may have solved Stephen Hawking’s black hole paradox. Phys.Org. https://phys.org/news/2022-03-scientists-stephen-hawking-black-hole.html (APA style)
- Phys.org. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://phys.org/pdf566828469.pdf> [Accessed 30 June 2022]. (IEEE format)
As you can see, all three formats differ. That is why students should find information about the required format in the assignment and stick to it.
Making a Structure and Outlining
Divide your plot into three parts: a setup, the main part, a climax, and a thrilling conclusion. In the introduction, you should hook a reader and make them read the rest of your essay. Allocate the major points of the essay and describe each of them briefly in the body and end up your story with an unpredictable twist and a delightful punch line. In its turn, outlining helps you find the best details of the disclosed issues in the narrative essay.
How to write a narrative essay?
It is essential to keep to an academic structure that includes an introduction, a body, and a conclusion for most writings. What are the general requirements for each part?
- An introduction must be hooky. It should intrigue the reader. Professionals usually use the so-called ‘hooks’ such as provocative questions, impressive facts, jokes, life stories, retrospection or prospections, etc. Besides, it has a thesis statement. It informs about the core message of the essay within fewer than 40 words or two sentences. An introductory part should take not more than 10% of the essay volume.
- A student develops the idea of the thesis statement in the body . If students speak about some event in the first part, then they will explain how this event has changed them or their life. For example, “That day made me stronger” will be followed by a story full of influential details such as characters, deeds, weather anomalies, miracles, or more. This part is the longest and takes over 80% of a paper’s length.
- Finally, the writers conclude in the last paragraph . They highlight the value of the received experience or evaluate the situation that has happened to them or someone else. To leave a pleasant aftertaste in a reader, they often use quotes, questions, and other techniques to put their target audience in the desired mood. For example, “Have you ever experienced the same?” or “Would you like to live in a world without adults who control you all the time?” Just like an introduction, it takes approximately 10% of the essay length.
Many educational and custom writing websites have narrative essay examples. They mirror both demands for the content and formatting. If you study them, you will see that most authors try to show a story but not tell it. Such a writing approach is very successful. It lets readers imagine everything in detail. Partial description evokes feelings.
Other significant tips are logical flow and word selection. Students must connect all essay parts logically. One can use either transition words or stick to the idea without informational gaps. Depending on the academic year (school, college, university), students should choose words that reflect their educational experience. One should use synonyms, and stylistic devices, and avoid overused phrases and repetitions. It is smart to rotate complex and simple short sentences to guarantee good readability.
Providing Information in First-Person
The narrative is very personal, so you should underline the significance of the ongoing events for your identity. That is why it is common to use “I” statements without switching a perspective in favor of another person.
Describing the Characters and Places
Even though it’s not a descriptive essay, try to adorn your story with vivid details of crucial objects mentioned in the plot. Especially, that goes for people who affected the outcome of the whole case; their personalities should be disclosed as comprehensively as possible.
Mention places serve as a location of where an action is held because it reflects the picture’s ambiance. Background information that may change the reader’s attitude to characters or even to the meaning of your idea has to be also provided.
Adding a Little Spice
What a narrative without a zest! Dilute your smooth passages with a detail that will turn everything around. It may be an antagonist character who is eagerly interfering with your purposes, an unpredictable twist and embarrassing ending, or funny jokes and coincidences to break your audience out laughing.
After crafting the first draft, revise it thoroughly. You will definitely find one, two or a few rough spots while looking through your essay. Make sure you didn’t miss any important points.
Tips for successful editing:
- Don’t start to search for mistakes right after finishing the essay. Have a rest and only then take a fresh look at it;
- Transform big and complicated sentences into simple ones to make them compelling;
- Avoid use the terms wich many meanings;
- Find all repeats of ideas or arguments and delete them;
- Verify all citations and formatting in general with a guide;
- Paraphrase where it is hard to grasp the sense;
- Reconsider the structure of the essay.
Many students deem that subtitles 3 and 4 in this guide are the same things. But it is not really so: when editing is all about content, style, and paragraph structure, proofreading is performed to detect misspellings and grammar errors. Also, it is the final phase of the writing.
What Should I Do During This Process?
- Check grammar yourself or use some applications such as Grammarly.com or other services from Infographics below, but do not rely on them heavily;
- Remove double spacing;
- Replace misspellings with correct words.
Simple tools for proofreading and editing can come in handy.
- Google Docs You can write your paper there and correct typos on the spot. The system marks the wrong lexis or misspelled words. Nevertheless, it deals with the set rules of either British or American English. So, one should look at what the system explains or set the document with either British or American requirements.
- Grammarly This tool is really cool, especially its pro version. This software points to grammar errors, readability problems, clarity inconsistencies, and plagiarism warnings. The only disadvantage of this tool is that it lacks human factors. Therefore, it is essential to study each remark attentively and click only correct suggestions.
- blue is for overused adverbs;
- green is for passive constructions;
- purple is for phrases that have simpler analogs;
- orange is for hard-to-read sentences;
- pink is for very hard-to-read sentences.
- Copyscape Plagiarism is a way to nowhere. This simple though not free tool helps people identify stolen information in their papers.
- Quillbot This tool is a magic wand for those who have poor vocabulary or need to paraphrase sentences to avoid plagiarism.
It is necessary to read papers after applying the tools. One can use five good techniques to do that:
- search for specific mistakes per one proofreading (for example, missed or wrongly used punctuation marks or typos);
- rest before checking to gain a maximum concentration;
- read the text backward;
- verify the used facts;
- hire an editor if you want everything to look perfect.
It will be more effective if you entrust someone else to reread your piece: your friends, parents, or college mates. They may notice mistakes you missed and share their general opinion on the essay.
As you can see, the narrative essay is not complicated at all. It is one of the most pleasant forms of writing assignments due to the great involvement of your personality in the paper’s body. Even the rules and requirements can’t get you down – they are practically absent or are as simple as a pie if the professor mentions a structure. Turn on your imagination and start crafting a brilliant piece adhering to our recommendations.
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Author: Patricia Jenkins
Patricia Jenkins is the senior writing advisor at FastEssay blog for international students that seek quick paper assistance. In her blog, Patricia shares useful tips on productivity, writing, research, references. Sometimes Patricia goes off topic by sharing her personal experience peppered with lively humor and healthy irony. View all posts by Patricia Jenkins
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The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the widespread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.
What is a narrative essay?
When writing a narrative essay, one might think of it as telling a story. These essays are often anecdotal, experiential, and personal—allowing students to express themselves in a creative and, quite often, moving ways.
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 to write a book report. Obviously, this would not necessarily follow the pattern of a story and would focus on providing an informative narrative for the reader.
- The essay should have a purpose.
Make a point! Think of this as the thesis of your story. If there is no point to what you are narrating, why narrate it at all?
- The essay should be written from a clear point of view.
It is quite common for narrative essays to be written from the standpoint of the author; however, this is not the sole perspective to be considered. Creativity in narrative essays oftentimes manifests itself in the form of authorial perspective.
- Use clear and concise language throughout the essay.
Much like the descriptive essay, narrative essays are effective when the language is carefully, particularly, and artfully chosen. Use specific language to evoke specific emotions and senses in the reader.
- The use of the first person pronoun ‘I’ is welcomed.
Do not abuse this guideline! Though it is welcomed it is not necessary—nor should it be overused for lack of clearer diction.
- As always, be organized!
Have a clear introduction that sets the tone for the remainder of the essay. Do not leave the reader guessing about the purpose of your narrative. Remember, you are in control of the essay, so guide it where you desire (just make sure your audience can follow your lead).
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How to Write Winning Narrative Essay Intros
Table of contents.
A strong introduction sets the tone or mood of any story. Great introductions demonstrate the expertise and knowledge of the writer. It will also engage the reader and set the scene for the story.
This is why intros are very important, especially when writing a narrative essay. But making your intro can be challenging. That’s why we’re here to share how to write a narrative essay introduction in a more simplified way.
Great introductions are meant to incite the reader and make them excited about the story. It should also give them a glimpse into what the story will be about. We’ll teach you how to do just that, so keep reading!
What is a Narrative Essay?
Narrative essays are traditionally written in prose form and usually reflect on personal experience. In narrative essays, the writer’s opinions and personal thoughts are the central points.
The purpose of narrative essays is to tell the reader about a significant event that happened during a certain period. It always has a vivid and detailed plot. Most narrative essays focus on themes of personal contacts or experiences. But they can also be written to focus on a particular emotion or to discuss a specific event.
Although narrative and descriptive essays seem similar, they are different in certain aspects. A narrative essay is summarized in chronological order, while a descriptive essay is usually structured in free verse. Descriptive essays have a very vague plot. They provide an image of a person, place, or object without describing the chain of events.
How to Write a Narrative Essay Introduction
1. get your readers interested and hooked on the story..
Your introduction isn’t referred to as the “hook” of your essay for no reason. An intro must make your reader want to finish reading the story even if they’ve just read the first two sentences. You can use questions, trivial facts, or shocking statements to do this.
2. Set the stage for your narrative
You’ll want to let the reader envision the story at the beginning of your narrative. Try to give them a vivid idea of what’s going on. You can try describing the setting of the story or the weather. Pick up a transitional element and dive into the meat of the essay.
3. Provide insight into the story
Your introduction should provide a glimpse into what the story is about. Give them a sneak peek of what’s going to happen. Be careful not to include any spoilers, though. Just remember to keep them engaged!
4. Give Your Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is a sentence used to indicate your central point or argument. This is usually the last sentence of your introduction. You can also reiterate it in your conclusion to enhance the impact of the essay.
The purpose of your thesis statement is to first introduce the problem or conflict you plan to investigate in your paper. It is used to stir up interest in the readers.
Your essay’s introduction is a golden opportunity to capture your audience’s attention and set the tone for your essay. Remember to give the reader a taste of the story and why they should read the whole thing.
Always think about the kind of reader you want to attract and what they would be interested in. Speak to the needs of your audience in every introduction that you write.
These are sure ways to make a successful essay. Now you know how to write a narrative essay introduction. Get your creative juices flowing and get started on that essay!
Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.
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Narrative Essay Examples and Key Elements
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In a narrative essay , you tell a story, often about a personal experience, but you also make a point. So, the purpose is not only to tell an entertaining tale, but also to expound on the importance of the experience. In the narrative essay examples below, see if you can pull out the moral or theme . When it’s your time to draft a similar type of essay, hopefully, you can stir the heart of the reader.
Sample Narrative Essays
Below, you’ll find two narrative essay samples. One has a sad little twist and the other is a personal narrative essay that details the importance of hope. Note that they tell a story, while emphasizing an integral moral or theme.
He Left So I Could Learn
In this first essay example, we explore a lesson on dying:
It was my second day on the job. I was sitting in my seemingly gilded cubicle, overlooking Manhattan, and pinching my right arm to make sure it was real. I landed an internship at Condé Nast Traveler. Every aspiring writer I’ve ever known secretly dreamt of an Anthony Bourdain lifestyle. Travel the world and write about its most colorful pockets. When my phone rang, and it was Mom telling me Dad had a heart attack. He didn’t make it. I felt as though the perfectly carpeted floors had dropped out from under me. Now that I’ve come out the other side, I realize Dad left me with a hefty stack of teachings. Here are three ideals I know he would’ve liked for me to embrace. First, you have to stand on your own two feet. As much as our parents love and support us, they can’t go to our school and confess to the principal that we stole a candy bar from Sara. We have to do that. Neither can they walk into the Condé Nast office and nail a job interview for us. At some point, we have to put on our “big girl pants” and be brave, even if we’re not. Also, there’s a difference between love and co-dependence. Being grateful to have someone to turn to for love and support is not the same as needing someone to turn to for love and support. With the loss of my father, I’ve also lost my sounding board. All I can glean from that is it’s time to look within myself and make proper assessments. If I can’t make sound decisions with the tools already in my kit, then I risk falling for anything. Finally, memories are, perhaps, the only item that cannot be taken away from us. Will I miss my father? Every single day. What can I do in those times? I can open up our suitcase of memories, pick out my favorite one, and dream about it, talk about it, or write about it. Maybe I can’t pick up the phone and call him anymore, but that doesn’t mean he’s gone. Next week, I’m off to Istanbul to explore their art scene. As soon as I read the email from my editor, I picked up my phone to call Dad. Then, I realized he’ll never answer my calls again. I fought back the tears, got up to make a cup of peppermint tea, and added a new note to my iPhone titled, “Istanbul Packing List.” In the end, life goes on. I’m not sure why he had to leave during the single most poignant chapter in my life. So, I won’t dwell on that. Instead, I’ll hold tightly to these three ideals and write about Karaköy in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district. Dad will be with me every step of the way.
A Teeny, Tiny Treasure Box
The next short narrative essay takes a different approach. Instead of living in a comfortably loving home, the writer had to deal with the uncertainty of the foster system. Here’s a short lesson on hope:
She took me by the hand and walked me into the lobby like a five-year old child. Didn’t she know I was pushing 15? This was the third home Nancy was placing me in - in a span of eight months. I guess she felt a little sorry for me. The bright fluorescent lights threatened to burn my skin as I walked towards a bouncy-looking lady with curly hair and a sweetly-smiling man. They called themselves Allie and Alex. Cute, I thought. After they exchanged the usual reams of paperwork, it was off in their Chevy Suburban to get situated into another new home. This time, there were no other foster children and no other biological children. Anything could happen. Over the next few weeks, Allie, Alex, and I fell into quite a nice routine. She’d make pancakes for breakfast, or he’d fry up some sausage and eggs. They sang a lot, even danced as they cooked. They must have just bought the house because, most weekends, we were painting a living room butter yellow or staining a coffee table mocha brown. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. When would they start threatening a loss of pancakes if I didn’t mow the lawn? When would the sausage and eggs be replaced with unidentifiable slosh because he didn’t feel like cooking in the morning? But, it never happened. They kept cooking, singing, and dancing like a couple of happy fools. It was a Saturday afternoon when Allie decided it was time to paint the brick fireplace white. As we crawled closer to the dirty old firepit, we pulled out the petrified wood and noticed a teeny, tiny treasure box. We looked at each other in wonder and excitement. She actually said, “I wonder if the leprechauns left it!” While judging her for being such a silly woman, I couldn’t help but laugh and lean into her a little. Together, we reached for the box and pulled it out. Inside was a shimmering solitaire ring. Folded underneath was a short piece of paper that read: “My darling, my heart. Only 80 days have passed since I first held your hand. I simply cannot imagine my next 80 years without you in them. Will you take this ring, take my heart, and build a life with me? This tiny little solitaire is my offering to you. Will you be my bride?” As I stared up at Allie, she asked me a question. “Do you know what today is?” I shook my head. “It’s May 20th. That’s 80 days since Nancy passed your hand into mine and we took you home.” It turns out, love comes in all shapes and sizes, even a teeny, tiny treasure box from a wonderfully silly lady who believes in leprechauns.
Essential Elements of Narrative Essays
Let’s go back to basics first. Generally speaking, there are four types of essays: argumentative essays , descriptive essays , expository essays , and narrative essays .
Narrative essays tell a vivid story, usually from one person's viewpoint. A narrative essay uses all the story elements — a beginning, middle and ending, as well as plot, characters, setting and climax — bringing them together to complete the story. The focus of a narrative essay is the plot, which is told with enough detail to build to a climax. Here's how:
- It’s usually told chronologically.
- It always has a purpose. Often, this is stated in your thesis statement in the introductory paragraph.
- It may use dialogue. For more on that, here are the ins and outs on how to punctuate dialogue correcctly .
- It’s written with sensory details and bright descriptions that involve the reader. All these details relate in some way to the main point the writer is making.
Quick Tips on Writing a Narrative Essay
When writing a narrative essay, remember that you are sharing sensory and emotional details with the reader.
- Your words need to be vivid and colorful to help the reader feel the same feelings that you felt.
- Elements of the story need to support the point you are making. And, you need to remember to make reference to that point in the first sentence.
- You should make use of conflict and sequence like in any story.
- You may use flashbacks and flash forwards to help the story build toward a climax.
- It is usually written in the first person , but the third-person perspective may also be used.
Tell Your Story
Use your next narrative essay to tell your story. It’s possible to focus on yourself, while offering the reader some sort of lesson or truth. Encourage them to move past terrible loss or maintain hope in a seemingly bleak foster system.
Narrative essays are close cousins to short stories. If you feel compelled to share another story, fiction or nonfiction, with the world, check out Get Creative: How to Write a Short Story . Who knows how many lives you’ll brighten and shape with your words. Remember, there’s great power in them.
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