What are Narrative Essays?

Narrative essays are short stories written chronologically. The narrator is delivering a story that has already occurred so you need to write in past tense. It could be written in first person pronoun, ‘I’ or third person pronouns, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’ or ‘they’. The purpose of a narrative is to tell the audience a story, about a day when the usual pattern is interrupted. Do not write about an ordinary day as that will be considered a routine, not a story.

Structure of Narrative Essays:

A narrative essay follows this structure:
1. Introduction (Setting, characters – Who, When, Where)
2. Three body paragraphs/Plot (Complication/conflict/climax – sequence of events)
3. Conclusion. (Resolution/outcome)

Do bear in mind that it is not compulsory for narrative essays to end on a happy note. Sad endings can be unexpected resolutions/outcomes. Just remember, a good conclusion should not leave the reader confused.

Remember to keep your audience captivated and engaged as the story is told. The choice of words are important in narrative essays, just like descriptive essays. Vivid verbs and modifiers should be used to make your essay come alive. Show what you mean, or show readers the action, the character, or the idea. Example: Use verbs such as ‘gulped’ or ‘gobbled’ instead of ‘drank’ or ‘ate’ to show instead of tell.

Time order words/phrases are equally important as they make the flow of events cohesive/well-connected.

Examples of Vivid Verbs/Modifiers/Time Order

Vivid VerbsModifiers
(adjectives/adverbs)
Time Order Transitional words/phrases
BeamedGlitterySoon after
DashedFlabbyThen
StumbledPetiteImmediately
StrolledUnkemptInstantly
GobbledScuffyAt the same time
GulpedMuscularAt that moment
ScribbledGrumpilyJust then
ScrambledhelplesslyShortly after
WhisperedfiercelyLater
RacedImpatientlySimultaneously

Typical Themes of Narrative Essays:

1. Childhood
Write about a childhood experience that helped you grow up.
Write about a precious gift you received when you were young.
Write about a childhood phobia you once had.

2. Traveling
A vacation that went wrong.
First visit to the countryside.
My first overseas trip without my parents
My first overseas trip
An unforgettable vacation
Write about a memorable vacation.

3. Experience
Lost and found.
An embarrassing moment/experience.
An experience that helped you overcome fear.
A nerve-racking experience.
An experience that taught you to appreciate the people in your life more.
An experience that taught you to appreciate life more than ever.
A memorable experience.
My biggest achievement.
A life-changing experience.
My first encounter with fear.
An adventure.
A strange encounter
A challenge
A depressing moment
An impulsive act
Write about a time when you risked your life for something.
A conflict
A dangerous encounter.
An unexpected visitor.

4. Student’s life/years
A rebellious act in school.
A bully.
A hero.
An unforgettable camp in school
Resolving a big fight

5. Morality
Write about a difficult decision you had to make.
Write about a decision that you regret making.
A dilemma.
Write about an occasion you felt guilty about something you did.
A time you did something nice to a stranger.

6. Relationships
Unconditioned love.
A breakup.
A rejection.
A misunderstanding.
A reunion
Betrayal

7. Imagine….
Imagine you were lost in the wilderness.
Imagine you saw an alien.