How To Write A Narrative Essay

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
Time Order Transitional words/phrases
BeamedGlitterySoon after
GobbledScuffyAt the same time
GulpedMuscularAt that moment
ScribbledGrumpilyJust then
ScrambledhelplesslyShortly after

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
A second chance
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 proud moment
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
An act of courage
A rebellious act in school
An act of kindness
A bully
A hero
An unforgettable camp in school
Resolving a big fight
Write about a time when you were entrusted with an important task

5. Morality
Write about a difficult decision you had to make
Write about a decision that you regret making
A dilemma
An act of kindness
Write about an occasion you felt guilty about something you did
Write about an occasion you had to keep a secret
A time you did something nice to a stranger
A time you did something nice to a neighbour.

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

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