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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.

You may also be given prompts that leave you a much wider choice of topic.

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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good topics to write about for a narrative essay

150 Best Topic Ideas For Narrative Essay

26 Apr 2022

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❓How to Choose a Topic for a Narrative Essay?

☝️Some Tips for Writing Narrative Essays

📑Narrative Essay Topics for:

✏️Topics for essays on themes:

In academic practice, the narrative essay is probably one of the key elements to train students in expressing their opinions. It teaches well how to tell a story in a clear, concise manner, that’s why it is so welcome in the language and composition classes.

Narrative essays are not only valuable as such: their contribution lies in the ability to elaborate students’ storytelling and narration skills. To touch the reader’s nerves, you should opt for exciting narrative essay ideas. There are plenty of them – but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of essay ideas.

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How to Choose a Topic for a Narrative Essay?

When you are selecting a topic for your essay, you should consider some aspects. As a teacher, you should opt for a best narrative essay topics that would be interesting and familiar to your mentees. If you are a mentee yourself, you can be assigned a specific task to write on the topic provided by your teacher or professor. In the opposite case, you have the freedom to choose a topic on your own.

We’ve collected some useful tips on how to efficiently select  a narrative speech topics for your paper. They apply to the general principles of narrative essay topic choice. You can write about something special and personal for you, or describe events and subjects that are well-known to everyone. The following rules will be a perfect support for you in the creation of a powerful narrative essay.

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Some Tips for Writing Narrative Essays

Narration may be both rewarding and challenging. To maximize your rewarding experience and minimize the tough aspects of essay writing, follow our tips recovered from the students’ practice.

A narration essay stands foremost for a narration. Whether you are describing events, discussing situations, or recollecting the past, your story should be engaging and have a plot. You may introduce the elements that make your story individual. These include arguments, reflections, and opinions, but the focus of this type of essay is narrative.

The conventional structure is not required, however, it assists in organizing your thoughts properly and preserving accuracy and distinctiveness. The introduction and conclusion parts do not differ much from those in other academic papers. The body part, in turn, presents a story that may tackle moral, practical, psychological, or other problems. This clearly distinguishes your narration from all the others. This is why personal narrative topics shall be thoroughly picked.

Draft the events and characters to be introduced in your story. Don’t feel like you are limited by the structure you create. A plan is a guide rather than a mold for your text, so try making it comfortable for you. Drafting your essay before you start writing may also be helpful. This way you can break down the nuances and see what’s lacking for an immersive story.

While good narrative topics circulate in the school and college assignments, you are still able to make your essay personalized. To start with, you have your own stories to be told. Then, you might express your own opinions that are unconventional. Also, you can present the lessons you’ve learned from the story. In the end, your author’s style will surely add points to your paper.

Stories may be told third-person or first-person. Weigh the pros and cons of each type of narration and opt for the one reflecting your objective. Personal experiences are usually written in first-person, and epic narratives may be third-person. Though, unconventional approaches may be an interesting artistic device making your essay even more intriguing.

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Narrative Essay Topics for Students

We’ve analyzed trainees’ experience in writing narrative paragraphs and selected narrative essay topics for college and school students. This profound list covers a wide range of subjects, so pick one!

Narrative Essay Topics for High School Students

High school students normally feel comfortable about describing their study routine. Below you’ll find interesting topics to convey some of the things at school familiar to every pupil.

Good Narrative Essay Topics for College Students

Just like high schoolers, students at colleges and universities are fond of talking about their everyday matters. Whether a topic about students’ affairs or reflection on new relationships, the most popular narrative topics for college students are collected here.

Topics for essays on themes:

Personal narrative essay topics.

Each of us had moments in life the story of which would be interesting to others. Develop your narration mastery and tell the world a story about the very best, most memorable, extremely scary, or awkward situations. Our list is here to assist you.

Personal Experience Narrative Essay Topics

Personal experiences are way more exciting for writers. Unfortunately, personal narrative essays are not always just as fascinating for listeners unless they are presented in an entertaining manner. We’re sure that the ideas for personal narratives below will help you pick your topic to maximize readers’ engagement.

Narrative Essay Topics About Childhood

Childhood is probably the sweetest period of our lives and the one with the most number of insights. The most powerful experiences come from it, and most of our reflections are related to a child's perception in this or that way. Check out our list of captivating topics about childhood and pick one.

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Relationship Narrative Essay Topics

Writing about this huge layer of experience – relationships – is surely thrilling. We’ve picked just some of the great variety of narrative topics about relationships for you. Even if you don’t find here exactly what you want to talk about, you’ll definitely hit upon an appropriate idea.

Personal Narrative Essay About Friendship

Friendships often determine our paths in life, and most people love telling stories. These are about their adventures with friends or reflections on the effects of getting cozy with other people. From the list below, you may pick one of the best friendship topics for narrative essay papers.

Cultural Narrative Essay Topics

How about writing on culture? The variety of topics is enormous, and you can write here in different styles and tonalities. Find out effective narrative paragraph topics dedicated to traditions, holidays, or cultural events below.

Personal Narrative Stories Ideas on Traveling and Holidays

This segment of subjects covers individual experiences. Respectively, it has to do with reflections, opinions, and feelings. Our list of personal narrative ideas related to trips and celebrations is here for your convenience.

Narrative Argument Essay Topics

Strong argumentation is one of the indications of a successful academic paper and a prerequisite for a higher grade. You should pick a topic you are confident in to provide your effective arguments as your objective is to persuade your readers. Opt for a narrative essay topic that speaks to you.

Whether a personal experience essay, a story about your best childhood birthday, a narration about your most meaningful travel, or the way you reacted to essential world events are all worth writing. Bear in mind that each of them requires research, adhering to a structure, and planning. Focus on what’s inspiring for you and may be of interest to your readers, and you’ll get a list of the narrative ideas working best for you.

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good topics to write about for a narrative essay

How to Write a Narrative Essay

good topics to write about for a narrative essay

A narrative essay is one of the most commonly assigned forms of academic writing. Starting from school, students of various educational facilities face this type of task quite often, which is why knowing how to handle it is vital for their success.

The main purpose of the narrative style of writing is to tell a compelling story. It doesn't sound like too big of a deal, right? You couldn't be more wrong. Even if it might seem easy at first sight, telling an engaging story can be rather challenging. To help you overcome this challenge, our custom term paper writing service compiled a comprehensive guide on how to write a narrative essay step by step.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is a form of academic writing that aims to tell a story. As the author, your goal is to create the right atmosphere and a lifelike experience for your readers.

As a rule, this type of paper is written from the first-person perspective. Therefore, you have to put readers at the epicenter of the plot and keep them engaged. To do this and to ensure the right atmosphere, narrative writing uses plenty of vivid details, descriptive techniques, etc.

The biggest challenge in writing a narrative essay is that it is always limited in length. Thus, your task is to take a complex story and narrow it down to incorporate its key points to fit into a short essay while at the same time providing enough detail to keep readers engaged. You can always get help from our research paper writing service .

Purpose of a Narrative Essay

This form of writing is about sharing stories—that's the key purpose. As for an essay writer , your task is to tell readers about a real-life experience and, simultaneously, to make a clear point of why you are suggesting that particular story and why it matters.

What makes it different from other types of essays? In a narrative essay, all you do is guide readers through the story; you don't make arguments, criticize, or attempt to persuade them. Instead, you are just telling a story, letting readers draw their own conclusions. That's the most distinctive feature of such papers.

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Types of Narrative Essays

There are two types of custom writing essays to be put into narrative form:

Descriptive Narrative Essay ‍

This is the most creative form of this task. The main goal of a descriptive narrative essay is to describe an experience, situation, or memory using vivid details. ‘Show, don't tell’ is the main credo of writing a descriptive narrative paper. The author's goal is to evoke the readers' different senses and paint a clear picture of an event.

A well-written descriptive narrative paper is usually straightforward. It takes a complicated story and narrows it down—allowing the reader to infer the rest. Great writers avoid over-exaggeration and stick to their purpose. There are always some limits to the amount of content you can provide to your readers; keep this in mind when choosing what to include in your work.

Autobiographical ‍

This task requires you to share a true story throughout your life. Note that this type of assignment should focus on one specific event. Unlike a descriptive essay, an autobiographical one places a bigger focus on the story itself and its purpose, not details.

good topics to write about for a narrative essay

Narrative Essay Characteristics

Here are the basic characteristics that define this type of writing:

Video Guide on How to Write a Narrative Essay

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10 Good Narrative Essay Topics and How to Pick One

When choosing a good narrative essay topic, there are a few things to remember. First of all, you should start by carefully studying the given requirements. Typically, teachers will specify exactly what you are expected to do.

Some of the basic characteristics a teacher may be looking for in your paper are:

To come up with a brilliant topic for a narrative essay, you will need to take some time to brainstorm. To get on the right track, try using the following techniques:

Follow these tips to generate some great ideas, and then pick one that looks the most compelling. The final information is to choose something interesting to you and appealing enough to engage your audience.

Here are some narrative essay ideas to help you brainstorm:

These are a few typical examples that students tend to explore. Next, consider making a story based on your personal life experiences. The most vivid memories are usually the ones that tell a great story.

Narrative Format and Structure

The narrative essay format and structure are standard. Like other assignments, this type of paper normally follows a 5 paragraph essay outline: one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and the last narrative paragraph is the conclusion. However, unlike other types of essays, a narrative paper's paragraphs have specifically designated purposes:

In the next section of this article, we will look at each element more closely.

narrative essay

Narrative Essay Outline

Let's look at how to start a narrative essay. When writing this type of academic task, we recommend that you follow this specific sequence of actions.

If you approach your writing step by step, as described above, the whole process will become less stressful and much quicker. So now, let's get back to the narrative essay outline.

Introduction

The opening clause of your story has to accomplish 3 goals:

Example: “I’m not quite sure whether it is a real memory or just some false belief that grew stronger and more convincing in me over time, but I remember my sister once trying to kill me...”
Example: “It was another warm summer day when we were making our way back home from the beach. The next thing I remember was a loud bang and a pounding ache in my head.”
Example: “Our memory can be a tricky thing sometimes. Just switch the point of view for a situation and you will get a completely different picture.”

As a rule, your introduction should contain a thesis statement.

Narrative Essay Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is another important element of your paper. It should be placed in the introductory paragraph and can later be restated in your conclusion to empower the effect of the essay.

A thesis statement is your main argument. Its main goal is to introduce the problem or conflict you will investigate in your paper and to spark the readers' interest.

A good thesis statement should not be a fact or general truth, and it also shouldn't be a suggestion, recommendation, or question. Instead, it should give a sneak peek into the problem, explain it briefly, and provide some hints about the outcome.

The main body of your paper is the most important part. This is where you tell the story, share facts and details, and guide readers through the plot.

The body of a narrative essay can consist of 3 or more paragraphs, and its length depends on the general word count of your paper.

Here are 4 important points to consider in the body paragraphs of your narrative essay:

Example: If you have two New Yorkers talking to each other, using British slang won’t be a great choice.

To find a compelling narrative paragraph example, keep on reading.

In the conclusion part, you are expected to give some final comments about your story. This is where you can restate some of the key details and ideas mentioned in the body. In addition, you should stress the lessons you've learned from a particular situation and leave readers with something to think about.

Example: “As I go through these events over and over in my head, I realize how much it has taught me. Everything that happens in our lives has at least two sides. To see the real image, it is necessary to collect all of the details piece by piece—to see both sides. And, not all memories should be trusted. Sometimes, it is just our brains that try to make up false stories, isn’t it?”

good topics to write about for a narrative essay

Narrative Essay Examples

The content of narrative essays can vary depending on the requirements of your institution. Leave us a notice if you need dissertation help . We have decided to provide you with narrative essay examples in case you have a problem.

New York, New York. The city that never sleeps. With a population of over 8.5m people, someone's always bound to be awake! And so many sights to see, hear, and experience across this sprawling metropolis. A visitor could spend a lifetime there and see something new every day. I recently traveled to New York, my first time in fact, and spent four days in this iconic city of the world. I visited some of the best known landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and of course, the Top of the Rock down in central Manhattan.

Narrative Essay Example for College

College professors search for the following qualities in their students:

Your work must demonstrate these qualities, regardless of whether your narrative paper is a college application essay or a class assignment. Additionally, you want to demonstrate your character and creativity. Describe a situation where you have encountered a problem, tell the story of how you came up with a unique approach to solving it, and connect it to your field of interest. The narrative can be exciting and informative if you present it in such fashion.

There is an ability to identify the traits that characterise a person by looking at their immediate environment. My identity can be explained by my personality and the continuous interactions in the environments I have been in since I was young. Finding an identity is not a one-time phenomenon. I believe that identifying myself is a lifelong endeavor. After all, psychologists argue that one’s identity orients and changes over time. I find it essential to understand my self so that I can live well, interact smoothly with others, and pursue my goals. I realize that there are plenty of things to identify with: my family, gender, college, community, race, religion, and even the choices that I make every single day. Both the choices, and the factors I have no control over, eventually help define who I am and therefore, the role I have in life. Life is a broad term, and I can realize the role I play in various environments, such as home, church, school, and my community.

Narrative Essay Example for High School

High school is all about showing that you can make mature choices. You accept the consequences of your actions and retrieve valuable life lessons. Think of an event in which you believe your actions were exemplary and made an adult choice. A personal narrative essay example will showcase the best of your abilities. Finally, use other sources to help you get the best results possible. Try searching for a sample narrative essay to see how others have approached it.

I was just listening to some music in my car as I rested and waited for my grandmother to finish up so that we could drive off. From the other side of the road there were some kids playing football, and I had not given it much thought since they were just playing—a regular activity. For a moment, I thought I had heard a sound made by a hard-kicked ball, followed by some noise from the children. Then, I decided to look through the window to see how far the ball had gone. Before I could even move an inch, another even louder sound, which shook my car, came from the playground. That is when I felt fear all throughout my body and I started sweating profusely, even though I was still not quite sure enough about what had just happened.

General Advice

Writing a narrative essay should be a positive experience. It does not restrict you to a linear format with no allowance for variation. This is one of the most free-spirited and original essays to write. That doesn't mean that rebelling against all rules and writing something absurd is appropriate, though.

If you are still struggling to decide what to write about – think of your story as a coming-of-age tale. An event that transformed you into the person you are today.

narrative essay

Your primary goal is to take the readers on a journey. Have them share your experience and take something away from it. The best stories are always the ones that teleport the readers out of their comfort zones.

Now, let us give you a few more tips on how to write a flawless narrative story:

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Do’s and Don’ts of Narrative Writing

To make the writing process less stressful, keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind:

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Storytelling is a skill that doesn’t come naturally. It takes time and effort to acquire it, which is why writing a good narrative essay can be so challenging sometimes. Hopefully this guide will help you get a better idea of how to write a good narrative paper. And if you still have any concerns, contact our service and find the perfect author.

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COMMENTS

  1. 200 Top Narrative Essay Topics and Ideas (2023)

    Some personal narrative topics include: A teacher you will never forget An experience that put you in danger A funny story that happened to you A story from your childhood Your first trip abroad An episode from your school life A story of losing a friend A story of learning a new skill (like playing a musical instrument or surfing)

  2. How to Write a Narrative Essay

    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. Specific prompts Write a story about your first day of school. Write a story about your favorite holiday destination.

  3. 150 Best Topic Ideas For Narrative Essay ...

    Recollecting or imagining, projecting or analyzing, reporting or insightful – if you identify your features, they will be helpful narrative essay prompts. Show your mastery Topics are essential, but that’s not the hard and fast rule: always factor into personal proficiency.

  4. How to Write a Narrative Essay: Topics, Outline, Examples

    Here are some narrative essay ideas to help you brainstorm: Overcoming Fear Facing a Challenge A New Experience or Discovery A Moment of Excitement Learning a Tough Lesson A Thrilling Moment of Adrenaline The Moment You Stood Up for Yourself A Relationship Experience A Discovery That Changed Your Life A Rebellious Act