How to Write a Narrative Essay: Tips from 2 Experts

How to Write a Narrative Essay: Tips from 2 Experts

A narrative essay is a form of creative writing that presents a story, typically from the point-of-view of the writer.  Narrative essays are also known as "personal essays" because they often describe an event or series of events in the life of an individual.

Those unfamiliar with narrative essay form may mistake a narrative essay for a short story, since a narrative essay is a brief text that tells a story.  However, learners should be clear on the difference between the two genres: a short story is a form of fiction, meaning it is made up.  Narrative essays, on the other hand, should always reflect the true events of a person's life.  Despite their differences, however, narrative essays and short stories employ many of the same writing conventions.  Both are creative forms of writing, and thus require the writer to engage readers both aesthetically and emotionally.  To do this, the writer has to compel the reader to keep reading by making the text engaging.

One of the most important things to remember when composing narrative essays is to use vivid, descriptive language.  Descriptive language consists of words and phrases that produce images in the mind of the reader.  Just as reading a short story is boring unless the reader can picture the setting and the characters and understand the way the characters feel, a narrative essay is boring unless the reader can truly "see" the events taking place and feel why they are significant.  Descriptive language includes adjectives and adverbs (describing words), but also figurative language.  Figurative language is language that creates images through comparisons or suggestions, such as metaphors and similes.  Figurative language can be very effective in portraying people, scenes, and events.  Consider the difference between the following two descriptions: "Laura's hair was long and brown" and "Laura's hair was like a horse's mane."  Notice how the second description, which uses a simile (the hair was like a mane), evokes an image in the mind's eye, whereas the first merely provides information.

In addition to descriptive language, all narrative essays must have conflict.  Just as a short story would not be interesting if there were no conflict, a narrative essay falls flat unless the reader feels as though what is being told is an important event in the life of the writer.  This does not mean that a narrative essay must be on a huge life event, such as a death or a birth.  There can be conflict in small things, such as the first day of school, a fight with a friend, or a drive through the park.  Conflict can be internal as well as external, and small events can evoke this conflict just as easily as large ones.  

Finally, a narrative report should be genuine.  Students should pick a subject that truly matters to them and reflect on it honestly and candidly.  The best narrative essays are those in which the real mind and personality of the writer are evident throughout the entirety of the text.

Viewpoint of Author #2

When writing a narrative essay, your primary objective is to tell a story to the reader.  This may be accomplished by exploring the author's values or by the author reflecting on a specific memory, thought, or event.  As such, a narrative essay may discuss something that happened in the author's past or present and may be about a variety of topics, including recollecting a memorable event or person.

As you write a narrative essay, you will need to try to loosen up a bit more than when you write an academic article.  You words should make the reader feel as if he or she is listening to the real you as you speak in the same way you would when having a casual conversation.  Therefore, you should talk in the first person when writing a narrative essay, which means you will use words such as "I" when writing a narrative article.

Some writers find it helpful to actually tape themselves telling the story they want to share in their narrative article.  This way, you can get a better idea of how you naturally speak and you can essentially transcribe your story into writing for your article.  From here, you can make the necessary changes to make sure it flows properly and is grammatically correct.

If you are assigned a narrative essay and do not have a personal life experience that is fitting to the topic, you may choose to write about someone else instead.  Another option is to write a narrative article that discusses observations you have made about a recent event.  For example, you might write a narrative essay about your parents, about your children, or about a favorite hobby or sport.  

In addition to telling a story, a narrative essay typically involves making a point in some manner.  This point may be to express an opinion, to help the reader understand something better, or to simply give the reader something to reflect upon.

As with any type of academic paper, narrative reports should have an introduction that clearly expresses the type of narrative article that you will be writing.  For example, you might be writing about a personal experience, about a special event, about a recurring activity, or about an observation.

Somewhere within the narrative essay, you should also include at least one anecdote.  In addition, you should describe the event, person, or scene that you are writing about in great detail.  You can also feel free to include dialogue, just be certain it is punctuated correctly and that it is not overused.  Keep in mind that you wan the reader to reflect upon the human experience after reading your article.  Therefore, you don't want to bog it down with dialogue or with clich├ęs.

When writing your conclusion, you should strive to make some sort of point.  The conclusion should serve to help the reader make the connections the article is trying to create while also leaving the reader with a lasting thought or impression.

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