How to Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps

From The Grammarly Blog:

When you have a personal story to tell and don’t want to write an entire book, a narrative essay may be the perfect fit. Unlike other types of essays, narrative essays don’t need to stick to certain requirements or include a bibliography. They have a looser structure, more creative language, and just one requirement: to tell a story.

What is a narrative essay?

A narrative essay typically tells a true story that may have a few elements changed for clarity or dramatic purposes. However, this isn’t a requirement. You can format a fictional story as a narrative essay.

Narrative essays, perhaps unsurprisingly, are defined by the presence of a narrative in the text. Rather than presenting and defending a position, as in an argumentative essay, or analyzing another text, like in an analytical essay, a narrative essay tells a coherent story. They’re often personal essays that detail specific episodes in their authors’ lives, which is why they’re popular for college essays.

Unlike most other types of essays, narrative essays have room for literary devices, such as metaphor and onomatopoeia. You can be creative in a narrative essay because you’re writing a story rather than presenting and dissecting others’ statements or work.

5 steps to writing a narrative essay

Step 1: Topic choice (or prompt given)

The first step in writing a narrative essay is to determine the topic. Sometimes, your topic is chosen for you in the form of a prompt. You might map out the topics you want to mention in the essay or think through each point you’d like to make to see how each will fit into the allotted word count (if you’re given one).

At this stage, you can also start thinking about the tone you’ll use in your essay and any stylistic choices you’d like to incorporate, such as starting each paragraph with the same phrase to create anaphora or leaving the reader with a cliffhanger ending. You can change these later if they don’t mesh with your first draft, but playing with these ideas in the idea-generating stage can help you craft multiple drafts.

Step 2: Make an outline

After you’ve explored your ideas and gotten a clear sense of what you’ll write, make an outline. An outline is a bare-bones precursor to your essay that gives a high-level view of the topics it will cover. When you’re writing, your essay outline can act as a map to follow when you’re not sure how to start or help you transition between topics once you’ve started.

Step 3: Write your narrative essay

Next, it’s time to write! With your outline as a guide, flesh out the sections you’ve listed with clear, engaging language. A narrative essay doesn’t—and shouldn’t—stick to the same requirements as an academic essay, so don’t feel a need to use formal language or summarize your essay in its introductory paragraph.

Tip: Use a first-person point of view

Most narrative essays are written from a first-person point of view. That means using pronouns such as and me when describing the experiences you explore in your essay.

Tip: Use storytelling or creative language

If you’ve ever written fiction or creative nonfiction, use the same kind of language and conventions in your narrative essay. By this, we mean using storytelling techniques, such as dialogue, flashbacks, and symbolism, to engage readers and communicate your essay’s themes.

Link to the rest at The Grammarly Blog

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