A Brief Guide to Writing Narrative Essays
Narrative writing tells a story. In essays the narrative writing could also be considered reflection or an exploration of the author’s values told as a story. The author may remember his or her
past, or a memorable person or event from that past, or even observe the present.
When you’re writing a narrative essay, loosen up. After all, you’re basically just telling a story to someone, something you probably do every day in casual conversation. Use first person and talk
it through first. You might even want to either tape record your story as if you were telling it to someone for the first time or actually tell it to a friend.
Once you get the basic story down, then you can begin turning it into an essay. If you feel that you lack life experience, then you may choose to write about someone else or write about an
observation you’ve made about a recent event. You could write about your children, your parents, or your favorite sport or hobby. The important aspect to remember is that you should have a story.
In a successful narrative essay, the author usually makes a point.
1. The story should have an introduction that clearly indicates what kind of narrative essay it is (an event or recurring activity, a personal experience, or an observation), and it should have a
conclusion that makes a point.
2. The essay should include anecdotes. The author should describe the person, the scene, or the event in some detail. It’s okay to include dialogue as long as you know how to punctuate it correctly
and as long as you avoid using too much.
3. The occasion or person described must be suggestive in that your description and thoughts lead the reader to reflect on the human experience. For instance, I read an excellent student essay that
told the story of a young woman forced to shoot several wolves that were attacking her cattle. She told her story and included the inner struggle she faced as she made the choice of saving the
cattle or saving the wolves. She shot the wolves, but learned that whatever her choice had been, she would not have been comfortable with it. One of life’s lessons is that sometimes there is no
right choice, and that was the point of the essay.
4. The point of view in narrative essays is usually first person. The use of “I” invites your readers into an intimate discussion.
5. The writing in your essay should be lively and show some style. Try to describe ideas and events in new and different ways. Avoid using clichés. Again, get the basic story down, get it
organized, and in your final editing process, work on word choice.