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How to Write a Narrative Essay

Published by at November 1st, 2021 , Revised On November 23, 2022

What is a narrative essay?

Before we describe a narrative essay, it will make sense to understand what an essay is and the different types of essay.

A student of the school, college, or university is assigned to write academic essays throughout the academic career. An essay can be described as a brief composition of informative writing.

It includes an introductory paragraph, a frame of discussion of the relative content, and a conclusion. The resonance of an essay might vary depending on the motif, but essay writing aims to make the determined information clear for the reader.

An essay can be divided into four types;

Narrative essay

A narrative essay only has a single motif around which the narration revolves. It allows the essayist to colour the picture, from his personal experience, in the form of a short story. A narrative essay helps you create a marvellous piece of art using nothing but your imagination and creativity.

Although you are on the loose to pour your mind with the ideas of wonders, creativity, and personal experiences on the paper in a narrative essay, it is equally important to follow the appropriate format and structure.

In short, a narrative essay is a story told in the first person (active voice) to reconnect a chain of events by using suspense, emotions, conversations, and metaphorical language.

Elements of narrative essay

Like every living thing, a narrative essay is also made up of some essential elements. After all, it is going to live in the minds of the reader for a while. The most important elements of a narrative essay are characters, motif (theme), dialogues.

The voluntary question most of you might be asking is;

Why should I write a narrative essay?

Many students are confused when they are asked to write a narrative essay. They are unsure of the significance of storytelling in academic writing. A careful selection of the essay topic might add weight to your evaluation, but the essence of narrative essay writing is how you tell the story.

To score high on your narrative essay assessment, you have to follow the structure strictly. A better narrative essay is believable and makes the readers feel like they are experiencing the events themselves.

Descriptive language and expression of the characters’ emotions will excite your audience and make them relive the moment with you. An attractive and intriguing start is as important as a conclusive ending. Get the writer to walk in your shoes without losing the focus of the main motif.

Below are some useful strategies to compose an awesome narrative essay that could quickly hook the reader and grab the audience by their toes.

How to choose the topic for your narrative essay?

Finding a good topic for your essay is not an easy task. In most cases, the lecturer assigns the topic. But, if that’s not the case, you will be required to develop an exciting topic.

Most college students think that they have to air out the real stories from their own personal experience in a narrative essay, but that’s not an obligation. You can compose an amazing essay by making up an interesting story and describing a memorable moment.

The topic for your narrative essay assigned by your lecturer can either be specific or open-ended.

Specific topic examples:

  • Write a story about your most memorable day in college.
  • Write a story about your interactive-experience on your first day at college.

Open-ended topic examples:

  • How your life was influenced by your best friend at primary school.
  • 5 day-to-day issues that bother you.

Choosing a strong topic determines your success to a great extent. Rely on the most interesting story that you would like to tell.

A story that includes an element of surprise, a twist, or a challenge that you have to overcome will be far better than the story which is predictable and everything goes according to the plan. Narrating a story that has a solid moral lesson for the audience can be pretty impactful.

Writing a narrative essay for college application.

Colleges require the applicants to submit a personal statement or a narrative essay describing their achievements and ambitions along with their application for admission.

College application topic example:

Submit a 250 words statement that describes why you have chosen to apply to the University College of London.

Now, to submit your narrative essay for college admission, choose a topic that could discuss all your qualities and achievements the college desires.

For example, you could discuss your love for the subject you are applying for and how you developed your interest in that particular field, or your ability to learn fast and innovate.

Narrative essay structure

Even though you are telling a story from your personal experience, you should always follow a pertinent structure. Just like expository or descriptive essays, a narrative essay also incorporates an introduction paragraph, motif/theme, main body, and a conclusion paragraph.

Introduction:

The introduction is the most vital part of your essay. The reader is going to determine whether or not your essay is interesting and worth reading just by going through the introduction. Briefly explain why this topic is essential to you and how it affected your life – the theme of the essay.

Motif:

Briefly explain the theme/ the result of the story you are narrating.

Main body:

This is where you will provide the details of the event you are narrating. As you do so, make sure to include all the exciting details like the characters, location, time frame, and describe exactly how you felt and the emotions of other characters.

Do not forget to add weight to the characters by narrating dialogues between them because, without the dialogues, characters lose their worth and vibrancy.

Conclusion:

The conclusion should discuss the overall theme of your essay. Link your conclusion to the introduction and emphasize how this event helped you better understand the situation and the experience you gained.

Also Read: Formatting an Essay 

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Example of a narrative essay

Let’s look at an example of a narrative essay written for admission to Oxford University. Let’s suppose the topic is “why you have chosen to apply for admission to Oxford University.”

Scrutinizing nature beyond any limit is a goal shared by both me and Oxford University. I have always found myself fond of disciplines like math and science than humanities. For me, these subjects are of more productive value in comparison to any other subject. (Starts with the background to the story. The author reveals that he had a casual attitude towards science in the past.) Courtesy of my experience at the World Science Festival Series, I realized science is more than just a hobby for me. It has instilled in me a passion never known before. There is one thing for sure. Oxford University Student Science Training Program can mark the beginning of a journey as I set out to quench my thirst to explore this discipline. (The last two sentences of the paragraph reveal the theme of the essay. The World Science Festival helped the author identify his true passion. This is quite similar to a thesis statement that presents the essay’s central point.)

I was completely naïve to the World Science Festival until one of my friends introduced it to me. I was sure it was going to be a boring session on scientific theories and ideas that would fail miserably to keep the audience at the edge of their seats. But I was so wrong because the presenter Professors and Doctor Brian Greene gave the most interesting and gripping explanation of the Sting theory that sent my brain into a tailspin. (This paragraph provides details of the author’s experience by showing how his presence at the World Science Festival helped him understand his true love for science. The use of words like “boring’ suggests the author’s view that the festival will be boring. Similarly, the word “tailspin’ suggests that the author was surprised at how engaging the science talk was.)

The talk was an unparalleled experience for me and my friend Robert – who said, “This is just the beginning of our love for science”, and we were in constant reverence and admiration of it. (The author introduces a character, his friend, who urged him to attend the World Science Festival.)

The speaker engaged with us on our level instead of indulging in intricate details of complicated scientific concepts. As he explained the superstring theory, the idea that every particle and force in the universe originates from an infinitesimal strand of energy vibrating in 11 dimensions from a beginner’s perspective, I found myself visualizing various forces at play in my surroundings using a string theory lens. As the talk concluded, it had for sure ignited in me a passion for pursuing science than any other subject by then. (These development sentences describe how the experience completely different from what the author had imagined. The last sentence summarises the effect this experience had on the author.)

The Oxford University Department of Physics will help me make the most of my passion for science. As the department is recognized throughout the world for its world-class teaching faculty and unmatched research facilities, I am sure I can continue my journey towards scientific excellence. While this is just the beginning for me, I am confident that, if given a chance, my time at Oxford University will enable me to truly live my dream. (The author explains how the whole experience taught him something about himself that he didn’t know before. The last sentence of the conclusion suggests that the author will be able to polish his hidden talents at Oxford University if accepted.)

Out of all the types of essays, only the descriptive and narrative essays allow you to use your imagination, creativity and personal experience. The only difference between them is, in a descriptive essay, a detailed description of the event, place, idea, or object is discussed while in a narrative essay, the essayist can narrate a story his personal experience which can be a made-up one.

Generally, a narrative essay should be approximately 800-1000 words long. The length of the essay might be suggested by your instructor and may vary depending on who you are writing it for. The narrative essay you write for admission application should be longer than the essay you were assigned in the high school.

A student is asked to write a narrative essay in his school, college and university to assess his creativity, composition and storytelling skills. You may also be asked to write a narrative essay for admission purposes.

When a student is asked to reflect upon his personal experiences, he has to write a narrative essay.

Also Read: How to shorter an essay

If you have not been provided with a topic for a narrative essay by your instructor/lecturer, think about the motif, write about something that means a lot to you.

If you are going to write about something you don’t care for, it will be almost impossible to compose an interesting and engaging story. Writing about superfluous things can bore you while writing and will never grab the reader’s attention.

It would be best if you write a story that includes a lesson for the reader, an element of surprise and some plot twists. You can build your story around a person or an experience that has taught you a valuable lesson, changed your view about the particular matter and affected your life immensely.

Narrative Essay Example

Scrutinizing nature beyond any limit is a goal shared by both me and Oxford University. I have always found myself fond of disciplines like math and science than humanities. For me, these subjects are of more productive value in comparison to any other subject. Courtesy of my experience at the World Science Festival Series, I realized science is more than just a hobby for me. It has instilled in me a passion never known before. There is one thing for sure. Oxford University Student Science Training Program can mark the beginning of a journey as I set out to quench my thirst to explore this discipline. I was completely naïve to the World Science Festival until one of my friends introduced it to me. I was sure it was going to be a boring session on scientific theories and ideas that would fail miserably to keep the audience at the edge of their seats. But I was so wrong because the presenter Professors and Doctor Brian Greene gave the most interesting and gripping explanation of the Sting theory that sent my brain into a tailspin. The talk was an unparalleled experience for me and my friend Robert – who said “This is just the beginning of our love for science”, and we were in constant reverence and admiration of it.The speaker engaged with us on our level instead of indulging in intricate details of complicated scientific concepts. As he explained the superstring theory, the idea that every particle and force in the universe originates from an infinitesimal strand of energy vibrating in 11 dimensions from a beginner’s perspective, I found myself visualizing various forces at play in my surroundings using a string theory lens. As the talk concluded, it had for sure ignited in me a passion for pursuing science than any other subject by then.The Oxford University Department of Physics will help me make the most of my passion for science. As the department is recognized throughout the world for its world-class teaching faculty and unmatched research facilities, I am sure I can continue my journey towards scientific excellence. While this is just the beginning for me, I am confident that, if given a chance, my time at Oxford University will enable me to truly live my dream.

About Ellie Cross

I am Content Manager at this prestigious organization who has been assisting students for a long time. I have been part of Essays UK since its inception and have seen all the ups and downs it has faced in all those years. I manage a growing team of great writers and content marketers who are contributing to a great extent to help students with their academics.

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