A narrative essay is a type of essay that passes information through a story. It can be compared to telling your friend an interesting holiday encounter but only that it has a structure.
Most narrative essays tell a story about a personal experience. They may not be accurate, but they are written from someone's perspective, ensuring that they make it interesting.
When writing narrative essays, assume you are telling your friend a story of your trip to the Maldives. This way, you are in a better position to understand what's required of you when writing an essay.
In essence, narrative essays are like storytelling but in a written format.
Elements of a narrative essay
The setting is the place where the story being narrated occurred. The setting can be in a house, on the road, at the mall, in the office, in a neighborhood, etc.
The setting is an essential element in a story as it gives the reader a clue of the story's theme. Also, it reveals the characters and sets the mood of the essay. It serves to provide more information to the reader of where the story might be heading.
When reading a storybook, you can tell the author's story's environment by reading a few paragraphs of the story. In the same way, your account should have a setting that gives your story more context, and the reader can better figure out/imagine the story's events.
The setting is a literary element that enhances a story's mood; therefore, whether the story is fictional or non-fictional setting should always be easily identifiable.
In a narrative essay, there will always be the main character and other side characters. Primarily, characters are people involved in the story you are telling. All significant characters must be mentioned as they help bring the story into context.
Characters are essential in any essay, and they help bring the narrative's motif or themes to life. If in narratives that are autobiographies in nature, the character is the person writing the essay.
When looking at characters in a narrative essay, you will highlight their behaviors, physical appearance, steps taken, and so on to give more context. Remember, narrative essays aim to provide a story to the audience, and you want to make sure that your audience clearly gets the picture of the characters in your story. Therefore, always aim to use descriptive terms while explaining feelings.
In a narrative story, the themes can be more than one. Through the reading process, you get to understand why the story was written. In most instances, you will see the main themes in the introduction section, but other themes start cropping up as you read along. Themes help the reader in understanding the overall purpose of the story.
Themes are the narrative's topic or the motif the author is trying to pass across. Some are not directly seen as they crop as the story develops.
These are scenarios in a story that gives the reader tension. It can also be termed as issues/problems that arise in a story and directly affect the characters. Conflicts are issues that need to be resolved, and they arouse suspense and eagerness in a reader.
The plot is developed throughout the essays by how events are narrated. The whole story is a plot as it is that which you intend to share. A good plot is determined by how well a narrator sequentially tells the story and the choice of words used in the essay.
Narrative Essay Introduction
Narrative essays are like telling a story; in that regard, their introduction should be very compelling to gain attention from the readers. Here are examples of how you can start your essay:
Using a quote from a famous person.
Example: As Martin Luther says, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." This weekend I got a chance to attend the most prestigious tea party I have heard in years, and let me start by saying that the turn of events did not occur as I expected.
Using statistics that arouse curiosity.
Example: As of 2019, one in five men develop cancer. In the United States, cancer deaths are about half a million every year, and new cases are over one million annually. These are numbers that we are used to hearing in mainstream media. Until these numbers affect you, they do not make sense to you. Last year, I lost a close member of my family to this monster. All factors considered, you never see it coming.
Using a question.
Example: Have you ever been to the national park? Did you enjoy yourself, and would you go back anytime soon? For me, I would choose the park over the beach at any time because this is where I have learned to appreciate nature and the good works of the Lord. On January 25, 2020, my family traveled to Africa. Yes, Africa, this is the home of the world's most beautiful world animals.
Start with a mystery
Example: Waking before 6:00 am has always been hard for me, but I managed to wake up earlier today. At 6:00 am, we were all at the starting point, anxious and excited to start the journey to Yellowstone National Park's famous tourist attraction.
These are but a few examples of how one can come with an eye-catching introduction for a narrative essay. The goal is to make them compelling and exciting. I assure you that starting your essay with the examples shown above will get you better grades.
Imagine telling your friend a story, and you want them to be attentive (I insist). The best way to do this is by starting with a powerful introduction that will draw attention and make one want to continue with the story.
The effort to make a narrative essay does not end at the introduction part; that is, you need to align your points carefully and chronologically so that everyone understands the narrative.
Stress is put in the introduction part because that will determine if a reader will be thrilled to read through the whole essay. We all want to read a good narrative, and we must admit that the introduction part in most essays, books, films and videos draws our attention.
Narrative Essay Simple Structure
Like a typical essay, narrative essays have three parts:
As with other types of essays, the introduction has to introduce the topic discussed in the main body. Give a thesis statement followed by supporting sentences but in the form of a story. (As addressed above)
In the body, paragraphs are where you unfold the events of your story in a systematic form. Help your readers understand your story by presenting one idea per paragraph and following a logical pattern of how events occurred. Put more emphasis on the experiences and try to put them in a way that your audience can resonate with easily.
The body paragraphs should be at three in number, but they can be more depending on the length of the essay. In the main body, there are three further sections including:
The rising action
The body paragraphs start at a lower level and slowly transition to the story's climax before its momentum drops at the end.
Following the three body sections will have your essays telling and defining the story's most compelling periods, giving the reader zeal to find out how the story/motif you are highlighting ended.
End your essay with a powerful argument. Depending on the track you follow, it can either have a happy or sad ending. The essential thing is that your readers understand what message you were trying to convey in the narrative.
You have probably been told a hundred times how to conclude essays, and in this, we will also stress giving your story a good ending.
A reasonable conclusion should leave readers yearning for more from the story. That is when you write your conclusion, ask yourself whether that inflicted or enlightened any feeling among your readers.
The Narrative Arc
Exposition- the first part of the essay, which introduces the main characters and the setting.
Rising action- the point where the reader comprehends what the essay is about
Climax- the main event of the story
Falling action- Result of the main event of the story
Resolution- the last part of the story, which highlights the lesson gotten from the story.
How are Narrative Essays Different from Persuasive Essays?
Narrative essays are imaginative and emotional, while persuasive essays are rational.
Narrative essays need one to be very creative. The more imaginative one is, the better. The stories given in the narrative essay may not necessarily be true, and to some extent, they show the level of one's imaginative depth. Persuasive essays, on the other hand, employ reasoning. Each idea presented in a persuasive essay must be supported by facts and relevant information that can be verified.
Narrative essays are informative, while persuasive essays tend to persuade the reader to accept a particular point of view.
Narrative essays give more information about a particular instance. It is focused on giving more information through a story. Persuasive essays use arguments to persuade.
Persuasive essays use the third person point of view, are objective and analytical. Narrative essays using the first person point of view are subjective and emotive.
Narrative Essay Language Choice
Use sensory words
Sensory words are more memorable, and they make your audience taste, feel, see and hear your words. As research shows, when holding a product, the desire for the given product increases. This is the same way the brain processes sensory and non-sensory words. Non-sensory words are processed as texts, and sensory words light up different parts of the brain. Examples of sensory words are the gentle breeze, thumping headache, a loud band, etc.
Use descriptive language
Use modifiers (a word that gives information about another word used in a sentence) instead of repeating words in every sentence. Description words are used to clarify or put emphasis; they range from adjectives to adverbs.
Use powerful words that trigger emotions
These are words that urge the reader to take action. The reader may be scared, curious, anxious, agitated, excited, etc.
Use both long and short sentences and mix between sophisticated and straightforward words choices.
This is essential as it impacts readability. It is a good way of engaging your reader as it ignites emotions and emotions. It also enhances rhythm.
Follow the narrative arc.
You do not want to introduce your paper with the climax of the event. A systematic approach is more desirable as it gets your audience to stay with you to the end of the essay.
Narrative Essay Topics
Choosing a narrative essay topic entails brainstorming through the many ideas one might have. A good story erupts from you asking yourself questions about what you'd like to share. Social media and other platforms can help you in the brainstorming phase as you might remember an occurrence that you will most likely be appealing to share. Topics you choose can range from the following subsections:
When I became the most memorable moment in graduate school.
My best days in school were…. You'll never guess
How I met my school best friend
School events were the epitome of happiness
Do you know why I hated my English teacher? Let's dive into that story
My mother made my childhood life the best
About Johnson, the person who has become family
My best friend Cathy remains to be my most close person around
A breakup? That is not the worst that could happen. Trust me!
My first time in Malaysia
Ever heard of the glass bridge in China? Here is my experience
The best place to camp
Hiking is not for the faint-hearted.
You wake up to being the next Jeff Bezos
You had a time machine
You became the next president of the United States.
Narrative essays are easy, but not everybody is a good storyteller, and that's okay. You need to do more practice and seek professional guidance where applicable. There is no better way to find assistance than to get online and read an article or contact us for a one-on-one chat on how to be a better narrative essay writer!