Dorothy M.
Dorothy M.

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Narrative Essays

15 min read

Published on: Aug 11, 2023

Last updated on: Aug 15, 2023


Do you love to tell stories? 

Narrative essays give you the chance to do just that! They weave a tale that captivates your readers and leaves a lasting impression.

Whether you're writing a personal narrative or a fictional story, mastering the art of narrative essays can be a powerful tool in your writing.

 In this guide, we'll walk you through all the elements, steps, and examples of crafting a winning narrative essay.

With our expert tips and techniques, you'll be able to create essays that not only entertain but also leave a mark on your readers. 

So, let's dive in and learn how to craft compelling narrative essays that leave a lasting impact!

What is a Narrative Essay?

Let's start by defining what a narrative essay is 

A narrative essay is a journey into the author's personal experiences, inviting readers to be captivated by the power of storytelling.

In a narrative essay, the writer shares a personal story, often based on a real-life experience. The essay may describe a significant moment in the writer's life, such as a difficult challenge, a moment of insight, or a moment of personal growth. 

Alternatively, it may be a work of fiction that creates an imaginary world and characters.

Purpose and Significance of Narrative Essays

The purpose of a narrative essay is to tell a story that engages and entertains the reader. 

Here is why narrative essay writing is important in academics and literature.

  • Allow writers to express their creativity and imagination through storytelling. 
  • Help readers gain a deeper understanding of the writer's perspective and experiences. 
  • Used to reflect on personal growth and development. 
  • Used to create empathy and understanding among readers. 
  • Can be a powerful tool for social change. 

Narrative Essay Elements

Narrative essays are composed of several key elements that work together to create a compelling story. These elements include:


The plot of a narrative essay refers to the sequence of events that make up the story. A good plot should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and should build up to a climax or resolution.


Characters are the people or animals that populate the narrative essay. They should be well-developed and believable, with distinct personalities and motivations.

Point of view

The point of view is the perspective from which the story is told. Narrative essays are typically written in the first-person point of view, meaning the narrator is a character in the story.

Setting and theme

The setting of a narrative essay refers to the time and place in which the story takes place. The theme is the underlying message or moral of the story.


Conflict is the tension or struggles that drive the story forward. It can be internal (within the character) or external (between the character and the world around them).


The style of a narrative essay refers to the author's unique voice and writing style. It can include elements such as tone, language, and pacing.

By carefully developing each element, writers can create a story that engages and entertains the reader while also conveying a deeper message or meaning.

How to Write a Narrative Essay?

Whether you are writing a short narrative essay or an extensive one, following a complete guide is very essential. We have explored the key elements of a narrative essay; now, let's take a look at how to write one.

Pre-Writing Phase

Before you can start writing your narrative essay, it's important to carefully plan your essay. This step is known as the pre-writing phase. 

This involves several key steps that will help you develop your ideas and organize your thoughts. 

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Brainstorming is a great way to generate ideas for your narrative essay. Start by jotting down any memories, experiences, or stories that come to mind. Don't worry about organizing them yet - just get everything down on paper.

Check out this video to learn more!  

  • Once you have a list of potential ideas, it's time to narrow down your options and choose a topic for your essay. Look for a topic that is meaningful to you and that you can write about in detail.
  • Before you start writing your essay, it's helpful to create an outline. This will help you organize your thoughts and ensure that your essay flows logically. 

When brainstorming and selecting a topic, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What experience or memory do I want to share with my readers?
  2. Why is this experience or memory important to me?
  3. How can I make this experience or memory come to life for my readers?

Once you have a topic in mind, start creating an outline for your essay. This will help you stay on track as you write and ensure that your essay has a clear structure.

In the next section, we'll look at how to write an engaging introduction for your narrative essay.

How to Start a Narrative Essay

The introduction of your narrative essay is crucial as it sets the tone for the rest of your essay. 

Here are the key elements to include in your introduction:


Start with a strong hook that grabs the reader's attention and makes them want to read on. You can use a quote, a question, or a startling statistic to grab the reader's attention.

ideal hook sentence


Provide some background information on the setting and theme of your essay. This will help to orient the reader and give them a sense of what to expect.

Thesis Statement

End your introduction with a clear thesis statement that outlines the main point or argument of your essay. This should be a concise and focused statement that sets the direction for the rest of your essay.

Here's an example of an introduction for a narrative essay about a memorable camping trip:

Hook: "Have you ever had an experience that changed your life? For me, that experience was a camping trip in the wilderness that I'll never forget."

Background: "As a city-dweller, I had never spent much time in nature. But when my high school friends invited me on a camping trip to the mountains, I jumped at the chance. We spent four days hiking, swimming in the lake, and roasting marshmallows around the campfire."

Thesis Statement: "This camping trip taught me the importance of living in the moment, taking risks, and embracing new experiences."

Writing the Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs of this type of essay should focus on developing your story and bringing it to life. Here are the key elements to keep in mind as you write your body paragraphs:

  • Develop the plot, characters, and setting: Use vivid language to describe the events of your story, the people involved, and the setting in which it takes place. 
  • Use descriptive language and sensory details: Using the correct voice is an important aspect as it helps the reader to fully immerse themselves in the story.   
  • Show, don't tell: Rather than simply telling the reader what happened, show them through the use of specific details and dialogue.
  • Develop the theme: Your narrative essay should have a central theme or message that ties everything together.

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How to End a Narrative Essay?

The conclusion of a narrative essay is just as important as the introduction, as it provides closure to the story and leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Follow these steps 

  • Summarize the main points: Briefly recap the events of your story and remind the reader of the central message or theme.
  • Reflect on the significance of the story: Discuss what you learned from the experience, how it changed you, or what it means to you. This will help to give your narrative essay a deeper meaning and impact.
  • Provide a final thought or reflection: End your essay with a memorable line or thought that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

By following these guidelines and crafting a thoughtful and engaging conclusion, you'll be able to create a narrative essay that truly resonates with your audience.

Narrative Essay Formatting 

After you have written your narrative essay, it is important to ensure that it is formatted correctly to enhance readability and make it visually appealing.


Formatting Guideline 

Font and size

Times New Roman or Arial, 12-point font size


1-inch margins on all sides


Double-spaced throughout the entire essay


Justified (evenly aligned on both the left and right)


Indent the first line of each paragraph by 1/2 inch


Centered, bolded, and capitalized


Include your last name and page number in the header


Clearly state the purpose and thesis of your essay

Body Paragraphs

Develop your plot, characters, and theme in detail


Summarize your main points and leave a lasting impression


List any sources used in alphabetical order by last name

Narrative Essay Examples

Let's look at some expert examples of narrative essays!

Title: The Day I Conquered My Fear of Heights

It was a beautiful summer day and my friends had planned an adventure - we were going to go on a hot air balloon ride. My excitement quickly turned to fear as I realized I would be soaring thousands of feet in the air. I had always been afraid of heights and the thought of being so high up made my stomach churn.

As we approached the balloon, I couldn't help but feel a sense of dread. The pilot greeted us warmly and explained the safety procedures, but my mind was racing with thoughts of disaster. I almost backed out, but my friends were already boarding the basket, so I gathered my courage and joined them.

As the balloon began to ascend, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. The view was incredible, but I couldn't shake the feeling of panic. My friends were having a blast, but I was clinging to the side of the basket for dear life.

Suddenly, something changed. I looked around and saw the beauty of the world below me. The peacefulness of the clouds, the serenity of the landscape, and the majesty of the sky all came together to create a moment that would forever change me.

I let go of my fear and embraced the experience. I was no longer afraid of heights, but rather in awe of the world around me. As we descended, I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride in myself for conquering my fear.

That day, I learned that sometimes the things that scare us the most can also be the most rewarding. The experience of soaring above the world gave me a new perspective on life and the beauty that surrounds us. I will never forget the day I conquered my fear of heights and discovered a new sense of freedom.

Title: A Life-changing Moment

It was a beautiful summer day, and my family and I were on our way to the beach. As we were driving, I remember feeling excited and happy, looking forward to a day of fun and relaxation.

But suddenly, everything changed. A car ran a red light and crashed into ours, causing our car to spin out of control and eventually come to a stop in a ditch.

I remember feeling disoriented and confused as I tried to process what had just happened. My parents and siblings were all screaming and crying, and I could see that my dad was badly injured and bleeding from his head.

In that moment, I knew that I had to take action. I quickly called 911 and tried to keep everyone calm while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. I felt a sense of responsibility and courage that I had never experienced before.

The accident ended up being a life-changing moment for me. It made me realize the importance of being prepared for emergencies and taking charge when necessary. It also strengthened my relationship with my family, as we all leaned on each other for support during the difficult aftermath of the accident.

Looking back, I am grateful for the experience, as it taught me valuable lessons and helped me grow as a person.

Expert Tip

Check out our amazing guide on narrative essay examples to get inspired!

Good Narrative Essay Topics

If you're struggling to come up with a topic for your narrative essay, here are some great ideas to help you get started:

  • A memorable childhood experience
  • The day I learned an important life lesson
  • A life-changing event that transformed my perspective
  • The most challenging obstacle I have overcome
  • The best decision I have ever made in my life
  • An experience that made me appreciate the value of family
  • The happiest day of my life
  • A moment that changed my perception of the world
  • A time when I failed and learned from my mistakes
    The most adventurous experience of my life: Short Stories

Expert Tip

Looking for some more inspiration? Check out this guide on narrative essay topics!

Tips to Write a Compelling Narrative Essay

Crafting a compelling narrative essay takes skill and practice, but with these tips, you'll be on your way to creating a story that truly captivates your readers:

  • Find something that truly resonates with you: Write about something that makes you inspired. Your passion and enthusiasm will shine through your writing and make it more engaging.
  • Use sensory details: Sensory details such as sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch can help bring your story to life and make it more vivid and immersive.
  • Create a clear structure: A clear structure with a beginning, middle, and end can help your story flow and make it easier for readers to follow.
  • Vary your sentence structure: Varying your sentence structure can add rhythm and interest to your writing and keep readers engaged.
  • Show character development: Showing how your characters change and grow throughout the story can add depth and complexity to your narrative.
  • Use dialogue: Dialogue can bring your characters to life and make your story more dynamic and engaging.

Narrative Essay Checklist

Before submitting your narrative essay, it's important to review it thoroughly. This will help to ensure that it meets the necessary requirements and effectively tells the story you want to share.

Here's a checklist to help you:

  • Does the essay have a clear and engaging hook that draws the reader in?
  • Have you provided sufficient background information on the setting and characters to help readers understand the context of the story?
  • Is the plot clearly defined, with a beginning, middle, and end?
  • Have you shown character development throughout the story?
  • Is the point of view consistent and appropriate for the story?
  • Have you used descriptive language and emotions to help readers visualize the story?

By following this checklist, you can ensure that your narrative essay is well-written, engaging, and effective in telling your story.

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In conclusion,

narrative essays provide a unique opportunity for writers to tell a story and share their experiences with readers. 

Throughout this guide, we've discussed the key elements of a successful narrative essay. We've also provided helpful tips for revising and editing your work to ensure it's polished and ready to share.

If you're struggling to write your own narrative essay, don't worry! is here to help. 

Our team of experienced writers can assist you in crafting a compelling and well-written essay that meets all of your requirements. So why wait? Contact our expert essay writing service today, and let us help you bring your story to life.

Trust our narrative essay writing service and see the results for yourself! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I write a narrative essay in the first-person point of view?

Yes, narrative essays are often written in the first-person point of view to give a personal touch to the story.

Do I need to have a conflict in my narrative essay?

Having a conflict in your narrative essay is not mandatory, but it can make your story more engaging and captivating for the reader.

Is it necessary to include sensory details in a narrative essay?

Yes, using sensory details can help bring the story to life for the reader and create a vivid picture in their mind.

Can I use dialogue in a narrative essay?

Yes, dialogue can be a powerful tool in a narrative essay to bring the characters to life and add depth to the story.

Dorothy M.


Dorothy M. (Marketing)

Dorothy M. is a skilled freelance writer who has 5+ years of experience crafting content for clients in a vast array of industries. What sets Dorothy apart is her ability to provide personalized writing services that always meet her customer's needs while impressing their target audience.

Dorothy M. is a skilled freelance writer who has 5+ years of experience crafting content for clients in a vast array of industries. What sets Dorothy apart is her ability to provide personalized writing services that always meet her customer's needs while impressing their target audience.

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