Dorothy M.
Dorothy M.

A Comprehensive Guide to Personal Narrative Essays

11 min read

Published on: Aug 11, 2023

Last updated on: Aug 22, 2023

Personal Narrative Essay

Struggling to share your personal experiences in a captivating way?

It can be daunting to convey your message effectively, leading to frustration and hopelessness.

Fret not! Our guide on personal narrative essays equips you with the guidelines to craft narratives that compel readers. 

From choosing a topic to editing, our step-by-step guide helps you learn the art of narrative essays

Whether you're a seasoned writer or just starting out, let's share your unique story with the world.

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Characteristics of Personal Narrative Essays

Personal narratives are a unique form of storytelling that allows writers to share experiences with their readers. Some characteristics of personal narratives include:

1. Centered around a personal experience or event

  • The essay is based on a specific personal experience or event in the author's life.
  • The story is often told from the first-person point of view, using "I" or "we" to describe the experience.

2. Clear and concise point of view

  • The author's perspective on the topic is clearly stated and maintained throughout the essay.
  • This helps readers to understand the author's point of view and connect with their experiences.

3. Utilization of sensory details and vivid imagery

  • Personal narratives often use descriptive language to create a vivid picture of the experience in the reader's mind.
  • Sensory details like sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell are used to immerse the reader in the story.
  • Vivid imagery helps to make the story more engaging and memorable for the reader.

Difference Between Personal Narrative and Other Types of Narrative Essays

Some key differences between personal narratives and other types of narrative essays include:

  • Personal narratives are focused on telling a story and sharing an experience, rather than persuading or informing.
  • They often have a conversational tone that makes them more relatable to readers.
  • Personal narratives allow the writer to convey their thoughts and feelings in a more personal and intimate way.
  • This type of essay is ideal for writers who want to connect with their audience in a meaningful way.

By understanding the characteristics of personal narrative essays, you can begin to craft your own compelling story.

Personal Narrative Essay Outline

In order to write a compelling and well-structured personal narrative, it's important to have a clear outline in place.
Here is a personal narrative essay format for you to take as a reference. 

I. Introduction

A. Hook/Attention-grabber

B. Background information/context

C. Thesis statement/purpose statement

II. Body

A. First event/experience

  • Setting description
  • Character introduction
  • Conflict presentation
  • Resolution explanation

B. Second event/experience

  • Setting description
  • Character introduction
  • Conflict presentation
  • Resolution explanation

C. Third event/experience

  • Setting description
  • Character introduction
  • Conflict presentation
  • Resolution explanation

III. Conclusion

A. Restate thesis statement/purpose statement

B. Summarize main points

C. Final thoughts/reflection

Note that this is just one possible outline and can be adapted to fit the specific needs and requirements of your essay.

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How Long Should a Personal Narrative Essay Be?

The length of a personal narrative essay can vary greatly depending on the purpose and context. 

Some academic assignments may have specific length requirements. For example, a college essay may have a requirement of around 600 words.

In other contexts, personal narratives may range from micro-essays of 100 words or less. Additionally, personal narratives in other contexts can range in length to long reads that approach the length of short memoirs or novellas.

Ultimately, the length of a personal narrative should be determined by the needs of the writer and the goals of the writing project.

How To Write a Personal Narrative Essay 

Now that you understand the characteristics and purpose of personal narrative essays, it's time to learn how to write your own.

By following a few key steps, you can bring your story to life and captivate your readers.

In this section, we'll walk you through the complete steps of writing a personal narrative essay.

Step 1: Choosing a Topic

Choosing the right topic is crucial for writing a successful personal narrative essay. It should be a personal experience or event that has significance in the author's life and is worth sharing with readers. 

Step 2: Identifying the Purpose of the Essay

The purpose of the personal narrative essay should be clear from the start. The writer should determine whether the essay aims to entertain, inform, or persuade the audience. 

Identifying the purpose can help in creating a clear and concise point of view for the essay.

Step 3: Brainstorming Ideas

After selecting a topic and identifying the purpose of the essay, the writer should brainstorm ideas. 

Brainstorming can help in organizing thoughts and ideas and developing a coherent narrative. 

Step 4: Creating an Outline

Creating an outline is a crucial step in developing a well-organized and coherent personal narrative essay. The outline should include a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion that ties everything together. 

When it comes to writing, there are a few key components that can help ensure an engaging essay. 

The following section outlines the writing steps

Step 5: Introduction

The introduction of a personal narrative essay should grab the reader's attention and set the stage for the story to come. This can be done by using an interesting anecdote, a surprising fact, or a thought-provoking question. 

The introduction should also provide some context for the story and introduce any important characters or settings.

Step 6: Body

The body of a personal narrative essay should focus on telling the story in a clear and engaging way. There are four key elements to include in the body paragraphs:

  • Describing the setting: This includes providing details about the time and place where the story takes place. The setting should be described in a way that helps the reader to visualize it.
  • Introducing the characters: Each character in the story should be introduced in such a way that helps the reader to understand their role in the narrative.
  • Presenting the conflict: Every good story needs a conflict, and the personal narrative essay is no exception. The conflict should be presented in a way that creates tension and keeps the reader engaged.
  • Explaining the resolution: The story should have a clear resolution that ties up any loose ends.

Step 7: Conclusion

The conclusion should reflect on the story that has been told and provide some reflection on the experience. 

This can be done by summarizing the main points of the story and offering some personal reflection.

Step 8: Editing and Revising 

Once you have completed the first draft, it's time to move on to the editing and revising stage. This stage is crucial to ensure that your essay is polished, coherent, and error-free.

The first step is to thoroughly review your essay for grammar and spelling errors. You can use online grammar checkers or proofreading tools to help you identify any mistakes that you may have missed.

Revising for coherence and clarity

After editing for grammar and spelling, you should focus on revising your essay for coherence and clarity. 

Check to make sure that your essay flows smoothly and that your ideas are presented in a logical order. Look for any unclear or confusing sentences and rephrase them to improve clarity.

By following these steps in the body and conclusion, you can ensure that your personal essays are the best they can be.

Examples Of Personal Narrative Essays 

Below are some examples of personal narrative essays that showcase different writing styles and techniques.

Personal Narrative Essay Example

A time when you overcame a challenge or obstacle in your life.

When I was in my early 20s, I faced a major setback in my personal life that threatened to derail my plans for the future. I had just started college and was excited about the opportunities that lay ahead of me. But, when my father unexpectedly passed away, I was devastated. I didn't know how to cope with the loss, and it felt like everything was falling apart.

For a few months, I struggled to keep up with my coursework and my personal life. I was dealing with grief and a sense of uncertainty about my future. However, with the help of friends and family, I gradually began to find my footing again. I started attending grief counseling sessions, which helped me to process my emotions and find ways to move forward.

Over time, I began to focus on my studies again and set new goals for myself. I became more involved in extracurricular activities on campus, which helped me to connect with other students and find a sense of community. Through hard work and determination, I was able to overcome the challenge of losing my father and continue on with my education.

Looking back, I realize that this experience taught me a valuable lesson about resilience and the power of perseverance. While it wasn't easy to overcome this obstacle, I learned that I am capable of facing challenges head-on and coming out stronger on the other side.

Expert Tip

Check out our guide on narrative essay examples to learn more!

Personal Narrative Essay Topics 

Personal narrative essays are a great way to share unique experiences with others. Here are ten potential topics that can inspire your writing:

  • A life-changing event that shaped who you are today
  • Overcoming a personal fear or obstacle
  • A memorable travel experience
  • A significant accomplishment or achievement
  • A difficult decision you had to make
  • A meaningful relationship or friendship
  • A time when you stood up for yourself or someone else
  • A special childhood memory
  • A personal experience that challenged your beliefs or values
  • A time when you learned a valuable lesson the hard way

Expert Tip

Looking for some more inspiration? Check out our extensive list of narrative essay topics!

Tips For Writing Personal Narrative Essays 

Writing a personal narrative essay can be difficult. However, with the right approach, it can be a very rewarding experience. Here are some tips to keep in mind when crafting your personal narrative essay:

  • Choose a compelling topic: Your topic should be something that you have a personal connection to. Consider experiences that have shaped you or have had a significant impact on your life.
  • Show, don't tell: Use sensory details and vivid imagery to bring your story to life. This will help your readers feel like they are experiencing the story alongside you.
  • Use dialogue: Including dialogue in your personal narrative can help to add depth and personality to your story. It also helps to break up long paragraphs of exposition.
  • Follow a clear structure: Make sure your personal narrative essay has a clear beginning, middle, and end. This will help your readers follow along with your story and understand the message you are trying to convey.
  • Revise and edit: It is essential to take the time to revise and edit your personal narrative essay. Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Additionally, make sure that your essay flows smoothly and that your message is clear.

By following these tips, you can create a personal narrative essay that engages your readers and leaves a lasting impact.

In conclusion, writing a personal narrative essay can be a powerful way to share your experiences and connect with your readers. 

By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this guide, you can craft a compelling and engaging story that resonates with your audience. 

And if you need any assistance, don't hesitate to reach out to's narrative essay writing service. Our team is here to help you every step of the way.

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Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Do I have to write about a significant event in my personal narrative essay?

No, you don't have to write about a significant event. You can write about any personal experience that has had an impact on you.

Can I use dialogue in my personal narrative essay?

Yes, you can use dialogue to bring your story to life and make it more engaging for your readers.

Do I need to have a moral or lesson in my personal narrative essay?

No, you don't need to have a moral or lesson in your personal narrative essay. However, if you want to convey a message, it can be a great addition to your essay.

Can I use the first-person point of view in my personal narrative essay?

Yes, the first-person point of view is commonly used in personal narrative essays as it allows the writer to share their personal experience with their readers.

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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