How to Write a Narrative Essay: Outline, Examples & Tips

narrative essay

A narrative essay primarily involves recounting an event or sequence of events. However, it should not be mistaken for a short story or a historical account. Compared to other types of essays, writing a narrative essay is relatively straightforward, particularly for those who enjoy writing. Nonetheless, a common obstacle faced by students when writing a narrative essay is a lack of substance. They often struggle with determining what to include in their story and how to structure it effectively.

While narrative essays are generally considered easier to write, they still require strong composition skills and a logical arrangement of content. To learn how to write a narrative essay effectively, one must first consider the subject matter and clearly define their goals. This involves outlining the main headings and arranging the various materials in a natural, logical, and convincing order, beginning with a succinct introduction and concluding with an effective conclusion.

In this comprehensive guide, the expert has provided guidelines on how to write a narrative essay, including valuable tips, outline examples, traits, and topic inspirations. If you are looking to transform your creative ideas into a captivating story, keep reading to discover how you can achieve this goal. Also, know that you have the option to ask us to write my essay online.

What is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is about telling or narrating a story about a personal experience, event, or observation. It typically includes elements such as characters, plot, setting, and theme, and is often written in the first-person point of view. The purpose of a narrative essay is to engage the reader, evoke emotions, and provide a lesson or reflection based on the experience or event being shared. Narrative essays are commonly assigned in middle school, high school, and college writing classes, and can be a powerful way for writers to express themselves and connect with their audience.

While narrative essays and descriptive essays share some similarities, they are not the same type of essay. Both may use sensory details and descriptive language; however, the focus and purpose of the essays are different.

To write a successful narrative essay, it’s important to choose a topic that is meaningful to you. This could be a personal experience that taught you a lesson, a memorable event that impacted your life, or an observation that made you see the world in a different way.

Purpose of Narrative Essay Writing

The purpose of narrative essay writing is to tell a story about a personal experience or event that is significant to the writer. This type of essay allows the writer to connect with the reader on a personal level and engage them in a vivid, detailed retelling of the experience.

  • Personal Expression: Narrative essays allow students to express their personal experiences, feelings, and perspectives in a creative and meaningful way. This can help students develop their sense of self, as well as develop empathy and understanding for others.
  • Build empathy: The primary goal of a narrative essay is to entertain, engage, and emotionally move the reader. By sharing personal experiences, the writer can create a sense of empathy and understanding with the reader, helping them to relate to the story on a deeper level. Additionally, narrative essays can provide insights into the writer’s thoughts, feelings, and perspectives, which can help readers to better understand the writer and the world around them.
  • Provide a lesson/convey a message: Another purpose of narrative essay writing is to provide a lesson or message based on the experience being shared. By reflecting on the experience and sharing insights learned, the writer can help readers to gain new perspectives or insights into their own lives. This can be particularly effective when the experience being shared is one that many readers can relate to or learn from.
  • Developing Writing Skills: Narrative essay writing helps develop writing skills by providing students with an opportunity to practice writing in a clear, concise, and engaging manner. This can include using descriptive language, crafting effective dialogue, and structuring the essay logically and coherently.

In summary, the purpose of narrative essay writing is to tell a story that is engaging, emotionally moving and provides a lesson or message. By sharing personal experiences and reflections, writers can connect with readers on a personal level and provide valuable insights into the human experience.

Looking for an informative essay outline? Check out the guide and learn how to structure your informative essay effortlessly.      

Narrative Essay Types

There are several types of narrative essays, each with its distinct characteristics and purposes. Here are some of the most common types:

  1. Personal Narrative: This type of narrative essay tells a personal story about an event or experience that the writer has lived through. It is often written in the first-person point of view and includes emotions, thoughts, and reflections of the writer.
  2. Descriptive Narrative: In this type of narrative essay, the writer uses descriptive language to create a vivid picture of an event or experience. The goal is to transport the reader to the scene and allow them to experience the event through the writer’s eyes.
  3. Expository Narrative: This type of narrative essay is used to explain or inform the reader about a particular topic or concept. It often uses personal anecdotes or stories to illustrate the main point and make it more relatable to the reader.
  4. Fictional Narrative: This type of narrative essay is a work of fiction that tells a story using characters, plot, and setting. The goal is to entertain the reader and engage them in the story.
  5. Historical Narrative: In this type of narrative essay, the writer tells a story about a historical event or period. The goal is to provide a unique perspective on the event and help the reader understand its significance.
  6. Autobiographical Narrative: This type of narrative essay is similar to a personal narrative, but it focuses specifically on the writer’s life and experiences. It may include childhood memories, life-changing events, and personal growth.

What are the Key Qualities That Make a Narrative Essay Stand Out?

Crafting a captivating narrative is not easy for everyone. Some individuals struggle to identify a suitable topic, while others find it challenging to structure their stories effectively. Therefore, a good narrative essay should possess the following traits:

  • Clarity of subject: The essay should clearly define its subject, providing the reader with a clear understanding of the topic at hand.
  • Purpose: A good narrative essay should have a clear purpose or message that the writer wants to convey to the reader.
  • Engaging plot: The essay should have an interesting and captivating plot that keeps the reader hooked from beginning to end.
  • Relevance: The essay should be relevant and connected to the writer’s personal experiences, beliefs, or ideas.
  • Well-structured: The plot of the narrative essay should be well-structured, with events presented in a sequential order that makes sense to the reader.
  • Clarity of language: The essay should be written in clear and understandable language that is easy for the reader to follow.
  • Connection with the reader: The most crucial trait of a good narrative essay is its ability to connect with the reader on an emotional level, making them feel invested in the story being told.

How to Write a Narrative Essay – Key Features of Storytelling

When it comes to learning how to write a narrative essay, understanding the key features of storytelling is of the essence. A narrative essay contains some elements that make your story interesting, emotional, and memorable. Whether you’re writing a personal account or a piece of fiction, the following tips on how to write a narrative essay can help you craft a brilliant piece of work:

  1. Introduction: The introduction is the starting point of your story. It sets the scene for your readers by introducing the main characters and the setting. Your introduction should also provide a hook that captures your reader’s attention and makes them want to keep reading. You can achieve this by describing the setting vividly or asking an intriguing question that draws the reader in.
  2. Plot: The plot is the sequence of events that make up your story. A well-constructed plot has a clear beginning, middle, and end, with each part building on the previous one. It should also have a clear conflict or problem the protagonist must overcome.
  3. Characters: Characters are the driving force of your story. They should be well-developed with distinct personalities and motivations. The protagonist should have a clear goal or desire, and the antagonist should provide a challenge or obstacle to overcome.
  4. Setting: Setting refers to the time and place where your story takes place. A well-described setting can help create a mood or atmosphere that supports the story’s themes.
  5. Dialogue: The conversation between characters plays an important role. It should be realistic and help reveal the characters’ personalities and motivations. It can also help move the plot forward.
  6. Climax: The climax is where you build tension or display a conflict point in the story. It’s like a turning point that leads to resolving the conflict.
  7. Resolution: The resolution is the conclusion of the story. It must provide a satisfying ending to the story and end on a compelling note.

With the help of these instructions, you can construct a narrative essay that is properly structured and captivates your readers, leaving a long-lasting impact on them. Always keep in mind that a well-crafted plot can take your readers on an exciting journey, making them feel as if they are a part of the story.

Narrative Essay Outline Template

To help you understand how to write a narrative essay, our experts have provided narrative essay outlines for you. Take a look.

I. Introduction

A. Hook: Begin with an attention-grabbing statement or anecdote that relates to the topic.

B. Background: Provide some context and background information on the topic.

C. Thesis statement: Clearly state the main point or purpose of the essay.

II. Rising Action

A. Exposition: Introduce the setting, characters, and any other important background information.

III. Climax

B. Inciting Incident: Describe the event or action that sets the plot in motion.

C. Rising Action: Develop the plot by introducing complications or obstacles that the protagonist must overcome.

A. Turning Point: Describe the moment of highest tension or conflict in the story.

B. Crisis: Show how the protagonist confronts and resolves the conflict.

IV. Falling Action

A. Resolution: Describe how the conflict is resolved and any loose ends are tied up.

B. Aftermath: Describe the consequences of the resolution and how the characters are affected.

V. Conclusion

A. Reflection: Reflect on the significance of the story and its impact on the protagonist.

B. Takeaway: Provide a key takeaway or lesson that readers can learn from the story.

C. Final thought: End with a memorable final thought or call to action.

Narrative Essay Outline Example

Here’s a detailed outline example of a narrative essay on the topic: Overcoming Fear and Taking Risks.


A. Hook: “The sound of a gunshot shattered the stillness of the night, and I knew my life would never be the same again.”

B. Background information: “I had always felt safe in my small town, but that changed when a string of violent crimes began to occur.”

C. Thesis statement: “This experience taught me the importance of self-defense and taking precautions to stay safe.”

Body Paragraphs:

A. First event: “I decided to take a self-defense class to feel more empowered and prepared, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.”

B. Second event: “One night, as I was walking home from the library, I was attacked by an unknown assailant. Thanks to my self-defense training, I was able to fend off the attacker and escape unharmed.”

C. Turning point: “After the attack, I realized how important it is to be aware of my surroundings and take safety precautions, like carrying pepper spray and avoiding walking alone at night.”

D. Climax: “In the end, the experience taught me that I am capable of protecting myself and that being prepared can make all the difference.”


A. Restate thesis: “Through this experience, I learned the importance of self-defense and taking precautions to stay safe.”

B. Reflection: “Looking back, I am grateful for the self-defense class that gave me the skills and confidence to protect myself when I needed it most.”

C. Call to action: “I urge everyone, especially women, to take self-defense classes and to be aware of their surroundings to stay safe in today’s unpredictable world.”

Note that this outline is flexible and can be adjusted to fit the specific needs of your narrative essay. It’s important to have a clear structure before writing a narrative essay to ensure that the story flows well and effectively communicates the intended message.

Check out some great narrative essay examples to acquire a better understanding of how to write a narrative essay well.

Expert Tips on How to Write a Narrative Essay

Below we have summarized some important points that you must keep in mind when writing a narrative essay.

  • Focus on a specific theme: Choose a specific event or experience to focus on, rather than trying to cover too much ground. Focus on the theme or central message of your essay, and use the story to illustrate and support that theme. This will help to give your essay greater coherence and purpose.
  • Use sensory details to bring your story to life: Instead of simply telling readers what happened, use vivid descriptions that appeal to the five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) to make the experience feel more real and memorable.
  • Use a clear and consistent narrative throughout the essay: Narrative essays are typically written in the first-person point of view, as it allows the reader to connect with the writer and feel like they are experiencing the story firsthand. Decide on a point of view (first-person, third-person, etc.) and stick with it.
  • Vary sentence structure: Use a variety of sentence structures to keep the narrative interesting and engaging. Varying the length and complexity of your sentences can help to create rhythm and flow.
  • Integrate creative expressions: Incorporate humor or other forms of creative expression to make your narrative essay stand out. This could include using irony, sarcasm, or other literary devices to add depth and nuance to your story.
  • Use a conversational tone: Narrative essays are meant to be personal stories, so the tone should be conversational and relatable. Avoid using overly formal or academic language.
  • Be mindful of tense: The tense you choose will depend on the story you are telling. Use present tense for a more immediate and engaging story, or past tense for a reflective and nostalgic tone.
  • Proofread and edit: Revise and edit your essay carefully, paying close attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Make sure that your narrative flows smoothly and that there are no confusing or contradictory elements.

Need Further Guidance?

Writing a narrative essay requires skills and creativity that don’t come naturally. Constant practice is necessary to develop a simple, direct, and impactful writing style. This is why writing a narrative essay can be challenging at times. It is crucial to maintain coherence and articulate your ideas effectively throughout the text, while keeping a personal touch. Hopefully, this guide on how to write a narrative essay will help you create an outstanding essay. However, if you encounter difficulties in finalizing your essay, PenMyPaper Essay Writer online is here to help. We provide a variety of professional writing services tailored to your specific needs and requirements, from writing research papers, swot analysis of Apple inc, to preparing business plans. Don’t hesitate to contact us.

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