Useful Tips for Writing a Narrative Essay

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“How in the world do you write a narrative essay?” this is a question a lot of college and high school students ask themselves once they are faced with this type of assignment. Fortunately, even though this can be a complex writing assignment, there are ways to make this writing assignment easier, and to ensure that the writer gets off to a good start.

What is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay can be written from the first person perspective. It is frequently the author’s retelling of an incident or incidents that they have personally experienced. For example a narrative essay can be written about a birthday party the author has attended, or the author’s first airplane ride. Whatever topic is chosen, here are a few steps to follow in order to ensure that the narrative essay is as well written as possible:

  • First, a narrative essay is always told from a first person view. The way that you remember or the way you saw it. The reader should see, hear, and feel what you did as you experienced the event.
  • Be sure that you make the essay fun for the readers/listeners. Who wants to read a boring story? Use descriptive language and make sure that you use words and phrases that involve as many of the five senses as possible. Remember, it's your essay, feel free to jazz it up a bit.
  • Don’t be vague! Make use of concrete language to put the reader directly into the story. It is important that they make an emotional connection with the story that you are telling them.
  • Your selection of topic should not be too broad or too generic. For example, an essay about how your prom night went awry is probably a better choice than an essay about your life as a college student.
  • Be careful about your choice of words. When you are describing something, be detailed and use concrete language. Avoid the use of abstract language. Below, there are some examples of concrete and abstract language. The first is an example of abstract language. The second is an example of concrete language. When writing to describe an important part of the story, always emulate the second example and use concrete language.
    • “Suzy got a dog this weekend”
    •  It was my little sister Suzy's 7th birthday and her Grandma got her an 8 week old, brown and gray German Shepard/Husky mix. She named her Pepper. You could see the excitement in Suzy's eyes when her new furry friend walked through the door”
  • Start with writing your rough draft. This will allow you to get your thoughts onto paper quickly. Then you can polish those thoughts and words into your final draft.
  • Take a look at your rough draft. Be sure to ask yourself “Is it thorough enough?” Have a friend and a relative look it over. The more people who can look over your essay, the more suggestions you will have for improvement. Then, be sure to check extra hard for spelling and grammatical mistakes.

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