How to Write a Narrative Essay

What is a narrative essay?

Essentially, a narrative essay is the telling of a story. Since it IS still an essay, however, it should contain a main point, or thesis, supported by the details of the story. Like any story, a narrative essay needs a plot, setting, speaker, characters, and a point of view. While usually told in chronological order, your story may unfold differently, depending on the effect desired.


Here’s a diagram of the basic structure:


            Think about the prompt and the best way to address the topic. Are you writing from your own experience, someone else’s, or from your imagination? Why is this story significant? Why should your reader care? Freewrite, list ideas, then use webbing or create an outline to flesh out your ideas.


When writing a personal narrative, using “I,” or the first-person point of view, is most effective. Even when writing nonfiction, use the elements of fiction to keep your reader engaged. Remember, your audience has no previous knowledge of your story, so include as many details as possible. Such details contribute to the vivid description and illustration of your narrative. Use lots of adjectives!


Is the progression of the story easy to understand? Are transitions used so that the narrative flows organically? Are the included details descriptive rather than informative, and do they contribute or detract from the story? Most importantly, is your thesis clear, connected and supported by your story?

The Final Touches:

Always have someone knowledgeable whom you can trust go over your paper with you. Make sure there are no grammatical, conventional, or formatting errors. Be aware that personal narratives can be scary to share with others, but use feedback to hone your writing skills!

Copyright (C)2013 by Devin Corry. All rights reserved.This document may be distributed as long as it is done entirely with all attributions to organizations and authors. Commercial distribution is strictly prohibited. Portions of this document may be copyrighted by other organizations. information retrieved from: and