The narrative essay tells a true story to illustrate a point. The story may be the writer’s own or someone else’s, but it must relate something that actually happened. The narrative essay relies on:
- A plot that traces a character’s development over a period of time
- Aproblem or challenge the character faces
- Apoint of view or “narrative voice” from which the story is told
- Language appropriate to the character and setting
- A thesis, moral, or reason for telling the story
The narrative essay is one of the most exciting forms of non-fiction writing because it depends on two things that interest everyone: truth and story.
Writing a narrative essay
Your own life is full of stories and plots. Simply choose any of them and begin writing. Try to identify the four basic plot points listed below in that particular experience.
Plot is the route a story travels to reach its destination. The most popular plots tend to follow the adventures of a main character through an obstacle course to its happy or sad conclusion. In good plots, the main character changes or develops along the way. The typical plot can be divided into four parts:
- Starting Conflict
Introduces the main character and conflict. Little Georgie Washington is not allowed to use his new hatchet.
- Complications Rise
Heightens the conflict by tempting or challenging the main character. Georgie sees a young cherry tree, the perfect size for chopping.
Brings the conflict to a peak with a make-or-break incident for the main character. Georgie cannot resist; he downs the cherry tree.
Restores the character to steady ground, for better or worse. Georgie confesses, telling the truth that will become his trademark.
Here are 10 ideas for narrative essays.
- Learning to swim
- Most embarrassing moment
- A time when you surprised yourself
- Favorite vacation
- Losing something and finding it
- An important purchase
- Something scary that happened to you
- The “olden days,” as remembered by a relative
- Giving away something precious
- Your worst hair day ever