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How to write a personal narrative essay
May 10, 2019 Anniversary Wishes 2 comments

In the previous lesson, How to Write a Personal Narrative, you used several Write down the central idea of your essay that includes both the event and why it is.

How to Write a Narrative Essay

Narrative essays evoke emotion in those who read them. As the author of a narrative, your job is to not only deliver a factual account of a deeply personal event, but to also convey to your readers what the aftermath of that event was – and you must do so in a way that leaves your readers with something of value.  You might even consider starting your narrative by presenting your audience with a question that they can ponder as they read the rest of the paper. Just be sure to provide a response or some sort of tie in to the question in your closing statement.


Writing a narrative requires, at least to a certain extent, a small degree of story-telling capability. In a typical narrative paper the author recounts a personal experience and shares not only what happened but also what the overall outcome or lesson learned was.

In order for the essay to be successful, the writer must be able to clearly express why the story has value.

There are many different schools of thought when it comes to the best practice for writing narrative essays, however, few are as straightforward as the Five Step Method for Writing Descriptive Narratives. Following this method, anyone writing a narrative paragraph, for example, college students, would follow consecutively that five processes below.

  1. Brainstorming

The initial stage is, without doubt, the most important. In the conceptualization phase, writers are asked to call upon past experiences that correlate to the theme of their assignment. Topic examples might be ‘write about overcoming a fear’ or ‘write about rekindling a friendship.’ When choosing an experience to share, be mindful of the fact that even seemingly insignificant events have the potential to make for a superior narrative paragraph if it is meaningful to you – we speak passionately about the things that we are emotionally connected to!

After you’ve decided on a topic, invest time into writing down your recollection of suitable events and recalling as many details as possible. Remember to include the date, time of year, people that were present, important objects, etc. Creating a timeline for the narrative will help the details and storyline to flow with ease.

  1. Drafting the Narrative Form

Before you can create your finished copy, use the outline created previously to make a draft copy. This is the time to really make your story come to life.

  • Narrative essays that are written in first person are often the most well received. Using the descriptor ‘I’ will help to engage the reader by creating the illusion of immediacy.
  • Remember your role as the story teller – don’t skimp out on the small details. The reader was not there, they need for you to paint a clear visual of the moment just as it happened. Leave no stone unturned.
  • Start your narrative with a thought provoking statement or by asking a question that anyone reading your report can think about as they continue to read your narrative paper.
  • Rely on descriptive adjectives and words that create clear visualizations. It is your job to engage with your readers. Connect with them – don’t just tell them what happened, explain how it happened. Consider this sentence: “When she left me, I felt as if my heart had been torn into pieces. My entire world shattered.” It holds much more significance than had the writer simply stated, “I was sad that she left me.”
  • Call upon your natural storytelling ability to create a text that is both informative and engaging – but remember that a narrative essay is NOT a short story and, therefore, should not be written as such. It must be authentic and compelling.
  1. Revision

When revising a narrative essay, writers will read, modify and reformat their paper with the main objective of creating the best project possible. When revising your essay, consider the following:

  • Is the essay written in a manner that is not only easy to read and understand but also makes sense to the average audience?
  • Am I involving the reader in my recount of the experience? Should my writing definition have more detail or is there so much detail that I run the risk of confusing my readers?
  • Are my word choices informative or descriptive?
  • Have I successfully conveyed the big picture message? Is the reader able to grasp the connection between the event and the meaning of it all?

When you attempt to define a narrative essay, remember it is up to you to determine when the best time is to reveal the importance of the event or experience. Some choose to bridge this connection in the initial paragraph, while others may go for a more climactic reveal closer to the end. There are benefits to both: Disclosure in the beginning helps the reader to better understand the story as it progresses, whereas waiting until the end will leave the reader with more to ponder.

  1. Editing

This is the part of the process where you will reread your narrative and correct any errors in grammar or spelling. It may be helpful to have someone else read over your piece for you to provide a fresh view before the final product is delivered.

  1. Create the Final Copy

Given the personal nature of a narrative essay, sharing it with readers can be daunting but is almost always worth it. Consider the feedback received to be part of an invaluable learning experience.

What is a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is just as it sounds – an essay that tells a story. Not just any story though, narrative essays are experiential, circumstantial, personal and always factual.

Narrative papers require the author to call upon personal experiences that relate to the chosen or assigned topic and clearly convey to the reader what happened, how it happened, and why that event was meaningful and relevant.

Please feel free to use our plagiarism checker online for the texts you have written.

Narrative Format

Here are a few tips and techniques for creating an A+ narrative essay.

  • When written in story format, the essay must include all of the key components of a good story – this includes the introduction, the plot, the relevant character profiles, the setting, the climax and the conclusion.
  • The essay should have a relevant point. The reader must understand the connection between the topic and the story.
  • You must write concisely and from a clear viewpoint. Using the descriptor ‘I’ helps to better engage the reader.
  • Use clear and crisp language. Call upon descriptive words or phrases (you might find these descriptive examples online) that spark emotional response to make the reader feel as if they are a part of the story.
  • Use an organized format. Your essay must have a clear introduction, body paragraphs that are not only sequential, but also transitional, and an ending that leaves the reader with something to think about.

Narrative Essay Structure

As with all other essay types, a narrative essay requires a functional outline that clearly details all of the parts of the paper and what key points are needed.

There are three main parts to the structure of a narrative essay. They are: the introduction, the body and the conclusion.


  • The hook
  • The thesis statement
  • A clear description of why the topic is significant


  • An overview of the setting, background, etc.
  • All of the key people involved
  • Some semblance of foreshadowing
  • The onset of the event
  • The climax
  • The resolution or the ending


  • What was the moral of the story?
  • How was the event significant?
  • What is the call-to-action?

Narrative Format Examples & Tips

  • Always start a narrative essay with either a question, a verifiable fact, a writing definition, a famous quote or some other relevant and thought provoking fact.
  • Try to evoke all five senses in your writing. What did you hear? What did you see? What did you smell, etc.
  • Avoid using slang.
  • Try to be as descriptive as possible.
  • Use varying sentence structure to engage the reader and keep them interested.
  • Always describe events in chronological order. Not only is this the easiest way to tell a story, it is always the easiest way to make sure that your readers do not get confused or miss important details.
  • Use transition words to describe what happened and when.

Narrative essays are fun and interesting ways to convey personal experiences, however, they are not ‘short stories’ and should not be written as such. Narratives, while descriptive and capable of creating emotional connections, must always be truthful and relevant. The best narratives will leave the reader with something to think about.

Creating and sticking to an outline, like the one mentioned above, will assist you in creating a polished and high-quality narrative essay. Call upon a significant event or a special memory from your past and practice writing one today.

Read the following article and answer the question “What is a research paper?”.

The cornerstone of a successful personal narrative essay is a good topic! If you do your homework right, it makes writing and finding sources.

How to Create an Outline for Narrative Essay

how to write a personal narrative essay

I dreaded writing personal narrative essays.

I cringed when teachers assigned a personal narrative essay. I couldn’t think of an interesting story about myself. And even if I choose a fascinating personal narrative story, I struggled with how to write about it. But when I was in college that changed because I realized writing a personal narrative essay isn’t like writing any other kind of essay.

No, it’s writing a story that reveals some piece of myself.  And I love stories. 

A personal narrative is a story about you. It’s the same as any other story: it has a beginning, middle, and end.  The difference is that it’s from your life. Through that story, you show your reader something that is unique to you.  It can be a story that conveys your humor, your sensitivity, what scares you, excites you, angers you, or makes you sad.  A personal narrative essayletsother people connect with you.  

There are 3 key things you need to know about writing a personal narrative essay:

  1. How to choose a good personal narrative essay topic.
  2. How to develop your personal narrative essay ideas.
  3. How to write a compelling personal narrative essay.

Choosing a Personal Narrative Essay Topic

There are 2 steps to choosing a good personal narrative essay topic.  The first is brainstorming stories from your life, and the second is evaluating the stories you list.

Brainstorming: Choose a place where you can focus. Then answer these questions:

  • What are some significant stories from your life?
  • When did you face a challenge or obstacle in your life?
  • What are funny things that happened to you or funny things you did?
  • What stories are your most important memories?
  • What are some sad events and what are some happy events from your life?

List as many ideas as you can for each of these questions. Don’t stop and erase any of your ideas. You want as many as choices as possible.

Another way to discover a personal narrative essay topic is to select a writing prompt for personal narrative essays.  Search online for personal narrative essay prompts.  You’ll find great personal narrative writing prompts in my blog post, “11 Excellent Personal Narrative Essay Writing Prompts for College Students.” https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/11-excellent-personal-narrative-writing-prompts-for-college-students/

I’ve included 8 personal narrative writing prompts in the infographic here:

Evaluating a personal narrative topic: Now that you have several ideas, decide which stories are most interesting to you. If your story bores you, it will be hard to write a story that grabs your reader’s attention.

Once you’ve narrowed your list, follow these steps to analyze your stories:

  1. Check to see if there is a beginning, middle, and end to each story. Does the middle of your story have one important moment or event in the story?  This important moment is called the climax of a story. Which narrative essay topics have a climax?
  2. Go over your list and look for stories you remember well. What stories can you describe in detail?
  3. Consider whether a story is one you want to share with other people. If it makes you uncomfortable to have other people know about this event then select another personal narrative essay topic.
  4. Analyze your personal narrative essay ideas again and choose a story you really want to write about and share with other people.

Developing a Personal Narrative Essay: Planning vs. Pantsing

There are 2 ways to develop your personal narrative: 1) plan your story or 2) write your story by the “seat of your pants.”

Planning is where you figure out the things you want to include in your essay, and where you will include these things before writing.

Pantsing or “writing by the seat of your pants” is where you take a personal narrative essay topic and start writing about it from beginning to the end.  You don’t think about the things you want to include ahead of time.

Both planning and pantsing work for developing a personal narrative essay.  It’s just a matter of which you like better.

Planning your Personal Narrative Essay

Planning a personal narrative essay is like planning any other kind of story.  You plan a beginning, a middle and an end.  But for a personal narrative essay, you also include what you learned or realized because of this story.

List the order in which things occurred.  You can do this in a simple list or you could create a story outline.

  1. First, how did the story start? Here you want to include the setting of where your story began. Describe the first thing that happened.
  2. Second, list the things that happened next. These things lead up to your climax.  The climax is the most important part of your story.
  3. Third, how does the story end? The ending of your story is the resolution.  A resolution in a personal narrative lets your reader know the result of everything that happened.
  4. Add any important realization or thing you learned from the experience.

Pantsing a Personal Narrative Essay

You’ll hear many writers talk about “pantsing” or writing by the “seat of their pants.”  They mean that they don’t plan what they will write before they start writing.  This method works well for some people writing personal narrative essays.

If you are pantsing a personal narrative essay, write down your topic.  Select a starting point for your story. Then write your story from beginning to end.

When you finish writing, go back and see if you have all the pieces of your story from beginning to end.

  • Where did you begin your story? What is the setting for your story (time and place)?  What is the first thing that happened?
  • What events happen that lead up to the most important moment of your story?
  • What is the climax of your story?
  • How does your story end?
  • What did you learn or realize?

Go back and add any missing pieces to your essay.

Writing a Compelling Personal Narrative Essay

The key to writing a fascinating and powerful personal narrative is how you help a reader experience the story. A good personal narrative essay shows what happened and how you felt.  It doesn’t tell what happened like a report of events.

It follows the writing mantra of “show and don’t tell.”

It has a lot of vivid description, emotion and other elements that re-create your story. Here are things you can include your personal narrative:

Vivid Description:As you write your story try to add the five senses to your story. What did you see?  What did you hear? What did you taste? What did you smell? What did you touch?

Not every story has all five senses it. That’s fine. Focus on describing the setting, characters, and actions in your story.  Use the senses that are most relevant to your story.

Zoom in on important moments: There are pieces of your story that are more significant or interesting than other elements of your story.  Select a few important moments in your story and add more detail and description to those parts.

It’s like taking a photo of birds. You can capture the whole picture of the birds, but if you want to feature a bluebird, or cardinal or another type of bird, you would zoom in on that bird.  You would see up close the colors of the feathers on it’s wings, the size of the bird’s feet and how it is flying in the skying.

You can do the same with your story. Zooming will draw the reader into important moments.

Emotion: In a personal narrative essay, readers want to feel a connection to what you felt. If you were nervous or scared in the story then describe that. Describe how you felt at different times during your story.

Dialogue: Can you add dialogue between yourself and another person? Some stories only have one person, so it may not be possible to add dialogue.  But character dialogue can add excitement.  If you add dialogue choose important things people said.  Be careful not to have too much dialogue in your personal narrative essay. Your readers want to see other kinds of action too.

In medias res: In medias res is a Latin phrase that means “in the midst of things” Encyclopedia Britannica https://www.britannica.com/art/in-medias-res-literature.

In medias res is a technique where the writer begins his/her narrative at a point of action or a crucial moment in the story.  Then the narrative “flashes back” to the beginning of the story.  This writing strategy immerses readers in a story. It’s a way to make readers feel what you felt in that moment.  In medias res, is a wonderful technique to use in personal narratives. Test it out and see if it suits your personal narrative essay.

Enjoy Writing a Personal Narrative

When you write a personal narrative focus on making it a sensory experience.  You don’t need to use sophisticated language or writing techniques.  You just need to write your story well.

Writing a personal narrative can be fun, exciting and/or deeply moving.  Don’t panic or fear writing a personal narrative because you have many stories within you.  Stories that are great to share, and stories people will love to read.  And you are the best person to write your own stories.  Personal narrative essays are one of the most creative things you can write, so enjoy the process, and craft your own story.

Try these tips as you write your next personal narrative.  And if this post helped you please share it with others online!


Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash


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Write a Personal Narrative (English 7 Writing)

how to write a personal narrative essay

When a lecturer assigns a narrative essay, some college students think they have to air out their personal stories, but that’s often not the case. You can create an interesting paper by making up a story, describing a memorable event, or writing about your role model. To create a masterpiece, take your time to come up with the right topic. There are numerous essay ideas you can find online, but none match our selection below.
Before you come up with your own topic idea, check our list of the best narrative essay prompts that will inspire you in ways you’ve never imagined. Once you pick your topic, perform thorough research and ensure your content is 100% original. Don’t copy an example directly from the internet. Instead, cite your sources to demonstrate your competence as a student. Focus on the topic and take your reader through your best memories. If you allow your words to flow naturally, you will create a fascinating story. It is your responsibility to ensure that your narrative essay makes a great impression on the reader.

Why is it important to come up with good narrative essay writing topics?

When students write a narrative essay, they typically choose between two options:

  1. Use the topic their instructor proposed, or
  2. Come up with their own topic

A strong topic choice determines the success of the whole essay. In the event you cannot do it yourself, you can find college essay help by clicking that link.

No matter what your institution assigns, a complete paper must be interesting to read. The best way to ensure that is to choose an essay topic you will want to write with passion. Narrative essay writing is the only genre of academic writing that allows the writer to explore their imagination and creativity to the fullest. While writing these essays you may omit strict structure regulations. That is why students like this essay sub-genre the most.


Narrative essay writing is the only genre of academic writing that allows the writer to expand his imagination and creativity to the fullest. While writing these essays you may omit strict structure regulations. That is why students like this essay sub-genre the most.

The freedom of choice can become challenging for essay writers. When you are allowed to write anything from your experience, you can draw a total blank. Some students use the first idea that comes to mind, but the results are not always successful. A narrative essay topic must be appealing to you and interesting to the audience. To give you the basis for considering a topic, we’ve provided a list of the best ideas for narrative essays – organized by subtopics for your convenience. We also give a brief description of each subtopic to help you determine what to write.

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Narrative essay topic ideas

1. Experience

The objective of the narrative essay is to teach you how to write about your experiences in a literary manner. To write a good essay, you have to brainstorm all thoughts concerning your life experiences with both negative and positive examples. Try to describe your experiences in as much detail as possible to attract the reader’s attention.

View All Essay Examples on Life Experience

  • The most embarrassing experience of your life
  • A frightening experience you’ve had
  • An experience that taught you real-life values
  • An experience that taught you to appreciate life more
  • An experience that helped you overcome fear
  • An unpleasant personal experience
  • An event that taught you to appreciate what you have
  • The most embarrassing moment of your life
  • Memorable days with family members
  • A success story

2. Childhood

Childhood is a period of bright memories and first experiences. As children are naive and sincere, they have a tendency to get involved in ridiculous situations. We are sure you have something of interest to tell the world about your childhood years. Let these next topic ideas jog your memories of childhood situations that can make a good foundation for your narrative essay writing.

View All Essay Examples on Childhood Memory

  • Write about a time you got hurt on the playground. What happened?
  • Talk about a childhood experience that helped you grow up
  • Did you have a memorable birthday party? Share what made it memorable
  • Whom you dreamed to be when you were a kid?
  • What was your favorite game during childhood and why?
  • Talk about a time you were hurt playing with your friends
  • What you miss about your favorite childhood games
  • Your most valuable childhood possession
  • What you loved about crafts when you were young
  • Your favorite childhood fairytale characters or shows
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3. School years

School is a path to adulthood, where children gain essential knowledge and experience. School years present challenges that contribute to the development of personality. Your school experience and the challenges you overcame are unique. That is why your unique journey through school would probably make a great narrative essay.

View All Essay Examples on School

  • What was/is your favorite subject in school and why?
  • Did some teachers become your role models? Show some examples
  • Talk about the first time you took part in a big school event
  • The most disastrous thing that ever happened in class
  • Write about a teacher you would like to be friends with
  • What subject did you love most in your elementary school?
  • A childhood teacher you are still friends with
  • How your best friend in primary school has influenced your life
  • Did your teachers contribute to the person you are today?

4. Relationships

Everybody has personal memories of family, friends, and loved ones. Your story about them will always be personal, so if you are asked to write a narrative essay, your relationships are an endless source of unique ideas.

View All Essay Examples on Relationships

  • Write about a friendship breakup you have experienced
  • Talk about the person you are most afraid to lose
  • An occasion when you experienced rejection
  • A joke or ridiculous misunderstanding with another person
  • Talk about the worst argument you’ve ever had with your parents
  • How long can you be in love with someone?
  • Talk about your first experience with love and its impact on you
  • Discuss loyal and trustworthy friends in your life
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5. Morality

In every country, people obey laws. But, there are other laws that regulate people’s lives on a larger scale. They are the laws of ethics and morality. In most situations where your morality is tested, you’re given a choice. You can either do the right thing, or the wrong thing for your own personal reasons. Morality essay topics are a great choice because they are always interesting.

View All Essay Examples on Morality

  • An example of a difficult decision you had to make
  • An example of a rebellious act from your life
  • Write about morality problems that bother you and why
  • A moral choice that you regret
  • Write about a recent personal morality challenge
  • How many lies have you told in your life?
  • How do you treat strangers?
  • Have you ever eavesdropped?

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6. Interests

Your interests will impact nearly everything you create. To write a narrative essay about your interests, ask yourself:

“What do I enjoy doing?”
“What music do I like to listen to?”
“How do I prefer to spend my free time?”

If you can speak passionately about it, you can write passionately about it. This is why your interests make a great source for essay ideas.

  • Talk about a movie you watched that impressed you
  • Write about a song that usually touches you emotionally
  • What talent have you always wanted to have and why?
  • Which book character do you see yourself as or relate to?
  • If you were a director, what movie would you want to shoot?
  • When did you discover that you had a particular talent?
  • If you were a TV character, who would you be?
  • TV stars you want to meet in real-life
  • What’s your perspective on sports?

7. Traveling

Every new place you visit unlocks a new experience and a new story, no matter how many times you visit the seaside or mountains. You have your own journey with your own impressions. Why not share them with your readers? The narrative essay format allows you to write the second Odyssey – briefly, of course.

  • Write about your first visit to the countryside (or large city, depending on where you’re from)
  • Your favorite mode of traveling
  • What are your must-have items when taking any trip?
  • Where would you like to travel if you had a large sum of money?
  • What is the best place to take a vacation?
  • The funniest way you met a friend
  • Describe a day you were traveling and something bad happened
  • What would you change if you revisited a camp with your classmates?
  • The trip you loved the most

8. Student life

Life in college differs from high school. It is more adventurous and enriched with new experiences. You are introduced to new people, new routines, new subjects, new expectations, and new independence. All of these things combine to create epic stories! Student years are considered to be the best in one’s lifetime. So, why not write about them in your narrative essay?

  • Talk about your most exhausting exam
  • Write about a lecture that left a lasting impression on you
  • Talk about the first day you moved into a dorm
  • What was the most impressive hang-out during your college years?
  • Write about times you felt depressed in college
  • Do you mix well with students from different cultures?
  • Who influences your social life in school?

9. Imagine if…

A narrative essay topic starts with the words “Imagine If…” and usually requires you to create a story about an alternate universe, or what your life could be like in the future. This subtopic is one of the most popular among students because it allows us to make up anything. The only limits are your imagination!

  • Imagine you had a time machine. What time would you travel to?
  • Imagine you were an animal. What animal would you like to be and why?
  • Imagine you were born in another country. Where would you like to be born and why?
  • Imagine you were filthy rich. What would you spend your money on?
  • Imagine you were a comic book character. What superpower would you like to have and why?

New And Outstanding Narrative Essay Topics 2019

Finding a good topic is not easy. That’s why we have researched the most common categories and come up with a list of narrative essay topic examples to inspire you. This will make it easier to find a theme you are looking for.

  1. If I won a billion dollars in the lottery
  2. The one thing I would change in my life
  3. My first job
  4. If only I could turn back time
  5. The weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in my life
  6. The most disastrous moment I’ve ever experienced
  7. My first encounter with fear
  8. 5 day-to-day issues that bother me
  9. The best achievement I’ve ever accomplished
  10. The most annoying thing about me
  11. Do you have hobbies that have been inherited from your family?
  12. How do you differ from your parents?
  13. How permissive are your teachers?
  14. How was your first encounter with the police?
  15. How good/bad are you at time management?
  16. How much time do you spend alone?
  17. What valuable lessons have you learned from adversity?
  18. Do you feel pressured to obtain a perfect body?

I have chosen the topic for my narrative essay. What’s next?

After you have found the best essay topic for your writing, study the instructions from your institution carefully. Be aware of the paper’s length and start writing the narrative essay outline. Also, check out the following writing tips that will make the writing process easier.

Tips on narrative essay writing:

  1. Focus on specific details that are essential to cover the topic. Try to avoid mentioning irrelevant off-topic information.
  2. Do not lie or embellish facts. Dig deep into your experience. Readers value sincerity.
  3. Connect your ideas. Use transition words to make your text coherent and easy to read.
  4. Do not omit the conclusion. No matter your topic, write a wrap up to state what you got from the experience.
  5. Keep things interesting to read. If you don’t like writing it, chances are good the text is not worth the attention of the audience.
  6. Be detailed and specific, but don’t overload your reader with information.
  7. Be creative. In a narrative essay, you can write in the first person and use different stylistic devices.
  8. Follow the instructions of your instructor attentively. Even though it’s a flexible writing genre, the narrative essay needs to be written according to stated patterns.


CLRC Writing Center Structure of a Personal Narrative Essay “Narrative” is a term more commonly known as “story.” Narratives written for college or personal .

A Narrative Essay Outline

how to write a personal narrative essay

The personal narrative essay can be the most enjoyable type of assignment to write because it provides you with an opportunity to share a meaningful event from your life. After all, how often do you get to tell funny stories or brag about a great experience and receive school credit for it?

Think of a Memorable Event 

A personal narrative can focus on any event, whether it is one that lasted a few seconds or spanned a few years. Your topic can reflect your personality, or it can reveal an event that shaped your outlook and opinions. Your story should have a clear point. If nothing comes to mind, try one of these examples: 

  • A learning experience that challenged and changed you;
  • A new discovery that came about in an interesting way;
  • Something funny that happened to you or your family;
  • A lesson you learned the hard way.

Planning Your Narrative

Start this process with a brainstorming session, taking a few moments to scribble down several memorable events from your life. Remember, this doesn’t have to be high drama: Your event could be anything from blowing your first bubble gum bubble to getting lost in the woods. If you think your life doesn't have that many interesting events, try to come up with one or more examples for each of the following:

  • Times you laughed the hardest
  • Times you felt sorry for your actions
  • Painful memories
  • Times you were surprised
  • Scariest moments

Next, look over your list of events and narrow your choices by selecting those that have a clear chronological pattern, and those that would enable you to use colorful, entertaining, or interesting details and descriptions. 

Finally, decide if your topic has a point. A funny story might represent irony in life or a lesson learned in a comical way; a scary story might demonstrate how you learned from a mistake. Decide on the point of your final topic and keep it in mind as you write.

Show, Don’t Tell 

Your story should be written in the first-person point of view. In a narrative, the writer is the storyteller, so you can write this through your own eyes and ears. Make the reader experience what you experienced—not just read what you experienced.

Do this by imagining that you are reliving your event. As you think about your story, describe on paper what you see, hear, smell, and feel, as follows:

Describing Actions

"My sister ran off."

"My sister jumped a foot in the air and disappeared behind the closest tree."

Describing Moods

"Everyone felt on edge."

"We were all afraid to breathe. Nobody made a sound."

Elements to Include

Write your story in chronological order. Make a brief outline showing the sequence of events before you begin to write the narrative. This will keep you on track. Your story should include the following:

Characters: Who are the people involved in your story? What are their significant character traits?

Tense: Your story already happened, so, generally, write in the past tense. Some writers are effective in telling stories in the present tense—but that usually isn't a good idea.

Voice: Are you attempting to be funny, somber, or serious? Are you telling the story of your 5-year-old self?

Conflict: Any good story should have a conflict, which can come in many forms. Conflict can be between you and your neighbor’s dog, or it can be two feelings you are experiencing at one time, like guilt versus the need to be popular.

Descriptive language: Make an effort to broaden your vocabulary and use expressions, techniques, and words that you don’t normally use. This will make your paper more entertaining and interesting, and it will make you a better writer.

Your main point: The story you write should come to a satisfying or interesting end. Do not attempt to describe an obvious lesson directly—it should come from observations and discoveries.

Don't say: "I learned not to make judgments about people based on their appearances."

Instead, say: "Maybe the next time I bump into an elderly lady with greenish skin and a large, crooked nose, I'll greet her with a smile. Even if she is clutching a warped and twisted broomstick."

WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: How to write a Narrative Essay

In the previous lesson, How to Write a Personal Narrative, you used several Write down the central idea of your essay that includes both the event and why it is.

how to write a personal narrative essay
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