How To Compose a Narrative Essay

At one point in your life you may have been asked by an admissions officer or a future employer to write an essay about yourself.  These compositions are often called narrative essays, which enable you to tell the reader your personal experiences.

From the root word "narrate," narrative essays often convey a story.  Its form follows the structure of a typical story, often with a beginning, a conflict, a climax and a resolution.  You can choose to narrate an incident you have encountered in the past, or your personal thoughts about a certain topic.  However, topics are not limited to your personal experiences; they can also be about a topic you may not have experienced yourself but still found interesting.  The key here is being able to tell a story.

  1. Sit down and decide on a topic.  Think of a specific point in your life that the readers might find interesting or from which the readers can draw a valuable lesson.  You can focus on a single event or a single realization, so as not to make the essay convoluted with different thoughts.
  2. Brainstorm.  Grab a pen and paper and draw out possible topics that could spring up from your main topic.  Recall anecdotes, definitions, people and dates that you can include in the narrative.  Do not try to limit yourself when coming up with ideas, for you can always select from the ones you have already thought up.
  3. Decide on a structure.  Compose an outline for your essay.  You can start by laying out the basic facts of the incident, such as the time, the date and the place, or by revealing the conflict then discussing the events that led up to it.  There is no definite structure for a narrative essay, so long as you convey the story in a logical and coherent manner, which the readers can easily understand.  Think of novels you may have read in the past and try to remember how the writers structured their stories.
  4. Compose a draft.  Begin to fill in the facts needed in the essay, following the structure you decided earlier.  Since the essay is coming from your point of view, try to intersperse events with personal realizations you may have had as they occurred.  Don't worry if your first draft may look and sound raw, because you can always edit it at a later time.
  5. Be as detailed and interesting as possible.  Since most of the things you are narrating are your own, try to provide careful details so as not to alienate the reader.  In the same manner, narrate the incidents in a way, which will not bore them.  Add a dialogue or two, or include funny anecdotes for a little comic relief if necessary.
  6. Provide a clear resolution.  Make the readers understand the point of your story.  An open-ended ending can only render the story pointless, as is simply narrating the day's event like you would in your personal diary.  Wrap up loose ends that you may have discussed in preceding paragraphs.  Remember, you are telling a story like a novel's author; so make sure all conflicts you have included are resolved.

The key to writing a good narrative essay is providing your personal touch on it.  Making sure your presence is felt in the essay will enable your readers to identify with your story and draw valuable insights from it.


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