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How To Write A Narrative Essay: 50 Topic Samples, Tips, and More

College students learns how to write a narrative essay online If you’ve come to learn how to write a narrative essay, you’ve found the perfect tutorial! In this blog, we’ll discuss the writing process step by step, provide topic examples, show you how to start a narrative essay, and what a narrative essay format looks like. By the end of this blog, you’ll be able to know what it takes to write a good narrative essay or at least, where to get one done.

What Is A Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is personal and is said to be one of the easiest essays to write. Of course, writing is not everyone’s strong suit, and even the “easiest” essay can be quite challenging. According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab, a narrative essay is just like storytelling. They are personal, commonly based on experience, and often anecdotal. Narrative writing allows students to exercise creativity and learn how to express themselves through writing.

Student learning the types of narrative essays

The Types of Narrative Essays

Fiction – Fictional narrative essays are based on the author’s imagination. Some elements of the story could mimic real-life events but the characters, plot, and other parts are entirely up to the author’s creative imagination. Fictional narrative essays could follow the format of short stories, folklore, novels, and plays.

Non-Fiction – Nonfiction narrative essays are most commonly based on the personal experiences of the author or just real-life events in general. Nonfictional narrative essays can follow the format of autobiographies, journals, or diaries.

Poetry – A more creative type of narrative essay follows the structure of a poem. It tells a story but with all the distinctive styles and rhyming used in poetry. A poetic narrative essay follows the format of epics or sonnets.

Other Types of Narrative Writing

Linear Narrative – Linear narrative writing means the story is told in the order it happened. This type of narrative writing can be from the perspective of the first, second, or third person. Jane Austen’s famous book, Pride and Prejudice, is an example of linear narrative writing.

Nonlinear Narrative – As opposed to linear narrative writing, nonlinear means the story is told out of order. Flashbacks are commonly used in this case to tell certain parts of the story.

Quest Narrative – Quest narrative writing’s central theme is the overcoming of challenges and obstacles by the protagonist to reach their goal. Similar to the hero’s journey type of plot, the main character is at the core of the story.

Viewpoint Narrative – The viewpoint narrative writing is based on the perspective of the main character and can be either fiction or nonfiction. Because the story is heavily based on the main character’s point of view, it can be biased and should be viewed subjectively. An example of a skewed viewpoint narrative writing is from Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, told from the perspective of Humbert.

Narrative Essay vs. Short Story

In this blog on how to write a narrative essay, you’ll see that narrative writing is often compared to that of “storytelling”. But just what is the difference between narrative essays and short stories? One main difference between the two types of writing is the thesis statement. Thesis statements are essential to any type of essay and so a narrative essay contains one and a short story does not. It might have a central theme, but thesis statements aren’t present in fictional or nonfictional short stories.

Another difference between narrative essays and short stories is that narrative essays are usually biographical. Narrative essay writers sometimes have difficulty recalling the exact details of the story because they only rely on memory. For short stories, writers don’t have this difficulty in recollection because they can create their own narrative and storyline.

Technically, the format of a narrative essay differs from the format of a short story. While both contain an introduction, characters, a plot, climax, and conclusion, only a narrative essay has a thesis statement. Short stories can end with the conclusion after the climax but a narrative essay still has to relate the conclusion to its thesis statement.

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Narrative Essay Writing Tips

So if you want to learn how to write a narrative essay, we can start with some basic tips from Purdue University.

1. Essential parts of a story

Narrative essays can be in the form of storytelling and it’s one of the easiest ways to write one. That means, if you’re narrating a story in your story, the essay must contain all the important parts of a story. These parts are the introduction, characters, story plot, climax, and conclusion.

2. Know when not to follow “storytelling”

While narrative essays can be as simple as storytelling, not all narrative essays follow this format. An example of when not to use the storytelling format when writing a narrative essay is when your teacher asks you to write a book report.

3. Identify your essay’s purpose

If you want to learn how to write a good narrative story, it has to have a purpose. Without a point to your essay, your readers may find it pointless to continue reading. A good narrative essay imparts some sort of knowledge or lesson that makes your narrative essay worth reading.

4. Have a clear point of view

As the author of the narrative essay, you can choose to write it through your point of view which is common but a first-person perspective is not the only option that exists. You can explore your creativity by choosing other points of view from the characters in your story as long as you remain consistent and clear.

5. Clarity and conciseness

Narrative essays are most effective when it’s relatable and easy to understand. When learning how to write a narrative story, be conscious of the language and tone you choose and gauge whether your readers will relate to it. Using clear and concise language can evoke your readers’ senses and emotions which is what you want when writing a narrative essay.

6. Using the word ‘I’

Using the word ‘I’ is not recommended for most types of essays, but it is welcomed for narrative essays. According to Indiana University Southeast, the types of essays that use a third-person perspective are formal essays and research reports.

If writing a narrative essay seems easy enough for you but you need help with more formal essays and research reports, you can always depend on Homework Help USA, one of the best and most professional platforms to get custom essays done.

7. Organization

Being organized in your essay writing process doesn’t just apply to how to write a narrative essay but to all other types of essays. Make sure the most important parts of an essay which are the introduction, body, and conclusion are clear. Remember to have an essay purpose, proofread your essay, and make sure it will be understood by your readers.

You could also benefit from creating an essay outline before the writing process. For how to write a narrative essay outline, watch a previous episode of The Homework Help Show on How To Write A Structured Essay Outline.

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How To Choose Narrative Essay Topics

One of the first steps to writing any essay is to find a topic. Narrative essays are mostly a chronological storytelling of either a personal experience or an anecdotal or experimental story. There are a few things to consider when writing a narrative essay which are:

● Take a look back at your life

Some of the best narrative essay topics you can choose are based on personal experiences. A narrative essay is the only type of essay where you can be personal. Look back at your past memories and reflect on the ones your readers will find most relatable.

● Find something meaningful

Not only is the purpose of your narrative essay to engage with your readers, but to share something that you are passionate about. When you share stories or experiences that you personally enjoy, you’re bound to write a successful essay.

● Experiment

Other academic write-ups don’t evoke emotion and don’t entail much creativity. Feel free to experiment with writing styles, perspectives, and topics in learning how to write a narrative essay. When choosing a topic, try and look outside the box and be as experimental and creative as you can be.

Narrative Essay Topic Samples

Here are some sample narrative essay topics you can draw inspiration from based on personal experiences.

Narrative Essay Topic Samples: College / University Life

An easy place to start exploring when choosing a topic for how to write a narrative essay, refer to your most recent experiences in college.

1. The best things about being in college
2. The college course that changed your life
3. Learning remotely during a pandemic
4. What you did differently in college compared to high school
5. Enrolling in your dream school

Narrative Essay Topic Samples: High School

Your high school memories are one of your most formative and memorable experiences. To create a relatable narrative essay, you could always refer to your fondest high school memories.

1. Proudest moment in high school
2. Favorite class in high school
3. Biggest achievement/award received in high school
4. Prom experience
5. Most inspirational high school teacher

Narrative Essay Topic Samples: Personal Life

If a narrative essay is the only one where the author can get personal, where else can you draw inspiration from than from your own life? Look back at the most impactful times in your life and narrate them to your audience.

1. Most pivotal moment in life
2.The biggest role model
3. A decision you regret
4. Your biggest life achievement thus far
5. The travel destination that changed your perspective on life

Narrative Essay Topic Samples: Argumentative

You could share your perspective on certain controversial topics by relating it to your personal experiences. You can narrate to the audience why you’ve chosen your stance based on first-hand experience.

1. Debating political beliefs
2. Thoughts on the correlation between animal agriculture and global warming
3. Thoughts on social media cancel culture
4. Discussing whether homework is beneficial or not
5. The pros and cons of social media

Narrative Essay Topic Samples: Autobiographical

Being personal in a narrative essay doesn’t always have to be deep. You can choose lighter and easier topics but still personal by choosing some of these topics.

1. Most embarrassing moment in your life
2. Best childhood memory
3. Your first airplane ride / first time traveling
4. The funniest story you know
5. The happiest day of your life

College student researching sample topics for narrative essays

Narrative Essay Topic Samples: Fictional

Writing a fictional narrative essay is where you get to exercise creativity and be experimental. Use your imagination to make fictional stories based on personal aspirations.

1. Most unusual dream
2. What would you do with a million dollars
3. A superpower you would like to have
4. What would you do if you were the president
5. What a perfect day for you looks like


Narrative Essay Topic Samples: Social Media

Social media is timely, relative, and relatable. Share your thoughts on social media usage and how it has changed your life.

1. Best social media platform
2. Worst personal experience on a social media platform
3. Pros and cons of sharing your life online
4. How you met a friend through social media
5. How important is social media to you

Narrative Essay Topic Samples: Travel

One of the most life-changing experiences people can go through is traveling around the world. Take inspiration from your favorite destinations and use travel as a theme for your narrative essay.

1. The best country/city you’ve been to
2. The dream travel destination
3. How being well-traveled taught life lessons
4. Favorite road trip
5. Least favorite travel destination

Narrative Essay Topic Samples: Society

Draw inspiration from people around you by choosing society as a topic for your narrative essay.

1. The importance of community in your life
2. The people who make up your immediate social circle
3. Your family dynamic
4. The impact of your environment and the people around you on your quality of life
5. Personal experience of social inequality

Narrative Essay Topic Samples: Mental Health

Mental health discussions have been more destigmatized in recent years. It’s a relatable topic and still not widely talked about enough. Using mental health as a theme in your narrative essay can be cathartic to the writer and relatable to the reader.

1. Opening up about mental health issues
2. The importance of therapy
3. How to prioritize mental health
4. Overcoming anxiety
5. How to cope with having mental health problems

Formulating A Thesis Statement

Thesis statements are an essential part of any essay. Before formulating your thesis statement, you must have first chosen a topic.

According to Montana State University Billings, the thesis statement contains the main idea of your essay. Specifically for narrative essays, your thesis statement should tell the reader what the essay will be about, it should be easily identifiable, and should be found in the first part of your essay.

For example, if your topic is about living abroad, your thesis statement can be, “Living in a different country teaches you respect for other cultures and traditions.” With that as your thesis statement, it’ll be easier to determine what the content of your essay will be. You can enumerate all the things you’ve learned while living abroad and how you came to be more open and respectful to the cultures and traditions you were exposed to.

After formulating your thesis statement, you can proceed with starting the rest of the introduction. Read our blog on How To Start An Essay to learn more!

A college student’s writing station set up

Narrative Essay Examples

There are plenty of free narrative essays online which you can find inspiration from. The amount of these available essay examples could be overwhelming and hard to follow through. Plagiarism is the biggest no-no in the writing world so you can’t look into these essays too closely so as to not copy them.

In learning how to write a narrative essay, examples are really important. Besides the topic samples we’ve provided earlier, you can also benefit from seeing how other writers made their narrative essays. Luckily for you, narrative writing examples are not too hard to find. You can find them as features in newspapers or even on online blogs.

In 2020, The New York Times held a personal narrative essay contest. The contestants were students who were tasked with writing a meaningful life experience they had. The competition had 8 winning essays and other awards. These are some of the best narrative essay examples that talk about family life, school life, and more. Read them here to get inspired while you keep on learning how to write a narrative essay.



Sample Outline of A Narrative Essay

Just like any type of essay, a narrative one needs to follow the formal essay outline format. When writing essays, don’t think of an outline as rigid and controlling because all essays will be different and you can customize the outline. The outline is the product of your planning, prewriting, and organization stage. It ensures that you don’t steer away from your essay’s purpose.

No matter what your topic is, your narrative essay should contain these 5 important essay elements. Read ahead to know all the parts of a narrative essay and what each element entails.



Student figuring out the steps to write a narrative essay

The Steps In Writing A Narrative Essay

Here is how to write a narrative essay step by step. These five steps are essential if you want to write a good narrative essay.

1. Narrative Introduction

Hook – The introduction is where you aim to get your readers hooked. The first few sentences of your essay introduction are crucial and it sets the tone for the rest of the read. If you want to learn more about how to do a good introduction, read our past blog on How To Write A Hook That Will Immediately Grab Your Reader’s Attention.

Relating the message to you – This part is what makes a narrative essay different from other types of essay introductions. The introductory paragraph of your narrative essay can contain some explanation as to how this story relates to you.

Thesis statement – The thesis statement is an important part of any introductory paragraph of an essay and the same goes for learning how to write a narrative essay. The thesis statement should aim to contain the moral of the story.

2. Story Beginning

After your introduction, you can slowly unravel the story’s moving parts by being descriptive with the following essential elements:

Setting – The location or where the story takes place.

Background – How the environment, characters, and yourself relate to the story and each other.

Characters – Everyone involved in the story.

Event onset – Moments that lead up to the climax of the story.

3. Story Middle

● Anecdote – Before going straight to the climax of the third part of your narrative essay, you can build it up by telling a few short anecdotes that will make the climax more impactful.

● Climax – The climax is the turning point and is the peak of your story. Usually, the climax is the most dramatic, most challenging, and devastatingly good or bad event that turns into a lesson.

4. Story Ending

Anecdote – The fourth part of your narrative essay is when the climax of your story and the drama and action dwindles. To add more layers to your essay, you can also ease into the actual resolution by adding short anecdotes to set up the conclusion of the story.

Resolution – The resolution of your story can be either positive or negative. The resolution part of your narrative essay will bring closure to the characters’ stories.

5. Narrative Conclusion

Moral of the story – You won’t leave your readers hanging without a conclusion which is the last part of your essay. Narrative essays don’t just tell a story, they also need to be able to impart some knowledge or lesson to your readers. In this part, you can share why the story was important for it to be shared and how it impacted you.

How the subject relates to the readers – After stating why it was important to discuss the story’s subject, you can relate it to your readers by saying why you thought it would be relatable for others or its relevance to society now.

Call to action for readers – Depending on the moral story of your essay, you can have a call to action for your readers to apply what the essay has taught or to take precautions and heed the writer’s advice.

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