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How to Write a Narrative Essay – It Really is “All About You” this Time

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Do You Remember Writing These Essays?

You wrote narrative essays as a kid. You know – those little stories you were told to write about your favorite vacation or holiday? They were probably fun to write because, let’s face it, we all like to “talk” about ourselves. Now, however, you are in the “big kids” club, and you will need to re-think how to write a narrative essay.

A Big Kid’s Narrative Story

There are two times when you will need to write a narrative:

  1. For college or graduate school admissions, you will encounter essays as a part of the application process. While you may not think of these as narratives, they really are. You will be responding to a prompt or two that will force you to think about things such as goals, major events in your life that shaped who you are, times in your live when you came to a crossroads, when you failed at something, when you held a leadership position, etc.
  2. For an assignment in and English comp class: In the basic comp class, you will be required to write essays of every type and writing a narrative essay will be one such assignment. You may or may not be given a prompt for this essay, but you will need to choose a little slice of your life that was especially meaningful, humorous, dangerous, sad, or happy. The reason for this is that you want to write about something that brought out real emotion in you – fear, excitement, etc. – so that your reader can “feel” that emotion too.

The Thesis Statement

If you answer the question, “What is a narrative essay?” with the response, “It’s just a story and no more,” you would be dead wrong. Being in the “big kids’” writing club now means that every essay you produce must have a thesis statement, and it must be included in your introductory paragraph. To get at that thesis, as yourself some questions. “Why was this event or incident so important to me?” “How did this incident or event really affect me?” “What did I learn from this incident or event?” Your answer to one of these questions becomes your thesis statement.

The Introduction

Re-read a short story or novel you really like. How did it begin? Whatever the author wrote grabbed your attention right away. That is how you must begin your narrative too. If you use good narratives as models, you will get some great ideas about how to begin yours.


If you can remember some of the dialogue, or at least the gist of it, inserting it into your essay can be very compelling. It provides interest for the reader. Think about it – when is the last time you read a short story or a novel that had no dialogue in it? Probably never.

Narratives can be fun to write, and can be really engaging for the reader if you take yourself back to the event, get a vivid picture of it in your mind, and write about it as if you were actually there.