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Narriative Essay

LEO: Literacy Education Online

Narrative Essays


As a mode of expository writing, the narrative approach, more than any other, offers writers a chance to think and write about themselves. We all have experiences lodged in our memories which are worthy of sharing with readers. Yet sometimes they are so fused with other memories that a lot of the time spent in writing narrative is in the prewriting stage.

In this stage, writers first need to select an incident worthy of writing about and, second, to find relevance in that incident. To do this, writers might ask themselves what about the incident provided new insights or awareness. Finally, writers must dredge up details which will make the incident real for readers.

Principles of Writing Narrative Essays

Once an incident is chosen, the writer should keep three principles in mind.
  1. Remember to involve readers in the story. It is much more interesting to actually recreate an incident for readers than to simply tell about it.
  2. Find a generalization which the story supports. This is the only way the writer's personal experience will take on meaning for readers. This generalization does not have to encompass humanity as a whole; it can concern the writer, men, women, or children of various ages and backgrounds.
  3. Remember that although the main component of a narrative is the story, details must be carefully selected to support, explain, and enhance the story.

Conventions of Narrative Essays

In writing your narrative essay, keep the following conventions in mind.
  • Narratives are generally written in the first person, that is, using "I." However, third person ("he," "she," or "it") can also be used.
  • Narratives rely on concrete, sensory details to convey their point. These details should create a unified, forceful effect, a dominant impression. More information on sensory details is available.
  • Narratives, as stories, should include these story conventions: a plot, including setting and characters; a climax; and an ending.

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© 1995, 1996, 1997 The Write Place
This handout was written by Judith Kilborn for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University and may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.

Last update: 28 September 1997

URL: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/narrative.html


"When I was about ten years old my father took me to another beautiful place in Yosemite National Park. It was a very small lake and in its centre there was a large rock. I saw some older children sunning themselves on the rock and wanted to join them but my father didn't want me to. I pleaded with him to please, please let me swim to the rock, and finally he told me that I could. I was so happy!.."

In your narrative essay you can tell about :

  • Your most exciting childhood experience.
  • Your summer trip to an exotic country.
  • Your usual morning routine.

You may start your essay with some general statement, quote, proverb or fact that will reflect the essence of the episode you are going to describe. This statement helps the reader to get the meaning of the whole story.

Write in the first person, as it ensures a closer contact with the reader and adds a personal touch to the story. Your reader must be an active participant of the story, involve him in the narration. If you share your point of view with the reader, it will capture the reader's interest.

You should embellish your story with real-life, vivid details to produce a lasting impression on your audience. In the conclusion of your narrative essay you must come to some meaningful conclusion resulting from the described story.

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