Another day, another essay. This time the professor wants you to turn in a narrative essay. If you have never written one, getting a high grade might be a problem. This paper differs greatly from argumentative or persuasive writing. There is no need to research, analyze primary and secondary sources or convince the readers to take your side. Your task is to tell a story. As simple as it seems, without proper guidance and advice, it’s easy to fall into worn patterns and fail. Today we’ll take you on a tour of everything you need to know about narrative essays to get an A.
What Is a Narrative Essay?
Narrative essay is a fun and exciting writing assignment if you do it right. Essentially, it is a personal story you tell in writing. In fact, you use your storytelling skills every day when you tell your friends about the boring classes you had or rant on Facebook about your latest spat with a significant other.
Another way to think about narrative essays is to remember the narration in your favorite movie. Star Wars opening sequence is one example. The narrator’s off-screen explanations in The Big Lebowski or Penelope are another. As you see, stories surround us, so telling your own shouldn’t be difficult. There are, however, some tricks and tools you can use to make the task even easier.
How to Write a Narrative Essay?
With a firm understanding of what your assignment entails, let’s cover the basic steps you need to take to complete a narrative essay.
Understand the Prompt
Read the professor’s instructions carefully before you start writing. Even the best essay won’t get you an A if you fail to meet the assignment requirements. Note the keywords within the prompt, the word count and the preferred formatting style. These small details make a world of difference for your grade.
Select a Topic
Your essay's topic should meet the assignment’s requirements and still be exciting. We’ll discuss the possible options in the next section. For now, remember, that the stronger you feel about the topic, the better your writing will be. Choosing an easy yet boring issue to discuss might save your time, but it won’t earn you the teacher’s praise.
Outline the Plot
Planning an essay is the least favorite part of writing for many students. However, narrative writing makes this task fun. Instead of following a standard 5-paragraph structure, think of your paper as a book or a movie. Each good story should contain:
- Exposition. It can take on a form of the introductory paragraph and should acquaint the reader with the background of the situation, the main characters and outline the story’s main idea.
- Rising action. This part of the body should revolve around an internal or an external conflict and contain most of the excitement.
- Climax. The culmination of the narration is where the situation spirals out of control. It’s the most dramatic and emotionally charged point of the story.
- Resolution. The conclusion should explain how the culminating situation was resolved and round up the story with a nice final thought.
Write an Essay
If you don’t know how to start a narrative essay, the good news is that you can begin anywhere you like. You don’t have to follow the outline word-for-word and get started with a hook. If you know precisely what the culmination of the story will be, write it first or start at the end and move back towards the introduction.
The secret to effective writing is to concentrate on one task and put everything else off for later. Write quickly, putting everything down on paper and without going back to edit small imperfections. Stuff your inner critic into the furthest corner of your mind and promise him or her a field day once you stop writing. This way you can complete the first draft of the essay within hours and still have enough time to polish it before the deadline.
Revise and Edit
Keep the first draft to yourself as professional writers do. Take a day or two to relax and come back to revise the essay with fresh eyes. First, assess the flow of the story and the relevance of the information. Delete all details that do not move the plot forward. Rewrite the passages that don’t seem right and rework the essay until you are 100% satisfied with it. Then move on to proofreading. Pay close attention to punctuation and grammar mistakes and ask someone to read your paper to locate the typos you might have missed. Finally, you can format the essay and submit it to your professor.
Narrative Essay Topics
Sometimes professors assign a specific topic to the whole class. But most of the time you will have free rein over your story. The ultimate freedom of choice stumps many students, as there are too many stories to tell, and it’s impossible to choose the one. To save your time and help you select a worthy topic, let’s divide all options into four categories.
The Big Win
No one wants to talk about failures, but everyone likes to share success. Still, don’t choose the easiest victory you ever had, or your story will be dull. Instead, write about all the obstacles and troubles you had to overcome to pull off a win in the nick of time.
- Your short story was published in a journal
- The unlikely victory of your football team
- The time you conquered your fear of heights
- Your study efforts that resulted in an A+ on an important test
- The hot date you got to the coolest party in town
You can transform any of the topics from the previous category by concentrating on the trouble you ran into while chasing the goal. Describe the colossal row you had with your parents over college or the time you had to stand up to your high school teacher and defend your reputation. The uglier the conflict, the more intriguing your story will be. Just make sure you are comfortable sharing the facts of your life with your professor and classmates.
- How did you defend yourself against cheating accusations?
- The biggest row you had with your significant other that didn’t cause a breakup
- How do you handle bullies in public settings?
- Why do you never talk to your BFF anymore?
- The spat with your rival that turned you into friends
Once again, if you look at some of the previous topics, you can transform them into a story of your personal development and growth. Each failure, conflict, and drama teaches us something and provides valuable experience to improve our future. These topics concentrate on your emotions, perception, and internal changes rather than external actions, though both aspects should be present in the narrative essay to distinguish it from reflective papers.
- How did you turn from a shy recluse into a party lover?
- What changed your political views?
- The different phases of your relationship with your parents
- Why did you choose to leave your sports team and preserve your health?
- What prompted you to forego college and dive straight into the job hunting race?
If you find it challenging to describe personal growth and conflict, this category is your best choice. Remember the most exciting trip you had over the last years and chronicle your adventures. You can leave out the boring parts and concentrate on the memorable moments. It can be about the time you forgot to take matches on a camping trip and had to learn survival skills on the fly or the trip to the seaside you had to pass inside because of the huge storm.
- What did you miss most when stranded with a flat on a highway?
- Which of your family vacations was the happiest?
- How did you fare on your first solo trip abroad?
- The wonderful people you met while couchsurfing
- Your scariest experience with hitchhiking
Narrative Essay Checklist
Writing a narrative essay doesn’t seem that much different from other papers. However, if you have little experience with narrative writing, you might not know the tricks that will transform a dull story into a riveting tale. Use this narrative essay checklist before you start writing and when you are revising. Apply as many of the tips as possible, and your professor will appreciate the effort.
- Turn the first sentence into a strong hook. Surprise, shock, and make readers laugh. Your goal is to make them so excited about reading the story they won’t be able to stop until the end. The most common hooks are statistical facts, quotes, questions, and anecdotes. If you can’t think of a right hook now, leave it for later and work on other parts of the essay.
- Introduce the main idea in the first paragraph. Without a clear purpose, it is easy to get off track and let the story wander. To prevent rambling, identify the idea in the introductory passage. It can be a valuable life lesson or a personal growth account.
- Pain the picture with vivid detail. To immerse the reader in the story, use appropriate details. Instead of concentrating on visual cues, add sounds, smells, and textures where possible. This will add a new dimension to your writing. Keep the story going, or your narrative essay may turn into a descriptive one, and that doesn’t meet the assignment’s requirements.
- Mix up the narration with dialog. If you introduce several characters, their interactions are best represented through communication. Brush up on dialog punctuation and formatting and intersperse long stretches of action with a few lines of direct speech.
- Develop a timeline. If you possess little writing experience, choose a linear timeline and describe the events chronologically. However, if you are confident in your skills and want to mix things up, you can fracture the timeline and go from climax to exposition.
- Be consistent. You can write in first or third person, present or past tense. The combination of past tense and first-person writing is traditional, though present tense can make the action more lively. Whichever option you choose, stick with it throughout the paper. Mixing up points of view and tenses makes the writing unintelligible and exhausting to read.
How to Get an A for Your Narrative Essay?
Sometimes it’s not enough to know how to write a narrative essay. The best advice won’t help you if you don’t have enough time to put it to use. If you are out of options, using a professional writing service can get you out of trouble. There are several ways you can improve your grades with their help:
- Get a narrative essay example to model.
- Ask for editing and proofreading help with your first draft.
- Order a rewrite of your previous work to make it original.
- Request a complete assignment to submit to your professor.
Professional writers can complete your assignment in under six hours and deliver a perfectly structured scintillating story your professor will love. Moreover, your purchase will remain a closely guarded secret so no one besides you will learn about the little shortcut you took to get an A.
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