A Step-by-Step Guide to Write a Narrative Essay

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There are numerous kinds of essays you may be assigned to complete. Sometimes, it can be hard to understand the difference between two similar papers. A narrative essay is commonly confused with the descriptive one. This article will lead you through all the necessary steps and help you write a successful piece adhering to the particular formatting rules.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

The main purpose of a narrative essay is to tell the reader about events, interactions, and experiences that have happened to the author during a particular period of time. It always has a vivid plot. On the contrary, the descriptive essay is aimed at providing an image of a person, a place, some experience, or an object without demonstrating a chain of events. The plot is absent or vague.

To write a breathtaking narrative essay quickly, let us introduce you the most compelling step-by-step sequence:

#1. Preparation

Before your creative process actually starts, you should learn a bit more about the general requirements inherent in this kind of paper, choose the topic, and collect some relevant information to use as a reference.

What to Write About?

Your potential theme should be interesting for both you and your audience. The topic of the narrative essay usually refers to the writer’s experience and there is no need to use any data from outside sources. Besides, there are 3 signs of a successful title of your essay whether it is narrative or something else:

  1. You could barely see it on the web;
  2. It’s quite narrower than wide;
  3. It encourages reading the first sentence of the paper.

Narrative Essay Writing

How to choose a topic to impress the tutor? Professionals give several tips to follow.

Tip 1. Research

What is narrative writing for a student? It is a great opportunity to create a fascinating story about things that interest them. It is not obligatory to select a scientific topic about innovations or discoveries. On the one hand, one can simply write about love, friendship, hobbies, and many other things. On the other hand, significant topics attract the attention of target readers. When reading different literature, students learn about what is happening in the world. So, they feel more knowledgeable and inspired to write.

Tip 2. Brainstorm

Narration is a story that describes different topics beautifully. Students are often full of gorgeous ideas, but they forget them quickly. Brainstorming is the method to collect ideas and select the best one. Students should just sit and jot down everything that comes into their heads. Afterward, one can study the approached ideas and select the most intriguing one. This step should be done after research because a student has already got much information to discuss. So, it will be simple to find something that still needs their attention.

Tip 3. Read more

Can you build a house without materials? Of course, you cannot. The same one can say about essay writing. How to start a narrative essay without a decent vocabulary in your memory pocket? People who read a lot learn new words daily. It is essential to explore various sources to get acquainted with words of different complexity levels. Fairy tales are full of cool comparisons and metaphors. Scientific periodicals provide us with high-level English. Newspapers inform us about the latest events and true-life stories. So, an educated student has more chances to find a worthy topic and introduce it on the required level in the narration.

Tip 4. Ask your tutor or senior students

Some tutors want to check papers about specific topics. So, it is smart to discuss the topic choice with a teacher. Educators can either concretize it or give selection criteria. Another variant is to ask advanced students about things that deserve attention in your college. They have performed lots of written tasks, so they are aware of what college tutors like and dislike.

Tip 5. Turn to professionals

Custom writing agencies hire experts only. They are educated and specialize in various college disciplines. Consequently, they know what topics need research and how to describe them in a paper on a top-level. They guide students throughout their writing and can edit and proofread a paper to make sure that your paper is top-notch.

What is Required of Me?

Asking to compose such a specific kind of academic paper, professors don’t demand their students to follow strict rules as for other writing assignments and only give them a basic structure. The idea is simple: you take a story from real life and dwell upon the most vibrant points as far as events are unfolding. The narrative’s parts should be coherent and convey a particular mood.

personal narrative example

Where to Search for Evidence?

You may take them from your own memories since you started writing them. Forget about the exhausting web research and let your memories pour out on paper.

#2. Writing Process

Obviously, this stage is the most time-consuming. It can be less if you take into account the following:

Where to search for evidence? Students deal with two types of sources – fiction and non-fiction.

  • Fiction deals with something imagined and unreal. Even though some books take roots in real-life stories, their authors create another world, add new characters, change appearance, and provide other alterations. Its main goal is to entertain the reader. A person should read it from the first to the last sentence to get the idea.
  • Non-fiction is about real events and personalities. It includes newspapers, textbooks, encyclopedias, documentary literature and movies, and more. Its main goal is to teach the reader. Such books and articles contain photos or detailed illustrations that echo reality. One can read extracts to get the required information.

Narrative Essay comparing fiction & nonfiction

If a person needs verified data, students should prefer nonfiction. Their authors research, experiment, and add visual evidence to prove the veracity of the introduced information. The best variants are magazines, journals, newspapers, and scientific publications. Except for traditional sources, students often search for reliable facts online. Reputable websites are updated, have  Copyright signs, and authors of publications. If posts have no authors, there should be a company’s logo or something similar.

Fiction is good for narratives because novels have lots of bright stories. Students can use them to support the main idea with an excellent illustration. It can be a novel, a poem, a short story, or comics.

It is essential to mention all the used sources either in the footnotes or the bibliography section. Furthermore, it helps students avoid problems with plagiarism. Moreover, all references must be formatted in accordance with the narrative essay format. MLA, ASA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, and IEEE are the most popular citation styles. Students introduce the applied works by giving information about their authors, titles, publication years, companies, and places in a specific order. The examples below show the main difference:

  1. Staff, Science. “Scientists May Have Solved Stephen Hawking’s Black Hole Paradox.” Phys.Org, 18 Mar. 2022, phys.org/news/2022-03-scientists-stephen-hawking-black-hole.html. (MLA style)
  2. Staff, S. X. (2022, March 18). Scientists may have solved Stephen Hawking’s black hole paradox. Phys.Org. https://phys.org/news/2022-03-scientists-stephen-hawking-black-hole.html (APA style)
  3. Phys.org. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://phys.org/pdf566828469.pdf> [Accessed 30 June 2022]. (IEEE format)

As you can see, all three formats differ. That is why students should find information about the required format in the assignment and stick to it.

Making a Structure and Outlining

Divide your plot into three parts: a setup, the main part, a climax, and a thrilling conclusion. In the introduction, you should hook a reader and make them read the rest of your essay. Allocate the major points of the essay and describe each of them briefly in the body and end up your story with an unpredictable twist and a delightful punch line. In its turn, outlining helps you find the best details of the disclosed issues in the narrative essay.

Narrative Essay Structure

Picture source

How to write a narrative essay?

It is essential to keep to an academic structure that includes an introduction, a body, and a conclusion for most writings. What are the general requirements for each part?

  • An introduction must be hooky. It should intrigue the reader. Professionals usually use the so-called ‘hooks’ such as provocative questions, impressive facts, jokes, life stories, retrospection or prospections, etc. Besides, it has a thesis statement. It informs about the core message of the essay within fewer than 40 words or two sentences. An introductory part should take not more than 10% of the essay volume.
  • A student develops the idea of the thesis statement in the body. If students speak about some event in the first part, then they will explain how this event has changed them or their life. For example, “That day made me stronger” will be followed by a story full of influential details such as characters, deeds, weather anomalies, miracles, or more. This part is the longest and takes over 80% of a paper’s length.
  • Finally, the writers conclude in the last paragraph. They highlight the value of the received experience or evaluate the situation that has happened to them or someone else. To leave a pleasant aftertaste in a reader, they often use quotes, questions, and other techniques to put their target audience in the desired mood. For example, “Have you ever experienced the same?” or “Would you like to live in a world without adults who control you all the time?” Just like an introduction, it takes approximately 10% of the essay length.

Many educational and custom writing websites have narrative essay examples. They mirror both demands for the content and formatting. If you study them, you will see that most authors try to show a story but not tell it. Such a writing approach is very successful. It lets readers imagine everything in detail. Partial description evokes feelings.

Other significant tips are logical flow and word selection. Students must connect all essay parts logically. One can use either transition words or stick to the idea without informational gaps. Depending on the academic year (school, college, university), students should choose words that reflect their educational experience. One should use synonyms, and stylistic devices, and avoid overused phrases and repetitions. It is smart to rotate complex and simple short sentences to guarantee good readability.

Providing Information in First-Person

The narrative is very personal, so you should underline the significance of the ongoing events for your identity. That is why it is common to use “I” statements without switching a perspective in favor of another person.

Describing the Characters and Places

Even though it’s not a descriptive essay, try to adorn your story with vivid details of crucial objects mentioned in the plot. Especially, that goes for people who affected the outcome of the whole case; their personalities should be disclosed as comprehensively as possible.

Mention places serve as a location of where an action is held because it reflects the picture’s ambiance. Background information that may change the reader’s attitude to characters or even to the meaning of your idea has to be also provided.

Adding a Little Spice

What a narrative without a zest! Dilute your smooth passages with a detail that will turn everything around. It may be an antagonist character who is eagerly interfering with your purposes, an unpredictable twist and embarrassing ending, or funny jokes and coincidences to break your audience out laughing.

#3. Editing

After crafting the first draft, revise it thoroughly. You will definitely find one, two or a few rough spots while looking through your essay. Make sure you didn’t miss any important points.

Tips for successful editing:

  • Don’t start to search for mistakes right after finishing the essay. Have a rest and only then take a fresh look at it;
  • Transform big and complicated sentences into simple ones to make them compelling;
  • Avoid use the terms wich many meanings;
  • Find all repeats of ideas or arguments and delete them;
  • Verify all citations and formatting in general with a guide;
  • Paraphrase where it is hard to grasp the sense;
  • Reconsider the structure of the essay.

#4. Proofreading

Many students deem that subtitles 3 and 4 in this guide are the same things. But it is not really so: when editing is all about content, style, and paragraph structure, proofreading is performed to detect misspellings and grammar errors. Also, it is the final phase of the writing.

What Should I Do During This Process?

  • Check grammar yourself or use some applications such as Grammarly.com or other services from Infographics below, but do not rely on them heavily;
  • Remove double spacing;
  • Replace misspellings with correct words.

Simple tools for proofreading and editing can come in handy.

  1. Google Docs
    You can write your paper there and correct typos on the spot. The system marks the wrong lexis or misspelled words. Nevertheless, it deals with the set rules of either British or American English. So, one should look at what the system explains or set the document with either British or American requirements.
  2. Grammarly
    This tool is really cool, especially its pro version. This software points to grammar errors, readability problems, clarity inconsistencies, and plagiarism warnings. The only disadvantage of this tool is that it lacks human factors. Therefore, it is essential to study each remark attentively and click only correct suggestions.
  3. Hemingway App
    Do you have problems with making your sentences clear and short without many adverbs and complex phrases? If your answer is ‘yes’, then the Hemingway App comes to your rescue. It is free! One just inserts or types a text and sees the suggestions of different colors:

    • blue is for overused adverbs;
    • green is for passive constructions;
    • purple is for phrases that have simpler analogs;
    • orange is for hard-to-read sentences;
    • pink is for very hard-to-read sentences.
  4. Copyscape
    Plagiarism is a way to nowhere. This simple though not free tool helps people identify stolen information in their papers.
  5. Quillbot
    This tool is a magic wand for those who have poor vocabulary or need to paraphrase sentences to avoid plagiarism.

It is necessary to read papers after applying the tools. One can use five good techniques to do that:

  • search for specific mistakes per one proofreading (for example, missed or wrongly used punctuation marks or typos);
  • rest before checking to gain a maximum concentration;
  • read the text backward;
  • verify the used facts;
  • hire an editor if you want everything to look perfect.

editing tools for college students

Picture source

It will be more effective if you entrust someone else to reread your piece: your friends, parents, or college mates. They may notice mistakes you missed and share their general opinion on the essay.

Conclusion

As you can see, the narrative essay is not complicated at all. It is one of the most pleasant forms of writing assignments due to the great involvement of your personality in the paper’s body. Even the rules and requirements can’t get you down – they are practically absent or are as simple as a pie if the professor mentions a structure. Turn on your imagination and start crafting a brilliant piece adhering to our recommendations.

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Author: Patricia Jenkins

Patricia Jenkins is the senior writing advisor at FastEssay blog for international students that seek quick paper assistance. In her blog, Patricia shares useful tips on productivity, writing, research, references. Sometimes Patricia goes off topic by sharing her personal experience peppered with lively humor and healthy irony.

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