The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Narrative Essay

The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Narrative Essay

Published by on 2021-05-18 20:16:53

Many students tend to get stuck when their professor asks them to come up with a narrative essay. What’s that? How will I write it? Is there a template, sample, or outline? No worries, you’ll craft a worthy paper here easily if you keep up with the info given below.

So, the first thing you should understand is that a narrative essay is not something scary. Many students who try writing it on their own later have narrative storytelling as their favorite academic task. Primarily, it’s because of the idea they realize after the first basic 5 paragraph essay outline is complete.

Secondly, a narrative essay uses standard rhetoric devices like logos, ethos, and pathos to provide the reader with the info and make them understand the meaning of the story you composed. And yes, despite looking a bit tricky in its contents, explanations, and outline templates that you’ll find further in this article, a narrative paper is nothing but another essay.

Narrative Essay – A Short Definition

Before writing a 5 paragraph essay outline, you should understand clearly what your paper actually is. So, a narrative essay is nothing but a story with its introduction, setting, characters, climax, final, and summary. To become a structured and logically connected paper, your essay needs to have a basis, a focal point to build it around.

Most frequently (but not always, though), a student writing this paper is a narrator and a central character of the described event. To give you some more confidence and understanding here, it should be noted that a narrative essay usually contains elements and concepts of expository and descriptive papers. You tell the reader (in your case, it’s a professor) about some story that occurred to you or someone you know. Then, they should have the possibility to think over a story and take a lesson from it.

5 Paragraph Essay Structure: Elements of Narrative Writing

Again, personal experience is a source and a driving force of all narrative stories. That’s how you can make your essay trustworthy, unique, and instructive. Main elements making a narrative essay be what it should be are:

  • an event happening throughout the story, its main theme;
  • characters acting and playing certain roles;
  • place, time, and circumstances which create a particular setting;
  • a problem or conflict the characters face and need to solve;
  • a lesson that the story told taught the author.

The elements described above make a good narrative essay able to bring you the top grade if you interconnect them all thoroughly and find a proper balance. To do that, you need a plan. An ideal plan structuring any academic paper is a pre-written outline.

Five Paragraph Narrative Essay Outline: Template

Among all possible five paragraph essay templates, the one you’ll see below is probably the most universal. Use it as a skeleton to grow muscles of your paper on.

Paragraph 1: Intro

  • an intriguing hook;
  • how the message is connected to your personality;
  • a thesis statement or a lesson the story is going to teach.

Paragraph 2: Synopsis

  • come up with a setting and background;
  • introduce characters;
  • bring up the conflict;
  • start describing the event directly.

Paragraph 3: Middle Part

  • if your topic supposes some humor or anecdote, it will work well here;
  • proceed to the climax.

Paragraph 4: Endgame

  • another description or joke (again, if suitable);
  • story final.

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

  • explain the lesson you learned;
  • extrapolate its meaning globally;
  • add a call to action if necessary.

A Narrative Essay Outline: A How-to Guide

Here goes the minimum of actions to take if your goal is to craft an understandable and effective outline:

  • come up with a topic;
  • generate concepts;
  • craft an intro that intrigues;
  • describe a story in a suitable way;
  • tell a lesson in a summary.

Let’s pay attention to every step separately. More details will surely make the picture clearer.


Every ideal essay starts with a topic. To choose a good one for a narrative paper, you might want to come up with the most interesting part of your life and then reflect on past events connected with it. Additionally, it is cool if you can interest the professor with the chosen topic alone, even without an intriguing introduction written.


Brainstorming is the obligatory part of all creative processes, and a narrative essay is nothing but creativity. The topic you choose and the idea you want to deliver will be connected. So, generate the milestones connecting them, and restore the chronological order of the described events. That’s how you build up a solid structure, so don’t skip a thing when gathering your conceptual references.

Intro: Make a Hook

You’ve heard about that far more than once if you are a high school student. An introduction of an academic paper should be written in a way to get the reader pulled into the main body content. However, a narrative essay intro has its specific features. Three points of this element here are:

  • involvement (get your professor’s attention hooked);
  • setting (come up with the scene for events to take place);
  • thesis (give the main idea of the whole story stated but not explained yet).

A separate introduction paragraph outline will be helpful here. It is better to write some of them before you pick the most suitable variant. Don’t forget to check whether the beginning of your paper can boast of having these features. 

  • A powerful calling in the reader’s attention. To put it short, it is a hook that is developed to encourage the audience to continue reading or listening to your paper. You are also expected to set up a proper voice and tone for the entire paper at the very beginning. Make sure your essay contains a curious fact, shocking event, or intriguing arguments of what you are planning to write about. Your essay should sound impressive from the first lines.
  • Thesis statement. This obligatory element often turns out to be the most complicated part of any paper. The narrative essay is not an exception to the rule. You will need to come up with a firing sentence that describes the main idea of your paper in a short and 100% comprehensive way. In other words, it represents the essence of your academic project. 
  • Background. This feature is designed to help the readers visualize the entire scene of what you are planning to write about. It is like the atmosphere or the environment of your paper. As for the personal essay, it might be some info about the house you lived in during childhood, the school you attended, and some other particular details related to the scene. 

Body: Originality and Involvement

As always, the essay body is the space for major events and descriptions. Here, you come up with everything and everyone unpacked: the character and the setting description, the conflict, and all other necessary elements and explanations.

Key things to include are:

  • descriptions and details;
  • effectively provided dialogues to immerse the reader;
  • a chronological order of events.

Consider adding these features to your academic assignment for composing an outline of a fantastic quality:

  • Setting. Some students are feeling confused when facing the necessity to write a background and setting. However, it is easier than you might think. The setting is a more advanced description of the background you’ve already come up with in the introduction. You can specify some extra details, including more facts about the time, people around you, your mood, and others. 
  • Events that come before the main event. This is another description that would help readers draw a picture of your essay in their minds. It is like a pre-step to telling the most exciting part of your story. However, avoid providing too many details on this step so as not to distract the readers from the main idea of your essay.
  • Main characters. Although the narrative essay is about yourself, some supporting characters might easily occur. It is important to provide the basic info about the protagonists of your essay, including their appearance, habits, manners, peculiar features, struggles, etc. Make sure to come up with only those features that are related to the plot. 
  • Action. This is a part of the essay outline that should be rich in facts and scenes. Make sure to put all the events in chronological order, open up the conflicts between the protagonists, and develop the main idea you’ve chosen as the basis for your paper. Don’t be afraid to add extra details, come up with examples and metaphors. These writing tricks will make your outline look brilliant. 
  • Verdict. What is the final of your essay? How did you feel after it was all over? What lessons did you learn? Who was wrong, and who appeared to be innocent? You can also drop a few lines about the destiny of the other main heroes of the story. Still, don’t forget that an outline for a narrative essay should be focused on your personality. 

Conclusion: A Meaningful Ending

The final part of a narrative essay wraps everything up with certain elements included. Here they are:

  • the story’s climax;
  • the moral (lesson) of the described story;  
  • a call to action for readers (in case it is necessary).

Here are some aspects that will make your paper outline look more solid and clear:

  • Summary. Your outline should contain some core points in the main part. This is the best time to summarize all of them. What is the result of the conflict solved in the body of your essay? What is the final role of the protagonists? How did it all influence your mind and attitude towards life? Provide the reader with some basic conclusions of what you’ve already discussed in the previous part. 
  • Thesis statement. The last thing that is vital for composing a perfect narrative essay outline is restating the thesis. Many students miss this point and often receive lower grades for their assignments. Avoid making this common mistake and double-check whether your conclusion has an obligatory thesis statement. By the way, don’t formulate it with the same words and phrases you’ve used in the introduction.

Helpful Tips for Writing a Narrative Essay

Composing a polished narrative essay outline is often difficult, especially when you are writing a personal paper. Fortunately, you can always get professional help online and get your outline created by expert writers. This way, you will get a perfectly written solution with no effort. 

No matter if you are working on a narrative essay or any other type of academic writing, it is crucial to follow basic guidelines, include structure-forming parts, and mind some advanced writing techniques. If you have occasionally got a task to craft an impeccable paper, but you lack knowledge or skills, you should have a look at narrative writing tips.

Fortunately, with the help of guidelines and recommendations, you will be able not only to craft a perfect essay but also to advance your writing skills to an ultimately new level.

If you have never had a chance to work on a similar task, you should follow simple tips for narrative writing and succeed with the current assignment. There are four main stages of work you need to accomplish to come up with a flawless paper worth the highest grade.


Before you immerse yourself in the writing process, you need to learn certain specifications of the paper. Consider the audience, choose the topic for a narrative essay, gather information, and accomplish similar tasks that may predetermine the success of your writing.

At the preparatory stage, the student’s task is to select an excellent topic that will meet the requirements and preferences of the readers and keep the audience interested. Recollect your previous experiences and opt for the unique, authentic, and impressive theme that is not usually discussed. How can you know that you have succeeded with the preparatory point? A top-notch paper has to imply the following components:

  • challenge;
  • actions or responses;
  • effect and outcome.

Pick only those stories that match the mentioned criteria if you want your story to be engaging and make people interested in the theme and proceed to the first sentence of the paper.


Surfing the information on how to write a narrative essay, you should know that it's impossible to create a stunning assignment for the first time. You will be required to spend a lot of time reviewing and updating it. However, first of all, you're required to write the first draft that you will polish later. Having an outline, you won't get stuck trying to come up with new ideas. Nevertheless, you still can get puzzled trying to figure out how to start a narrative essay for college.

It's recommended to begin with an attention grabber. It can have a form of a question, interesting statement, statistics, or a quote. The hook has to be placed in the introduction before a thesis statement. Then, you have to present your story, tell more about the actions you performed, and share your thoughts about what you learned in the body section. The conclusion part has to restate the main idea and summarize your story, highlighting essential facts.

In mere words, the entire story should be batched by paragraphs. It has to be presented in chronological order. Also, you need to supplement your story with smooth transitions that will make it easy to read. Fortunately, narrative writing doesn't need learners to support their words. Consequently, you won't be interrupted by the need to search for some information and cite sources. However, you still will be required to follow the narrative essay format.

Analyze the story you want to share and single out a few most important points, which will be introduced in the body paragraphs. Do not forget to include a catchy introduction, well-structured body, and concise conclusion. If you write a story that happened to you personally, use first-person writing with no fear. In case the main hero of your narrative essay is someone else, use the third person.


When the first draft is ready, your work is not over. Instead, you need to take a little break, relax and rest for a while. Then, go back to your text to edit it. Looking through the paper, you will surely notice minor inaccuracies and rough spots that should be replaced. At this stage, it is necessary to be attentive to details and make the essay readable, comprehensible, and enjoyable:

  • make long sentences shorter;
  • avoid complicated structures and grammar constructions;
  • paraphrase the sentences which sound overwhelming;
  • double-check the structure of the paper.


If you have always been convinced that editing is the last stage of writing work, you need to reconsider the process. Proofreading is a crucial point that should never be skipped. While the purpose of the editing stage is to improve style, structure, and content mistakes, proofreading is aimed at the detection of minor grammar errors, typos, and misspellings:

  • reread your essay, looking for misprints and other mistakes;
  • use automatic tools or online services that will help you detect and avoid similar errors.

What Makes a Good Narrative Essay: 5 Factors to Consider and Mistakes to Avoid

Check out the five points that will transform your trivial text into a real masterpiece:

  • Clarity. Striving to impress the reader, you need to be honest, telling the story with all the interesting and impressive details. Complex syntax and too scholarly words can decrease the quality of your paper.
  • First-person narrative. If you want to catch the attention of the audience, you need to mind this point. It will help your writing to be more personal and engaging.
  • Limited descriptions. Believe it or not, but descriptions are vital here. At the same time, it is indispensable to tell them wisely. According to the narrative essay tips specified by experienced writers, a true professional knows how to make the reader have art and part in the event without feeling overwhelmed with unnecessary details.
  • Dynamic words. Writing a narrative story, you should take into account the general atmosphere. Use some impressive idioms or slang phrases that are typical for everyday speech.
  • No references. When you are assigned this type of academic work, the first things you should check are tips for writing a narrative essay. In the overwhelming majority of instances, when it comes to college papers, you will be required to use references and citations. However, the narrative genre is an exception here. Avoid too many references in the text, mentioning them at the end of the paper.

Wrapping Up

Never be shy to discover what is a narrative essay if you have poor writing skills. It's very important to understand the task of composing a paper that matches every requirement. Even though this type of homework seems to be the most simple assignment for students, you shouldn't underestimate its complexity. Discovering how long a narrative essay can be, you can find out that some papers written by college students can imply 5,000 words and more. Moreover, learners need to spend a lot of time creating a jaw-dropping story that will grab the attention of a reader from the first sentences and keep it to the last period.