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The Definition of a Narrative Essay

When asked to write a narrative essay, the reader or professor is generally looking for an entertaining piece of writing that will tell a story or relate an experience in great detail. While they are sometimes used as book report formats, narrative essays are generally required to be of personal information or insight on a subject. What subject to choose is often a trial, but following a few basic steps should make the process more manageable.

Choose 2 or 3 Topics to Explore

Begin assembling your narrative essay information by identifying the allowable narrative essay topics as per your professor. The definition of a narrative essay is one that is written in first person, or with “I” statements, such as “I began the day in a great hurry to begin my research.” Consider experiences that stand out in your memory, or may be relevant to the audience. Be aware that some topics can be offensive, so avoid any controversial subjects and information.

Outline Your Information

When you have chosen a topic, create an outline of the main information you plan to include. Many professors prefer paragraphs with 4 -6 sentences each, and of course the beginning, middle, and end that flow together. Each paragraph must inform of the idea in the first sentence, have two or three supporting sentences, and then a concluding sentence about the idea that gives way to the next paragraph. Therefore, create the outline to fill that need for each paragraph you will need for the paper. For example, paragraph 1 should have an opening sentence (a), at least 3 supporting details (b), and a concluding statement (c). Your outline would look like this:

I. Paragraph 1 Introduce the location of the event

(a) What it looked like

(b) What it sounded like

(c) What it felt like

(d) Conclusion leading into the next paragraph

Details, Details, Details

You probably guessed it from the heading of this section, the key to the bulk of the paper is adding details. This means using descriptive words to put the reader in your shoes and help them experience the situation just as you did. This does not, however, give license to add unending descriptive words to pad the word count. Refer back to the basic outline, and put an explanation of the mood, the scene, or the anticipated event with each paragraph. Place the information in an order that will build interest, climax, and have a short resolution or conclusion. Use details to create an experience rather than simply relate a step by step description of an event.

Structure of the Paper

The structure of your paper will greatly depend upon your requirements given by your professor, or those listed in your course syllabus. Consult all the information given with the syllabus, and be sure your paper follows the format and structure needed for the course and the particular assignment. Then you can search that particular format on a search engine for any parts that you are not sure on how to do, such as proper notation of sources, etc.

Write, Edit, Rewrite

Make a rough draft to begin the process by forming a sentence for each detail. Read the first draft, and eliminate any extra information and adding clear narrative to create the moods. Read this draft and decide if the paper flows into an interesting story and conclusion. If possible, have someone else proofread the final copy before submitting to the professor. This process will produce the best possible work, and the best possible grade or rating!


Related guides: samples narrative essays

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