narrative essay on the topic

Narrative Essay Topics: 200 Best Ideas for You

narrative essay on the topic

Envision being enclosed in a time capsule with an AI chauffeur posing the question, "Which of your memories would you like to revisit?” This scenario perfectly aligns with the essence of a narrative essay, where your story, voice, and writing style set it apart. 

In this article, you will get a proper definition of a narrative essay, as well as a list of 200 narrative essay topics for college to get your creative juices flowing abundantly! If you’re in a hurry or overloaded with other tasks, feel free to consult our essay service – expert writers know how to help.

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Best Narrative Essay Topics: How to Choose the One That Resonates 

A narrative essay is a form of writing that recounts a personal experience or tells a story, often incorporating elements like characters, plot, setting, and a chronological sequence of events. The primary purpose of a narrative essay is to engage the reader emotionally and convey a specific message or insight through the retelling of a significant experience.

Students engage in writing narrative essays as part of their academic curriculum for various reasons. First and foremost, this type of essay serves as a means for personal expression, allowing students to convey their unique experiences, thoughts, and emotions creatively. Additionally, the process of crafting a narrative essay contributes to the development of essential writing skills, such as structuring ideas coherently and organizing thoughts effectively. 

How to Choose Narrative Essay Topics

Selecting compelling narrative essay ideas involves considering personal experiences, interests, and the potential for engaging storytelling. Here's a guide on how to choose narrative essay topics:

  • Reflect on Personal Experiences: Identify significant experiences in your life that have had a lasting impact. Consider moments of personal growth, challenges overcome, or lessons learned.
  • Explore Interests and Passions: Choose topics related to your hobbies, interests, or areas of expertise. Writing about something you are passionate about can make the narrative more captivating.
  • Consider Audience Interest: Think about the interests and preferences of your intended audience. Choose topics that resonate with a broader audience if the essay is for a class or publication.
  • Focus on a Specific Event or Detail: Narrow down your topic to a specific event or detail to make the narrative more focused and impactful. Avoid overly broad topics that may be challenging to cover thoroughly in a short essay.
  • Look for Universal Themes: Explore themes that have universal appeal, such as love, resilience, or personal transformation. Connecting with readers on a universal level enhances the relevance of your narrative.
  • Brainstorm and Freewrite: Generate a list of potential topics through brainstorming. Freewriting, where you write without constraints for a set period, can help unearth compelling ideas.
  • Consider Narrative Techniques: Think about the storytelling techniques you want to employ (e.g., flashback, foreshadowing) and choose a topic that complements those techniques.
  • Seek Feedback: Share your ideas with friends, peers, or instructors to get feedback on the potential impact and interest of your chosen topics.
  • Evaluate Emotional Significance: Assess the emotional significance of each potential topic. Topics that evoke strong emotions, whether joy, sadness, or excitement, often make for compelling narratives.
  • Ensure Personal Connection: Select a topic that you can connect with on a personal level. Your enthusiasm and connection to the subject matter will enhance the authenticity of the narrative.

Once you've discovered a topic that aligns with your mood, engage in brainstorming. Jot down all conceivable scenarios on paper and structure them into a distinctive outline for your narrative essay. Adhere to your professor's instructions diligently, as they likely address most of your inquiries. For added assistance, you can always turn to our narrative essay writing service and receive timely support. 

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Ideas for Narrative Essay Topics

Having examined the writing experiences of students in crafting narrative paragraphs, we have curated a collection of narrative essay topics tailored for both college and school students. This comprehensive list encompasses a diverse array of subjects, so feel free to choose one that resonates with you! If you’d like to see how to develop a topic in written form, please consult our narrative essay example guide. 

Literacy Narrative Essay Topics for College Students

What about exploring intriguing literacy narrative essay topics tailored for college-level writing? Sounds great!

  • Discovering the transformative power of literature during a challenging period in my life.
  • Navigating the complexities of multilingualism and its impact on my identity.
  • The profound influence of a childhood book that ignited my love for reading.
  • Overcoming dyslexia and finding my unique voice in the world of written expression.
  • Exploring the cultural significance of storytelling within my family heritage.
  • The evolution of my writing style through encounters with diverse literary genres.
  • Unraveling the mysteries of decoding language as a non-native English speaker.
  • The role of digital technology in shaping my approach to reading and writing.
  • The empowering journey of embracing academic literacy in a foreign language.
  • Capturing the essence of my academic growth through reflective writing assignments.
  • The intersection of personal and academic literacies in shaping my worldview.
  • The impact of a memorable teacher on my development as a critical reader.
  • Confronting stereotypes through literacy: Redefining narratives about my culture.
  • How my relationship with writing evolved through participation in online communities.
  • The role of literature in fostering empathy and understanding diverse perspectives.
  • Unveiling the hidden narratives in everyday life through observational writing.
  • The challenges and triumphs of maintaining a personal writing practice in college.
  • Exploring the connection between literacy and social justice advocacy.
  • Reflecting on the influence of literature on my personal and professional aspirations.
  • The unexpected lessons learned from failed attempts at creative writing projects.

Personal Narrative Essay Topics on Relationships

Reflect on your past experiences and share compelling personal narratives through these essay ideas. 

  • Navigating the complexities of a long-distance relationship: How did distance shape our connection?
  • The transformative impact of a friendship that withstood the test of time.
  • Lessons learned from a mentor-mentee relationship that transcended professional boundaries.
  • The role of sibling dynamics in shaping my understanding of interpersonal relationships.
  • Exploring the impact of cultural differences on friendships and romantic connections.
  • How did a childhood friendship influence my views on trust and loyalty in relationships?
  • The evolving dynamics of a family relationship during a significant life transition.
  • Unveiling the complexities of parent-child relationships through moments of conflict and resolution.
  • The unique challenges and rewards of maintaining relationships in a digital age.
  • Investigating the influence of societal expectations on romantic relationships.
  • The unexpected connections forged during a group travel experience.
  • How did a challenging breakup contribute to personal growth and self-discovery?
  • The role of shared hobbies and interests in building meaningful connections.
  • Reflecting on the impact of past relationships on my present-day perspectives.
  • Navigating workplace relationships and the balance between professionalism and camaraderie.
  • How have my experiences with peer relationships shaped my sense of belonging?
  • The significance of forgiveness and reconciliation in repairing strained relationships.
  • The influence of role models on my understanding of healthy and fulfilling relationships.
  • Exploring the complexities of friendships that transition into romantic involvement.
  • How do online interactions and social media influence the nature of modern relationships?

Best Narrative Essay Topics on Education and Learning

Think about sharing your personal experiences and emotions in a captivating manner with these ideas for personal narrative essays.

  • How overcoming academic challenges in high school shaped my approach to learning.
  • The transformative impact of a teacher who inspired a lifelong love for a particular subject.
  • Investigating the role of extracurricular activities in shaping a well-rounded educational experience.
  • How a cultural exchange program broadened my understanding of global education.
  • The challenges and rewards of navigating a bilingual education environment.
  • Exploring the influence of technology on modern classroom dynamics.
  • The role of peer collaboration in fostering a positive learning environment.
  • How did a personal learning style assessment impact my study habits and academic performance?
  • The importance of inclusive education in fostering empathy and understanding.
  • Reflecting on the impact of a particular book or literary work on my educational journey.
  • The role of mentors and role models in guiding educational and career aspirations.
  • Investigating the impact of standardized testing on students' mental health and academic success.
  • How do study abroad experiences contribute to a well-rounded education?
  • The challenges and triumphs of pursuing a non-traditional educational path.
  • The role of community service and volunteerism in shaping a sense of social responsibility.
  • How has the integration of technology changed the landscape of classroom learning?
  • The impact of cultural diversity on classroom discussions and collaborative projects.
  • Exploring the role of education in fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • The influence of socioeconomic factors on educational opportunities and outcomes.
  • How can experiential learning enhance traditional classroom education?

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Personal Narrative Essay Ideas on Reflection on Life

We recommend sparking your creativity with a variety of narrative essay topics, ranging from special moments to everyday experiences.

  • How a personal setback became a catalyst for self-discovery and resilience.
  • Reflecting on the impact of a major life decision and the lessons learned.
  • Exploring the role of cultural heritage in shaping my identity and worldview.
  • The significance of small, everyday moments in fostering gratitude and mindfulness.
  • How facing a fear transformed my perspective on courage and personal growth.
  • Investigating the influence of family traditions on personal values and beliefs.
  • What does success mean to me, and how has that definition evolved over time?
  • Reflecting on the role of friendships in providing support during challenging times.
  • The impact of travel experiences on broadening my understanding of the world.
  • How personal hobbies and passions contribute to a sense of fulfillment.
  • Exploring the relationship between self-love and mental health.
  • How adversity can lead to unexpected opportunities for personal development.
  • Reflecting on the importance of setting and achieving personal goals.
  • What have been the defining moments in my journey toward self-acceptance?
  • Investigating the role of forgiveness in overcoming personal conflicts.
  • How do cultural or societal expectations influence my perception of success?
  • Reflecting on the role of self-care in maintaining physical and emotional well-being.
  • Exploring the impact of technology on the way I connect with others and the world.
  • The lessons learned from navigating a crossroads in life and making a tough decision.
  • How do personal beliefs and values guide my decision-making and life choices?

Ideas for a Narrative Essay on Culture and Society

It’s always a smart move to engage your readers with narrative essays on culture and society, exploring captivating ideas.

  • How cultural diversity in my community has enriched my perspective on the world.
  • Exploring the impact of technology on communication within contemporary society.
  • The role of traditional customs in preserving cultural identity amid globalization.
  • How social media has influenced societal perceptions of beauty and self-worth.
  • Investigating the effects of popular culture on shaping individual values and beliefs.
  • What cultural traditions and rituals contribute to a sense of belonging in my life?
  • Reflecting on the intersection of art and culture in shaping societal narratives.
  • How does socioeconomic status impact individuals' access to education and opportunities?
  • The evolving role of gender norms and equality in today's changing society.
  • Exploring the impact of immigration on cultural exchange and adaptation.
  • What role does storytelling play in preserving and passing down cultural heritage?
  • The influence of historical events on the collective memory of a community.
  • How do language and communication styles reflect cultural diversity?
  • Investigating the effects of globalization on local cultures and traditions.
  • The impact of social movements on challenging societal norms and fostering change.
  • How does media representation influence perceptions of different cultural groups?
  • Reflecting on the role of education in promoting cultural awareness and tolerance.
  • What challenges do individuals face in navigating a multicultural society?
  • Exploring the role of fashion and trends in expressing cultural identity.
  • How do cultural stereotypes affect interpersonal relationships and understanding?

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Narrative Writing Topics on Hobbies and Interests

Impress your readers by transforming your passions and hobbies into thought-provoking narrative essay topics.

  • How my passion for photography has shaped the way I perceive the world.
  • Exploring the joy of discovering new recipes and the art of culinary experimentation.
  • What challenges have I faced and overcome in pursuing my favorite outdoor activities?
  • Reflecting on the transformative power of literature in my life.
  • How has my interest in astronomy influenced my perspective on the universe?
  • What life lessons have I learned through my dedication to martial arts?
  • The role of music in capturing and expressing the essence of personal experiences.
  • How does my love for hiking connect me with nature and promote well-being?
  • Investigating the world of gaming and its impact on my problem-solving skills.
  • What role do artistic expressions, such as painting or drawing, play in my self-discovery?
  • The thrill and challenges of exploring different styles of dance as a form of self-expression.
  • How has my interest in technology and coding opened new possibilities for creativity?
  • What motivates my commitment to environmental sustainability and eco-friendly practices?
  • Exploring the excitement and camaraderie of participating in team sports.
  • The journey of cultivating a green thumb and finding joy in gardening.
  • How do travel and exploration contribute to my personal growth and worldview?
  • Reflecting on the satisfaction derived from building and creating with hands-on crafts.
  • Investigating the cultural and historical aspects of collecting unique artifacts or memorabilia.
  • What sparks my curiosity in the world of science and scientific inquiry?
  • How does my dedication to a specific hobby foster a sense of discipline and dedication?

Narrative Essay Titles on Life-Changing Moments

Life's unpredictability often leads to transformative moments. Consider these narrative essay titles for stories that forever changed your life.

  • Unearthing a hidden passion that illuminated my world.
  • Choosing courage over comfort: A pivotal day in my life.
  • Navigating unexpected turns: Embracing life's spontaneous changes.
  • Can a solitary decision truly reshape the trajectory of a lifetime?
  • Embracing transformative opportunities: The power of saying 'yes'.
  • A chance encounter that forever altered my perspective.
  • Confronting fears head-on: Discovering the strength within.
  • Resilience in adversity: Rising above setbacks with determination.
  • Defining moments that reshaped the very core of my identity.
  • At life's crossroads: Choosing destinies beyond expectations.
  • The ripple effect of decision-making: Small choices, big changes.
  • Losing and finding myself: A journey to rediscover my true identity.
  • Breaking free from self-imposed limitations: The sweet taste of liberation.
  • Piecing together a new narrative amidst life's intricate challenges.
  • Finding silver linings in heartbreak: Transformative growth revealed.
  • Harmony amid chaos: Gracefully dancing through life's constant changes.
  • Thriving beyond comfort zones: Exploring uncharted territories.
  • The journey to success: Failure as a vital stepping stone.
  • Letting go and embracing fresh beginnings: The art of renewal.
  • Discovering purpose in the unpredictable moments of life.

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Good Narrative Topics on Travel and Adventure

Compose captivating personal narrative essay ideas titles by delving into exciting travel adventures.

  • Exploring the vibrant markets of Marrakech.
  • Hiking the untamed trails of Patagonia.
  • A spontaneous road trip through the American Southwest.
  • Can the thrill of paragliding over the Swiss Alps be surpassed?
  • Navigating the chaos of Tokyo's bustling streets.
  • How does volunteering in a remote village in Cambodia change perspectives?
  • Camping under the Northern Lights in Lapland.
  • What wildlife encounters await on an African safari?
  • How do diverse landscapes shape the experience of backpacking across Nepal?
  • What stories lie in the historic streets of Rome during a solo journey?
  • Chasing sunsets on the cliffs of Santorini.
  • What wonders lie beneath the crystal-clear waters of the Maldives for snorkeling?
  • How does getting lost in the ancient alleyways of Istanbul unravel surprises?
  • Exploring the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.
  • What tales unfold while hitchhiking along the scenic coastal roads of New Zealand?
  • Embracing the serenity of a secluded mountain retreat.
  • Capturing the essence of a bustling Asian street market.
  • How does bungee jumping off a bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand, feel?
  • What culinary delights await while savoring street food in Bangkok?
  • What stories emerge from surfing the waves of the Pacific Coast?

Narrative Essay Topic Ideas on Career and Work Experience

College students can find compelling narrative essay topics by exploring potential career paths or revisiting past job experiences.

  • Navigating challenges while climbing the corporate ladder.
  • Managing multiple roles in a fast-paced workplace.
  • Experiencing a pivotal career moment in transition.
  • Can mentorship shape a career more than formal education?
  • Learning valuable lessons from job loss.
  • Embarking on the entrepreneurial journey: Building a startup from scratch.
  • Understanding the impact of networking on professional growth.
  • Assessing remote work and its influence on productivity from a desk with a view.
  • Evolving from intern to leader: The workplace roles' progression.
  • Can a passion-aligned career pay the bills?
  • Examining the influence of a positive work culture on employee satisfaction.
  • Strategies for overcoming impostor syndrome and thriving in professional spaces.
  • Navigating freelance challenges in the gig economy.
  • Striking a balance at the crossroads of work and family.
  • Exploring how effective communication shapes careers during negotiations.
  • Resilience in the workplace: Turning setbacks into comebacks.
  • Paving the way for success outside traditional careers through the unconventional path.
  • Examining the role of failure as a necessary detour in career development.
  • Breaking glass ceilings and challenging norms: Women in the workplace.
  • Can work-life integration achieve harmony, replacing the pursuit of balance?

Interesting Narrative Essay Topics about Challenges and Obstacles

If you're feeling uncertain about your narrative essay topic, reflect on challenging moments you've faced and how you overcame them.

  • Overcoming fear through confronting phobias.
  • Navigating challenges in a complex career transition.
  • Scaling personal obstacles for self-discovery.
  • Juggling multiple responsibilities in modern life.
  • Recovering from physical injuries and emotional trauma.
  • How do you deal with life-altering decisions at unexpected crossroads?
  • Unraveling knots: Rebuilding relationships after betrayal.
  • What is the personal tale of overcoming depression?
  • Weathering the storm: Surviving and rebuilding after natural disasters.
  • Adapting to a new culture: Foreign ground, familiar struggles.
  • How do you confront invisible illnesses in a judgmental world?
  • Rising from rock bottom to resilience against addiction.
  • Forging a unique path against societal expectations.
  • Embracing self-acceptance amidst societal pressures.
  • Juggling life responsibilities on the tightrope of balance.
  • Finding a voice in the midst of personal challenges.
  • How do you navigate life-altering decisions at crossroads?
  • Self-discovery through overcoming personal flaws.
  • Rebuilding relationships after a period of estrangement.
  • Repairing connections after a falling out on bridges over troubled waters.

Final Remarks

As we conclude, our compilation of 200 narrative essay topics aims to provide you with a solid foundation for your upcoming writing endeavors! Whether you're recounting a significant event, cherishing a childhood memory, or expressing a profound realization, a meticulously crafted narrative essay possesses the potential to deeply resonate with readers.

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  • How to write a narrative essay | Example & tips

How to Write a Narrative Essay | Example & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A narrative essay tells a story. In most cases, this is a story about a personal experience you had. This type of essay , along with the descriptive essay , allows you to get personal and creative, unlike most academic writing .

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Table of contents

What is a narrative essay for, choosing a topic, interactive example of a narrative essay, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about narrative essays.

When assigned a narrative essay, you might find yourself wondering: Why does my teacher want to hear this story? Topics for narrative essays can range from the important to the trivial. Usually the point is not so much the story itself, but the way you tell it.

A narrative essay is a way of testing your ability to tell a story in a clear and interesting way. You’re expected to think about where your story begins and ends, and how to convey it with eye-catching language and a satisfying pace.

These skills are quite different from those needed for formal academic writing. For instance, in a narrative essay the use of the first person (“I”) is encouraged, as is the use of figurative language, dialogue, and suspense.

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Narrative essay assignments vary widely in the amount of direction you’re given about your topic. You may be assigned quite a specific topic or choice of topics to work with.

  • Write a story about your first day of school.
  • Write a story about your favorite holiday destination.

You may also be given prompts that leave you a much wider choice of topic.

  • Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself.
  • Write about an achievement you are proud of. What did you accomplish, and how?

In these cases, you might have to think harder to decide what story you want to tell. The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to talk about a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.

For example, a trip where everything went according to plan makes for a less interesting story than one where something unexpected happened that you then had to respond to. Choose an experience that might surprise the reader or teach them something.

Narrative essays in college applications

When applying for college , you might be asked to write a narrative essay that expresses something about your personal qualities.

For example, this application prompt from Common App requires you to respond with a narrative essay.

In this context, choose a story that is not only interesting but also expresses the qualities the prompt is looking for—here, resilience and the ability to learn from failure—and frame the story in a way that emphasizes these qualities.

An example of a short narrative essay, responding to the prompt “Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself,” is shown below.

Hover over different parts of the text to see how the structure works.

Since elementary school, I have always favored subjects like science and math over the humanities. My instinct was always to think of these subjects as more solid and serious than classes like English. If there was no right answer, I thought, why bother? But recently I had an experience that taught me my academic interests are more flexible than I had thought: I took my first philosophy class.

Before I entered the classroom, I was skeptical. I waited outside with the other students and wondered what exactly philosophy would involve—I really had no idea. I imagined something pretty abstract: long, stilted conversations pondering the meaning of life. But what I got was something quite different.

A young man in jeans, Mr. Jones—“but you can call me Rob”—was far from the white-haired, buttoned-up old man I had half-expected. And rather than pulling us into pedantic arguments about obscure philosophical points, Rob engaged us on our level. To talk free will, we looked at our own choices. To talk ethics, we looked at dilemmas we had faced ourselves. By the end of class, I’d discovered that questions with no right answer can turn out to be the most interesting ones.

The experience has taught me to look at things a little more “philosophically”—and not just because it was a philosophy class! I learned that if I let go of my preconceptions, I can actually get a lot out of subjects I was previously dismissive of. The class taught me—in more ways than one—to look at things with an open mind.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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If you’re not given much guidance on what your narrative essay should be about, consider the context and scope of the assignment. What kind of story is relevant, interesting, and possible to tell within the word count?

The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to reflect on a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.

Don’t worry too much if your topic seems unoriginal. The point of a narrative essay is how you tell the story and the point you make with it, not the subject of the story itself.

Narrative essays are usually assigned as writing exercises at high school or in university composition classes. They may also form part of a university application.

When you are prompted to tell a story about your own life or experiences, a narrative essay is usually the right response.

The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.

Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.

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How to Write a Perfect Narrative Essay (Step-by-Step)

By Status.net Editorial Team on October 17, 2023 — 10 minutes to read

  • Understanding a Narrative Essay Part 1
  • Typical Narrative Essay Structure Part 2
  • Narrative Essay Template Part 3
  • Step 1. How to Choose Your Narrative Essay Topic Part 4
  • Step 2. Planning the Structure Part 5
  • Step 3. Crafting an Intriguing Introduction Part 6
  • Step 4. Weaving the Narrative Body Part 7
  • Step 5. Creating a Conclusion Part 8
  • Step 6. Polishing the Essay Part 9
  • Step 7. Feedback and Revision Part 10

Part 1 Understanding a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is a form of writing where you share a personal experience or tell a story to make a point or convey a lesson. Unlike other types of essays, a narrative essay aims to engage your audience by sharing your perspective and taking them on an emotional journey.

  • To begin, choose a meaningful topic . Pick a story or experience that had a significant impact on your life, taught you something valuable, or made you see the world differently. You want your readers to learn from your experiences, so choose something that will resonate with others.
  • Next, create an outline . Although narrative essays allow for creative storytelling, it’s still helpful to have a roadmap to guide your writing. List the main events, the characters involved, and the settings where the events took place. This will help you ensure that your essay is well-structured and easy to follow.
  • When writing your narrative essay, focus on showing, not telling . This means that you should use descriptive language and vivid details to paint a picture in your reader’s mind. For example, instead of stating that it was a rainy day, describe the sound of rain hitting your window, the feeling of cold wetness around you, and the sight of puddles forming around your feet. These sensory details will make your essay more engaging and immersive.
  • Another key aspect is developing your characters . Give your readers an insight into the thoughts and emotions of the people in your story. This helps them connect with the story, empathize with the characters, and understand their actions. For instance, if your essay is about a challenging hike you took with a friend, spend some time describing your friend’s personality and how the experience impacted their attitude or feelings.
  • Keep the pace interesting . Vary your sentence lengths and structures, and don’t be afraid to use some stylistic devices like dialogue, flashbacks, and metaphors. This adds more depth and dimension to your story, keeping your readers engaged from beginning to end.

Part 2 Typical Narrative Essay Structure

A narrative essay typically follows a three-part structure: introduction, body, and conclusion.

  • Introduction: Start with a hook to grab attention and introduce your story. Provide some background to set the stage for the main events.
  • Body: Develop your story in detail. Describe scenes, characters, and emotions. Use dialogue when necessary to provide conversational elements.
  • Conclusion: Sum up your story, revealing the lesson learned or the moral of the story. Leave your audience with a lasting impression.

Part 3 Narrative Essay Template

  • 1. Introduction : Set the scene and introduce the main characters and setting of your story. Use descriptive language to paint a vivid picture for your reader and capture their attention.
  • Body 2. Rising Action : Develop the plot by introducing a conflict or challenge that the main character must face. This could be a personal struggle, a difficult decision, or an external obstacle. 3. Climax : This is the turning point of the story, where the conflict reaches its peak and the main character must make a critical decision or take action. 4. Falling Action : Show the consequences of the main character’s decision or action, and how it affects the rest of the story. 5. Resolution : Bring the story to a satisfying conclusion by resolving the conflict and showing how the main character has grown or changed as a result of their experiences.
  • 6. Reflection/Conclusion : Reflect on the events of the story and what they mean to you as the writer. This could be a lesson learned, a personal realization, or a message you want to convey to your reader.

Part 4 Step 1. How to Choose Your Narrative Essay Topic

Brainstorming ideas.

Start by jotting down any ideas that pop into your mind. Think about experiences you’ve had, stories you’ve heard, or even books and movies that have resonated with you. Write these ideas down and don’t worry too much about organization yet. It’s all about getting your thoughts on paper.

Once you have a list, review your ideas and identify common themes or connections between them. This process should help you discover potential topics for your narrative essay.

Narrowing Down the Choices

After brainstorming, you’ll likely end up with a few strong contenders for your essay topic. To decide which topic is best, consider the following:

  • Relevance : Is the topic meaningful for your audience? Will they be able to connect with it on a personal level? Consider the purpose of your assignment and your audience when choosing your topic.
  • Detail : Do you have enough specific details to craft a vivid story? The more detail you can recall about the event, the easier it’ll be to write a compelling narrative.
  • Emotional impact : A strong narrative essay should evoke emotions in your readers. Choose a topic that has the potential to elicit some emotional response from your target audience.

After evaluating your potential topics based on these criteria, you can select the one that best fits the purpose of your narrative essay.

Part 5 Step 2. Planning the Structure

Creating an outline.

Before you start writing your narrative essay, it’s a great idea to plan out your story. Grab a piece of paper and sketch out a rough outline of the key points you want to cover. Begin with the introduction, where you’ll set the scene and introduce your characters. Then, list the major events of your story in chronological order, followed by the climax and resolution. Organizing your ideas in an outline will ensure your essay flows smoothly and makes sense to your readers.

Detailing Characters, Settings, and Events

Taking time to flesh out the characters, settings, and events in your story will make it more engaging and relatable. Think about your main character’s background, traits, and motivations. Describe their appearance, emotions, and behavior in detail. This personal touch will help your readers connect with them on a deeper level.

Also, give some thought to the setting – where does the story take place? Be sure to include sensory details that paint a vivid picture of the environment. Finally, focus on the series of events that make up your narrative. Are there any twists and turns, or surprising moments? Address these in your essay, using vivid language and engaging storytelling techniques to captivate your readers.

Writing the Narrative Essay

Part 6 step 3. crafting an intriguing introduction.

To start your narrative essay, you’ll want to hook your reader with an interesting and engaging opening. Begin with a captivating sentence or question that piques curiosity and captures attention. For example, “Did you ever think a simple bus ride could change your life forever?” This kind of opening sets the stage for a compelling, relatable story. Next, introduce your main characters and provide a bit of context to help your readers understand the setting and background of the story.

Part 7 Step 4. Weaving the Narrative Body

The body of your essay is where your story unfolds. Here’s where you’ll present a series of events, using descriptive language and vivid details.

Remember to maintain a strong focus on the central theme or main point of your narrative.

Organize your essay chronologically, guiding your reader through the timeline of events.

As you recount your experience, use a variety of sensory details, such as sounds, smells, and tastes, to immerse your reader in the moment. For instance, “The smell of freshly brewed coffee filled the room as my friends and I excitedly chattered about our upcoming adventure.”

Take advantage of dialogue to bring your characters to life and to reveal aspects of their personalities. Incorporate both internal and external conflicts, as conflict plays a crucial role in engaging your reader and enhancing the narrative’s momentum. Show the evolution of your characters and how they grow throughout the story.

Part 8 Step 5. Creating a Conclusion

Finally, to write a satisfying conclusion, reflect on the narrative’s impact and how the experience has affected you or your characters. Tie the narrative’s events together and highlight the lessons learned, providing closure for the reader.

Avoid abruptly ending your story, because that can leave the reader feeling unsatisfied. Instead, strive to create a sense of resolution and demonstrate how the events have changed the characters’ perspectives or how the story’s theme has developed.

For example, “Looking back, I realize that the bus ride not only changed my perspective on friendship, but also taught me valuable life lessons that I carry with me to this day.”

Part 9 Step 6. Polishing the Essay

Fine-tuning your language.

When writing a narrative essay, it’s key to choose words that convey the emotions and experiences you’re describing. Opt for specific, vivid language that creates a clear mental image for your reader. For instance, instead of saying “The weather was hot,” try “The sun scorched the pavement, causing the air to shimmer like a mirage.” This gives your essay a more engaging and immersive feeling.

Editing for Clarity and Concision

As you revise your essay, keep an eye out for redundancies and unnecessary words that might dilute the impact of your story. Getting to the point and using straightforward language can help your essay flow better. For example, instead of using “She was walking in a very slow manner,” you can say, “She strolled leisurely.” Eliminate filler words and phrases, keeping only the most pertinent information that moves your story forward.

Proofreading for Typos

Finally, proofread your essay carefully to catch any typos, grammatical errors, or punctuation mistakes. It’s always a good idea to have someone else read it as well, as they might catch errors you didn’t notice. Mistakes can be distracting and may undermine the credibility of your writing, so be thorough with your editing process.

Part 10 Step 7. Feedback and Revision

Gathering feedback.

After you’ve written the first draft of your narrative essay, it’s time to gather feedback from friends, family, or colleagues. Share your essay with a few trusted people who can provide insights and suggestions for improvement. Listen to their thoughts and be open to constructive criticism. You might be surprised by the different perspectives they offer, which can strengthen your essay.

Iterating on the Draft

Once you have collected feedback, it’s time to revise and refine your essay. Address any issues or concerns raised by your readers and incorporate their suggestions. Consider reorganizing your story’s structure, clarifying your descriptions, or adding more details based on the feedback you received.

As you make changes, continue to fine-tune your essay to ensure a smooth flow and a strong narrative. Don’t be afraid to cut out unnecessary elements or rework parts of your story until it’s polished and compelling.

Revision is a crucial part of the writing process, and taking the time to reflect on feedback and make improvements will help you create a more engaging and impactful narrative essay.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can i create an engaging introduction.

Craft an attention-grabbing hook with a thought-provoking question, an interesting fact, or a vivid description. Set the stage for your story by introducing the time, place, and context for the events. Creating tension or raising curiosity will make your readers eager to learn more.

What strategies help develop strong characters?

To develop strong characters, consider the following:

  • Give your characters distinct traits, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Provide a backstory to explain their actions and motivations.
  • Use dialogue to present their personality, emotions, and relationships.
  • Show how they change or evolve throughout your story.

How can I make my story flow smoothly with transitions?

Smooth transitions between scenes or events can create a more coherent and easy-to-follow story. Consider the following tips to improve your transitions:

  • Use words and phrases like “meanwhile,” “later that day,” or “afterward” to signify changes in time.
  • Link scenes with a common theme or element.
  • Revisit the main characters or setting to maintain continuity.
  • Introduce a twist or an unexpected event that leads to the next scene.

What are some tips for choosing a great narrative essay topic?

To choose an engaging narrative essay topic, follow these tips:

  • Pick a personal experience or story that holds significance for you.
  • Consider a challenge or a turning point you’ve faced in your life.
  • Opt for a topic that will allow you to share emotions and lessons learned.
  • Think about what your audience would find relatable, intriguing, or inspiring.

How do I wrap up my narrative essay with a strong conclusion?

A compelling conclusion restates the main events and highlights any lessons learned or growth in your character. Try to end on a thought-provoking note or leave readers with some food for thought. Finally, make sure your conclusion wraps up your story neatly and reinforces its overall message.

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How to Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps

Lindsay Kramer

When you have a personal story to tell and don’t want to write an entire book, a narrative essay may be the perfect fit. Unlike other types of essays, narrative essays don’t need to stick to certain requirements or include a bibliography. They have a looser structure, more creative language, and just one requirement: to tell a story.

Give your writing extra polish Grammarly helps you communicate confidently Write with Grammarly

What is a narrative essay?

A narrative essay typically tells a true story that may have a few elements changed for clarity or dramatic purposes. However, this isn’t a requirement. You can format a fictional story as a narrative essay.

Narrative essays, perhaps unsurprisingly, are defined by the presence of a narrative in the text. Rather than presenting and defending a position, as in an argumentative essay , or analyzing another text, like in an analytical essay , a narrative essay tells a coherent story. They’re often personal essays that detail specific episodes in their authors’ lives, which is why they’re popular for college essays .

Unlike most other types of essays , narrative essays have room for literary devices , such as metaphor and onomatopoeia . You can be creative in a narrative essay because you’re writing a story rather than presenting and dissecting others’ statements or work.

5 steps to writing a narrative essay

Step 1: topic choice (or prompt given).

The first step in writing a narrative essay is to determine the topic. Sometimes, your topic is chosen for you in the form of a prompt. You might map out the topics you want to mention in the essay or think through each point you’d like to make to see how each will fit into the allotted word count (if you’re given one).

At this stage, you can also start thinking about the tone you’ll use in your essay and any stylistic choices you’d like to incorporate, such as starting each paragraph with the same phrase to create anaphora or leaving the reader with a cliffhanger ending. You can change these later if they don’t mesh with your first draft, but playing with these ideas in the idea-generating stage can help you craft multiple drafts.

Step 2: Make an outline

After you’ve explored your ideas and gotten a clear sense of what you’ll write, make an outline. An outline is a bare-bones precursor to your essay that gives a high-level view of the topics it will cover. When you’re writing, your essay outline can act as a map to follow when you’re not sure how to start or help you transition between topics once you’ve started.

Step 3: Write your narrative essay

Next, it’s time to write ! With your outline as a guide, flesh out the sections you’ve listed with clear, engaging language. A narrative essay doesn’t—and shouldn’t—stick to the same requirements as an academic essay, so don’t feel a need to use formal language or summarize your essay in its introductory paragraph.

Tip: Use a first-person point of view

Most narrative essays are written from a first-person point of view . That means using pronouns such as I and me when describing the experiences you explore in your essay.

Tip: Use storytelling or creative language

If you’ve ever written fiction or creative nonfiction, use the same kind of language and conventions in your narrative essay. By this, we mean using storytelling techniques, such as dialogue , flashbacks, and symbolism , to engage readers and communicate your essay’s themes.

Step 4: Revise your narrative essay

If you can, wait at least a few hours—or if possible, a day or so—before rereading your essay and making changes. By doing this, you’ll have an easier time spotting mistakes and catching places where the narrative could be smoothed out or enhanced. As you read your draft, think back to the goals you identified when you approached your topic:

  • Does the draft address the points you planned to address?
  • Does it fit the tone you decided you would use?
  • If you had a prompt, does it sufficiently answer the prompt?

With these points in mind, make any changes you think will improve your narrative essay. Tools such as the Grammarly Editor can help you with this stage by flagging mistakes and making suggestions.

Step 5: Proofread and publish your narrative essay

Give your second draft another read-through to catch any grammatical mistakes you may have missed. At this stage, you’re done making substantial changes to the narrative—you’re polishing it to make sure you’re submitting the best version of your essay.

Once you’ve done your read-through and made any necessary changes, hit “send,” “submit,” or “publish” and congratulate yourself for finishing a narrative essay.

Narrative essay vs. descriptive essay

Both narrative essays and descriptive essays incorporate vivid figurative language to help readers visualize their subjects. However, in a descriptive essay, vividly describing the subject is the goal. In a narrative essay, the goal is to tell a story. In-depth descriptions may be part of the essay, but they need to support the narrative.

Narrative essay outline example

Title: Careful, You Might End Up in My Book!

Introduction: Real-life characters make the best subjects.

Body paragraph: We’re all characters in countless stories.

Body paragraph: It’s possible to be both the protagonist and the antagonist.

Body paragraph: Recognize yourself? Don’t worry, it’s our little secret.

Conclusion: Write whom you know.

Narrative essay FAQs

A narrative essay is an essay that tells a story. Typically, it’s nonfiction but may include some enhanced language to clarify or heighten the dramatic effect.

What are the steps to writing a narrative essay?

1 Choose a topic and generate ideas for your essay.

2 Write an outline.

3 Write a first draft.

4 Edit the draft.

5 Proofread and submit your final draft.

What’s the difference between a narrative essay and a descriptive essay?

While a narrative essay tells a story, a descriptive essay provides a vivid description of a place, person, object, or feeling. In a descriptive essay, the text focuses on exploring its subject, whereas a narrative essay tells a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

narrative essay on the topic

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Narrative essays: how to write, examples, and topics, carla johnson.

  • June 14, 2023
  • Essay Topics and Ideas , How to Guides

Narrative essays are a type of academic writing in which the writer tells a story from their own experience or point of view. Other types of essays require a lot of research and analysis, but narrative essays are more about telling a story to get a point across. Students and writers like them because they let them express their ideas in a more creative and personal way.

The goal of this article is to help you learn how to write a narrative essay by giving you tips, examples, and ideas for topics . We’ll look at the most important parts of a narrative essay, talk about the different ways to write one, and give you some useful writing tips that will help you create a compelling story. Whether you’re a student who wants to get better grades or a writer who wants to get better at what you do, this article will give you the tools you need to write great narratives.

Learning how to write a narrative essay is important because it helps you improve your writing skills and find a more interesting and meaningful way to say what you want to say. You can connect with your readers on a personal level in a narrative essay by taking them on a journey through your experiences and feelings. By learning how to write a compelling story, you can not only do better in school, but you can also make it easier for people to understand what you are trying to say. So, let’s jump into the world of narrative essays and find out how to tell a good story.

What You'll Learn

Understanding Narrative Essays

A narrative essay is a type of essay that tells a story from the author’s point of view. It often uses the author’s own experiences and feelings to make a story that is interesting to read. Narrative essays are different from argumentative or analytical essays because they focus more on the art of telling a story than on making a convincing argument or analysis.

There are different kinds of narrative essays, such as personal narratives, fictional narratives, and autobiographical narratives. Most essays are personal narratives, which are often used in creative writing classes or as part of essays for college admissions. Fictional narratives, on the other hand, use fictional characters and settings to tell a story , while autobiographical narratives focus on the author’s own experiences and are often found in memoirs or personal essays.

The most important parts of a narrative essay are a clear introduction that sets the scene for the story, a well-developed plot with a beginning, middle, and end, vivid descriptions that help the reader picture the setting and characters, and a conclusion that ties everything together and leaves the reader with a lasting impression.

Choosing a Topic for Your Narrative Essay

The success of your narrative essay depends on your choice of topic. The first step is to know why you are writing your essay and what you want your readers to learn from it. Are you trying to make them laugh, teach them something, or move them? Once you know what you want to do with your essay, you can start coming up with ideas for it.

One way to choose a topic is to pick something that is meaningful to you. Think about things you’ve done in your life that have changed you in a big way or taught you something important. These experiences can be good or bad, but they should have some meaning for you.

You can also use brainstorming to come up with ideas for your narrative essay. Freewriting is a common method in which you write down everything that comes to mind about a certain subject. This can help you come up with ideas and get your mind working . You can also organize your ideas and find links between them with mind mapping or clustering.

Examples of narrative essay topics include:

1. A significant event in your life that changed your perspective

2. A memorable trip or vacation

3. A childhood memory that had a lasting impact on you

4. Overcoming a personal challenge or adversity

5. A significant achievement or accomplishment

6. An experience that taught you an important life lesson

7. A meaningful relationship or friendship

8. A time when you had to make a difficult decision

9. An experience that challenged your beliefs or values

10. A humorous or embarrassing moment from your life.

By choosing a topic that is meaningful to you and using brainstorming techniques to generate ideas , you can create a compelling narrative essay that engages your readers and helps you achieve your writing goals.

Planning and Preparing to Write a Narrative Essay

You should plan and get ready before you start writing your narrative essay. This means making an outline of the essay , coming up with a thesis statement, developing the plot and characters, setting the scene, and choosing the right point of view.

An important part of planning for a narrative essay is making an outline. The outline should have the beginning, middle, and end of the story, as well as any important points or events you want to include. This will help you stay on track and make sure that the structure of your essay is clear and makes sense. It’s also important to write a thesis statement . This sentence should tell the reader what the story is about and what the main point of the essay is. It should be easy to understand, short, and interesting.

Creating the story and the people in it is another important step. Your narrative essay should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, as well as a central problem or conflict that the main character must solve. The characters should be well-rounded and easy to understand, with clear goals and reasons for what they do.

Creating atmosphere and setting the scene are also important parts of a good narrative essay. Setting should be described in detail, using sensory details to paint a clear picture in the reader’s mind . Care should be taken to make the setting fit the story’s mood and tone.

It’s also important to choose the right point of view. Most narrative essays are written in the first person because it lets the writer use personal experiences and feelings to make the story more real and interesting. But there are also narrative essays that are written from a third-person point of view, which can give a more objective and detached view.

Writing the Narrative Essay

After you’ve thought about and planned your narrative essay, it’s time to start writing. A narrative essay has three main parts: the introduction, the body, and the end.

In the beginning, you hook the reader’s attention and set the scene for the story. You can do this by starting with a quote, a question, or a vivid description of the setting. The thesis statement should also be in the introduction. It tells the reader what the main point of the essay is and what to expect from the rest of the story.

In the main part of the essay , you tell the story. This means describing what happens, who is involved, and what the problem or conflict is that the main character has to solve. The main part of the story should be well-organized, with each paragraph focusing on a different event or part of the story. It should also include details that the reader can feel and dialogue that brings the story to life.

In the ending, you wrap up the story and leave the reader with something they’ll remember. This can be done by thinking about what the main character learned or how the event changed him or her. The ending should also be well-written and give the reader a feeling of completion .

To sum up, to master the art of writing narrative essays, you need to know the different types of narrative essays, how to choose a topic that interests you, and how to plan and get ready to write. It also involves developing the plot and characters, setting the scene, and making the right atmosphere to draw readers into the story. It’s important to start a narrative essay with a strong introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and has a clear thesis statement. The body should be well-organized and include sensory details and dialogue to bring the story to life.

Last, the ending should wrap up the story and leave a lasting impression on the reader. By using these tips and tricks, you can learn how to write great narrative essays and tell great stories.

Editing and Revising Your Narrative Essay

Editing and revising are important steps in the writing process that can help you improve the quality and effectiveness of your narrative essay. Here are some tips for editing and revising your work:

– Take a break: Step away from your essay for a few hours or even a day or two to gain a fresh perspective.

– Check for coherence and clarity: Make sure that your ideas are presented in a logical and organized manner, and that your writing is clear and easy to understand.

– Eliminate unnecessary words: Look for any words or phrases that don’t add value to your writing and eliminate them.

– Check for spelling and grammar errors: Use a spell-checker and proofread your work carefully to ensure that there are no errors.

– Read your essay aloud: This can help you catch any awkward phrasing or sentences that need to be revised.

Common mistakes to avoid when editing and revising your narrative essay include:

– Overusing adjectives and adverbs: While descriptive language can help bring your story to life, too much of it can be distracting and take away from the overall impact of your writing.

– Failing to show, not tell: Instead of simply telling readers what happened, show them by using sensory details and vivid descriptions.

– Neglecting to revise the ending: The ending of your narrative essay is just as important as the beginning, so make sure that it wraps up the story effectively and leaves a lasting impression on the reader

Getting feedback from others is also an important part of the editing and revising process . Ask a trusted friend or family member to read your essay and provide feedback. You can also seek feedback from a writing tutor or instructor, or join a writing group to receive constructive criticism and support.

Examples of Narrative Essays

To help you better understand the art of narrative essays, here are ten fascinating examples of narrative essays:

1. The Last Day of Her Life” by Robin Marantz Henig

2. “The Fourth State of Matter” by Jo Ann Beard

3. The Death of My Father” by Steve Martin

4. “The Fourth of July” by Audre Lorde

5. “The Chase” by Annie Dillard

6. “The Fourth State of Matter” by Jo Ann Beard

7. “The Best Day of My Life” by Tameka Cage Conley

8. The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

9. “The Fourth State of Matter” by Jo Ann Beard

10. “The Night” by Maxine Hong Kingston

Each of these narrative essays is effective in its own unique way, using vivid descriptions, sensory details, and compelling characters to create a powerful story. By analyzing these examples and understanding what makes them effective, you can gain a better understanding of how to write a successful narrative essay.

Narrative Essay Topics

If you’re struggling to come up with a topic for your narrative essay, here are 50 ideas that can help get you started:

1. The first day of college

2. A life-changing event

3. A memorable vacation

4. An experience that taught you a valuable lesson

5. A moment of personal growth or self-discovery

6. Overcoming a fear or phobia

7. A significant accomplishment

8. A time when you faced a difficult decision

9. A childhood memory

10. A relationship that had a significant impact on your life

11. A day you will never forget

12. A moment of true happiness

13. A time when you felt lost or alone

14. A time you had to stand up for yourself or someone else

15. A time when you had to overcome a setback or failure

16. A moment of courage or bravery

17. An experience that changed your perspective on life

18. A time when you had to make a sacrifice

19. A moment of true friendship

20. A time when you felt truly inspired

21. A significant romantic relationship

22. A moment of cultural exchange or immersion

23. An experience that taught you the value of hard work

24. A time when you had to adapt to a new situation

25. A moment of unexpected kindness

26. A time when you had to confront your fears

27. A moment oftriumph over adversity

28. A time when you had to make a difficult ethical decision

29. A moment of realization or epiphany

30. A significant family event

31. A time when you had to learn to forgive

32. A moment of unexpected humor

33. A moment of deep sadness or loss

34. A time when you had to confront a personal challenge

35. A moment of true love

36. A time when you had to take a risk

37. An experience that taught you the importance of perseverance

38. A moment of clarity or understanding

39. A time when you had to learn to trust yourself

40. A moment of spiritual or religious significance

41. A time when you had to reconcile with someone

42. A moment of true beauty

43. A time when you had to confront a personal flaw or weakness

44. A moment of inspiration from nature

45. A time when you had to confront a social issue

46. A moment of unexpected grace

47. A time when you had to overcome a physical challenge

48. A moment of true bravery

49. A significant achievement in your life

50. A moment that changed your life forever .

FAQs about Narrative Essays

Here are some frequently asked questions about narrative essays:

1. What is a narrative essay?

A narrative essay is a type of essay that tells a story from the author’s perspective, often drawing on personal experiences and emotions to create a compelling narrative.

2. What are the elements of a narrative essay?

The elements of a narrative essay include a clear introduction that sets the stage for the story, a well-developed plot with a beginning, middle, and end, vivid descriptions that help the reader visualize the setting and characters, and a conclusion that ties everything together and leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

3. How do I choose a topic for a narrative essay ?

Choosing a topic for a narrative essay involves understanding the purpose of your essay, choosing a topic that resonates with you, and using brainstorming techniques to generate ideas.

4. What is the structure of a narrative essay?

The structure of a narrative essay typically includes an introduction, body, and conclusion, with each part serving a distinct purpose in telling the story.

5. What is the difference between a narrative essay and a descriptive essay?

While both narrative and descriptive essays use vivid language to create a compelling story, the main difference is that a narrative essay tells a story from the author’s perspective, while a descriptive essay focuses on describing a particular person, place, or thing in detail.

In conclusion , mastering the art of writing a narrative essay involves understanding the different types of narrative essays, choosing a topic that resonates with you, and planning and preparing your writing.

It also involves developing the plot and characters, setting the scene, and creating the right atmosphere to draw readers into the story. Editing and revision are important steps in the writing process, and seeking feedback from others can help improve the quality and effectiveness of your writing.

With the help of the 50 narrative essay topics and the tips and techniques provided in this article, you can practice and perfect the art of writing a compelling narrative essay. Remember, the key to success is to practice, revise, and refine your writing skills until you become a skilled and confident storyteller.

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How to write a narrative essay [Updated 2023]

How to write a narrative essay

A narrative essay is an opportunity to flex your creative muscles and craft a compelling story. In this blog post, we define what a narrative essay is and provide strategies and examples for writing one.

What is a narrative essay?

Similarly to a descriptive essay or a reflective essay, a narrative essay asks you to tell a story, rather than make an argument and present evidence. Most narrative essays describe a real, personal experience from your own life (for example, the story of your first big success).

Alternately, your narrative essay might focus on an imagined experience (for example, how your life would be if you had been born into different circumstances). While you don’t need to present a thesis statement or scholarly evidence, a narrative essay still needs to be well-structured and clearly organized so that the reader can follow your story.

When you might be asked to write a narrative essay

Although less popular than argumentative essays or expository essays, narrative essays are relatively common in high school and college writing classes.

The same techniques that you would use to write a college essay as part of a college or scholarship application are applicable to narrative essays, as well. In fact, the Common App that many students use to apply to multiple colleges asks you to submit a narrative essay.

How to choose a topic for a narrative essay

When you are asked to write a narrative essay, a topic may be assigned to you or you may be able to choose your own. With an assigned topic, the prompt will likely fall into one of two categories: specific or open-ended.

Examples of specific prompts:

  • Write about the last vacation you took.
  • Write about your final year of middle school.

Examples of open-ended prompts:

  • Write about a time when you felt all hope was lost.
  • Write about a brief, seemingly insignificant event that ended up having a big impact on your life.

A narrative essay tells a story and all good stories are centered on a conflict of some sort. Experiences with unexpected obstacles, twists, or turns make for much more compelling essays and reveal more about your character and views on life.

If you’re writing a narrative essay as part of an admissions application, remember that the people reviewing your essay will be looking at it to gain a sense of not just your writing ability, but who you are as a person.

In these cases, it’s wise to choose a topic and experience from your life that demonstrates the qualities that the prompt is looking for, such as resilience, perseverance, the ability to stay calm under pressure, etc.

It’s also important to remember that your choice of topic is just a starting point. Many students find that they arrive at new ideas and insights as they write their first draft, so the final form of your essay may have a different focus than the one you started with.

How to outline and format a narrative essay

Even though you’re not advancing an argument or proving a point of view, a narrative essay still needs to have a coherent structure. Your reader has to be able to follow you as you tell the story and to figure out the larger point that you’re making.

You’ll be evaluated on is your handling of the topic and how you structure your essay. Even though a narrative essay doesn’t use the same structure as other essay types, you should still sketch out a loose outline so you can tell your story in a clear and compelling way.

To outline a narrative essay, you’ll want to determine:

  • how your story will start
  • what points or specifics that you want to cover
  • how your story will end
  • what pace and tone you will use

In the vast majority of cases, a narrative essay should be written in the first-person, using “I.” Also, most narrative essays will follow typical formatting guidelines, so you should choose a readable font like Times New Roman in size 11 or 12. Double-space your paragraphs and use 1” margins.

To get your creative wheels turning, consider how your story compares to archetypes and famous historical and literary figures both past and present. Weave these comparisons into your essay to improve the quality of your writing and connect your personal experience to a larger context.

How to write a narrative essay

Writing a narrative essay can sometimes be a challenge for students who typically write argumentative essays or research papers in a formal, objective style. To give you a better sense of how you can write a narrative essay, here is a short example of an essay in response to the prompt, “Write about an experience that challenged your view of yourself.”

Narrative essay example

Even as a child, I always had what people might call a reserved personality. It was sometimes framed as a positive (“Sarah is a good listener”) and at other times it was put in less-than-admiring terms (“Sarah is withdrawn and not very talkative”). It was the latter kind of comments that caused me to see my introverted nature as a drawback and as something I should work to eliminate. That is, until I joined my high school’s student council.

The first paragraph, or introduction, sets up the context, establishing the situation and introducing the meaningful event upon which the essay will focus.

The other four students making up the council were very outspoken and enthusiastic. I enjoyed being around them, and I often agreed with their ideas. However, when it came to overhauling our school’s recycling plan, we butted heads. When I spoke up and offered a different point of view, one of my fellow student council members launched into a speech, advocating for her point of view. As her voice filled the room, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I wondered if I should try to match her tone, volume, and assertiveness as a way to be heard. But I just couldn’t do it—it’s not my way, and it never has been. For a fleeting moment, I felt defeated. But then, something in me shifted.

In this paragraph, the writer goes into greater depth about how her existing thinking brought her to this point.

I reminded myself that my view was valid and deserved to be heard. So I waited. I let my fellow council member speak her piece and when she was finished, I deliberately waited a few moments before calmly stating my case. I chose my words well, and I spoke them succinctly. Just because I’m not a big talker doesn’t mean I’m not a big thinker. I thought of the quotation “still waters run deep” and I tried to embody that. The effect on the room was palpable. People listened. And I hadn’t had to shout my point to be heard.

This paragraph demonstrates the turn in the story, the moment when everything changed. The use of the quotation “still waters run deep” imbues the story with a dash of poetry and emotion.

We eventually reached a compromise on the matter and concluded the student council meeting. Our council supervisor came to me afterward and said: “You handled that so well, with such grace and poise. I was very impressed.” Her words in that moment changed me. I realized that a bombastic nature isn't necessarily a powerful one. There is power in quiet, too. This experience taught me to view my reserved personality not as a character flaw, but as a strength.

The final paragraph, or conclusion, closes with a statement about the significance of this event and how it ended up changing the writer in a meaningful way.

Narrative essay writing tips

1. pick a meaningful story that has a conflict and a clear “moral.”.

If you’re able to choose your own topic, pick a story that has meaning and that reveals how you became the person your are today. In other words, write a narrative with a clear “moral” that you can connect with your main points.

2. Use an outline to arrange the structure of your story and organize your main points.

Although a narrative essay is different from argumentative essays, it’s still beneficial to construct an outline so that your story is well-structured and organized. Note how you want to start and end your story, and what points you want to make to tie everything together.

3. Be clear, concise, concrete, and correct in your writing.

You should use descriptive writing in your narrative essay, but don’t overdo it. Use clear, concise, and correct language and grammar throughout. Additionally, make concrete points that reinforce the main idea of your narrative.

4. Ask a friend or family member to proofread your essay.

No matter what kind of writing you’re doing, you should always plan to proofread and revise. To ensure that your narrative essay is coherent and interesting, ask a friend or family member to read over your paper. This is especially important if your essay is responding to a prompt. It helps to have another person check to make sure that you’ve fully responded to the prompt or question.

Frequently Asked Questions about narrative essays

A narrative essay, like any essay, has three main parts: an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Structuring and outlining your essay before you start writing will help you write a clear story that your readers can follow.

The first paragraph of your essay, or introduction, sets up the context, establishing the situation and introducing the meaningful event upon which the essay will focus.

In the vast majority of cases, a narrative essay should be written in the first-person, using “I.”

The 4 main types of essays are the argumentative essay, narrative essay, exploratory essay, and expository essay. You may be asked to write different types of essays at different points in your education.

Most narrative essays will be around five paragraphs, or more, depending on the topic and requirements. Make sure to check in with your instructor about the guidelines for your essay. If you’re writing a narrative essay for a college application, pay close attention to word or page count requirements.

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How to Write a Narrative Essay A Step by Step Guide Featured

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

N arrative essays are important papers most students have to write. But how does one write a narrative essay? Fear not, we’re going to show you how to write a narrative essay by breaking down a variety of narrative writing strategies. By the end, you’ll know why narrative essays are so important – and how to write your own.

How to Write a Narrative Essay Step by Step

Background on narrative essays.

Narrative essays are important assignments in many writing classes – but what is a narrative essay? A narrative essay is a prose-written story that’s focused on the commentary of a central theme .

Narrative essays are generally written in the first-person POV , and are usually about a topic that’s personal to the writer.

Everything in a narrative essay should take place in an established timeline, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

In simplest terms, a narrative essay is a personal story. A narrative essay can be written in response to a prompt or as an independent exercise.

We’re going to get to tips and tricks on how to write a narrative essay in a bit, but first let’s check out a video on “story.” 

How to Start a Narrative Essay  •  What is a Story? by Mr. Kresphus

In some regards, any story can be regarded as a personal story, but for the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on prose-written stories told in the first-person POV.

How to Start a Narrative Essay

Responding to prompts.

Many people wonder about how to start a narrative essay. Well, if you’re writing a narrative essay in response to a prompt, then chances are the person issuing the prompt is looking for a specific answer.

For example: if the prompt states “recount a time you encountered a challenge,” then chances are the person issuing the prompt wants to hear about how you overcame a challenge or learned from it.

That isn’t to say you have to respond to the prompt in one way; “overcoming” or “learning” from a challenge can be constituted in a variety of ways.

For example, you could structure your essay around overcoming a physical challenge, like an injury or disability. Or you could structure your essay around learning from failure, such as losing at a sport or performing poorly on an important exam.

Whatever it is, you must show that the challenge forced you to grow. 

Maturation is an important process – and an essential aspect of narrative essays... of course, there are exceptions to the rule; lack of maturation is a prescient theme in narrative essays too; although that’s mostly reserved for experienced essay writers.

So, let’s take a look at how you might respond to a series of narrative essay prompts:

How successful are you?

This prompt begs the writer to impart humility without throwing a pity party. I would respond to this prompt by demonstrating pride in what I do while offering modesty. For example: “I have achieved success in what I set out to do – but I still have a long way to go to achieve my long-term goals.”

Who is your role model?

“My role model is [Blank] because ” is how you should start this narrative essay. The “because” is the crux of your essay. For example, I’d say “Bill Russell is my role model because he demonstrated graceful resolve in the face of bigotry and discrimination. 

Do you consider yourself spiritual?

For this prompt, you should explain how you came to the conclusion of whether or not you consider yourself a spiritual person. Of course, prompt-givers will differ on how much they want you to freely express. For example: if the prompt-giver is an employee at an evangelizing organization, then they probably want to see that you’re willing to propagate the church’s agenda. Alternatively, if the prompt-giver is non-denominational, they probably want to see that you’re accepting of people from various spiritual backgrounds.

How to Write Narrative Essay

What makes a good narrative essay.

You don’t have to respond to a prompt to write a narrative essay. So, how do you write a narrative essay without a prompt? Well, that’s the thing… you can write a narrative essay about anything!

That’s a bit of a blessing and a curse though – on one hand it’s liberating to choose any topic you want; on the other, it’s difficult to narrow down a good story from an infinite breadth of possibilities.

In this next video, the team at Essay Pro explores why passion is the number one motivator for effective narrative essays.

How to Write a Narrative Essay Step by Step  •  Real Essay Examples by Essay Pro

So, before you write anything, ask yourself: “what am I passionate about?” Movies? Sports? Books? Games? Baking? Volunteering? Whatever it is, make sure that it’s something that demonstrates your individual growth . It doesn’t have to be anything major; take a video game for example: you could write a narrative essay about searching for a rare weapon with friends.

Success or failure, you’ll be able to demonstrate growth.

Here’s something to consider: writing a narrative essay around intertextuality. What is intertextuality ? Intertextuality is the relationship between texts, i.e., books, movies, plays, songs, games, etc. In other words, it’s anytime one text is referenced in another text.

For example, you could write a narrative essay about your favorite movie! Just make sure that it ultimately reflects back on yourself. 

Narrative Writing Format

Structure of a narrative essay.

Narrative essays differ in length and structure – but there are some universal basics. The first paragraph of a narrative essay should always introduce the central theme. For example, if the narrative essay is about “a fond childhood memory,” then the first paragraph should briefly comment on the nature of the fond childhood memory.

In general, a narrative essay should have an introductory paragraph with a topic sentence (reiterating the prompt or basic idea), a brief commentary on the central theme, and a set-up for the body paragraphs.

The body paragraphs should make up the vast majority of the narrative essay. In the body paragraphs, the writer should essentially “build the story’s case.” What do I mean by “build the story’s case?”

Well, I mean that the writer should display the story’s merit; what it means, why it matters, and how it proves (or refutes) personal growth.

The narrative essay should always conclude with a dedicated paragraph. In the “conclusion paragraph,” the writer should reflect on the story.

Pro tip: conclusion paragraphs usually work best when the writer stays within the diegesis. 

What is a Video Essay?

A video essay is a natural extension of a narrative essay; differentiated only by purpose and medium. In our next article, we’ll explain what a video essay is, and why it’s so important to media criticism. By the end, you’ll know where to look for video essay inspiration.

Up Next: The Art of Video Analysis →

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 3 great narrative essay examples + tips for writing.

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A narrative essay is one of the most intimidating assignments you can be handed at any level of your education. Where you've previously written argumentative essays that make a point or analytic essays that dissect meaning, a narrative essay asks you to write what is effectively a story .

But unlike a simple work of creative fiction, your narrative essay must have a clear and concrete motif —a recurring theme or idea that you’ll explore throughout. Narrative essays are less rigid, more creative in expression, and therefore pretty different from most other essays you’ll be writing.

But not to fear—in this article, we’ll be covering what a narrative essay is, how to write a good one, and also analyzing some personal narrative essay examples to show you what a great one looks like.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

At first glance, a narrative essay might sound like you’re just writing a story. Like the stories you're used to reading, a narrative essay is generally (but not always) chronological, following a clear throughline from beginning to end.  Even if the story jumps around in time, all the details will come back to one specific theme, demonstrated through your choice in motifs.

Unlike many creative stories, however, your narrative essay should be based in fact. That doesn’t mean that every detail needs to be pure and untainted by imagination, but rather that you shouldn’t wholly invent the events of your narrative essay. There’s nothing wrong with inventing a person’s words if you can’t remember them exactly, but you shouldn’t say they said something they weren’t even close to saying.

Another big difference between narrative essays and creative fiction—as well as other kinds of essays—is that narrative essays are based on motifs. A motif is a dominant idea or theme, one that you establish before writing the essay. As you’re crafting the narrative, it’ll feed back into your motif to create a comprehensive picture of whatever that motif is.

For example, say you want to write a narrative essay about how your first day in high school helped you establish your identity. You might discuss events like trying to figure out where to sit in the cafeteria, having to describe yourself in five words as an icebreaker in your math class, or being unsure what to do during your lunch break because it’s no longer acceptable to go outside and play during lunch. All of those ideas feed back into the central motif of establishing your identity.

The important thing to remember is that while a narrative essay is typically told chronologically and intended to read like a story, it is not purely for entertainment value. A narrative essay delivers its theme by deliberately weaving the motifs through the events, scenes, and details. While a narrative essay may be entertaining, its primary purpose is to tell a complete story based on a central meaning.

Unlike other essay forms, it is totally okay—even expected—to use first-person narration in narrative essays. If you’re writing a story about yourself, it’s natural to refer to yourself within the essay. It’s also okay to use other perspectives, such as third- or even second-person, but that should only be done if it better serves your motif. Generally speaking, your narrative essay should be in first-person perspective.

Though your motif choices may feel at times like you’re making a point the way you would in an argumentative essay, a narrative essay’s goal is to tell a story, not convince the reader of anything. Your reader should be able to tell what your motif is from reading, but you don’t have to change their mind about anything. If they don’t understand the point you are making, you should consider strengthening the delivery of the events and descriptions that support your motif.

Narrative essays also share some features with analytical essays, in which you derive meaning from a book, film, or other media. But narrative essays work differently—you’re not trying to draw meaning from an existing text, but rather using an event you’ve experienced to convey meaning. In an analytical essay, you examine narrative, whereas in a narrative essay you create narrative.

The structure of a narrative essay is also a bit different than other essays. You’ll generally be getting your point across chronologically as opposed to grouping together specific arguments in paragraphs or sections. To return to the example of an essay discussing your first day of high school and how it impacted the shaping of your identity, it would be weird to put the events out of order, even if not knowing what to do after lunch feels like a stronger idea than choosing where to sit. Instead of organizing to deliver your information based on maximum impact, you’ll be telling your story as it happened, using concrete details to reinforce your theme.

body_fair

3 Great Narrative Essay Examples

One of the best ways to learn how to write a narrative essay is to look at a great narrative essay sample. Let’s take a look at some truly stellar narrative essay examples and dive into what exactly makes them work so well.

A Ticket to the Fair by David Foster Wallace

Today is Press Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, and I’m supposed to be at the fairgrounds by 9:00 A.M. to get my credentials. I imagine credentials to be a small white card in the band of a fedora. I’ve never been considered press before. My real interest in credentials is getting into rides and shows for free. I’m fresh in from the East Coast, for an East Coast magazine. Why exactly they’re interested in the Illinois State Fair remains unclear to me. I suspect that every so often editors at East Coast magazines slap their foreheads and remember that about 90 percent of the United States lies between the coasts, and figure they’ll engage somebody to do pith-helmeted anthropological reporting on something rural and heartlandish. I think they asked me to do this because I grew up here, just a couple hours’ drive from downstate Springfield. I never did go to the state fair, though—I pretty much topped out at the county fair level. Actually, I haven’t been back to Illinois for a long time, and I can’t say I’ve missed it.

Throughout this essay, David Foster Wallace recounts his experience as press at the Illinois State Fair. But it’s clear from this opening that he’s not just reporting on the events exactly as they happened—though that’s also true— but rather making a point about how the East Coast, where he lives and works, thinks about the Midwest.

In his opening paragraph, Wallace states that outright: “Why exactly they’re interested in the Illinois State Fair remains unclear to me. I suspect that every so often editors at East Coast magazines slap their foreheads and remember that about 90 percent of the United States lies between the coasts, and figure they’ll engage somebody to do pith-helmeted anthropological reporting on something rural and heartlandish.”

Not every motif needs to be stated this clearly , but in an essay as long as Wallace’s, particularly since the audience for such a piece may feel similarly and forget that such a large portion of the country exists, it’s important to make that point clear.

But Wallace doesn’t just rest on introducing his motif and telling the events exactly as they occurred from there. It’s clear that he selects events that remind us of that idea of East Coast cynicism , such as when he realizes that the Help Me Grow tent is standing on top of fake grass that is killing the real grass beneath, when he realizes the hypocrisy of craving a corn dog when faced with a real, suffering pig, when he’s upset for his friend even though he’s not the one being sexually harassed, and when he witnesses another East Coast person doing something he wouldn’t dare to do.

Wallace is literally telling the audience exactly what happened, complete with dates and timestamps for when each event occurred. But he’s also choosing those events with a purpose—he doesn’t focus on details that don’t serve his motif. That’s why he discusses the experiences of people, how the smells are unappealing to him, and how all the people he meets, in cowboy hats, overalls, or “black spandex that looks like cheesecake leotards,” feel almost alien to him.

All of these details feed back into the throughline of East Coast thinking that Wallace introduces in the first paragraph. He also refers back to it in the essay’s final paragraph, stating:

At last, an overarching theory blooms inside my head: megalopolitan East Coasters’ summer treats and breaks and literally ‘getaways,’ flights-from—from crowds, noise, heat, dirt, the stress of too many sensory choices….The East Coast existential treat is escape from confines and stimuli—quiet, rustic vistas that hold still, turn inward, turn away. Not so in the rural Midwest. Here you’re pretty much away all the time….Something in a Midwesterner sort of actuates , deep down, at a public event….The real spectacle that draws us here is us.

Throughout this journey, Wallace has tried to demonstrate how the East Coast thinks about the Midwest, ultimately concluding that they are captivated by the Midwest’s less stimuli-filled life, but that the real reason they are interested in events like the Illinois State Fair is that they are, in some ways, a means of looking at the East Coast in a new, estranging way.

The reason this works so well is that Wallace has carefully chosen his examples, outlined his motif and themes in the first paragraph, and eventually circled back to the original motif with a clearer understanding of his original point.

When outlining your own narrative essay, try to do the same. Start with a theme, build upon it with examples, and return to it in the end with an even deeper understanding of the original issue. You don’t need this much space to explore a theme, either—as we’ll see in the next example, a strong narrative essay can also be very short.

body_moth

Death of a Moth by Virginia Woolf

After a time, tired by his dancing apparently, he settled on the window ledge in the sun, and, the queer spectacle being at an end, I forgot about him. Then, looking up, my eye was caught by him. He was trying to resume his dancing, but seemed either so stiff or so awkward that he could only flutter to the bottom of the window-pane; and when he tried to fly across it he failed. Being intent on other matters I watched these futile attempts for a time without thinking, unconsciously waiting for him to resume his flight, as one waits for a machine, that has stopped momentarily, to start again without considering the reason of its failure. After perhaps a seventh attempt he slipped from the wooden ledge and fell, fluttering his wings, on to his back on the window sill. The helplessness of his attitude roused me. It flashed upon me that he was in difficulties; he could no longer raise himself; his legs struggled vainly. But, as I stretched out a pencil, meaning to help him to right himself, it came over me that the failure and awkwardness were the approach of death. I laid the pencil down again.

In this essay, Virginia Woolf explains her encounter with a dying moth. On surface level, this essay is just a recounting of an afternoon in which she watched a moth die—it’s even established in the title. But there’s more to it than that. Though Woolf does not begin her essay with as clear a motif as Wallace, it’s not hard to pick out the evidence she uses to support her point, which is that the experience of this moth is also the human experience.

In the title, Woolf tells us this essay is about death. But in the first paragraph, she seems to mostly be discussing life—the moth is “content with life,” people are working in the fields, and birds are flying. However, she mentions that it is mid-September and that the fields were being plowed. It’s autumn and it’s time for the harvest; the time of year in which many things die.

In this short essay, she chronicles the experience of watching a moth seemingly embody life, then die. Though this essay is literally about a moth, it’s also about a whole lot more than that. After all, moths aren’t the only things that die—Woolf is also reflecting on her own mortality, as well as the mortality of everything around her.

At its core, the essay discusses the push and pull of life and death, not in a way that’s necessarily sad, but in a way that is accepting of both. Woolf begins by setting up the transitional fall season, often associated with things coming to an end, and raises the ideas of pleasure, vitality, and pity.

At one point, Woolf tries to help the dying moth, but reconsiders, as it would interfere with the natural order of the world. The moth’s death is part of the natural order of the world, just like fall, just like her own eventual death.

All these themes are set up in the beginning and explored throughout the essay’s narrative. Though Woolf doesn’t directly state her theme, she reinforces it by choosing a small, isolated event—watching a moth die—and illustrating her point through details.

With this essay, we can see that you don’t need a big, weird, exciting event to discuss an important meaning. Woolf is able to explore complicated ideas in a short essay by being deliberate about what details she includes, just as you can be in your own essays.

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Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

On the twenty-ninth of July, in 1943, my father died. On the same day, a few hours later, his last child was born. Over a month before this, while all our energies were concentrated in waiting for these events, there had been, in Detroit, one of the bloodiest race riots of the century. A few hours after my father’s funeral, while he lay in state in the undertaker’s chapel, a race riot broke out in Harlem. On the morning of the third of August, we drove my father to the graveyard through a wilderness of smashed plate glass.

Like Woolf, Baldwin does not lay out his themes in concrete terms—unlike Wallace, there’s no clear sentence that explains what he’ll be talking about. However, you can see the motifs quite clearly: death, fatherhood, struggle, and race.

Throughout the narrative essay, Baldwin discusses the circumstances of his father’s death, including his complicated relationship with his father. By introducing those motifs in the first paragraph, the reader understands that everything discussed in the essay will come back to those core ideas. When Baldwin talks about his experience with a white teacher taking an interest in him and his father’s resistance to that, he is also talking about race and his father’s death. When he talks about his father’s death, he is also talking about his views on race. When he talks about his encounters with segregation and racism, he is talking, in part, about his father.

Because his father was a hard, uncompromising man, Baldwin struggles to reconcile the knowledge that his father was right about many things with his desire to not let that hardness consume him, as well.

Baldwin doesn’t explicitly state any of this, but his writing so often touches on the same motifs that it becomes clear he wants us to think about all these ideas in conversation with one another.

At the end of the essay, Baldwin makes it more clear:

This fight begins, however, in the heart and it had now been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair. This intimation made my heart heavy and, now that my father was irrecoverable, I wished that he had been beside me so that I could have searched his face for the answers which only the future would give me now.

Here, Baldwin ties together the themes and motifs into one clear statement: that he must continue to fight and recognize injustice, especially racial injustice, just as his father did. But unlike his father, he must do it beginning with himself—he must not let himself be closed off to the world as his father was. And yet, he still wishes he had his father for guidance, even as he establishes that he hopes to be a different man than his father.

In this essay, Baldwin loads the front of the essay with his motifs, and, through his narrative, weaves them together into a theme. In the end, he comes to a conclusion that connects all of those things together and leaves the reader with a lasting impression of completion—though the elements may have been initially disparate, in the end everything makes sense.

You can replicate this tactic of introducing seemingly unattached ideas and weaving them together in your own essays. By introducing those motifs, developing them throughout, and bringing them together in the end, you can demonstrate to your reader how all of them are related. However, it’s especially important to be sure that your motifs and clear and consistent throughout your essay so that the conclusion feels earned and consistent—if not, readers may feel mislead.

5 Key Tips for Writing Narrative Essays

Narrative essays can be a lot of fun to write since they’re so heavily based on creativity. But that can also feel intimidating—sometimes it’s easier to have strict guidelines than to have to make it all up yourself. Here are a few tips to keep your narrative essay feeling strong and fresh.

Develop Strong Motifs

Motifs are the foundation of a narrative essay . What are you trying to say? How can you say that using specific symbols or events? Those are your motifs.

In the same way that an argumentative essay’s body should support its thesis, the body of your narrative essay should include motifs that support your theme.

Try to avoid cliches, as these will feel tired to your readers. Instead of roses to symbolize love, try succulents. Instead of the ocean representing some vast, unknowable truth, try the depths of your brother’s bedroom. Keep your language and motifs fresh and your essay will be even stronger!

Use First-Person Perspective

In many essays, you’re expected to remove yourself so that your points stand on their own. Not so in a narrative essay—in this case, you want to make use of your own perspective.

Sometimes a different perspective can make your point even stronger. If you want someone to identify with your point of view, it may be tempting to choose a second-person perspective. However, be sure you really understand the function of second-person; it’s very easy to put a reader off if the narration isn’t expertly deployed.

If you want a little bit of distance, third-person perspective may be okay. But be careful—too much distance and your reader may feel like the narrative lacks truth.

That’s why first-person perspective is the standard. It keeps you, the writer, close to the narrative, reminding the reader that it really happened. And because you really know what happened and how, you’re free to inject your own opinion into the story without it detracting from your point, as it would in a different type of essay.

Stick to the Truth

Your essay should be true. However, this is a creative essay, and it’s okay to embellish a little. Rarely in life do we experience anything with a clear, concrete meaning the way somebody in a book might. If you flub the details a little, it’s okay—just don’t make them up entirely.

Also, nobody expects you to perfectly recall details that may have happened years ago. You may have to reconstruct dialog from your memory and your imagination. That’s okay, again, as long as you aren’t making it up entirely and assigning made-up statements to somebody.

Dialog is a powerful tool. A good conversation can add flavor and interest to a story, as we saw demonstrated in David Foster Wallace’s essay. As previously mentioned, it’s okay to flub it a little, especially because you’re likely writing about an experience you had without knowing that you’d be writing about it later.

However, don’t rely too much on it. Your narrative essay shouldn’t be told through people explaining things to one another; the motif comes through in the details. Dialog can be one of those details, but it shouldn’t be the only one.

Use Sensory Descriptions

Because a narrative essay is a story, you can use sensory details to make your writing more interesting. If you’re describing a particular experience, you can go into detail about things like taste, smell, and hearing in a way that you probably wouldn’t do in any other essay style.

These details can tie into your overall motifs and further your point. Woolf describes in great detail what she sees while watching the moth, giving us the sense that we, too, are watching the moth. In Wallace’s essay, he discusses the sights, sounds, and smells of the Illinois State Fair to help emphasize his point about its strangeness. And in Baldwin’s essay, he describes shattered glass as a “wilderness,” and uses the feelings of his body to describe his mental state.

All these descriptions anchor us not only in the story, but in the motifs and themes as well. One of the tools of a writer is making the reader feel as you felt, and sensory details help you achieve that.

What’s Next?

Looking to brush up on your essay-writing capabilities before the ACT? This guide to ACT English will walk you through some of the best strategies and practice questions to get you prepared!

Part of practicing for the ACT is ensuring your word choice and diction are on point. Check out this guide to some of the most common errors on the ACT English section to be sure that you're not making these common mistakes!

A solid understanding of English principles will help you make an effective point in a narrative essay, and you can get that understanding through taking a rigorous assortment of high school English classes ! 

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The Ultimate Narrative Essay Guide for Beginners

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A narrative essay tells a story in chronological order, with an introduction that introduces the characters and sets the scene. Then a series of events leads to a climax or turning point, and finally a resolution or reflection on the experience.

Speaking of which, are you in sixes and sevens about narrative essays? Don’t worry this ultimate expert guide will wipe out all your doubts. So let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Everything You Need to Know About Narrative Essay

What is a narrative essay.

When you go through a narrative essay definition, you would know that a narrative essay purpose is to tell a story. It’s all about sharing an experience or event and is different from other types of essays because it’s more focused on how the event made you feel or what you learned from it, rather than just presenting facts or an argument. Let’s explore more details on this interesting write-up and get to know how to write a narrative essay.

Elements of a Narrative Essay

Here’s a breakdown of the key elements of a narrative essay:

A narrative essay has a beginning, middle, and end. It builds up tension and excitement and then wraps things up in a neat package.

Real people, including the writer, often feature in personal narratives. Details of the characters and their thoughts, feelings, and actions can help readers to relate to the tale.

It’s really important to know when and where something happened so we can get a good idea of the context. Going into detail about what it looks like helps the reader to really feel like they’re part of the story.

Conflict or Challenge 

A story in a narrative essay usually involves some kind of conflict or challenge that moves the plot along. It could be something inside the character, like a personal battle, or something from outside, like an issue they have to face in the world.

Theme or Message

A narrative essay isn’t just about recounting an event – it’s about showing the impact it had on you and what you took away from it. It’s an opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings about the experience, and how it changed your outlook.

Emotional Impact

The author is trying to make the story they’re telling relatable, engaging, and memorable by using language and storytelling to evoke feelings in whoever’s reading it.

Narrative essays let writers have a blast telling stories about their own lives. It’s an opportunity to share insights and impart wisdom, or just have some fun with the reader. Descriptive language, sensory details, dialogue, and a great narrative voice are all essentials for making the story come alive.

The Purpose of a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is more than just a story – it’s a way to share a meaningful, engaging, and relatable experience with the reader. Includes:

Sharing Personal Experience

Narrative essays are a great way for writers to share their personal experiences, feelings, thoughts, and reflections. It’s an opportunity to connect with readers and make them feel something.

Entertainment and Engagement

The essay attempts to keep the reader interested by using descriptive language, storytelling elements, and a powerful voice. It attempts to pull them in and make them feel involved by creating suspense, mystery, or an emotional connection.

Conveying a Message or Insight

Narrative essays are more than just a story – they aim to teach you something. They usually have a moral lesson, a new understanding, or a realization about life that the author gained from the experience.

Building Empathy and Understanding

By telling their stories, people can give others insight into different perspectives, feelings, and situations. Sharing these tales can create compassion in the reader and help broaden their knowledge of different life experiences.

Inspiration and Motivation

Stories about personal struggles, successes, and transformations can be really encouraging to people who are going through similar situations. It can provide them with hope and guidance, and let them know that they’re not alone.

Reflecting on Life’s Significance

These essays usually make you think about the importance of certain moments in life or the impact of certain experiences. They make you look deep within yourself and ponder on the things you learned or how you changed because of those events.

Demonstrating Writing Skills

Coming up with a gripping narrative essay takes serious writing chops, like vivid descriptions, powerful language, timing, and organization. It’s an opportunity for writers to show off their story-telling abilities.

Preserving Personal History

Sometimes narrative essays are used to record experiences and special moments that have an emotional resonance. They can be used to preserve individual memories or for future generations to look back on.

Cultural and Societal Exploration

Personal stories can look at cultural or social aspects, giving us an insight into customs, opinions, or social interactions seen through someone’s own experience.

Format of a Narrative Essay

Narrative essays are quite flexible in terms of format, which allows the writer to tell a story in a creative and compelling way. Here’s a quick breakdown of the narrative essay format, along with some examples:

Introduction

Set the scene and introduce the story.

Engage the reader and establish the tone of the narrative.

Hook: Start with a captivating opening line to grab the reader’s attention. For instance:

Example:  “The scorching sun beat down on us as we trekked through the desert, our water supply dwindling.”

Background Information: Provide necessary context or background without giving away the entire story.

Example:  “It was the summer of 2015 when I embarked on a life-changing journey to…”

Thesis Statement or Narrative Purpose

Present the main idea or the central message of the essay.

Offer a glimpse of what the reader can expect from the narrative.

Thesis Statement: This isn’t as rigid as in other essays but can be a sentence summarizing the essence of the story.

Example:  “Little did I know, that seemingly ordinary hike would teach me invaluable lessons about resilience and friendship.”

Body Paragraphs

Present the sequence of events in chronological order.

Develop characters, setting, conflict, and resolution.

Story Progression: Describe events in the order they occurred, focusing on details that evoke emotions and create vivid imagery.

Example: Detail the trek through the desert, the challenges faced, interactions with fellow hikers, and the pivotal moments.

Character Development: Introduce characters and their roles in the story. Show their emotions, thoughts, and actions.

Example: Describe how each character reacted to the dwindling water supply and supported each other through adversity.

Dialogue and Interactions: Use dialogue to bring the story to life and reveal character personalities.

Example: “Sarah handed me her last bottle of water, saying, ‘We’re in this together.'”

Reach the peak of the story, the moment of highest tension or significance.

Turning Point: Highlight the most crucial moment or realization in the narrative.

Example:  “As the sun dipped below the horizon and hope seemed lost, a distant sound caught our attention—the rescue team’s helicopters.”

Provide closure to the story.

Reflect on the significance of the experience and its impact.

Reflection: Summarize the key lessons learned or insights gained from the experience.

Example: “That hike taught me the true meaning of resilience and the invaluable support of friendship in challenging times.”

Closing Thought: End with a memorable line that reinforces the narrative’s message or leaves a lasting impression.

Example: “As we boarded the helicopters, I knew this adventure would forever be etched in my heart.”

Example Summary:

Imagine a narrative about surviving a challenging hike through the desert, emphasizing the bonds formed and lessons learned. The narrative essay structure might look like starting with an engaging scene, narrating the hardships faced, showcasing the characters’ resilience, and culminating in a powerful realization about friendship and endurance.

Different Types of Narrative Essays

There are a bunch of different types of narrative essays – each one focuses on different elements of storytelling and has its own purpose. Here’s a breakdown of the narrative essay types and what they mean.

Personal Narrative

Description: Tells a personal story or experience from the writer’s life.

Purpose: Reflects on personal growth, lessons learned, or significant moments.

Example of Narrative Essay Types:

Topic: “The Day I Conquered My Fear of Public Speaking”

Focus: Details the experience, emotions, and eventual triumph over a fear of public speaking during a pivotal event.

Descriptive Narrative

Description: Emphasizes vivid details and sensory imagery.

Purpose: Creates a sensory experience, painting a vivid picture for the reader.

Topic: “A Walk Through the Enchanted Forest”

Focus: Paints a detailed picture of the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings experienced during a walk through a mystical forest.

Autobiographical Narrative

Description: Chronicles significant events or moments from the writer’s life.

Purpose: Provides insights into the writer’s life, experiences, and growth.

Topic: “Lessons from My Childhood: How My Grandmother Shaped Who I Am”

Focus: Explores pivotal moments and lessons learned from interactions with a significant family member.

Experiential Narrative

Description: Relays experiences beyond the writer’s personal life.

Purpose: Shares experiences, travels, or events from a broader perspective.

Topic: “Volunteering in a Remote Village: A Journey of Empathy”

Focus: Chronicles the writer’s volunteering experience, highlighting interactions with a community and personal growth.

Literary Narrative

Description: Incorporates literary elements like symbolism, allegory, or thematic explorations.

Purpose: Uses storytelling for deeper explorations of themes or concepts.

Topic: “The Symbolism of the Red Door: A Journey Through Change”

Focus: Uses a red door as a symbol, exploring its significance in the narrator’s life and the theme of transition.

Historical Narrative

Description: Recounts historical events or periods through a personal lens.

Purpose: Presents history through personal experiences or perspectives.

Topic: “A Grandfather’s Tales: Living Through the Great Depression”

Focus: Shares personal stories from a family member who lived through a historical era, offering insights into that period.

Digital or Multimedia Narrative

Description: Incorporates multimedia elements like images, videos, or audio to tell a story.

Purpose: Explores storytelling through various digital platforms or formats.

Topic: “A Travel Diary: Exploring Europe Through Vlogs”

Focus: Combines video clips, photos, and personal narration to document a travel experience.

How to Choose a Topic for Your Narrative Essay?

Selecting a compelling topic for your narrative essay is crucial as it sets the stage for your storytelling. Choosing a boring topic is one of the narrative essay mistakes to avoid . Here’s a detailed guide on how to choose the right topic:

Reflect on Personal Experiences

  • Significant Moments:

Moments that had a profound impact on your life or shaped your perspective.

Example: A moment of triumph, overcoming a fear, a life-changing decision, or an unforgettable experience.

  • Emotional Resonance:

Events that evoke strong emotions or feelings.

Example: Joy, fear, sadness, excitement, or moments of realization.

  • Lessons Learned:

Experiences that taught you valuable lessons or brought about personal growth.

Example: Challenges that led to personal development, shifts in mindset, or newfound insights.

Explore Unique Perspectives

  • Uncommon Experiences:

Unique or unconventional experiences that might captivate the reader’s interest.

Example: Unusual travels, interactions with different cultures, or uncommon hobbies.

  • Different Points of View:

Stories from others’ perspectives that impacted you deeply.

Example: A family member’s story, a friend’s experience, or a historical event from a personal lens.

Focus on Specific Themes or Concepts

  • Themes or Concepts of Interest:

Themes or ideas you want to explore through storytelling.

Example: Friendship, resilience, identity, cultural diversity, or personal transformation.

  • Symbolism or Metaphor:

Using symbols or metaphors as the core of your narrative.

Example: Exploring the symbolism of an object or a place in relation to a broader theme.

Consider Your Audience and Purpose

  • Relevance to Your Audience:

Topics that resonate with your audience’s interests or experiences.

Example: Choose a relatable theme or experience that your readers might connect with emotionally.

  • Impact or Message:

What message or insight do you want to convey through your story?

Example: Choose a topic that aligns with the message or lesson you aim to impart to your readers.

Brainstorm and Evaluate Ideas

  • Free Writing or Mind Mapping:

Process: Write down all potential ideas without filtering. Mind maps or free-writing exercises can help generate diverse ideas.

  • Evaluate Feasibility:

The depth of the story, the availability of vivid details, and your personal connection to the topic.

Imagine you’re considering topics for a narrative essay. You reflect on your experiences and decide to explore the topic of “Overcoming Stage Fright: How a School Play Changed My Perspective.” This topic resonates because it involves a significant challenge you faced and the personal growth it brought about.

Narrative Essay Topics

50 easy narrative essay topics.

  • Learning to Ride a Bike
  • My First Day of School
  • A Surprise Birthday Party
  • The Day I Got Lost
  • Visiting a Haunted House
  • An Encounter with a Wild Animal
  • My Favorite Childhood Toy
  • The Best Vacation I Ever Had
  • An Unforgettable Family Gathering
  • Conquering a Fear of Heights
  • A Special Gift I Received
  • Moving to a New City
  • The Most Memorable Meal
  • Getting Caught in a Rainstorm
  • An Act of Kindness I Witnessed
  • The First Time I Cooked a Meal
  • My Experience with a New Hobby
  • The Day I Met My Best Friend
  • A Hike in the Mountains
  • Learning a New Language
  • An Embarrassing Moment
  • Dealing with a Bully
  • My First Job Interview
  • A Sporting Event I Attended
  • The Scariest Dream I Had
  • Helping a Stranger
  • The Joy of Achieving a Goal
  • A Road Trip Adventure
  • Overcoming a Personal Challenge
  • The Significance of a Family Tradition
  • An Unusual Pet I Owned
  • A Misunderstanding with a Friend
  • Exploring an Abandoned Building
  • My Favorite Book and Why
  • The Impact of a Role Model
  • A Cultural Celebration I Participated In
  • A Valuable Lesson from a Teacher
  • A Trip to the Zoo
  • An Unplanned Adventure
  • Volunteering Experience
  • A Moment of Forgiveness
  • A Decision I Regretted
  • A Special Talent I Have
  • The Importance of Family Traditions
  • The Thrill of Performing on Stage
  • A Moment of Sudden Inspiration
  • The Meaning of Home
  • Learning to Play a Musical Instrument
  • A Childhood Memory at the Park
  • Witnessing a Beautiful Sunset

Narrative Essay Topics for College Students

  • Discovering a New Passion
  • Overcoming Academic Challenges
  • Navigating Cultural Differences
  • Embracing Independence: Moving Away from Home
  • Exploring Career Aspirations
  • Coping with Stress in College
  • The Impact of a Mentor in My Life
  • Balancing Work and Studies
  • Facing a Fear of Public Speaking
  • Exploring a Semester Abroad
  • The Evolution of My Study Habits
  • Volunteering Experience That Changed My Perspective
  • The Role of Technology in Education
  • Finding Balance: Social Life vs. Academics
  • Learning a New Skill Outside the Classroom
  • Reflecting on Freshman Year Challenges
  • The Joys and Struggles of Group Projects
  • My Experience with Internship or Work Placement
  • Challenges of Time Management in College
  • Redefining Success Beyond Grades
  • The Influence of Literature on My Thinking
  • The Impact of Social Media on College Life
  • Overcoming Procrastination
  • Lessons from a Leadership Role
  • Exploring Diversity on Campus
  • Exploring Passion for Environmental Conservation
  • An Eye-Opening Course That Changed My Perspective
  • Living with Roommates: Challenges and Lessons
  • The Significance of Extracurricular Activities
  • The Influence of a Professor on My Academic Journey
  • Discussing Mental Health in College
  • The Evolution of My Career Goals
  • Confronting Personal Biases Through Education
  • The Experience of Attending a Conference or Symposium
  • Challenges Faced by Non-Native English Speakers in College
  • The Impact of Traveling During Breaks
  • Exploring Identity: Cultural or Personal
  • The Impact of Music or Art on My Life
  • Addressing Diversity in the Classroom
  • Exploring Entrepreneurial Ambitions
  • My Experience with Research Projects
  • Overcoming Impostor Syndrome in College
  • The Importance of Networking in College
  • Finding Resilience During Tough Times
  • The Impact of Global Issues on Local Perspectives
  • The Influence of Family Expectations on Education
  • Lessons from a Part-Time Job
  • Exploring the College Sports Culture
  • The Role of Technology in Modern Education
  • The Journey of Self-Discovery Through Education

Narrative Essay Comparison

Narrative essay vs. descriptive essay.

Here’s our first narrative essay comparison! While both narrative and descriptive essays focus on vividly portraying a subject or an event, they differ in their primary objectives and approaches. Now, let’s delve into the nuances of comparison on narrative essays.

Narrative Essay:

Storytelling: Focuses on narrating a personal experience or event.

Chronological Order: Follows a structured timeline of events to tell a story.

Message or Lesson: Often includes a central message, moral, or lesson learned from the experience.

Engagement: Aims to captivate the reader through a compelling storyline and character development.

First-Person Perspective: Typically narrated from the writer’s point of view, using “I” and expressing personal emotions and thoughts.

Plot Development: Emphasizes a plot with a beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Character Development: Focuses on describing characters, their interactions, emotions, and growth.

Conflict or Challenge: Usually involves a central conflict or challenge that drives the narrative forward.

Dialogue: Incorporates conversations to bring characters and their interactions to life.

Reflection: Concludes with reflection or insight gained from the experience.

Descriptive Essay:

Vivid Description: Aims to vividly depict a person, place, object, or event.

Imagery and Details: Focuses on sensory details to create a vivid image in the reader’s mind.

Emotion through Description: Uses descriptive language to evoke emotions and engage the reader’s senses.

Painting a Picture: Creates a sensory-rich description allowing the reader to visualize the subject.

Imagery and Sensory Details: Focuses on providing rich sensory descriptions, using vivid language and adjectives.

Point of Focus: Concentrates on describing a specific subject or scene in detail.

Spatial Organization: Often employs spatial organization to describe from one area or aspect to another.

Objective Observations: Typically avoids the use of personal opinions or emotions; instead, the focus remains on providing a detailed and objective description.

Comparison:

Focus: Narrative essays emphasize storytelling, while descriptive essays focus on vividly describing a subject or scene.

Perspective: Narrative essays are often written from a first-person perspective, while descriptive essays may use a more objective viewpoint.

Purpose: Narrative essays aim to convey a message or lesson through a story, while descriptive essays aim to paint a detailed picture for the reader without necessarily conveying a specific message.

Narrative Essay vs. Argumentative Essay

The narrative essay and the argumentative essay serve distinct purposes and employ different approaches:

Engagement and Emotion: Aims to captivate the reader through a compelling story.

Reflective: Often includes reflection on the significance of the experience or lessons learned.

First-Person Perspective: Typically narrated from the writer’s point of view, sharing personal emotions and thoughts.

Plot Development: Emphasizes a storyline with a beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Message or Lesson: Conveys a central message, moral, or insight derived from the experience.

Argumentative Essay:

Persuasion and Argumentation: Aims to persuade the reader to adopt the writer’s viewpoint on a specific topic.

Logical Reasoning: Presents evidence, facts, and reasoning to support a particular argument or stance.

Debate and Counterarguments: Acknowledge opposing views and counter them with evidence and reasoning.

Thesis Statement: Includes a clear thesis statement that outlines the writer’s position on the topic.

Thesis and Evidence: Starts with a strong thesis statement and supports it with factual evidence, statistics, expert opinions, or logical reasoning.

Counterarguments: Addresses opposing viewpoints and provides rebuttals with evidence.

Logical Structure: Follows a logical structure with an introduction, body paragraphs presenting arguments and evidence, and a conclusion reaffirming the thesis.

Formal Language: Uses formal language and avoids personal anecdotes or emotional appeals.

Objective: Argumentative essays focus on presenting a logical argument supported by evidence, while narrative essays prioritize storytelling and personal reflection.

Purpose: Argumentative essays aim to persuade and convince the reader of a particular viewpoint, while narrative essays aim to engage, entertain, and share personal experiences.

Structure: Narrative essays follow a storytelling structure with character development and plot, while argumentative essays follow a more formal, structured approach with logical arguments and evidence.

In essence, while both essays involve writing and presenting information, the narrative essay focuses on sharing a personal experience, whereas the argumentative essay aims to persuade the audience by presenting a well-supported argument.

Narrative Essay vs. Personal Essay

While there can be an overlap between narrative and personal essays, they have distinctive characteristics:

Storytelling: Emphasizes recounting a specific experience or event in a structured narrative form.

Engagement through Story: Aims to engage the reader through a compelling story with characters, plot, and a central theme or message.

Reflective: Often includes reflection on the significance of the experience and the lessons learned.

First-Person Perspective: Typically narrated from the writer’s viewpoint, expressing personal emotions and thoughts.

Plot Development: Focuses on developing a storyline with a clear beginning, middle, climax, and resolution.

Character Development: Includes descriptions of characters, their interactions, emotions, and growth.

Central Message: Conveys a central message, moral, or insight derived from the experience.

Personal Essay:

Exploration of Ideas or Themes: Explores personal ideas, opinions, or reflections on a particular topic or subject.

Expression of Thoughts and Opinions: Expresses the writer’s thoughts, feelings, and perspectives on a specific subject matter.

Reflection and Introspection: Often involves self-reflection and introspection on personal experiences, beliefs, or values.

Varied Structure and Content: Can encompass various forms, including memoirs, personal anecdotes, or reflections on life experiences.

Flexibility in Structure: Allows for diverse structures and forms based on the writer’s intent, which could be narrative-like or more reflective.

Theme-Centric Writing: Focuses on exploring a central theme or idea, with personal anecdotes or experiences supporting and illustrating the theme.

Expressive Language: Utilizes descriptive and expressive language to convey personal perspectives, emotions, and opinions.

Focus: Narrative essays primarily focus on storytelling through a structured narrative, while personal essays encompass a broader range of personal expression, which can include storytelling but isn’t limited to it.

Structure: Narrative essays have a more structured plot development with characters and a clear sequence of events, while personal essays might adopt various structures, focusing more on personal reflection, ideas, or themes.

Intent: While both involve personal experiences, narrative essays emphasize telling a story with a message or lesson learned, while personal essays aim to explore personal thoughts, feelings, or opinions on a broader range of topics or themes.

5 Easy Steps for Writing a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is more than just telling a story. It’s also meant to engage the reader, get them thinking, and leave a lasting impact. Whether it’s to amuse, motivate, teach, or reflect, these essays are a great way to communicate with your audience. This interesting narrative essay guide was all about letting you understand the narrative essay, its importance, and how can you write one.

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50 Engaging Narrative Essay Topics for High Schoolers

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What’s Covered:

Narrative essays vs. analytical essays, how to pick the right narrative essay topic, elements of a strong narrative essay, engaging narrative essay topics for high schoolers, where to get your narrative essay edited for free.

Narrative essays are an extensive form of writing that gives readers the opportunity to follow along as a person goes through a journey or sets of experiences. Rather than providing analytic insight, narrative essays simply share a story and offer a first-person account. These essays may seem easy to write at first, but it takes a certain finesse to write a narrative essay that is interesting, cohesive, and well-researched. Whether you’re looking for a unique topic to write about, or just want some new inspiration, CollegeVine is here to help! These 50 narrative essay topics are engaging, unique and will have you writing in no time.

A narrative essay is a great way to express your personal experiences and opinions, but it is important to remember that this type of essay is different from an analytical paper. In a narrative essay, you do not need to provide background information or explain your thoughts and feelings; instead, you simply tell a story. It’s important to avoid too much telling in your writing; instead, use creative details and vivid imagery to make readers feel as if they are actually right there with you.

Where You Will Encounter Narrative Essays

This type of essay is typically encountered in high school, where students may be required to write personal statements to prepare for their Common App essay . Narrative essays are also commonly seen in AP Language and Composition. Therefore, it’s important you are aware of the style because you are bound to have a narrative essay assignment.  

Of course, before you start writing, it is important to pick the right essay topic. There are many factors involved in the process of picking the perfect narrative essay topic for your story.

You should always choose a topic that you are passionate about, since writing on something you care about will make the process much easier. Not only will it be more interesting to create your paper around something that truly interests you, but it will also allow you to fully express yourself in your essay. You also want to be sure that the topic has enough material to work with. If your chosen topic is too short, you will not have enough content to write a complete paper. For example, if you are writing about your experience getting lost at the mall, make sure that you have enough information to work with to craft an engaging narrative. 

The best topic for an engaging narrative essay is one that focuses on showing versus telling, has a clear structure, and provides a dialogue. These elements come together to form an engaging narrative essay. Regardless of what subject you pick, any topic may be turned into a fascinating, A+ worthy narrative using the tips below.

Show, Don’t Tell

To write a good narrative essay, it’s important to show, not tell. Instead of simply informing your audience, show them what you mean. For example, instead of saying “I was nervous,” you could say “My heart began to race and my stomach filled with butterflies.” Also make sure to use sensory details, such as sights, sounds and tastes, and include a personal reflection at the end of your narrative. 

Begin with a Strong Opening Line

A good narrative essay will begin with an attention-grabbing opening line. But make sure to avoid common clichés, such as “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Instead, come up with something original and specific to you and your situation. For example: “My pre-calc teacher was obsessed with circles. I mean, he even used circular note cards.” Or, “It all started the day my mom brought home a guinea pig.”

Follows a Three-Act Structure

A strong narrative essay follows the same three-act structure as other essays. But in order to make it interesting, you’ll need to come up with a creative way to break things down into sections. For example, using the guinea pig example from above, you could write the following:

  • Act 1 – Introduction: The day my mom brought home a guinea pig.
  • Act 2 – Conflict: The day I had to say goodbye to my beloved pet.
  • Act 3 – Conclusion: Looking back at how much I miss him now that he’s gone.

Conclude with Personal Reflection

To conclude your narrative essay, you’ll want to explain what this specific experience taught you or how you’ve changed. For example, upon realizing that her pre-calc teacher was obsessed with circles, the writer of the previous example begins to notice circular shapes everywhere. Another way to conclude your narrative essay is by touching on how this experience impacted you emotionally. For example, after losing his guinea pig, the writer explains how much he missed it.

Use Dialogue

Include a conversation in your essay to make it come alive. For example, instead of simply saying that you met a new friend, talk about how you introduced yourselves or what they were wearing when you met them.

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The following list of 50 narrative essay topics is divided into categories. This will make it easier to find a topic that fits your writing style.

1. What is a childhood song that still sticks with you today?

2. Your first day of Kindergarten

3. Talk about a time when you’re siblings looked up to you

4. Describe the best birthday party you’ve ever had

5. Talk about the best day you ever spent with a childhood friend

6. Explain your first childhood hobby

7. Describe your first halloween costume

8. A family vacation gone wrong

9. Your first family reunion

10. Describe a tradition that is unique to your family

11. Describe your family to a person who’s never met them before

12. What frustrates you most about your family

13. If you could only keep one memory of your family, what would it be and why?

14. Describe a time your family embarrassed you in public

15. The most beautiful place in the world

16. Your favorite season and why

17. If you were a part of nature, what element would you be? Why?

18. When you go outside, which of your senses are you most thankful to have?

19. Describe the first time you witnessed a tornado 

20. Write a poem about your favorite season

21. Describe yourself as one of the four seasons

22. Describe a time in which you felt connected with nature

23. Describe the first time you played an instrument and how you felt

24. What major event would be much worse if music was removed, and why?

25. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

26. What would a life without music look like?

27. If you could master one instrument, what would it be and why?

Relationships

28. What if you had never met your best friend?

29. Describe a time when you fixed a broken relationship

30. Talk about a movie that defined a relationship for you

31. Describe your first date

32. Describe the first time you made a friend

33. Describe your relationship with your parents

Self Reflection

34. Have you ever fooled someone? If so, describe what happened and how you felt about it

35. What is the worst thing you’ve done to someone else?

36. Write about the difference between how things seem and how they really are. 

37. Have you ever been embarrassed in some way? If so, describe the situation and how it affected you as well as those around you

38. Have you ever witnessed something really beautiful? Describe it

39. Is your glass half empty or half full?

Overcoming Adversity 

40. Have you ever been very afraid of something but tried your hardest to appear fearless? If so, describe that experience

41. When have you ever succeeded when you thought you might fail

42. What are your secret survival strategies?

43. Describe the last time you were stressed and why?

44. Describe a time when you were discriminated against

45. The most memorable class you’ve had and why

46. Your favorite study abroad memory

47. Describe your kindergarten classroom

48. Describe your first teacher

49. The first time you experienced detention

50. Your first field trip

Hopefully these topics will get you thinking about a personal experience that could make for a thoughtful and engaging narrative essay. Remember, a strong narrative essay must contain relatable details and a clear flow that keeps the reader entertained and engaged to read all the way to the end.

If you need some additional guidance on your narrative essay, use CollegeVine’s free peer review essay tool to get feedback for free!

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100+ Inspiring Narrative Essay Topics

Teenager writing narrative essay

  • DESCRIPTION Teenager writing narrative essay
  • SOURCE SDI Productions / E+ / Getty

You can find great narrative essay topics by exploring major events in your own life that were inspiring or by reading uplifting narrative essay examples . Use these narrative essay topics to start your paper or inspire an original topic.

Encouraging Personal Narrative Essay Topics

Writing a personal narrative starts with a good personal narrative topic. Remember, this type of essay should be about a personal experience that inspired you or might inspire others.

  • Overcoming a disability
  • A health scare that changed your life
  • A time when you helped someone
  • Someone who changed your life and doesn’t know it
  • A time your opinion was changed
  • Something you dreamed of as a child that came to fruition
  • Overcoming a publicly embarrassing moment
  • How social media helped you
  • How you dealt with a state of emergency
  • A time when you realized someone looked up to you
  • A random act of kindness that moved you
  • Your part in a pay it forward chain
  • One moment that made you a better person
  • Checking something off your bucket list
  • An accomplishment you never believed was possible
  • A lesson you learned from nature
  • A book that changed your outlook on life
  • A song lyric that uplifts you
  • A moment of spontaneity that brought great joy
  • Someone who helped you set a goal
  • The moment you realized you were beautiful
  • Something a child said to you that put life in perspective
  • A news story that made you take action
  • Following your instincts
  • An employer that really supports employees
  • A job that changed your opinion about something
  • A moment that taught you the value of money
  • A movie that mirrors your life
  • How VR changed your perspective of the world

Refreshing Narrative Essay Topics for Middle School

Middle school is a great time of self-discovery that’s filled with firsts and memorable moments. Use these milestones as the topic for your narrative essay.

  • Making an unlikely friend
  • How bad relationships help you become a better person
  • The first time you opened your locker
  • The teacher that makes you feel smart
  • Moving from elementary school to middle school
  • A social media post that inspired you
  • A news story about a kid/teen that was uplifting
  • A comment from a teacher that made you feel good
  • A comment from someone you’re not friends with that made you feel good
  • Being yourself
  • A class you look forward to
  • Your parents supporting you and giving you some independence
  • Your first cell phone
  • A family vacation
  • A special photo of friends
  • Your bedroom as a safe haven
  • Something that always calms you down
  • A class presentation that went well
  • Something that makes you special or unique
  • A time when you didn’t let peer pressure get to you
  • A time when you lost a friend, then got them back
  • The village that helped raise you
  • How you make a difference in the world
  • What your pet has taught you about love

Moving Narrative Essay Topics for High School

High school narrative essay topics include the classic moments that are stereotypical of the secondary school experience.

  • Special homecoming court moment
  • A friendship that started long before high school
  • Prom dress shopping and your self-esteem
  • Anticipation for graduation
  • An award or scholarship you received
  • Participating in a school musical
  • A class or club trip
  • Your first love
  • A moment you stood up for what you believed in
  • How your relationship with your parents changed for the better
  • Showing school pride
  • Something you thought would be hard, but turned out to be easy
  • Taking a stand against social norms
  • Expressing your personality through fashion
  • A YA novel that captures your feelings exactly
  • Removing a toxic person from your life
  • Your most inspiring social media post
  • Songs that get you pumped up
  • A celebrity who impacted your life in a good way
  • Overcoming a sports injury
  • The power of true teamwork
  • An optimistic moment
  • A time you felt totally prepared for something scary
  • Something you built on your own
  • A life skill you’ve mastered
  • Learning to drive

Uplifting Narrative Essay Topics for College

College is another time in your life that’s wrought with self-discovery and seeing the world as it truly is.

  • Why you chose to go to college
  • How you chose your major
  • The impact of joining a team or club
  • A fellow student you see thriving against the odds
  • Examples of community on campus
  • A test experience that boosted your self-esteem
  • The moment you realized you were going into the right field
  • What a college degree means to you
  • College as a microcosm of the world
  • The feeling of independence
  • Keeping in touch with family
  • The role of old friends in your new life
  • Dating as a way of finding yourself and growing as a person
  • Receiving good news
  • Overcoming professional rejection
  • Something you brought from home that keeps you sane
  • The role of “home” in your life
  • A time when you received great professional feedback
  • Your biggest cheerleader
  • Your mentor
  • A TV character who broke the mold
  • A moving internship experience

Share Your Story

Whether you use narrative writing prompts or not, a narrative essay should always be a moment where you share your story. More often than not, your story is relatable to others. To craft the best narrative essay, choose a topic that’s meaningful to you.

Become a Writer Today

Narrative Essays: Examples And Topic Ideas For Students

Writing a narrative essay is a great way to share your life with others. Here, we’ll explore topics that will set you up to write a great narrative essay.

If you’re searching for a list of personal narrative essay topics, you’re likely writing a middle school, high school, or college essay. A personal narrative describes your life experience, usually from the first-person point of view.

There are many different approaches to take to writing a narrative essay. Good narrative essay topics are engaging and can be either serious or silly. A personal narrative is not an argument essay or a persuasive essay; rather, it tells a story from your point of view.

Narrative essay writers are constantly on the lookout for things that happen in their lives that teach a lesson, make a point, or tell a funny story. When brainstorming for the best topic for your narrative essay, think about something that happened in your life that you love sharing with others, and work to translate your story into written prose that will hook your readers.

Here, we’ll explore some of the best narrative essay topic examples and ideas, helping you get your writing started right.

For help with your essays, check out our round-up of the best essay checkers

Narrative Essay Examples

1. the power of potstickers by lauren brown, 2. everyone should have a best friend 30 years older than them by lucy holden, 3. all it takes is a small act of kindness by maddie huiras, 4. a reflection on working in labor & delivery by dr. amos grunebaum, md, 5. pressures of being a first generation american-born citizen by helen bezikyan, narrative essay topic ideas, 1. your first day of high school, 2. how you met your best friend, 3. your best birthday party, 4. your favorite (or most difficult) childhood memory, 5. your most embarrassing moment, 6. how you made a difficult decision, 7. an act of kindness, 8. a tribute to your first pet.

Although I find the exact measurements of recipes comforting, I do my best to add a pinch of this and a dash of that in my meals every so often. It’s how I get to go outside my comfort zone every day. And I see in myself a newfound wisdom: it’s ok to go off the beaten path, you can experiment, compromise can lead to something new and beautiful. My mother’s cooking taught me that and I expect to bring that with me wherever I may go.

In this food-based tribute to her mother’s ingenuity, Brown discusses important family memories while sharing lessons from her mother that she now carries through everyday life. The combination of rich descriptive language with an explanation of how the experience of cooking with her mother shaped her life draws the reader in, helping them to feel like they’re in the kitchen with Brown and her mother.

In short, we adopted each other as confidants and met regularly to discuss life in general. He was more supportive than anyone else I met during the whole three years and stepped out of his remit to give me tailored advice that definitely helped me to get a job in journalism. It was clear from the start that he cared more about what was right for me than what was right for the university league tables, perhaps because he actually knew me. When I told him I was worried that the long days I was doing in the student newspaper office would take a toll on my degree, he told me I could get a first if I wanted one, but thought the student paper stuff would help my career much more. 

It can be hard to find a friend who knows you better than yourself, and Holden discusses that phenomenon in their essay on friendship. She discusses how her friend affected her life during their time together and how he affected her after being separated by distance. In this narrative essay, the author works to describe the feelings she experienced through the ups and downs of their friendship, writing about universal truths that all humans experience in relationships. 

Throughout his life, he had gotten used to dealing with Dyskeratosis congenita, and as life went on, he eventually developed cancer; but even while battling cancer, my dad showed kindness. In fact, on the night before he passed away, even though he knew he wouldn’t be with us for much longer, he tried his best to focus on the positive stuff. 

In this essay, Huiras reflects on the life and death of her father and celebrates his commitment to kindness to others throughout his life. While Huiras narrates the events that led to her father’s death, she also describes how his actions and character significantly affect her life, helping her grow into the woman she wants to be.

Labor & Delivery is getting tears in your eyes when you watch a couple you’ve connected with welcome their baby into the world. Even though you’ve just met and will likely never see each other again, there’s something special about sharing that experience that makes you feel like you’ve known each other forever. Labor & Delivery is a place full of opposites. A woman grieving a devastating loss can be in the room next door to a family celebrating a new addition and 14-year-old mother can be in the room next door to a 45-year-old mother. Regardless of the circumstances, each family that walks through the L&D doors will be forever changed.

In this essay on life behind the doors of the delivery room, Dr. Grunebaum shares what it’s like to both celebrate and grieve with families and how difficult it can be to manage both the chaos and joy that comes with the birth process. If you choose to write an essay about a process so personal as birth, leave out any details that could identify the people involved, as Grunebaum does in this essay. 

The struggles that come with having immigrant parents may include constant seeking of approval, always having to be responsible, as well as immigrant parents discussing the future that they may have already planned for their child. More often than not, immigrant parents constantly remind their child, or children that they expect big and great things from them in the future, which is part of why they came to this country.

In this essay, Bezikyan discusses the unique pressures of being a first-generation American-born citizen. In addition to offering her perspective, she also offers the opinions of others in similar circumstances. This helps to support her opinion and help others see the shared experience of people born to immigrant parents.

Narrative Essay Topics: Your first day of high school

Whether you’re a college or high school student, you likely remember your first day of high school—stepping away from middle school and becoming a young adult. The first day of high school is rife with emotion, and describing your experience can provide your reader with an interesting perspective on how you deal with transition and change.

When describing the big day, use details. Explain how you felt as you walked toward the door, how you felt when you struggled to find your classes, and what it was like opening your new locker for the first time. As you write, you may find it helpful to avoid technical details (like the minute-to-minute scheduling of your classes) and instead focus on unique or tough moments or how accomplished you felt by the end of the day.

Your best friend has been there for you through thick and thin, and writing about how the two of you met can be a fun narrative essay topic, no matter your age or writing level.

As you tell the story of how you met your best friend, describe how your connection grew over time. Perhaps you were thick as thieves right away, or you needed some time to realize that you’d met a lifelong friend. For some inspiration, reach out to your best friend and ask them what they remember from the day you met—it can be fun and fresh to get their perspective on how your first meeting went.

Birthdays are a time to celebrate, and writing about a particularly excellent birthday can be a great topic for your narrative essay. When discussing your best birthday party, include all details, including who you invited, what you ate, and how you celebrated with family and friends.

You may also want to talk about why that particular birthday was so meaningful to you. If it was a landmark birthday (like your sweet 16) or a special event (like your last birthday party at home before you left for college), be sure to mention this, so your reader understands why this event was so significant in your life.

There’s no way around it: traumatic things happen in childhood, and wonderful things happen. Writing about childhood memories can be relatable and provide an instant connection with your readers.

When choosing a favorite childhood memory to write about, think back to memorable times in your life because they’re connected with strong emotions. Perhaps you want to write about when your baby sibling came home from the hospital or your first baseball game.

If you choose to write about a difficult childhood memory, the process for choosing a topic is still the same. Think back to a childhood memory that evokes strong emotion. While writing about a negative childhood memory can be an excellent way to write a compelling personal essay, it can also bring up challenging thoughts and may feel traumatic.

Have a particular time that made you red in the face? Writing about an embarrassing moment is relatable and can provide a humorous topic for your narrative essay.

When writing about your embarrassing moment, it can be helpful if you’re willing to laugh at yourself and find the humor in the situation you went through. Be sure to describe what happened from start to finish, painting a clear picture of the moment for your readers. Describe your emotions as the embarrassing moment occurred, and talk about what happened after the moment was over.

Wrestling with a difficult decision can feel impossible at the moment, and reflecting on the experience of making a difficult decision to your readers can make for an excellent narrative essay topic.

When you’re talking about a difficult decision in your narrative essay, give plenty of background information so that the reader fully understands why you’re wrestling with a tough choice. Don’t give away your decision at the start of the essay; rather, take the reader through your thought process as you had to decide what to do.

Sharing an act of kindness you did with someone else—or a random act of kindness that someone did for you—can provide a warm, fuzzy topic for your narrative essay. When writing about an act of kindness, focus on how the act made you feel, whether you were the giver or the receiver of the act.

Much like writing about meeting your best friend for the first time, it can be helpful to talk about your state of mind before and after the act of kindness occurred. Perhaps you were going through a tough time, and the act of kindness helped to boost your mood. Explaining the emotions that came with the act of kindness and the facts of the situation can help your reader feel connected to your story.

Narrative Essay Topics: A Tribute To Your First Pet

Whether you have a dog, a cat, or something more exotic, many readers will be able to connect with the love that a kid has for their first pet. When writing a narrative essay about your first pet, please explain how you felt the first time you laid eyes on them. This may mean describing when they were first presented to you as a kitten or a puppy or the first time you saw your older rescue pet.

Talk about the qualities you loved most about your pet, whether that was their ability to comfort you after a bad day or how they were never too old or tired to go outside and play frisbee. Focus both on the descriptive qualities of your pet that allow your reader to imagine what they looked like and the emotional qualities that keep your first pet near and dear to your heart to this day.

If you have a pet currently, you can mention them in your narrative essay about your first pet, talking about their qualities that remind you of your first pet. While it can tug at your heartstrings to describe the memory of your first pet, writing about the love you have for an animal is nearly universally relatable, and your readers will love hearing about your fond memories of your furry friend.

Tip: If writing an essay sounds like a lot of work, simplify it. Write a simple 5 paragraph essay instead.

If you’re still stuck, check out our available resources for  essay writing topics .

narrative essay on the topic

Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.

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How to Write a Narrative Essay or Speech

  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

A narrative essay or speech is used to tell a story, often one that is based on personal experience. This genre of work comprises works of nonfiction that hew closely to the facts and follow a logical chronological progression of events. Writers often use anecdotes to relate their experiences and engage the reader. In doing so, you can give your narrative a level of emotional appeal. It can be serious or humorous, but this emotional appeal is essential if you want to  give your audience some way to connect with your story.

The most successful narrative essays usually share these three basic traits:

  • They make a central point.
  • They contain  specific details in support  of that point.
  • They are clearly  organized in time .

Constructing the Essay

Magazines like the New Yorker and websites like Vice are known for the pages-long narrative essays they publish, sometimes called long-format journalism. But an effective narrative essay can be as short as five paragraphs. As with other kinds of essay writing, narratives follow the same basic outline:

  • Introduction: This is the opening paragraph of your essay. It contains the hook, which is used to grab the reader's attention, and the thesis or topic, which you'll detail in the next section.
  • Body: This is the heart of your essay, usually three to five paragraphs in length. Each paragraph should contain one example, such as a personal anecdote or noteworthy event, that supports your larger topic.
  • Conclusion: This is the final paragraph of your essay. In it, you'll sum up the main points of the body and bring your narrative to an end. Writers sometimes embellish the conclusion with an epilogue or a takeaway.

Narrative Essay Topics

Choosing the topic for your essay may be the hardest part. What you're looking for is a particular incident that you can recount in a well-developed and clearly organized essay  or speech . We have a few ideas to help you brainstorm topics. They're quite broad, but something will surely spark an idea.

  • An embarrassing experience
  • A memorable wedding or funeral
  • An exciting minute or two of a football game (or another sporting event)
  • Your first or last day at a job or new school
  • A disastrous date
  • A memorable moment of failure or success
  • An encounter that changed your life or taught you a lesson
  • An experience that led to a renewed faith
  • A strange or unexpected encounter
  • An experience of how technology is more trouble than it's worth
  • An experience that left you disillusioned
  • A frightening or dangerous experience
  • A memorable journey
  • An encounter with someone you were in awe of or afraid of
  • An occasion when you experienced rejection
  • Your first visit to the countryside (or to a large city)
  • The circumstances that led to the breakup of a friendship
  • An experience that showed that you should be careful of what you wish for
  • A significant or comic misunderstanding
  • An experience that showed how appearances can be deceiving
  • An account of a difficult decision that you had to make
  • An event that marked a turning point in your life
  • An experience that changed your viewpoint on a controversial issue
  • A memorable encounter with someone in authority
  • An act of heroism or cowardice
  • An imaginary encounter with a real person
  • A rebellious act
  • A brush with greatness or death
  • A time that you took a stand on an important issue
  • An experience that altered your view of someone
  • A trip that you would like to take
  • A vacation trip from your childhood
  • An account of a visit to a fictional place or time
  • Your first time away from home
  • Two different versions of the same event
  • A day when everything went right or wrong
  • An experience that made you laugh until you cried
  • The experience of being lost
  • Surviving a natural disaster
  • An important discovery
  • An eyewitness account of an important event
  • An experience that helped you grow up
  • A description of your secret place
  • An account of what it would be like to live as a particular animal
  • Your dream job and what it would be like
  • An invention you'd like to create
  • A time when you realized your parents were right
  • An account of your earliest memory
  • Your reaction when you heard the best news of your life
  • A description of the one thing you can't live without

Other Types of Essays

Narrative essays are one of the major essay types. Others include:

  • Argumentative: In argumentative essays , the writer makes the case for a specific opinion on a topic, using research and analysis to persuade the reader.
  • Descriptive: This kind of writing relies on detail to describe or define a person, place, thing, or experience. Writing may be either objective or subjective.
  • Expository: Like argumentative essays, expository writing requires research and analysis in order to expound upon a subject. Unlike argumentative essays, the intention is not to change the readers' opinion but to inform the readers.
  • Angelli, Elizabeth; Baker, Jack; and Brizee, Allen. " Essay Writing ." Perdue.edu. 9 February 2018.
  • Beck, Kate. " Instructions to Write a Narrative Essay. " SeattlePI.com.
  • Santa Barbara City College staff. "Structure of a Personal Narrative Essay." SBCC.edu.
  • Compose a Narrative Essay or Personal Statement
  • How to Write a Personal Narrative
  • How to Write a Great Process Essay
  • 6 Steps to Writing the Perfect Personal Essay
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  • How to Write a Great Essay for the TOEFL or TOEIC
  • How to Write a Solid Thesis Statement
  • Write an Attention-Grabbing Opening Sentence for an Essay
  • What Is Expository Writing?
  • What Is an Autobiography?
  • How to Write an Outstanding College Application Essay
  • MBA Essay Tips
  • How to Structure an Essay
  • How To Write an Essay
  • How to Write and Format an MBA Essay

Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay Topics

Caleb S.

Best Narrative Essay Topics 2023 for Students

Published on: Jun 19, 2018

Last updated on: Nov 16, 2023

Narrative Essay Topics

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Are you a student in 2023, looking for some awesome narrative essay topics that are easy to grasp and fun to write about? 

You're in luck! Narrative essays let you share your stories, making them a perfect choice for students. 

In this guide, we've put together a list of the best narrative essay topics for 2023. 

Whether you're an experienced writer searching for fresh ideas or a student hunting for an exciting topic for your next assignment, we've got your back. These topics will ignite your imagination and captivate your readers. 

So, let's dive in!

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Narrative Essay Topics for Students

If you're a student looking for a diverse range of topics, we've got you covered with a diverse selection of narrative essay topics. 

Narrative Essay Topics for Grade 5

  • My First Day at a New School
  • The Time I Learned to Ride a Bike
  • A Visit to a Haunted House
  • The Day I Met a Real-Life Superhero
  • My Most Memorable Family Vacation
  • A Surprising Encounter with an Animal
  • The Mystery of the Missing Homework
  • The Best Birthday Party I Ever Had
  • When I Lost a Tooth
  • My Adventure in a Fantasy World

Narrative Essay Topics for Grade 6

  • An Unforgettable Camping Trip
  • The Day I Discovered a Hidden Talent
  • A Mysterious Letter and Its Consequences
  • A Time I Had to Stand Up for What's Right
  • The Thrilling Mystery of a Forgotten Diary
  • A Memorable Encounter with a Famous Person
  • My Journey Through a Fantasy Land
  • The Day I Learned a Valuable Life Lesson
  • An Unexpected Act of Kindness
  • A Secret Adventure in an Abandoned Place

Narrative Essay Topics for Grade 7

  • The Most Exciting Adventure of My Life
  • The Day I Overcame a Fear
  • A Memorable School Field Trip
  • The Strangest Mystery I Ever Encountered
  • An Unforgettable Encounter with Wildlife
  • A Life-Changing Decision I Had to Make
  • The Best Book I Ever Read and Why
  • A Day in the Life of a Time Traveler
  • The Importance of Friendship in My Life
  • A Valuable Lesson Learned from a Mistake

Narrative Essay Topics for Grade 8 

  • A Time I Faced a Difficult Moral Dilemma
  • The Most Memorable Summer Vacation
  • The Impact of a Life-Altering Decision
  • An Unexpected Act of Kindness I Received
  • The Day I Stepped Out of My Comfort Zone
  • A Historical Event I Would Like to Witness
  • A Special Family Tradition and Its Significance
  • A Personal Achievement I'm Proud Of
  • A Challenging Obstacle I Overcame
  • A Journey Through My Creative Imagination

Narrative Essay Topics for Grade 9

  • The Transition to High School: Challenges and Triumphs
  • A Life-Changing Encounter with an Inspiring Mentor
  • My First Part-Time Job and What I Learned
  • The Day I Realized the Power of Empathy
  • The Impact of a Personal Passion or Hobby
  • An Unforgettable Travel Experience Abroad
  • A Meaningful Community Service Project I Participated In
  • The Role of Technology in My Life
  • A Defining Moment in My Cultural Identity
  • My Vision for the Future: Dreams and Aspirations

Narrative Essay Topics for O-Levels 

  • The Day I Took a Leap of Faith
  • An Unforgettable Journey into the Unknown
  • A Life-Altering Decision I Made in High School
  • An Encounter with a Stranger That Changed My Perspective
  • The Role of Resilience in Overcoming a Personal Challenge
  • The Impact of a Cultural Exchange Experience
  • A Lesson Learned from a Unique Life Experience
  • The Importance of Perseverance in Achieving a Goal
  • My Most Memorable Academic Achievement
  • A Glimpse into My Future: Aspirations and Ambitions

Narrative Essay Topics for Highschool

  • The Moment I Discovered My Passion
  • A Life-Changing Journey Abroad
  • A Challenging Decision That Shaped My Future
  • An Unexpected Act of Kindness That Touched My Heart
  • The Role of Resilience in Overcoming Adversity
  • A Personal Experience That Shaped My Values
  • The Impact of Technology on My Generation
  • A Time I Took a Stand for a Cause I Believe In
  • A Memorable Leadership Role I Assumed
  • A Glimpse into My Ideal Future: Aspirations and Goals

Narrative Essay Topics for College

  • The Journey to Finding My Academic Passion
  • A Life-Altering Study Abroad Experience
  • The Transformational Impact of a Challenging Decision
  • Navigating the Transition from College to the Professional World
  • An Unforgettable Encounter with a Mentor or Role Model
  • The Role of Adversity in Shaping My Personal Growth
  • A Significant Ethical Dilemma I Faced in College
  • How My College Experiences Have Shaped My Worldview
  • The Impact of Technology on My College Education
  • A Personal Reflection on My Career Aspirations and Goals

Narrative Essay Topics for University

  • The Evolution of My Academic and Career Goals at University
  • An Eye-Opening Internship Experience That Impacted My Future
  • A Transformative Study Abroad Journey
  • Navigating the Complexities of Balancing Work, Academics, and Social Life at University
  • The Role of a Unique Research Project in My Academic Growth
  • A Personal Account of Overcoming a Significant Academic Challenge
  • A Meaningful Leadership Role in a University Organization
  • The Journey of Self-Discovery Through Elective Courses at University
  • The Impact of Peer Relationships and Networking at University
  • How My University Education Has Shaped My Perspective on Global Issues

Unique Narrative Essay Topics for Students

We've gathered distinct narrative topic ideas to fuel your creativity. Let’s look at some personal narrative ideas to inspire your narrative writing.

Descriptive Narrative Essay Topics

  • A Peaceful Day by the Riverside
  • Exploring a Haunted House
  • My Favorite Childhood Memory
  • A Walk Through an Ancient Forest
  • The Perfect Winter Wonderland
  • An Evening at a Carnival
  • A Visit to a Vibrant Art Gallery
  • The Spectacular Colors of Autumn
  • A Day in the Life of a Beach
  • An Exciting Night in the City

Personal Narrative Essay Topics

  • A Life-Changing Decision I Made
  • A Moment of Personal Triumph
  • Overcoming My Greatest Fear
  • A Meaningful Lesson from a Personal Challenge
  • The Role of a Special Friend in My Life
  • A Time When I Broke a Personal Record
  • The Impact of a Mentor on My Life
  • My Journey to Self-Discovery

Literacy Narrative Essay Topics

  • My Earliest Memory of Learning to Read
  • The Book That Sparked My Love for Reading
  • A Life-Changing Experience in a Library
  • The Impact of a Special Teacher on My Writing Skills
  • How Technology Has Shaped My Writing Habits
  • A Personal Reflection on My Writing Journey
  • The Role of Literature in Shaping My Perspective
  • Writing as a Tool for Self-Expression and Healing
  • How I Overcame Writer's Block
  • The Significance of Storytelling in My Life

Engaging Narrative Essay Topics

  • The Mystery of a Lost Treasure Map
  • An Unlikely Friendship That Changed My Life
  • A Day in the Life of a Professional Athlete
  • The Journey of Starting My Own Business
  • A Haunting Experience in a Historic Place
  • A Memorable Road Trip with Friends
  • My Encounter with a Famous Celebrity
  • The Day I Conquered My Greatest Fear
  • An Adventure in a Foreign Land
  • A Life-Altering Decision at a Crossroads

How to Choose a Topic for a Narrative Essay?

Choosing the right topic for your narrative essay can be a daunting task. Before you start writing, it is important to invest some time in researching and brainstorming. 

Here are a few tips to help guide you in selecting an interesting and engaging narrative essay topic: 

  • Reflect on Your Personal Experiences: If you are writing about a personal narrative topic, consider the impactful moments in your life and think about experiences that have left a strong impression on you.
  • Identify a Clear Message or Theme: Determine the central idea or theme of your narrative. Decide what lesson, insight, or emotion you want to convey.
  • Engage Your Audience: Consider your target audience and what will resonate with them. Choose a topic that captures their interest and keeps them engaged.
  • Play with Different Perspectives: Explore the option of incorporating different viewpoints. Combining personal and external perspectives can add depth to your narrative.
  • Test Your Idea: Get feedback from a friend or classmate. Assess if your chosen topic is likely to resonate with your audience.
  • Stay True to Your Voice: Balance considering your audience with being authentic. Let your unique voice and storytelling style shine through in your writing

Tips for Writing Narrative Essays

Once you have selected a topic for your narrative essay, it is time to start writing. 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you write your story: 

  • Start with a Strong Hook: Begin your narrative essay with a captivating hook, such as an engaging anecdote, a thought-provoking question, or a vivid description. 
  • Follow a Clear Structure: Organize your narrative essay outline with a clear structure. Most narratives follow a chronological order, but you can also use flashbacks or nonlinear storytelling when it serves your narrative. 
  • Build Tension and Conflict:  Create tension and conflict in your narrative to add depth and maintain reader engagement. Whether it's a personal struggle, a moral dilemma, or an external challenge, these obstacles will keep readers eagerly anticipating what comes next.
  • Revise and Edit:  After completing your first draft, take the time to revise and edit your work. Review it for grammar and spelling errors, but also examine the overall structure and flow of your narrative.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice:  Like any form of writing, improving your narrative essay skills takes practice. Keep writing and experimenting with different topics, styles, and approaches to develop your storytelling abilities.

Before you start writing, make sure you read some narrative essay examples to learn how to organize your thoughts and structure your story.

In summary, no matter the type of essay you are writing about, you need a topic to start with. Our collection of narrative essay topics offers fresh, distinct ideas. 

These topics are crafted to ignite your creativity and captivate your audience. They cover a diverse range of experiences, making it easier for you to connect with your readers on a personal level.

Still, struggling to write a compelling narrative essay? Our narrative essay writing service is here to help you out!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How are narrative essay topics different from other essay types.

Narrative essay topics are usually based on personal experiences, so they are more emotional and creative than other types of essays. Also, they are often more open-ended, so you have more freedom to choose what to write about. 

Where can I find good narrative essay topics?

There are a few ways to find good topics for your narrative essay. You can look through books or magazines for ideas, or search online for inspiration. You can also brainstorm with friends or family members to come up with ideas. 

What do I write a narrative essay about?

You can write a narrative essay about anything, but it is usually based on personal experience. Try to recall interesting incidents from your life to develop a narrative about. 

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150 Narrative Essay Topics: Step By Step Guide 🤓| Studyfy

150 Narrative Essay Topics

narrative essay on the topic

If you're looking for a more creative approach to writing essays, narrative essays might be a great option for you. With narrative essays, you have the freedom to tell a story and use your own personal experiences to make a point.

Whether you're writing a personal narrative or an experiential essay, you'll want to make sure that you're engaging your reader and conveying your message effectively. This is where custom essay writing services and coursework writing services can be incredibly helpful. With the assistance of professional writers, you can develop a compelling narrative essay that is both engaging and informative.

Overall, writing a narrative essay can be a fun and rewarding experience. Whether you're reflecting on a personal experience or sharing an anecdote, remember that the goal is to make a point and connect with your audience. So why not give it a try and see what stories you can tell? And if you need any assistance, don't hesitate to reach out to a " write my essay" or " write a paper for me" service for help.

What is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is a less formal form of academic writing where the goal is to see whether you can tell a story clearly in an engaging manner. It follows the typical format of an essay with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion but also incorporates classic story writing elements like plot, setting, character, climax, and ending. 

This kind of essay is written from a defined point of view, usually yours, so writing in the first person is recommended unlike most other forms of academic writing. You still need to make a point though, so include a thesis statement in your first paragraph and refer to it again in the conclusion. 

Many college application essay prompts are narrative writing, for example - describe the most significant achievement of your life. Learning how to write a good narrative paper has use beyond just college essays though, a majority of online content now is based on telling engaging stories. Read on to know more about narrative papers and find a list of 150 fascinating topics for narrative essays.

How to Choose a Topic for a Narrative Essay

Choosing good narrative essay topics are crucial for a few reasons. The story you tell will most often draw from your own experiences and thoughts, so choose a topic that you know well or are well-informed about. Additionally, since the story has to have a purpose, select a topic that has broad potential and narrow it down to tell your unique story. Remember the following things when choosing a topic for a narrative essay.

The key thing to remember is that you’re telling a story

Because a narrative essay is so unlike most academic writing assignments, a common mistake is writing sections like a dry academic assignment. It’s for school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t deliver an experience. It’s about crafting an engaging piece of storytelling while revealing something impactful through the story.

Choose an interesting or meaningful idea to explore

This is a great time to write about something that is particularly important in your life or something you are passionate about. Topics can range from your thoughts and ideas about a concept to an obscure activity that you enjoy.

The pre-writing stage is critically important

A good story flows well and includes details that draw the reader in, but it also has to deliver some idea or message. Collecting information and planning ahead to create an outline for your essay will smoothen your writing process.

Don’t forget to have fun with it!

The story you tell should be engaging, which means you have the freedom to experiment! Drawing from several different but interconnected life experiences, or telling the story from the perspective of an inanimate object are some interesting ways to make your essay stand out. 

But remember that it’s still an essay

Even though it’s storytelling, you’re still writing an essay, which means it needs to follow the classic essay structure. Based on the word count, plan how many body paragraphs you need (minimum 3 ALWAYS). Your first sentence should still have a hook, and your first paragraph still needs to have a thesis statement. The story that unfolds in the body paragraphs shouldn’t drift from your thesis statement, and your conclusion needs to end the story as well as reiterate your thesis. 

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150 Unique Topics for Narrative Essay 

It can be quite tough to think of something meaningful to write your essay about, but almost any experience you have can be an interesting topic. For one person, the first time they played a sport could be a traumatic experience, for another it could be life-changing. Only you know your experiences and thoughts. Here’s a list of narrative essay topics that you can use to start the brainstorming process and spark your imagination.

College narrative essay topics 

College is a time of new experiences. So much happens that it shouldn’t be difficult to choose something to write about. The essay you write can be more descriptive, focussing on your sensory observations of an experience, or more contemplative, focusing on new thoughts and feelings. Take a look at these narrative essay topics for college students. 

What was it like getting your first acceptance letter?
How you chose which college to go to
Your first day leaving home and coming to campus
Meeting your roommate and whether it went well or not
Your first college party 
Your favorite class 
Losing touch or staying in touch with friends from high school
The best day in college so far
The difference between sports in high school and college
How you realized college was easier or tougher than you thought it would be
What it was like being in a class with 200 students
Your experience with an extracurricular you had never tried before
Going home for the first time after attending college
Finding a subject you never thought you would like 
How did you start feeling truly comfortable in college?

Narrative essay topics for high school students

High school years are chaotic. The changes in students and their social expectations can be frustrating, challenging, and exhilarating. Essays about many important firsts can be drawn from high school. Here are a few examples of narrative essay topics related to high school.

The best day of freshman year
A time you were bullied and stood up for yourself
A time when you were bullied and felt helpless
Your most significant social accomplishment
What was a meaningful volunteering experience you had?
Your proudest moment in a sporting event
Losing a valued friend
Your first highschool dance
Why your favorite teacher became your favorite teacher
When you realized what you want to pursue as a career
The best video game moment you had 
An embarrassing moment in school and how you overcame it
Your best social media moment
The buildup to graduation day
An experience helping another student

Personal narrative essay topics

Since narrative essays are often written in the first person and rely on the experiences and thoughts of the author, they can all be considered personal, but a personal essay asks you to specifically tell a story about a time that changed you in a meaningful way. Here are some topics for writing a narrative essay about personal moments and revelations. 

A summer vacation adventure that involved heroics
Describe an experience you had in a foreign country that made you feel lucky to be from your country
Your first time following a YouTube tutorial 
Your excitement at watching the newest star wars/lord of the rings/Marvel Cinematic Universe etc. movie
Bonding with a new pet 
The moment you realized that you admire some traits in a person and want to be like them 
A situation that changed your relationship with your parents 
A situation when you had to deal with the police
Witnessing an event that needed you to call the police 
Your best leadership moment
Your experience attending a large event (politics, religion, sports, etc)
The most meaningful time in church or any religious moment of significance
An experience that humbled you 
A situation where you made a serious mistake 
A time you had to learn from adversity 

Narrative argument essay topics

Like any narrative essay - the goal is to tell a story, but like any argument essay - the goal is to convince or persuade the reader to agree with your viewpoint. Writing an effective narrative argument essay incorporates convincing arguments into the story itself. The trick is finding a balance between getting lost in telling the story and forgetting about storytelling and convincing the reader. Here are a few examples to help you find a topic for a narrative essay. 

A time when you convinced somebody against a conspiracy theory
A moment that made you more religious or spiritual
A moment that made you less religious or spiritual
Your favorite trip and why the place you went to is fantastic
How you discovered your favorite art style
The first time you played a new genre of game and why it’s the best 
Your experience attending a conference or event about climate change
Watching a movie, tv-show, youtube video, or any media that changed your mind
A situation where you had to verbally defend yourself or a friend
An observation about income disparity gained by working in a soup kitchen/homeless shelter etc.
An experience you’ve had talking to somebody with different political beliefs
A conversation about gender identity with an older person
Seeing the police behave appropriately or inappropriately
Your experience with love and how you developed your definition of it
A time you had to swallow your pride and hold your tongue

Easy narrative essay topics

Here’s a list of some good topics for a narrative essay that most people have experience with and can write about but are still interesting enough to create an engaging story for the reader. Below are some easy but interesting narrative essay topics.

A hike, picnic, or walk that made you appreciate nature
Visiting a particularly awesome amusement park
An especially romantic date
Your first trip to a big city 
Your first trip to a foreign country 
Discovering a new movie genre
The thrill of watching horror movies
A regular day in your life
A moment when you gained respect for your parents, teachers, or friends
The time you saved an animal
How you broke a bad habit 
How you developed a new skill
Your experience at a zoo
The first time you went bowling (tried any new game)
Your happiest day

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Cultural narrative essay topics

Some of the most mind-expanding experiences happen when looking at and understanding a different culture or by analyzing your own culture from an outsider’s perspective. Cultural narrative essay topics are particularly useful when applying to colleges or applying for grants or scholarships for exchange programs. 

What you learned from a trip abroad
How the lives of people in various socio-economic brackets are different
Observations on which basic things are different in different countries
How your cultural identity has changed over time
Sleeping over at a friends house from a different cultural background
Describe some unique personal family traditions
An experience where your culture/race/religion affected the situation around you
How you learned to fit in with a different culture
You first experience living in a foreign country
Discovering new subcultures like anime, gaming, k-pop, etc
Your favorite traditions from foreign cultures
How you understood your cultural heritage better
A time when you realized the impact of media on the perspective of other cultures
Getting over stereotypes because someone behaved differently than what you expected 
Celebrating a different festival for the first time

Autobiographical narrative essay topics

Autobiographical narrative essays as you to specifically describe and talk about things in your life that impacted you. Take a look at the narrative essay topics below for inspiration.  

Your first memory
Your first meaningful memory
Your first day of school
Your relationship with your grandparents
Finding out a shocking family secret
Your proudest achievement as a child
Your favorite childhood hobby
The best day of middle school
A time when you lost something important
How you dealt with losing someone close to you
Discovering your favorite musician
Your first kiss, date, or relationship
The worst day of your life 
Why certain things are so meaningful to you
Which people have influenced your life significantly?

Fictional narrative essay topics

Fictional narrative essay topics are an opportunity to flex your creativity. Put yourself in the shoes of someone else, or in a fantastic situation and write a story! These are some narrative essay topics to choose from down below.

What it would be like traveling to Mars
What you would do with a million dollars
Describe a particularly vivid dream 
A day in your life if you woke up as the opposite sex
What it would be like to be a professional gamer
What it would be like to have 100,000 Instagram followers
A day at the zoo from the perspective of an animal
A day in the life of a child from a very wealthy family
A day in the life of a child from a war-torn country
What it would be like to have your own talk show
What would you do if you were president?
What would you do if you were a dictator?
What it would be like to be a superhero
Tell a story based on your favorite work of art
A hypothetical dinner with your favorite celebrity

Best narrative essay topics - our choice

The best narrative essay topic ideas are going to be different for every individual. This section is going to choose some topics that offer the most space for creativity, are interesting to write about, or offer a broad chance for self-reflection. 

Your earliest sad memory
How you realized someone had become a role model
A day in the life of your favorite fictional character
The thrill of winning
The heartbreak of loss
Understanding gender identity
A clash of culture
A new discovery
Finding your favorite hobby 
Performing beyond expectation
Overcoming personal trauma
Helping someone in need
A life-changing trip 
Enjoying nature
Questioning the status quo

More interesting narrative essay topics

Think about these situations and ask yourself if any of these or something similar happened to you and makes for a good story. Enjoy these interesting narrative essay topics!

The best way to win at a particular video game
The process of creating a good TikTok 
Why binging a show is the best way to consume media
What it’s like being lost in a virtual world
A time you were convinced to try something new
Discovering a new favorite food 
What dancing means to you 
The saddest scene in media
The funniest babysitting moment
Your first day at a job
A time you asked for help
What it feels like to end a good book
A time where you panicked 
A time you were kind to someone 

Final thoughts

A narrative writing is unlike most other forms of academic writing. This can make it challenging for students, but as long as you think about it as writing a story and choose the right topic for a narrative essay, they are actually a joy to write! Here are a few key things to remember as you write your essay. 

A narrative essay uses the story structure - beginning, middle, and end, as well as plot, climax, setting, and characters

Spend time on the prewriting phase to gather your thoughts and plan an outline

Don’t lose track of the main purpose of the story

Generally, write in the first person, but the third person can be used as well

Use vivid words and explain sensory details

Above all, have fun and engage the reader as much as you can

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50 Narrative Essay Topics

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a narrative essay can also tell an exciting story and create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind! We’ve got 50 narrative essay topics designed to prompt students to craft memorable written narratives. These can be modified for students in elementary, middle and high school. Feel free to print the entire narrative essay topics list for plenty of inspiration for your next narrative essay assignment!

Narrative Essay Topics

  • Your first day of school.
  • Your most exciting day of school
  • A field trip that your class took.
  • Your favorite summer vacation.
  • A trip that included something unexpected or surprising.
  • A time that you experienced something spooky.
  • A time that you experienced something truly frightening.
  • A time that you learned something new that changed you in some way.
  • The moment when you met someone who changed your life.
  • The day that you got your first pet.
  • A move from one place to another.
  • Something funny that happened to you.
  • Something funny that happened to one of your family members or friends.
  • Something embarrassing that happened to you.
  • Your favorite birthday party.
  • A birthday that was disappointing.
  • A big storm (rain, snow or even a tornado!).
  • A time that the power went out.
  • A summer day when the temperature got much higher than expected.
  • A time when you went to an amusement park.
  • A time when you got lost somewhere.
  • A memorable experience with a favorite family member.
  • A sad experience with someone about whom you care.
  • Your most exciting moment playing sports.
  • Your most exciting moment performing in a play, singing, playing music or dancing.
  • An experience that left you feeling frustrated.
  • An experience that was hard but ended up being worth it.
  • A time that you experienced rejection.
  • A weird encounter with a stranger.
  • A random act of kindness.
  • A time that you took a stand for someone or for an issue that you care about.
  • A moment when you thought you might get hurt but didn’t.
  • Breaking a bone (or otherwise suffering an injury).
  • Your first time away from home for the night (or longer).
  • A time when you experienced a historic event.
  • Where you were when a major event happened. (Note: You don’t need to have been at the site of the event; this prompt is about where you were when you found out about the event and how you reacted.)
  • A time when you rebelled against your parents or teacher.
  • A dangerous experience.
  • A misunderstanding between yourself and someone else.
  • A difficult decision that you had to make.
  • The end of a friendship or relationship.
  • The beginning of a friendship or relationship.
  • A time when you judged someone first and then realized that you were wrong about the person.
  • A time when someone judged you first and then realized that he or she was wrong about you.
  • A moment when you felt that you were starting to grow up.
  • A time when you saw one or both of your parents in a different light.
  • A time when you looked up to your older sibling.
  • A time when your younger sibling looked up to you.
  • A time when you were grateful to be an only child.
  • An experience that you think has only ever happened to you!

Looking for more essay topics? Compare and Contrast Essay Topics Descriptive Essay Topics Cause and Effect Essay Topics Persuasive Essay and Speech Topics

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150 Great Narrative Essay Topics and Ideas: Inspire Your Writing

150 Great Narrative Essay Topics and Ideas: Inspire Your Writing

If you are a high school or college student, you have probably been assigned to write a narrative essay at least once. This type of essay allows you to share your personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings with your readers, captivating them with your storytelling skills. However, coming up with a unique and captivating topic for your narrative essay can sometimes be a challenging task.

In this article, we have compiled a list of 150 great narrative essay topics and ideas to inspire your writing. Whether you are looking for something to write about your favorite memories, life-changing experiences, controversial or ethical situations, relationships with friends or family, or your thoughts on culture and society, you will find plenty of interesting topics to choose from.

When selecting a topic for your narrative essay, it is important to choose one that is personal to you and allows you to express your thoughts and feelings. Think about your interests, experiences, and future goals. What kind of story do you want to tell? What are your favorite memories? How have certain relationships or cultural experiences shaped your life? By narrowing down your interests and experiences, you can ensure that you choose a topic that you are passionate about and will enjoy writing about.

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Now, without further ado, here are 150 great narrative essay topics and ideas to inspire your writing:

Narrative Essay Topics for Grade 5

1. My favorite childhood memory and why it’s so special to me.

2. The day I moved to a different city/school and how it affected me.

3. A trip abroad and what I learned about a different culture.

4. The most dangerous situation I’ve ever been in and how I handled it.

5. My plans for the future and what steps I need to take to achieve them.

6. The class or subject that I enjoy the most in school and why.

7. A personal experience that taught me an important life lesson.

8. The cultural event that had the biggest impact on me.

9. How participating in high-quality after-school activities helped me grow as a person.

10. The time when I had to stand up for what I believe in, even if it was difficult.

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11. The effect of social media on my life and relationships with others.

12. My favorite book or movie and why it’s so important to me.

13. The importance of healthy eating and how it affects my daily life.

14. The most memorable school project I’ve ever worked on and why.

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15. The role of my family in shaping my values and beliefs.

16. How I overcame a problem or challenge that seemed impossible at first.

17. The first time I realized the importance of helping others.

18. A time when I felt extremely happy and why it was so special.

19. The scariest dream I’ve ever had and how it affected me.

20. The most interesting place I’ve ever visited and what made it so memorable.

21. The best piece of advice I’ve ever received and how it changed my perspective.

22. A time when I felt proud of myself for achieving a goal.

23. The role of art or music in my life and why it’s important to me.

24. The most challenging experience I’ve had so far and what I learned from it.

25. The most memorable family gathering or celebration I’ve ever attended.

These narrative essay topics will give you plenty of ideas to come up with an engaging story that reflects your personal experiences and values. Remember to follow the structure of a narrative essay, incorporating a clear beginning, middle, and end. Use examples and vivid descriptions to show your readers what happened and why it was important to you. By choosing an excellent topic and using high-quality sources, you can ensure that your narrative essay stands out and leaves a lasting effect on your audience.

A Collection of Engaging Narrative Essay Ideas

The power of personal experiences.

Your own life is a treasure trove of potential essay ideas. Whether it’s a life-changing moment or a childhood memory, the experiences you’ve had can provide great material for a narrative essay. Consider writing about situations that shaped your identity or the relationships that had a profound impact on you. Personal experiences can be a powerful source of storytelling.

Exploring Different Cultures and Perspectives

Another interesting area to explore is cultural diversity. Have you ever traveled abroad or participated in exchange programs? What did you learn from these experiences? Discussing the differences and similarities between your own culture and the ones you encountered can make for an engaging narrative essay.

8 A person or a story that has influenced you.

9 A personal success story that is useful or can be persuasive.

6 A dangerous situation you experienced.

8 A person you admire the most;

9 A significant life-changing experience.

6 A lesson you learned from a personal failure.

The Impact of Relationships

Relationships play an important role in shaping our lives. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or even a pet, the impact of these relationships can make for compelling narrative essays. Discussing the ups and downs, the joys and challenges of these relationships can provide a deeper insight into who you are as a person.

High-Quality Suggestions for High Grades

When it comes to narrative essay topics, quality matters just as much as the content. To ensure a high-grade essay, consider selecting topics that are both interesting and unique. It’s always better to choose a topic that hasn’t been overly discussed in your classes or among your friends. This will make your essay stand out and leave a lasting impression on your readers.

The Importance of Structure and Drafting

Angelina jolie and her impact on humanitarian causes.

Angelina Jolie is not only a talented actress but also a strong advocate for various causes. Writing about her influence and the initiatives she has taken can be an interesting topic for a narrative essay. Explore her work in humanitarian efforts and how it has inspired and influenced others.

Remember, the most important thing is to choose a topic that you are passionate about. Writing about something that genuinely interests you will make the process more enjoyable and the final product more compelling. So go ahead, explore the list of narrative essay ideas, and find the perfect topic for your next writing adventure!

Choosing the Perfect Narrative Essay Topic

Know yourself and your audience.

Before you start brainstorming for narrative essay topics, take a moment to think about your own interests and experiences. Consider your future goals, school life, cultural background, and relationships – these can all be sources of inspiration for your essay. You need to select a topic that not only engages you but also resonates with your audience.

Consider Different Types of Stories

Narrative essays can be about any real-life experience, so think beyond the typical essay topics. Instead of solely focusing on major life-changing moments, think about everyday dilemmas or experiences that have shaped you as a person. These often make for unique and engaging narratives.

Brainstorm and Make a List

When brainstorming for narrative essay topics, start by making a list of potential ideas. Think about personal experiences, friendships, or moments that have helped you grow. Consider using popular or controversial topics as well, as they can make for interesting narratives.

Do Some Research

Once you have a list of potential topics, do some research to ensure that you have enough material to write a compelling narrative. Look for additional sources, examples, or real-life stories that you can incorporate into your essay.

Selecting the Best Topic

After you have compiled your list and done your research, it’s time to select the best topic for your narrative essay. Choose a topic that you feel passionate about and can confidently write about. It should be something that not only showcases your writing skills but also allows you to express your thoughts and feelings.

Outline Your Essay

Before you start writing, create an outline for your narrative essay. This will help you organize your thoughts and ensure that your essay flows smoothly. Outlining your essay also allows you to see if your chosen topic has enough substance to develop into a full-length essay.

Selecting the perfect narrative essay topic is crucial for the success of your paper. By following these tips, you can ensure that your topic is inspiring, engaging, and captivating. Remember to choose a topic that resonates with you and your audience, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. With the right topic, your narrative essay will not only be a success but also a reflection of your unique experiences and perspective.

Can you give me some ideas for a personal narrative essay topic?

Sure! Here are some ideas for a personal narrative essay topic: my most embarrassing moment, the day I realized the importance of family, the first time I traveled alone, a life-changing experience, the best lesson I’ve learned, my biggest fear, a time when I had to make a difficult decision, a memorable vacation, an event that changed my perspective, the day I achieved a personal goal.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California , and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.

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Home — Blog — Topic Ideas — 150+ Great Narrative Essay Topics and Ideas

150+ Great Narrative Essay Topics and Ideas

narrative essay topics

There are also other types of essays, such as:

  • Description essays. In such an essay, we describe an object.
  • Definition essays. Here we have one goal - to reveal this or that concept.
  • Illustration essays. Your goal is to prove a statement.
  • Argument essays. Here we give examples of persuasive facts that support your assertion.

Now let's look at the most popular narrative essay topics that we can board you with.

How to Know What Topic You Need?

If you were given a list of essay topics at schools or colleges , it would be logical if you choose a topic that is closer to you, on which you are not averse to reflecting.

If there is no list of topics, and you have only indicated the direction in which you should choose a problem for the essay, you will have to formulate the topic for narrative writing yourself.

Here are some tips on how to choose a topic for your essay:

  • Before defining a narrative essay topic, it is worth finding the author's position. This is the moral instruction of the author, which can be written directly or encrypted in the words or thoughts of the hero-narrator. To find it, one should single out the topic and all the micro-themes in the text, and then formulate moralizing within their framework, that is, the author's position.
  • From the author's position, it is worth asking a special question, that is, a question that requires a general answer, and not a short "yes" or "no". This question will be a problem.
  • It is necessary to find two examples in the text that illustrate the transition from the question to the author's position, that is, to help answer the question posed. This will prove that such a problem is indeed raised by the author.

Narrative Essay Topic Ideas

Now, let’s take a closer look at topics for narrative essay examples you can choose. 

Personal Narrative Essay Topics 

Personal narrative essay examples and ideas are needed when you describe something that you experience in your life.

  • The first time I visited another country.
  • My first rock concert.
  • Interesting places I have visited.
  • The character I associate myself with.
  • Why is it always important to believe in yourself?
  • The most memorable moment of my life.
  • How I helped a friend solve his serious problem.
  • How I overcame my biggest fear.
  • How I learned to accept myself the way I am.
  • An event that changed my life.
  • How positive thinking can change your life.
  • I helped a person in need.
  • How to overcome disagreements with your best friend?
  • My last day at school .
  • How to overcome bullying in school?

Cultural Narrative Essay Topics

Cultural topics for narratives allow you to highlight the topic of culture and at the same time present the story in an interesting way for the reader.

  • How do you celebrate your favorite holiday in your family?
  • What traditions are unique in your family?
  • Which tradition surprised you the most?
  • How does the media influence our perception of culture?
  • How does culture define a person's personality?
  • What culture do you identify with?
  • What is your favorite holiday?
  • How does your family celebrate Christmas?
  • What was the best Christmas present in your life?
  • What holiday has the most sacred meaning for you?
  • What traditions does your family observe on the Easter holidays?
  • Which of the cultural events you attended did you remember the most?
  • What foreign tradition do you like the most?
  • Holiday traditions in your family
  • Which festival do you like the most?

Narrative Argument Essay Topics 

This type of narrative topics for an essay implies that you need to write about something that has had a big impact on you.

  • Conflict case from your life.
  • What disagreements did you have together with your friend?
  • The case when someone deceived you.
  • Has there been a choice in your life that you regret?
  • Have you been in conflict with other people?
  • A situation where you have to make a difficult decision between right and wrong.
  • Have you been caught doing something bad?
  • Have you ever had to win friends following the rules?
  • Have you ever blamed another person for what you did?
  • Have you helped someone for personal gain?
  • Have you ever played pranks on your friends?
  • What experience can you call the most difficult but important in life?
  • Have you ever been in a car accident?
  • Have you ever been humiliated?
  • Have you ever helped a friend solve his problem?

Interesting Narrative Essay Topics 

  • Have you had to make a difficult decision in life?
  • Have you ever flooded a neighbor's house?
  • Has there ever been a person in your life who has changed it drastically?
  • Would you like to relive any of those days again?
  • Have you ever failed an exam?
  • What was the scariest moment in your life?
  • Have you ever been really sick?
  • Have you ever saved another person's life?
  • Have you ever worked up the courage to visit a haunted house?
  • Have you ever won a prize?
  • What was your first job in life?
  • Have you ever participated in educational student exchange programs ?
  • What do you do when you are all alone?
  • What was your first meeting with the police?
  • Have you ever been to the emergency room?

Personal Experience Narrative Essay Topics 

Here you can describe people or events that influenced you in one way or another.

  • How have you met a special person in your life?
  • The person you enjoy the most.
  • The best place in the neighborhood.
  • The place you'd like to live your whole life.
  • A productive art, you enjoy.
  • What is your first job search ?
  • Your biggest disappointment.
  • Do you remember your first birthday?
  • Tell us about a time when you learned something new.
  • Have you ever encountered a wild animal?
  • Tell about the first time you got home alone.
  • How did you cook food for the first time?
  • Tell how you helped someone.
  • How did you overcome your fear?
  • What games did you play when you were a child?

Relationship Narrative Essay Topics

Relationship narrative stories ideas help to describe our relationship and how our experience has influenced certain events in life.

  • Have you ever fallen in love?
  • What advice would you give to a couple who are just starting their relationship?
  • How would you define family?
  • If you have a best friend, how did you meet?
  • Do you think that your parents are more sensitive than others?
  • What is your attitude towards marriage?
  • Have you ever experienced gender bias?
  • How do you remember deceased family members?
  • What do you know about the origins of your family?
  • Have you ever ended a friendship?
  • How did you meet your best friend?
  • What can make you end a romantic relationship?
  • Is the community in your area important?
  • Do you think hatred can destroy a relationship?
  • Have you ever experienced intergenerational conflict?
  • What does honesty mean in a relationship?

Childhood Memories

In this type of essay, you need to describe the events and memories of childhood.

  • What was my first pet?
  • What are my first memories?
  • Whom did I look up to as a child?
  • How did I first go to the hospital?
  • My first meeting with my uncle/aunt.
  • What was my first day at school?
  • My first terrible incident.
  • What are my childhood fears?
  • What was the happiest day of my childhood?
  • My first time at the stadium.

Growing Up in High School 

Here you need to recall the most vivid impressions from high school.

  • What lessons were my favorites?
  • Who was my favorite teacher?
  • What role in the school theater did I remember the most?
  • How I lost a sports match.
  • Topics forbidden to me.
  • How did I feel when I failed the exam?
  • How did I feel when I passed the exam with excellent marks?
  • Is commuting to school a routine for me?
  • My best adventure in school.
  • What kind of extracurricular activities do I enjoy the most?

Moral & Ethical Dilemmas

In this type of essay, you have to describe the ideas of the complexity of moral choice.

  • What is your attitude towards pro-life movement: argumentative essay on abortion ?
  • How can we influence the fight against racism?
  • How should a work ethic deal with sexism?
  • Do you think euthanasia should be legal?
  • Why can't war be ethical?
  • What moral issues does workplace automation cause?
  • What can we do about climate change?
  • Is it ethical to have a lot of money?
  • If drugs were legal, would their use be ethical?
  • Is it possible to justify eating meat in the modern world?

College Student Life

Try to describe events and memories from your student's life.

  • My first day at high school.
  • My last day with my schoolmates.
  • My favorite course.
  • Meeting my better half.
  • The story of my split-up.
  • My brightest high school moment.
  • How I met my old friend.
  • My favorite professor.
  • A funny adventure on my campus.
  • The most symbolic episode from my college life.
  • The day I moved.
  • How I traveled to Harvard.
  • My first impressions of the college campus.
  • How I met my roommate.
  • My first friends at college.

Narrative Essay Topics for Different Grades 

Let’s look at the narrative speech topics for different grades.

Narrative Essay Topics for Grade 5

  • My first bicycle ride.
  • My dad is my hero.
  • A day with my grandmother.
  • My first day at school.
  • My best friend.
  • My favorite teacher.
  • A school trip to the zoo.
  • My grandpa’s hands.
  • The most exciting day of school.
  • The best summer vacation.

Narrative Essay Topics for Grade 6

  • A memorable teacher.
  • My first trip abroad.
  • A sad story from my childhood.
  • My favorite vacation with my family.
  • A fight with my best friend.
  • My best birthday party.
  • How we celebrate our parents’ wedding anniversary.
  • My first day at a new school.
  • Last Christmas was an interesting story.
  • How I lost my sister.

Narrative Essay Topics for Grade 7

  • Something that scared me the most.
  • The best day of my life.
  • Helping a stranger.
  • How I met my best friend.
  • My brother’s wedding.
  • How I got my first pet.
  • Once I called the dean's office.
  • Conflict with my father.
  • Unique family tradition.

Narrative Essay Topics for Grade 8

  • School trip to the museum.
  • My best day at school.
  • The most exciting day of summer vacation.
  • Worst day at school.
  • The day I got my first pet.
  • The hour we spent looking at our baby's album.
  • My first attempt at cooking.
  • My first Japanese pastry.
  • My first foreign friend.

Narrative Essay Topics for Grade 9

  • A visit to the countryside.
  • How I lost my faith in humanity.
  • A car accident.
  • My friend had an accident.
  • A trip I will never forget.
  • The most enjoyable Christmas.
  • A bad experience that completely changed my behavior.
  • How I used to spend my summer vacations.
  • My experience with a tornado.
  • I got lost in the streets of venus.

Narrative Essay Topics for O Levels

  • A special moment when I got my first bike.
  • A disappointing birthday party.
  • The most embarrassing thing that happened to me.
  • A disastrous date.
  • The moment of success.
  • Growing up in New York.
  • A sporting experience.
  • A random act of kindness.
  • The first six months of COVID-19.
  • The end of my relationship.

Narrative Essay Topics for High School Students

Personal narrative ideas in high school include the classic moments that are stereotypical of the secondary school experience.

  • Special homecoming court moment.
  • A friendship that started long before high school.
  • Prom dress shopping and your self-esteem.
  • Anticipation for graduation.
  • An award or scholarship you received.
  • Participating in a school musical.
  • A class or club trip.
  • Your first love.
  • A moment you stood up for what you believed in.
  • How your relationship with your parents changed for the better.

Narrative Essay Topics for Middle School

Middle school is a great time of self-discovery that’s filled with firsts and memorable moments. Use these milestones as the topic for your narrative essay.

  • Making an unlikely friend.
  • How bad relationships help you become a better person.
  • The first time you opened your locker.
  • The teacher that makes you feel smart.
  • Moving from elementary school to middle school.
  • A social media post that inspired you.
  • A news story about a kid/teen that was uplifting.
  • A comment from a teacher that made you feel good.
  • A comment from someone you’re not friends with that made you feel good.
  • Being yourself.

Narrative Essay Topics for College Students

College is another time in your life that’s wrought with self-discovery and seeing the world as it truly is.

  • Why did you choose to go to the college of Bellevue in Washington ?
  • How did you choose your major?
  • The impact of joining a team or club.
  • A fellow student you see thriving against the odds.
  • Examples of community on campus.
  • A test experience that boosts your self-esteem.
  • The moment you realized you were going into the right field.
  • What does a college degree mean to you?
  • College is a microcosm of the world.
  • The feeling of independence.

Conclusion 

Teachers and students are very fond of narrative essay topics, as they are flexible enough that everyone can find a topic that is close to them. If you can’t decide on a topic yourself, then the list that we presented in our material will definitely help you. We sincerely wish you good luck and inspiration for writing the best essay. And the topics we have suggested will help you with this!

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IMAGES

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  4. Beneficial Narrative Essay

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  5. Get How To Begin A Narrative Essay Examples transparant

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  1. How to write a Narrative Essay?

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  5. Micro Teaching "Keterampilan membuka, menjelaskan dan menutup pelajaran" Narrative Essay

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COMMENTS

  1. Narrative Essay Topics: 200 Best Ideas

    A narrative essay is a form of writing that recounts a personal experience or tells a story, often incorporating elements like characters, plot, setting, and a chronological sequence of events.

  2. How to Write a Narrative Essay

    A narrative essay is a way of testing your ability to tell a story in a clear and interesting way. You're expected to think about where your story begins and ends, and how to convey it with eye-catching language and a satisfying pace. These skills are quite different from those needed for formal academic writing.

  3. How to Write a Perfect Narrative Essay (Step-by-Step)

    Step 1. How to Choose Your Narrative Essay Topic Step 2. Planning the Structure Part 5 Step 3. Crafting an Intriguing Introduction Part 6 Step 4. Weaving the Narrative Body Part 7 Step 5. Creating a Conclusion Part 8 Step 6. Polishing the Essay Step 7. Feedback and Revision Part 10 Understanding a Narrative Essay

  4. How to Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps

    The first step in writing a narrative essay is to determine the topic. Sometimes, your topic is chosen for you in the form of a prompt. You might map out the topics you want to mention in the essay or think through each point you'd like to make to see how each will fit into the allotted word count (if you're given one).

  5. Narrative Essay Topics

    A narrative essay is a prose-written story that's focused on the commentary of a central theme. Narrative essays are generally written in the first-person POV, and are usually about a topic that's personal to the writer. Everything in a narrative essay should take place in an established timeline, with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

  6. What is a Narrative Essay

    A narrative essay is a prose-written story that's focused on the commentary of a central theme. Narrative essays are generally written in the first-person POV, and are usually about a topic that's personal to the writer. Everything in these essays should take place in an established timeline, with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

  7. Narrative Essays: How To Write, Examples, And Topics

    A narrative essay has three main parts: the introduction, the body, and the end. In the beginning, you hook the reader's attention and set the scene for the story. You can do this by starting with a quote, a question, or a vivid description of the setting. The thesis statement should also be in the introduction.

  8. How to write a narrative essay [Updated 2023]

    1. Pick a meaningful story that has a conflict and a clear "moral.". If you're able to choose your own topic, pick a story that has meaning and that reveals how you became the person your are today. In other words, write a narrative with a clear "moral" that you can connect with your main points. 2.

  9. How to Write a Narrative Essay

    Narrative essays are generally written in the first-person POV, and are usually about a topic that's personal to the writer. Everything in a narrative essay should take place in an established timeline, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. In simplest terms, a narrative essay is a personal story. A narrative essay can be written in ...

  10. 3 Great Narrative Essay Examples + Tips for Writing

    A narrative essay delivers its theme by deliberately weaving the motifs through the events, scenes, and details. While a narrative essay may be entertaining, its primary purpose is to tell a complete story based on a central meaning. Unlike other essay forms, it is totally okay—even expected—to use first-person narration in narrative essays.

  11. A Complete Narrative Essay Guide

    Theme or Message A narrative essay isn't just about recounting an event - it's about showing the impact it had on you and what you took away from it. It's an opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings about the experience, and how it changed your outlook. Emotional Impact

  12. 50 Engaging Narrative Essay Topics for High Schoolers

    The best topic for an engaging narrative essay is one that focuses on showing versus telling, has a clear structure, and provides a dialogue. These elements come together to form an engaging narrative essay. Regardless of what subject you pick, any topic may be turned into a fascinating, A+ worthy narrative using the tips below. Show, Don't Tell

  13. 100+ Inspiring Narrative Essay Topics

    A great narrative essay topic is both personal and widely relatable. Check out these narrative essay topics to see which resonates with your story.

  14. Narrative Essays: Examples And Topic Ideas For Students

    7. An Act Of Kindness. Sharing an act of kindness you did with someone else—or a random act of kindness that someone did for you—can provide a warm, fuzzy topic for your narrative essay. When writing about an act of kindness, focus on how the act made you feel, whether you were the giver or the receiver of the act.

  15. How to Write a Narrative Essay or Speech

    Updated on October 16, 2020. A narrative essay or speech is used to tell a story, often one that is based on personal experience. This genre of work comprises works of nonfiction that hew closely to the facts and follow a logical chronological progression of events. Writers often use anecdotes to relate their experiences and engage the reader.

  16. Narrative Essay

    Let's better understand this with the help of a few good narrative essay topics. Here are a few topics. 1. Write about your last day of school. 2. Write about your favorite book and your interpretation of its message. 3. An awkward encounter that led to a long-lasting friendship. 4.

  17. 100+ Interesting Narrative Essay Topics For Your Next Paper

    1. Narrative Essay Topics for Students 2. Unique Narrative Essay Topics for Students 3. How to Choose a Topic for a Narrative Essay? 4. Tips for Writing Narrative Essays Narrative Essay Topics for Students If you're a student looking for a diverse range of topics, we've got you covered with a diverse selection of narrative essay topics.

  18. 150 Narrative Essay Topics

    A narrative essay is a less formal form of academic writing where the goal is to see whether you can tell a story clearly in an engaging manner. It follows the typical format of an essay with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion but also incorporates classic story writing elements like plot, setting, character, climax, and ending.

  19. 150 Narrative Essay Topics To Impress Teacher in 2024

    A personal narrative essay is a story that is told from writer's point of view and should include a plot, conflict, and characters. Usually, college or high school students are expected to submit assignments based on their own personal lives. This, of course, has to relate to the topic done in class.

  20. 50 Narrative Essay Topics

    50 Narrative Essay Topics They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a narrative essay can also tell an exciting story and create vivid pictures in the reader's mind! We've got 50 narrative essay topics designed to prompt students to craft memorable written narratives. These can be modified for students in elementary, middle and high school.

  21. 150 Great Narrative Essay Topics and Ideas: Inspire Your Writing

    Narrative Essay Topics for Grade 5. 1. My favorite childhood memory and why it's so special to me. 2. The day I moved to a different city/school and how it affected me. 3. A trip abroad and what I learned about a different culture. 4. The most dangerous situation I've ever been in and how I handled it.

  22. Narrative Essay Topics That Help You Create a Masterpiece

    Narrative Essay Topics for High School Students. Personal narrative ideas in high school include the classic moments that are stereotypical of the secondary school experience. Special homecoming court moment. A friendship that started long before high school. Prom dress shopping and your self-esteem.