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2 Tips For Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay Writing- 10 helpful Tips

Writing narrative essays is common for many people who have to write papers as part of the college courses. Basically, a narrative essay is when you tell a story to the reader. You can tell story about a person, a special place, an item that is important to you, or a particular event that happened to you. Here are some tips to help you write your narrative paper.

  1. Tell the story in chronological order. A story that is out of order is confusing and doesn’t make sense, so make sure you tell your reader things as they happened and keep the order flowing in the logical progression.
  2. When you are writing a narrative paper you should not skip important points. Make sure the reader knows how you got from point A to point C. If a point can be assumed that is find but make sure the reader can make sense of your story.
  3. If you are talking about a person be sure to describe their looks, actions, and behaviors so the reader can learn more about them and what they are like.
  4. If you are talking about a particular place that is important to you, talk about it in details for the reader will be able to understand why it is special to you and why you want to share your story about it.
  5. If you are talking about a certain item then you will want to make sure the reader understands all about that item, what it is like, what it does, and why it is important to you.
  6. If you are talking about a special event that happened to you then make sure you describe what you did, what happened to you, and how it impacted you.
  7. Keep things interesting so that your reader will pay attention to what you have to say and you also want to say something interesting and show them something new, interesting, or help them learn something.
  8. Remember that quality is often better than quantity. Something you will have a word count limit but if you do not, make sure you write enough that you address the question or topic of the paper but that you do not go overboard with your word count.
  9. Do not be afraid of doing several drafts of your essay before you turn it in to your instructor. Very few people can turn in their first draft and get a good grade- it usually takes 2-3 drafts to get it just right and fix all the errors.
  10. Have fun. If you can have fun with the assignment it is easier to write and you are more likely to do your best work when you enjoy the topic and what you are writing.

To write a narrative essay, you’ll need to tell a story (usually about something that happened to you) in such a way that he audience learns a lesson or gains insight.

To write a descriptive essay, you’ll need to describe a person, object, or event so vividly that the reader feels like he/she could reach out and touch it.

Tips for writing effective narrative and descriptive essays:

  • Tell a story about a moment or event that means a lot to you--it will make it easier for you to tell the story in an interesting way!
  • Get right to the action!  Avoid long introductions and lengthy descriptions--especially at the beginning of your narrative.
  • Make sure your story has a point! Describe what you learned from this experience.
  • Use all five of your senses to describe the setting, characters, and the plot of your story. Don't be afraid to tell the story in your own voice.  Nobody wants to read a story that sounds like a textbook!

How to Write Vivid Descriptions

Having trouble describing a person, object, or event for your narrative or descriptive essay?  Try filling out this chart:

What do you smell?

What do you taste?

What do you see?

What do you hear?

What might you touch or feel?






Remember:  Avoid simply telling us what something looks like--tell us how it tastes, smells, sounds, or feels!

Consider this…

  • Virginia rain smells different from a California drizzle.
  • A mountain breeze feels different from a sea breeze.
  • We hear different things in one spot, depending on the time of day.
  • You can “taste” things you’ve never eaten: how would sunscreen taste?

Using Concrete Details for Narratives

Effective narrative essays allow readers to visualize everything that's happening, in their minds.  One way to make sure that this occurs is to use concrete, rather than abstract, details. 

Concrete Language

Abstract Language

…makes the story or image seem clearer and more real to us.

...makes the story or image difficult to visualize.

…gives us information that we can easily grasp and perhaps empathize with.

…leaves your reader feeling empty, disconnected, and possibly confused.

The word “abstract” might remind you of modern art.  An abstract painting, for example, does not normally contain recognizable objects.  In other words, we can't look at the painting and immediately say "that's a house" or "that's a bowl of fruit."  To the untrained eye, abstract art looks a bit like a child's finger-painting--just brightly colored splotches on a canvas.
Avoid abstract language—it won’t help the reader understand what you're trying to say!


Abstract:  It was a nice day. 
Concrete:  The sun was shining and a slight breeze blew across my face. 

Abstract:  I liked writing poems, not essays. 
Concrete:  I liked writing short, rhythmic poems and hated rambling on about my thoughts in those four-page essays. 

Abstract:  Mr. Smith was a great teacher.
Concrete:  Mr. Smith really knew how to help us turn our thoughts into good stories and essays.

Sample Papers - Narration

Sample Papers - Descriptive