Every student whether they want to write a good high school narrative essay or just a college essay that tells a narrative story of their own, they need to know how to start a narrative essay or story perfectly.
You can always buy narrative essays online but if you want to later write your own stories and narratives then you should start learning on how to do your essay yourself.
This guide will explain here some of the basics about how to start writing a good narrative essay. Please keep in mind that every lesson on this tutorial is essential for your success in telling your personal stories through academic essays using the right essay format and style!
How to start a narrative essay and writing it to the end
First of all, we need an idea for our story, which may be inspired by: Things we experience Our dreams Fantasies Horror movies (not recommended unless you’re really good at writing horror!) A character from a book/movie/TV show Any interesting events that happen in our life Events that happened to our family or friends Personal experiences Anything really!
Now once we have an idea, it’s time to write an outline for your essay. You don’t need one if you’re writing a short story but for this sort of assignment, it is essential. If you’re not sure about how to write an outline then try reading some examples first until you know how to do it yourself.
Just so you know, the beginning of your narrative essay might be called the introduction. Some higher education institutes require 1-2 ‘set up’ sentences or paragraphs before the body of the essay begins. This is also where our thesis statement goes. The purpose of this sentence is just to give out a brief idea of what you’re going to be writing about. The thesis statement for a narrative essay would sound something like:
‘In my opinion, I think that _____ is a great example of how _____ .’
Once our thesis has been finalized we begin with the first paragraph. Generally it’s good practice not to start your story until you reach the 2nd paragraph but if your introduction thoroughly convince your readers on why they should keep reading then you can do it before also!
Our first paragraph (which MUST contain relevant details) may be called the exposition or context . It’s where we give out more information about our subject and what lead us to write this particular story. Here are some examples of possible introductory sentences:
As a kid, I was often told to stay away from the ________ .
When I was a kid, we used to visit this place every summer and now as an adult, I still love it so much!
I decided to write about my experience with ________ because it’s just such an interesting story.
(If you decide not to include your thesis statement in this paragraph then you must introduce it at the beginning of the 2nd paragraph meaning: Here is why my story is important.)
Another tip would be to use some words that create suspense and interest for your readers. This will really get them reading on, especially if they are bored or simply don’t want to do their assigned readings!
Here are some examples of suspenseful sentences:
As I gazed out the window, I watched the ________ .
I had no idea what was in store for me when I _______ .
The last thing I remember seeing before everything went blank was _____.
Now that you have your intro and possibly your thesis statement in place it’s time to write our second paragraph! This is where we tell our story in chronological order beginning with the introduction of our subject (substance) which usually happens at the very beginning of your narrative essay. Here’s an example:
My First Time Riding A Bike
When I was just a baby, my parents bought me my first bike. It was bright yellow and had three wheels! Little did they know that when they were buying this bike, they were actually getting me to learn how to ride a bike and before I knew it, I was already an expert.
The good news is that we don’t need too much detail to make the story interesting! Just the right amount will do. If you’re not comfortable with revealing your whole life story then try withholding some details until later in your essay as if you’re just telling snippets of information as our story goes on! This makes things very interesting for both us and our readers as we continue writing about this particular topic. We also want to avoid unnecessary words so we don’t say ‘I was’ for instance, because we can assume that it’s part of our personal narrative and therefore, known information.
Let’s move onto the next paragraph!
In this paragraph, we reveal what led us to the climax of our story. In some cases it might be a lengthy struggle that leads us to the point where we end up revealing something important like for example:
What I thought was just another early morning turned out to be anything but.
As I stared blankly at my computer screen, I realised that it would take more than just hard work to finish this task.
I had no idea how much longer I could hold on when suddenly, everything seemed like it was coming crashing down around me.
Or it could also be something extremely simple (like viewing an ad) which lead you to your climax or main event.
Here are some examples:
While watching TV one afternoon with my family, an ad for _________ popped up and I knew that this was something I had to try.
I’ve always been curious about _______ ever since my friend told me about it and when the opportunity arose, I just couldn’t say no!
Here’s where we talk about our climax or main event. Only include enough detail so we can understand what happened but leave out all the unnecessary information because we still want our story to flow smoothly and not give too much away!
So in these paragraphs:
- We introduce ourselves and what lead us to write this particular narrative essay.
- Here we reveal what led us to the climax of our story.
- We describe what happens during our climax/main event.
After you’ve finished your third paragraph, it’s time to wrap up the story by telling us what happened after this momentous event! No need to tell us what happens afterwards because we can assume that your life went through some major changes after this point. The important part is for you to tell us how you feel about what just happened and how it changed your perspective of things. Just like in the introduction, try to use words that create suspense and interest for your readers. Here are some examples:
It was then I realized that __________ .
I really wish I could go back and relive those moments again before _______ .
As I stood there, watching them leave with tears in my eyes, I knew that I had to let them go.
And now for the conclusion!
After reading your story, it probably made you feel very intrigued about what was going on and how everything is connected. This is why we want our readers to feel like they’ve just read something valuable or educational during and after reading our essay. You can conclude your narrative essay by asking a question ( one that hasn’t been previously answered in the body of your essay) but make sure you answer this question at least briefly before signing off with some sort of inspirational quote/words/phrase/saying or anything else that shows your true feelings after writing this entire essay. For example:
“What would you do if faced with the same challenge?”
“In the end, I believe that things truly happen for a reason.”
“Now I know that _______ . And it’s okay if not everyone understands my choice because ultimately, this is something I had to do.”
And there you have it! Your finished narrative essay. If you have any questions about anything or would like to share your own personal narrative essay/experience with us, click here to ask a question.
How To Start A Narrative Essay
Many people are intimidated by narrative essay topics because they don’t want to put pen to paper without an idea. However, it’s not as difficult to start a narrative essay as you might think. It’s actually pretty simple. The following steps show you how to begin writing a narrative essay so that you get the ball rolling and begin your creative journey.
- Choose a topic that interests you. If you’re not genuinely interested in a subject, it will be difficult to write about it thoroughly and creatively. So choose a topic that piques your interest. You can always branch out beyond the original idea as you continue writing your essay if the response is lackluster.
- Find a setting. If the essay is about a personal experience, choose a setting that’s appropriate. For example, if you’re writing about a friend’s wedding, write it at the wedding reception.
- Create your character list. Include yourself in this list. Then include other characters that are relevant to your topic and setting. Write down physical characteristics as well as personality traits for each one of them so that you can form clear mental pictures of them when you begin to write your narrative essay.
- Begin writing your narrative essay with an action statement or an interesting idea for your thesis statement . This will set the tone for everything else you write so make it good! You also want to keep these details vague enough so that there’s still room to explore the topic in depth. For example, “On my first day of school, I learned an important lesson about friendship.” This sentence is short but it says a lot because you can explore the topic at length with it.
- Introduce your characters and more specifically your main character . Think of this as the protagonist’s journey so begin writing his or her story by describing what he or she was doing before anything interesting happened that relates to your thesis statement. Then write about all of the events that happened afterwards. Make sure to include enough detail to make the essay interesting but not too much where it drags on endlessly without developing any momentum.
- End your narrative essay with some final words tying up loose ends about your thesis statement and providing advice to the reader. This advice can be more than just general ideas, it can also be an action statement of something you learned or a lesson that your protagonist learned while journeying through his or her story.
Narrative Essay Introduction
When writing a narrative essay introduction , you want to get the reader interested in what they’re going to read by hinting at a story that’s worth their time. For example, “The year was 1989 and I was just seven years old.” This phrase is intriguing because there are so many unanswered questions about where this person was, why he or she was there, and what happened after that? You can find more examples of narrative essay introductions online on our website.
Writing an effective narrative essay doesn’t have to be difficult if you know how to start one. Use these steps as your guide when writing your next narrative essay so that you can begin composing a creative and engaging story that anyone will want to read.
Understanding a narrative essay and how do you start writing one?
A narrative essay tells a story. A good one will have the following elements: an anecdote, some reflection on that anecdote, and a moral or take away from the experience.
In this post I’ll show you how to write one from scratch. And I’ll also give you a template for when you need to get your thoughts together quickly and don’t have time to start from scratch. That way you can start a narrative essay paper in about 15 minutes. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Find an anecdote
What I mean by “anecdote” is a specific situation or moment in your life that’s worth telling. It should have the following ingredients: an interesting event, some conflict, and either a surprise ending or lesson learned.
For example, it could be when you were having dinner with your significant other’s family for the first time. You accidentally knocked over your wine glass during dinner, embarrassing yourself in front of everyone else at the table.
Or suppose your little brother wants to borrow the car tonight because he wants to go on a date with his girlfriend. You know if you let him borrow it without asking mom and dad they won’t be happy with you.
An example of a moral or takeaway from that might be something like this: “We should always be mindful of our surroundings when we’re in social situations.” Or, “If you want to borrow the car it’s best to let your parents know ahead of time so they can say yes instead of no.”
Choose an anecdote with a lesson learned because readers will need guidance on what to do after reading your essay – otherwise they’ll just go back to their normal lives.
That said, don’t pick some boring anecdote just for the sake of having one. You want there to be some conflict or drama involved, but if it’s too intense then you risk turning away readers who are squeamish like my wife.
For this post we’ll just go with the first one I mentioned about having dinner with your significant other’s family for the first time and spilling wine on yourself. We’ll pretend like I didn’t know my wife before we started dating and it was my first time meeting her parents.
Step 2: Write out the anecdote as you remember it
Now that you’ve chosen an anecdote, it’s time to write down what happened in detail: who was involved, where it took place, what was said or done during the event, and how you felt about each of those things. If there were any consequences to this moment then put those in too (like if dinner ended up being delayed or ruined). Try telling the story chronologically for the most part, but don’t feel like you have to. Sometimes it can be more effective to move back and forth in time. There are some good examples of this in literature if you want to check those out later.
Here’s what my anecdote looks like for our narrative essay:
“My first experience meeting my girlfriend’s parents was when I went over to her house on Thanksgiving Day five years ago. It started off well enough since we were just hanging out watching TV until dinner time came around.
I kept drinking wine after everyone else had switched to water because I wasn’t that hungry yet and wanted to finish the bottle before I went home (bad habit). So by the time we sat down to eat at the table next to the living room I was a little tipsy from all that alcohol.
We were all talking about things like work and whatnot when her mom went into the kitchen and started bringing out all these dishes of food for us to pick at while we kept talking. I could hear them clinking around in the other room as she kept going back and forth between it and the dining area where everyone else was sitting at. Then suddenly my girlfriend’s dad made a comment about how there wasn’t enough stuffing or cranberry sauce or something, but her mom didn’t say anything in response because she was still in the kitchen. So I jumped up from the table to go help her with whatever she needed. But as I was walking out of the room I tripped on one of the wires on my girlfriend’s parents’ recliner and crashed into something plastic that just happened to be sitting right next to the doorway. Which turned out to be their wine bucket, tipping it over and spilling all its contents on top of me just as her mom walked back into the room.
I remember standing up with red liquid all over myself, feeling like an idiot because I couldn’t even walk properly on my own two feet anymore. Everyone else at the table tried to pretend like nothing had happened by shifting their eyes around or laughing nervously, but I could tell they were embarrassed for me too.”
Step 3: Start thinking about your lessons learned
I know it can be difficult to think about something that happened in the past and come up with what you learned from the experience. I mean, why dwell on something that’s already done? You’ve probably already worked through whatever issues or trauma came out of it, right? So why do you need to bother writing your narrative essay? Well…it turns out there are readers who haven’t gone through this fire before. And if they don’t read your story then they’ll never learn how to deal with a similar situation whenever it comes up for them. So maybe during your next trip down memory lane you might want to keep an eye out for any sort of lesson learned so you’re ready when we get to Step 4. It’s not a waste of time because if you don’t think about it then you might end up sharing something that doesn’t really apply to anyone else when you could have been giving them advice or showing them how they can do better next time.
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
“Sometimes things aren’t always as bad as we think they are in the moment, and sometimes there’s actually a lesson to be learned from our experiences.”
Step 4: Look for an insight into your current self during the story
Now that we’ve got the story written out and we know what lessons were learned, it’s time to look for anything about yourself in this anecdote that might give us some insight into who you are now. After all, this is a college essay about you and your personality so we need to keep that in mind while we’re selecting what parts of the story we want to talk about.
This part can be trickier than it sounds though, because nobody likes to think too much about themselves and some people actually have pretty boring lives if they’re not actively trying to get the most out of them. So where do we go from here? Well, I’d start by looking for any characters in your anecdote that might represent you or offer some insight into who you are today. Like…maybe your girlfriend’s dad could symbolize how you make bad decisions when under pressure since he got mad at his wife only because there wasn’t enough food on the table. Or maybe her mom could symbolize your rational side that helps you be less impulsive than everyone else in the room when things get tough. This part shouldn’t just be about symbolism though, since there’s nothing wrong with being introverted or needing time to recover from mistakes or even having low self-esteem sometimes. These are traits that might not seem attractive to some people until they realize how valuable it is to have someone who stays calm under pressure and doesn’t abandon others when times get hard. It’s important for colleges to see this side of you so don’t forget to include something emotional about yourself in your essay if any of the characters stand out as a representation of yourself today.
My girlfriend’s dad represents my impulsiveness because he yelled at his wife when he got upset about something really small.
Step 5: Choose the best anecdote and focus on making it as vivid as possible
The story you choose to write your narrative essay around is probably going to be the longest part of this assignment since we’ve already covered all the other steps in less than a page. That means we’re getting closer to the end of our journey together, but we shouldn’t slack off just because we’re almost done! You still need to make sure this story is enjoyable and interesting enough that readers will want more. And don’t forget…we want them to learn from reading your anecdote too so make sure they get something out of this whole experience besides an insight into who you are or how great your college experience is gonna be.
On top of that, this story should start at the beginning and end with a clear understanding of where you are now or what your main take-away was from sharing your crazy anecdote. It’s like…your entire assignment might as well be about showing off how great your writing skills are because everything else is easy enough for even the worst writers out there to accomplish if they try hard enough. But if you can tell an entertaining story then you can make up for an essay with a bad topic or bland thesis statement pretty easily since everything else is going to follow our formula from here on out. As long as we’ve followed all the steps in order by now, we shouldn’t have any trouble making sure our final product is just as great as you are!
So tell me, have you ever needed to write an essay about yourself? If so, what was your experience like?
Did it help that I gave you step-by-step instructions to follow when starting to write a narrative essay for school/college/university.
Please leave your thoughts down below and ask your narrative story introduction writing.
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