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How To Write A Personal Narrative Essay For College

May 15, 2015 - Posted to Writing

Content 27

Writing Personal Narrative Essays - Two Types of Assignments

What is a Personal Narrative Essay?

This type of essay requires you to tell a story – a story about yourself. It does not mean that you will be writing your personal autobiography – leave that to celebrities and political figures or someday when you gain fame and fortune. No, a personal narrative essay definition for academic purposes is the production of a piece of writing that focuses on some aspect of your personal story – an event or situation that had a major impact on the development of your values, for example. There are two-three times when you may face writing a personal narrative essay during your academic career:

  1. An English instructor may assign personal essays that relate to experiences that you have had. What, for example, was the most frightening experience you have ever had? What was your best family vacation? Relate the most embarrassing moment of your life. Your narrative personal essay will relate to these topic assignments.  
  2. You will be engaged in writing personal essays as a part of the college admissions process. In these instances, you will be given prompts to which you must respond, and you usually have options. Some typical prompts might include:
  • Describe a time when you met with a failure. What was your response to that failure and what did you learn from it?
  • Recount a time when you had a difficult choice to make. What thinking process did you use to make that choice?
  • Who is a personal hero of yours? How did that person come to be a personal hero?


How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay for College Admissions

Some students really love to write personal essays, because they have a “flair” for creativity and great methods of entertaining their readers. Other students really struggle with this type of essay. When it is a part of the college admissions process, moreover, it is easy to get nervous and experience writer’s block. Here are some suggestions for those of you who are having a hard time:

  1. Begin early. If you are using the Common Application, the essay prompts are published at least a year in advance, and you will have plenty of time to think about each of those prompts and to select one that will be the easiest for you to write.
  2. Jot down notes to yourself. Use OneNote or another app to keep a running list of things you might include in the essay.
  3. Ask other people to respond to the prompt – those responses may give you some ideas you had not thought of.


The Actual Writing

  1. When you are ready to start writing, make a list of the points you are going to make in the order in which you are going to make them. Remember the personal experience narrative essay involves telling a story, and usually there will be a very logical flow of events in that story.
  2. Do not worry about the introduction at this time. You want to get your body paragraphs down first, and you want to have good transitions from one paragraph to the next. The concern at this point is to get the story on paper in a logical way – you will be revising it later.
  3. Write your introduction. The point of an introduction for this and any essay you may write is to engage the reader in your story immediately. Start with a short startling sentence, perhaps something that really impacted you in relationship to the story you will tell. Some examples might be. “I remember waking up and wishing I were still in my dream.” (You have failed at something and don’t want to face it), or “My little brother got cancer at the age of 5.” (Perhaps he is your hero). This will pique the interest of the reader right away. Think about the short stories or novels you have read. Go back and read how they began. You will get other good ideas for a possible opening sentence. The point is this: you want the reader to want to read your essay.


Getting Some Help

Great narrative essay writing is really an art form, and it is not a talent that most of us have. If you are having a difficult time understanding how to write a personal narrative essay, you should not feel like a failure – you have good company. Many brilliant individuals, who can write great academic works, cannot produce a personal narrative that is engaging and of high interest. Make the decision to get some help. You can certainly turn your personal story over to and simply say, “Help me with my essay”  or “Help me with my personal narrative essay.” We will assign a creative writing genius who can weave that story into a compelling piece of writing that no one will be able to put down!

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