Narrative Essay Ideas

The narrative essay means that you will be telling a story – usually about yourself. This will not be an autobiography in which you relate your entire life story – that’s for famous people! No, you will be recounting a little “slice” of your life, for a specific assignment – some event, circumstance, or background that has had importance to you. With that in mind, most students face two types of narrative essay assignments:

  1. They may be asked to write a narrative essay as an assignment for a high school or college English comp class.
  2. They will be required to write narrative essays for college application papers, scholarship competitions, and for admission to graduate school and professional programs.

So, the question then becomes one of how to choose an idea for your first narrative essay. In some instances, the topic will have already been determined for you, at least in part, though you may have options within a specified number of topics. In other cases, you will simply be asked to write a narrative on something particularly meaningful in your life. In these instances, of course you will need to come up with ideas for narrative essays that result in a piece of writing that will be engaging for the reader and will reveal a personal tale that was important to you.

Using Prompts to Your Advantage

When you receive prompts and tips for writing a narrative essay, you will be asked to respond to one or more specific statements. Prompts are usually given for admissions and scholarship essays, and may include something similar to the following:

  1. Describe a time in your life when you experienced failure. How did you respond to it and what, if anything, did you learn from the experience?
  2. Recall a time in your life when you had to make a hard decision. What were the circumstances and how did you go about making that decision? Were you happy with the decision that you made?
  3. Do you have a personal hero? If so, who is that person and what specific qualities make that person a hero to you?
  4. Describe a time in your life when you challenged values and principles held by your family or community. What were the circumstances, how did you make this challenge, and did the experience cause personal growth?
  5. Discuss a leadership role you have had. How did you formulate your approach to leadership and was it successful? Why or why not?

When you are provided prompts and must choose among them, here are a few tips as you decide which prompt to take:

  1. Read each prompt carefully and come up with narrative essay ideas for each one. Write them down.
  2. After your list is compiled, select the item that has either been the most meaningful in your life or which changed you in some way. Choosing the correct topic will allow you to write with more clarity, better recollection, and will allow you to give a strong personal response. This is part of what any decision-making person or committee will be looking for.

When There Are No Prompts

Often, in a classroom setting, you will not be given prompts, and it is then up to you to come up with ideas for a narrative essay all on your own. Here are some possible ideas that you might want to consider:

  1. What is the best vacation you have ever had?
  2. What was the most frightening experience you have ever had?
  3. Have you ever taken a big risk? What was it and how did it turn out?
  4. Recount the most embarrassing moment of your life.
  5. What was your best Christmas? Why?

If you are having a difficult time coming up with narrative essay topic ideas, ask family members or friends. Sometimes, they will recall events and experiences you have not thought of!

Guide To Compose Your Personal Writing

Consider this your personal narrative essays guide - it's a brief but yet important. 

  • Narrative essays should be written with a creative flair. They should entertain the reader, compel the reader, or appeal to emotions of the reader, and, in general be written is such a way that the reader is compelled to finish the piece and to think, “What a great story!” Many students struggle with this aspect because they are not, by nature creative and engaging writers. Especially when admissions or scholarship are involved, then, it would be wise for such students to get some professional help.
  • Begin early on this assignment. It is not one that you can “whip up” the night before it is due in class or is to be sent in. If you give yourself enough time, you will be able to review, revise, review, and revise several times. You will also have the time to ask others to read and respond to what you have written.
  • Remember, a personal narrative tells a story, and usually this will chronological. So, make a list of each event, conversation, etc. that will be included in the order in which you will be present them in your essay. This gives you the “outline” for your body paragraphs.
  • Do not worry about the introduction or conclusion at this point. Just get the body written.
  • Once the body is written, you are ready to think about your introduction. Your introduction must do two things:
    • It must grab the attention of the reader immediately. Usually, a startling statement will do the trick. Here are a couple of examples: “My mother got cancer and died when I was 6 years old,” (the narrative is about an event that changed your life), or “I will remember the day for the rest of my life,” (the narrative is about some huge event that occurred, either wonderful, horrible, frightening, or amazing). In both instances the reader really wants to continue!
    • You need to state a thesis for your essay. Ask yourself the following questions: Why is this story so important to me? How did this event or situation change my life? What did I learn from this circumstance or event? Your answer to any one of these will form your thesis.
  • The conclusion is, of course written last. You will not be adding any more information, other than to provide your personal response to the events of the story. Have you grown because of it? How? Did your belief system or values change in any way? How? Is there any advice you would give to others who experience the same type of circumstance or event? What would it be?
  • Now, go back and re-read the essay. You will want to review it carefully for several things:

A. Does it flow logically?

B. Do you have good transitions between paragraphs?

C. Is it reflective of good grammar and composition?

It’s always a good idea to have someone else read your essay and make suggestions for revision. If such a person does not exist for you, then send it off to a professional writing service and get a creative writing specialist to review and edit it.

Get Help When You Need It

Especially when college admissions and/or scholarship awards hang in the balance, you do not want to take any risk with your narrative essay. If you having difficulty coming up with personal narrative essay ideas, for example, contact a great writing service like can result in the assignment of a premier creative writing expert to come up with idea suggestions and to help you write a piece that no one will be able to ignore! IN fact, contact us if you need to write an essay. We are here 24 hours a day to help!

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