Narrative Essay Prompts

posted by Andy Preisler 22 May 2015

Narrative Essay Prompts – You Will Have Choices

Your first narrative essay was probably written in early elementary school. You may have been asked to describe your favorite toy, TV show, or vacation, and your essay may have been about a half-page long. As you continued through school, you also continued to get these narrative essay prompts from your English teachers as they attempted to develop your writing skills in a variety of areas. And now, as a high school or college student, you continue to get these types of assignments for two specific purposes:

  1. You may be taking an English comp or a writing course in which you will have to write narrative essays that are either personal in nature or that involve fictional plots and characters.
  2. You may be writing a piece in response to one of several narrative essay writing prompts that are a part of an application process for college or grad school.

In either case, narrative essays, first and foremost, tell a story. In the case of fictional writing, that story will be a complete plot, with a conflict, climax and denouement; in the case of personal narrative, you will be telling a story of a “piece” of your life that has meaning for you. If you are facing the latter type of writing, here are some tips for writing a narrative essay that may make the entire process a bit easier.

Narrative Essay Tips

Usually, you will be given options in the form of a narrative essay prompt. You might, for example, encounter some of the following:

  1. Describe a personal achievement of which you are particularly proud
  2. Recall a time when you and a family member had a huge disagreement. How did you work it out?
  3. Describe an event or experience in which you had to interact with someone who had totally different values or belief systems from yours. How did it go?
  4. What is a famous saying that is really important to you? Why?
  5. Describe a time of adversity. What did you learn from it?

The process for writing such an essay will be a lot easier if you are willing to take the time to do the following:

  1. Choose your option carefully. Be certain that your choice is one that will allow you to tell a compelling/interesting/entertaining story – one that is really memorable and one about which you remember vivid detail. It will be so much easier to write about something that is really indelibly imprinted in your mind.
  2. One of the most important tips on writing a narrative essay is to be certain that you understand the parameters of the prompt. If, for example, you are describing a period of adversity and what you learned from it, do not bring in other people and talk about their responses or lessons. Stay “on point” at all times. This is about your learning, not anyone else’s.
  3. A narrative essay prompt requires that you tell a story, and to tell that story well, you must have some type of “organizer” that will ensure that you include everything you must and eliminate those things that are unimportant or irrelevant. A good method of organizing the content you will include is to list it in chronological order. Then go back and combine and/or eliminate items, until you have a story that is coherent, flows logically, and encompasses all significant aspects.
  4. Writing the Essay: One of the most important narrative essay tips is to write our “story” without concern for how you will introduce it yet. Just get the story down on paper. As you write, you can think about why the event or experience was so meaningful to you, but just get the story in place first.
  5. Go Back to the Introduction: Really great narrative essays have introductions that captivate their readers immediately. If you want to understand how important this is, go back and re-read the first paragraph of a novel you loved. How, for example, does Dickens begin his Tale of Two Cities? With a short sentence that captures attention immediately. “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Immediately, the reader wants to know what he means by that. You must do the same with your introduction. Start with a short attention-getting statement. Then, introduce your “story” without giving much away, and provide your thesis statement. For example, if you have selected the prompt about adversity, your thesis may be that people who meet adversity head on rather than running from it come through the struggle having learned valuable life lessons. You are now ready to tell your story of facing adversity, and everyone is ready for it!

People who write great narrative essay pieces are those who are pretty consumed by the story to be told and who have a flair for creativity and drama. If this is not you, then you can certainly enlist the help of others who do have such a flair. Contact and get a personally assigned writer for your narrative essay – s/he will make that story leap off of the page!

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