Narrative Essay

• Tells a story
• Every time you tell a joke, trade gossip, invent a ghost story or
tell what you did on the weekend, it is a narrative
• Your idea/thesis may be formed by experience, so a clear
account of that experience will help others understand and
believe your point
• Eg. The experience of war through story. The experience of
growing up in a story. Use story to prove a point
• Often written in 1st person as it is based on a personal story
1. Sensory details- show don’t tell!!!
Eg. (telling) I got into a fight.
(showing) The fist hit me square in the nose.
(telling) I love to help others.
(showing) The elderly lady smiled when I held open the door for her. I felt
a warm glow fill my body.
2. Time order- time is your organizer. Mostly chronological but it can have
flashbacks or begin in the middle of the story
3. Thesis- the controlling idea. Some are stated explicitly, some implicitly.
 Since this is a story, the narrative essay needs
everything a story needs (these are known as the story
• Has characters
• Has a plot (beginning/middle and end)
• Has a problem
• Has a climax
• Can use dialogue
• The foundation of your essay
• Your opinion about the topic
Weak Thesis
Why it is weak
Revised thesis
In this essay I will discuss
my family’s move to
Not an opinion
Not specific
My family’s move to
Canada was a distressing
experience from which I
learned that not all
Canadians are hospitable
and to survive this country,
you have to stand up for
The birth of my brother,
Not a complete sentence
Not an opinion
Not specific
The birth of my brother,
Mark, brought joy and
renewed energy to our
• Choice of scope- where does your story logically begin and end?
Include only parts that develop your point. Eg. I became a Canadian
citizen when I walked through the courthouse doors.
• Choice of details- Which details count and what do not? Ever read a
story where they give you every detail about their lunch? Brushing
their teeth? Who cares! Unless it adds to your argument. Use vivid
details. You want the reader to see, hear, feel and smell or taste your
• Choice of connection- readers love to be swept along by narrative.
Use connecting words such as “at first, next, then, immediately, later,
finally, at last”.
• Choice of narrator- first person (your experience) or from a third
person perspective (someone else’s story)
• Give the reader a sense of satisfaction. They should feel that
the story is complete, loose ends tied up.
• Ideas for a concluding paragraph:
Come full circle- return to your introduction and its material
Summarize the lesson you learned from the experience
Remind your readers of the thesis by stating it in different words
Consider placing the thesis in the conclusion . Sometimes you may want to
do this if you want it to be a surprise.