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How do you write a personal narrative

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How do you write a personal narrative
December 23, 2018 Anniversary Wishes 3 comments

This post teaches you how a personal narrative essay works and how you can write yours well enough to make your audience gasp in awe and.

Structure of the Essay

  • The opening of the essay needs to let the reader know the essence of what you will be describing and your point of view.
  • The body of the story needs to give the reader a very clear idea of what happened and how you (the author) feel about that. The story can be told chronologically or the facts may be grouped by importance or type.
  • The final paragraph needs to wrap up and state the point of the story, whether it is a lesson, an idea, or just a learning experience.

Writing the Essay

Writing a good narrative essay requires you to include interesting information in an engaging way. Here are some tips:

  • Record yourself telling the story. That will help your organize your story and make the writing flow.
  • Include anecdotes and dialogue in the essay.
  • Use transitory words to connect sentences like: therefore, however, or for example.
  • Vary the structure of your sentences to make the writing more interesting. Try adding some compound, complex, or interrogative sentences.
  • Make the words lively, descriptive, exciting, active, emotional, and precise.

Example of Narrative Writing

Here is an example of writing used in a personal narrative essay. Notice the tone and words that set the mood. You can almost feel the heat and humidity.

"It was the middle of springtime and across from my house where the incident took place. There was a lake there in which my brother and I loved to explore from time to time. The humidity and water drops where reminiscent of a fully functional sauna. The onslaught of heat and burning glow of the sun was relentless."

Types of Essays

An essay is a short piece of writing which is either analytical or speculative. Most essays are written from the author's point of view.

The word "essay" began to be used in 1588 when Michel de Montaigne published a book called Essais and the word represents a short work written on a particular subject.

There are many kinds of essays, and following is a short explanation of a few of them.

Persuasive or Argumentative Essay

The persuasive or argumentative essay picks a certain viewpoint and offers support of it with data, statistics, and other evidence. Its purpose is to make the reader agree with the proofs and conclusions. In other words, the reader should share the viewpoint of the writer.

Persuasive essays need to have logical and clear reasoning supported by facts and arguments.

Comparison Essay

A comparison essay will compare two things and point out their similarities and differences. The writer needs to find as many similarities and differences as possible so he will need to do some research.

It does not matter in what order the facts are presented, as long as they are easy to understand by the reader.

Descriptive Essay

Descriptive essays answer the questions: how, what, why, when, and where. They can be written about any subject; a place, person, animal, event, thing, or memory. The writer will share with the reader what he feels and perceives.

The tone should be sensory in nature so the reader can almost see, smell, taste, hear, and feel what the author experienced.

Narrative Essay

A narrative essay tells a story that has a point to be made. The reader may receive an idea or a lesson from the essay. The story is told using sensory details and emotional language.

A narrative essay usually reflects something of a personal nature so many times it becomes a personal narrative essay.

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Writing an engaging personal narrative essay requires you to focus on both the key points of information to be conveyed as well as the many details which make .

Tips for Writing a Personal Narrative Essay

how do you write a personal narrative

How to write Personal Narrative Essay with Examples

Charlotte G. Smithon May 31, 2018

8 min.

Hello and welcome back again to our academic guide! I would like to call your attention, people! We have a new agenda today.

What’s our agenda today?

Today’s topic is about writing a personal narrative essay!

Ah yes! This is my most favorite essay to write. Perhaps because I use this form when I talk to my friends via social media. I love narrating my life experiences to my friends.

I will show you how to write a narrative essay. Don’t worry, I will give you an example too.

This will be the flow of our guide:

  1. What is a narrative essay?
  2. Personal narrative essay tutorial
  3. Personal narrative essay example
  4. Final notes

Are you ready? I will now lead you to the portal of knowledge.

What Is a Personal Narrative Essay?

What comes to mind when you hear “narrative essays”?

Probably the words “stories”, “experiences”, and “anecdotes” come into your mind. Narrative essays allow you to creatively express yourself.

According to Jacqueline Goodwin of the San Jose Writing Center, personal writing essays “. . . communicates your understanding of yourself, others, and/or society”.

It is about sharing your story to your readers. You have to describe your emotions, surroundings, and etc. By the end of the day, your readers will gain something from you. Never fear, for your story and voice matters.

Personal Narrative Essay Outline

This is an outline you can use to write your narrative essay. As usual, you are free to change it according to your preferences.

  1. Introduction *
    1. Part 1
    2. Part 2
    3. Part 3 (thesis statement)
  2. Body
    1. Part 1
    2. Part 2
    3. Part 3
  3. Conclusion
    1. Part 1
    2. Part 2
    3. Part 3 (moral lessons)

*According to Santa Barbara City College, it is important to add information such as where the event was held, the year, and the characters (Ex: Yourself or friends and family).

How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay?

This will be a general guide on how to write your own personal narrative essay.

1.Recall and Introspect!

  • Be sure to choose an event that is fresh in your memory. It does not have to be recent. If you want to write about a vacation when you were nine-years-old- and you remember everything, then do so.

2. Outline and have your references ready!

  • You can outline if it helps you organize your thoughts.
  • References can be pictures you or other people (Ex: a family member) have taken. From my experience, it helped me motivate myself to keep working.

3. Free write!

  • You can include some elements such as descriptive language and voice.
  • Just let it all out! Remember that this is the free writing stage.
  • This is optional, but you can add dialogue to your personal narrative.
  • As much as possible, try to be as descriptive as you can.

4. Edit!

  • You are free to remove irrelevant details from your essay.
  • Remember to place a title!

Personal Narrative Essay Example

This is my example of a personal narrative essay. Kick back and relax!

The Lone Wolf and the Sense of Belongingness

It all started with a plan with my friend. We knew that there was an upcoming event- Ozine Fest- from April 28 to April 29 held on the fifth floor of a function room in a mall. Attendees have the option to go inside the function room by purchasing a ticket, stay outside, or both.

My friend and I agreed to meet on the second day via text. I was elated to the point that I flashed a smile out of anticipation. I met her on the second day of the event, however, little did I know that it would be one of the most fulfilling and memorable moments of my life.

It was time to change into my cosplay. Beads of sweat formed on my forehead. It was scorching hot despite having an electric fan turned on. The heat prickled my freshly bathed skin. I decided to switch on the air conditioner to cool myself off. I knew it would take a lot of time to prepare. The cool breeze from the air conditioner caused a rejuvenating sensation. I would not want to appear like a warrior drenched in sweat.

I gazed myself in the mirror. As usual, I mused on how different I looked in cosplay. I’m not a vain person by nature, but I admired the woman gazing back at me in the mirror. Needless to say, I felt more attached to the character I was cosplaying. It took 45 minutes to prepare myself. I hurriedly shoved my essentials and toy guns in my bag. I walked down the flight of stairs leading to the garage.

“Where’s your sword?” My father inquired in curiosity as I settled in the front seat.

“I don’t need it.” I straightforwardly stated. “I only need a gun.”

Anticipation surged through my veins. I’m going to meet her again! My father dropped me off at the entrance of the floor at around 2:15 pm. As I was walking to the fifth floor, I felt several pairs of eyes intently gazing at me with curiosity and bewilderment. I did not feel embarrassed, I have to show pride and confidence at what I’m doing.

The fifth floor was filled with people. I felt my surroundings warming up due to their body heat. I looked for my friend amidst the group of visitors and cosplayers standing or walking idly on the fifth floor. My friend called my attention as I was still attempting to desperately search for her in the crowd. I turned to the direction of her voice, and I barely recognized her! She was wearing a blue and white sailor uniform. She wore a dark brown wig with front bangs and thick locks of hair that cascaded past her shoulders. We locked each other in an embrace and briefly introduced me to her friends.

Everything happened in a blur. As my friend was preoccupied with meeting people, cosplayers and non-cosplayers alike courteously asked me to have a photo with them. It was overwhelming, since it has been around 30 minutes since I arrived. I even witnessed my friend having a brief photo session with other event attendees. I was able to acquaint with fellow cosplayers by that time.

We moved to an area leading to the food court. It was colder and less crowded. There were cosplayers sitting idly on the floor. Photographers stood with their equipment propped to the floor, and cosplayers were posing with finesse. I watched them in awe, captivated at the sight I witnessed. We sat on the table near the entrance of the food court.

An hour or so, we left the food court as my friend had to meet other people. We walked within the area and peculiarly, I was not exhausted. The excitement of forging new acquaintances made my blood boil with joy. My eyes scanned the area as my friend talked to the people she met up with. Photographers were taking pictures of cosplayers. Some were walking with their cameras clasped tightly between their hands, looking for other cosplayers to photograph. I chanced upon a two cosplayers reenacting an action scene. I observed the photographer expertly position himself behind each of the cosplayers, his camera focused on the person’s face.

I was eagerly approached by photographers, and gladly posed for them. I wanted to collect as much photos as I can, so I gave my name so that they can tag me on Facebook. A little later, my friend took me to meet her other friends and energetically introduced me. I had a group photo with them. One person suggested to go down at the third floor to have a photoshoot. It was a wonderful idea, as the guards were sternly telling cosplayers to vacate certain areas of the fifth floor.

There were fewer people on the third floor. It was not as noisy as a market compared the fifth floor. As usual, we were met with puzzled expressions from strangers. We had a photoshoot, taking advantage of the brick wall as our background. The acquaintances I met radiated with fervent enthusiasm.

It was around 6pm in the evening when we parted. Pain shot through my heart like an arrow, making it clench in pain. It would take months before I see them again. I thanked them, bid them goodbye, and walked in the opposite direction to rendezvous with my father.

I felt honored, as I do not usually have companions who are into cosplay. I wanted to meet people outside of my social circle. At that time, I did not feel like a lone wolf wandering aimlessly during events. For once, I finally experienced being part of a “pack”. The photos we had taken encapsulated our memorable adventure, eternally preserved in our memories. I knew I would meet them again if the stars aligned in our favor. Until the next event!


You have reached the end of my guide. I have a lot to tackle about that event, but I chose to focus on meeting my friend’s friends.

Personally, there are times when words cannot capture what you’re feeling. This is how I felt as I was reminiscing about this memorable experience. Writing a personal narrative sounds easy, but it’s quite challenging. Take on the challenge and learn.  

Good luck, my dear readers, and see you!


WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: Writing a Personal Narrative: Writing a Draft for Kids
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Narrative Essay

how do you write a personal narrative

The personal narrative essay can be the most enjoyable type of assignment to write because it provides you with an opportunity to share a meaningful event from your life. After all, how often do you get to tell funny stories or brag about a great experience and receive school credit for it?

Think of a Memorable Event 

A personal narrative can focus on any event, whether it is one that lasted a few seconds or spanned a few years. Your topic can reflect your personality, or it can reveal an event that shaped your outlook and opinions. Your story should have a clear point. If nothing comes to mind, try one of these examples: 

  • A learning experience that challenged and changed you;
  • A new discovery that came about in an interesting way;
  • Something funny that happened to you or your family;
  • A lesson you learned the hard way.

Planning Your Narrative

Start this process with a brainstorming session, taking a few moments to scribble down several memorable events from your life. Remember, this doesn’t have to be high drama: Your event could be anything from blowing your first bubble gum bubble to getting lost in the woods. If you think your life doesn't have that many interesting events, try to come up with one or more examples for each of the following:

  • Times you laughed the hardest
  • Times you felt sorry for your actions
  • Painful memories
  • Times you were surprised
  • Scariest moments

Next, look over your list of events and narrow your choices by selecting those that have a clear chronological pattern, and those that would enable you to use colorful, entertaining, or interesting details and descriptions. 

Finally, decide if your topic has a point. A funny story might represent irony in life or a lesson learned in a comical way; a scary story might demonstrate how you learned from a mistake. Decide on the point of your final topic and keep it in mind as you write.

Show, Don’t Tell 

Your story should be written in the first-person point of view. In a narrative, the writer is the storyteller, so you can write this through your own eyes and ears. Make the reader experience what you experienced—not just read what you experienced.

Do this by imagining that you are reliving your event. As you think about your story, describe on paper what you see, hear, smell, and feel, as follows:

Describing Actions

"My sister ran off."

"My sister jumped a foot in the air and disappeared behind the closest tree."

Describing Moods

"Everyone felt on edge."

"We were all afraid to breathe. Nobody made a sound."

Elements to Include

Write your story in chronological order. Make a brief outline showing the sequence of events before you begin to write the narrative. This will keep you on track. Your story should include the following:

Characters: Who are the people involved in your story? What are their significant character traits?

Tense: Your story already happened, so, generally, write in the past tense. Some writers are effective in telling stories in the present tense—but that usually isn't a good idea.

Voice: Are you attempting to be funny, somber, or serious? Are you telling the story of your 5-year-old self?

Conflict: Any good story should have a conflict, which can come in many forms. Conflict can be between you and your neighbor’s dog, or it can be two feelings you are experiencing at one time, like guilt versus the need to be popular.

Descriptive language: Make an effort to broaden your vocabulary and use expressions, techniques, and words that you don’t normally use. This will make your paper more entertaining and interesting, and it will make you a better writer.

Your main point: The story you write should come to a satisfying or interesting end. Do not attempt to describe an obvious lesson directly—it should come from observations and discoveries.

Don't say: "I learned not to make judgments about people based on their appearances."

Instead, say: "Maybe the next time I bump into an elderly lady with greenish skin and a large, crooked nose, I'll greet her with a smile. Even if she is clutching a warped and twisted broomstick."

To write a breathtaking narrative essay quickly, let us introduce you the most The narrative is very personal, so you should underline the.

A Step-by-Step Plan for Teaching Narrative Writing

how do you write a personal narrative

There are numerous kinds of essays you may be assigned to complete. Sometimes, it can be hard to understand the difference between two similar papers. Narrative essay is commonly confused with the descriptive one. This article will lead you through all necessary steps and help you write a successful piece adhering to the particular formatting rules.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

The main purpose of a narrative essay is to tell the reader about events, interactions, and experience that have happened to the author during the particular period of time. It always has a vivid plot. On the contrary, the descriptive essay is aimed at providing an image of a person, a place, some experience or an object without demonstrating a chain of events. The plot is absent or vague.

To write a breathtaking narrative essay quickly, let us introduce you the most compelling step-by-step sequence:

#1. Preparation

Before your creative process actually starts, you should learn a bit more about the general requirements inherent in this kind of the paper, choose the topic, and collect some relevant information to use it as the reference.  

What to Write About?

Your potential theme should be interesting for both you and your audience. The topic of the narrative essay usually refers to the writer’s experience and there is no need to use any data from the outside sources. Besides, there are 3 signs of a successful title of your essay whether it is narrative or something else:

  1. You could barely see it on the web;
  2. It’s quite narrow than wide;
  3. It encourages reading the first sentence of the paper.

What is Required of Me?

Asking to compose such a specific kind of academic paper, professors don’t demand of their students to follow strict rules as for other writing assignments and only give them a basic structure. The idea is simple: you take a story from a real life and dwell upon the most vibrant points as far as events are unfolding. The narrative’s parts should be coherent and convey a particular mood.

Where to Search for Evidence?

You may take them from your own memories since you started writing it. Forget about the exhausting web-research and let your memories pour out on a paper.

#2. Writing Process

Obviously, this stage is the most time-consuming. It can be less if you take into account the following:

Making a Structure and Outlining

Divide your plot into three parts: a setup, the main part and a climax, and a thrilling conclusion. In the introduction, you should hook a reader and make them read the rest of your essay. Allocate the major points of the essay and describe each of them briefly in the body and end up your story with an unpredictable twist and a delightful punch line. In its turn, outlining helps you find the best details of the disclosed issues in the narrative essay.

Picture source

Providing Information in First-Person

The narrative is very personal, so you should underline the significance of the ongoing events for your identity. That is why it is common to use “I” statements without switching a perspective in favor of another person.  

Describing the Characters and Places

Even though it’s not a descriptive essay, try to adorn your story with vivid details of crucial objects mentioned in the plot.  Especially, that goes for people who affected the outcome of the whole case; their personalities should be disclosed as comprehensive as possible.

Mention places serving as a location of where an action is held because it reflects the picture's ambience. Background information which may change the reader's attitude to characters or even to the meaning of your idea has to be also provided.

Adding a Little Spice

What a narrative without a zest! Dilute your smooth passages with a detail that will turn everything around. It may be antagonist character who is eagerly interfering with your purposes, an unpredictable twist and embarrassing ending or funny jokes and coincidences to break your audience out laughing.

#3. Editing

After crafting the first draft, revise it thoroughly. You will definitely find one, two or a few rough spots while looking through your essay. Make sure you didn’t miss any important points.

Tips for the successful editing:

  • Don't start to search for mistakes right after finishing the essay. Have a rest and only then take a fresh look at it;
  • Transform big and complicated sentences into simple ones to make them compelling;
  • Avoid use of terms of many meanings;
  • Find all repeats of ideas or arguments and delete them;
  • Verify all citations and formatting in general with a guide;
  • Paraphrase where it is hard to grasp the sense;
  • Reconsider the structure of the essay.

#4. Proofreading

Many students deem that subtitles 3 and 4 in this guide are the same things. But it is not really so: when editing is all about content, style, and paragraph structure, proofreading is performed to detect misspellings and grammar errors. Also, it is the final phase of the writing.

What Should I Do During This Process?

  • Check grammar yourself or use some applications such as or other services from Infographics below, but do not rely on them heavily;
  • Remove double spacing;
  • Replace misspellings with correct words.

Picture source

It will be more effective if you entrust someone else to reread your piece: your friends, parents or college mates. They may notice mistakes you missed and share their general opinion on the essay.  

As you can see, the narrative essay is not complicated at all. It is one of the most pleasant forms of writing assignments due to the great involvement of your personality in the paper's body. Even the rules and requirement can't get you down – they are practically absent or are as simple as a pie if professor mentions a structure. Turn on your imagination and start crafting a brilliant piece adhering to our recommendations.

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Good Narrative Essay Topics For College Students. Personal Narrative Stories Ideas On Traveling And Holidays. How to Write Your Narrative.

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