Narrative Essay: What Is It and How to Prepare It?

Being assigned by your tutor with a task to prepare a narrative essay is a great opportunity to develop storytelling and writing skills. However, writing this academic paper may seem quite challenging. It’s extremely important to choose an interesting topic because you’ll become fully engaged in the writing process. In order to make sure that you’ll get a high grade for this work, you can go through our quick and simple recommendations on how to prepare it.

What Is It?

First of all, get a clear idea of what this paper is. In simple words, it’s a story told by you as an author, which makes it the most personal type of academic writing. This means that you’ll tell about personal experiences.

Find the main features of narrative essays below:

  1. They’re written in a more creative style than other academic papers;
  2. They’re always non-fiction, and in most cases, They’re autobiographical;
  3. Students usually prepare such assignments in high schools as part of coursework or during admissions to a college.

When writing a story, an author normally describes people, conversations, and experiences to teach the readers certain lessons. But mind the differences between a usual narrative and an academic piece of writing. Come up with a certain motif that the entire story will ground on.

What Are the Main Elements of This Type of Essay?

When thinking of the story you need to add three main elements in your papers, including:

  1. Motif or theme;
  2. Character;
  3. Dialogue.

Motif or Theme

The story will develop around a motif or theme presented in your thesis statement. The theme shows ideas or issues rising within the story. You’ll further elaborate them in body paragraphs.


Characters play a significant role in the essay. Even if it’s autobiographical, a person writing the paper is a character interacting with other characters.


You’ll need to add a conversation between different characters. Adding dialogues to the writing will allow providing the readers with a vivid image of the characters.

How Do Such Essays Differ from Stories?

While such essays are stories, in essence, with descriptions, characters, plot, and dialogue, there are differences between these works that you should know about.

Find out the main features distinguishing narrative essays from stories:

  • Such an academic paper is usually written in the first person;
  • The essay aims at presenting an argument or point, and all your paper will weave around the theme without adding extraneous elements. Stories often give more opportunities to include various elements;
  • Such an essay should not leave an impression of incompleteness. At the same time, stories can present a more abstract message that causes additional questions;
  • Narrative essays have a traditional research paper structure (an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion) while when it comes to stories, authors can use any format.

How to Choose a Topic?

You may receive a topic or a list of topics from a tutor, and in this case, you’ll just need to choose the one that looks the most interesting. Also, you may enjoy more freedom in terms of what to tell about. It may be quite difficult to choose a topic because of a large range of options available.

On the Internet, you can find plenty of different topics to pick for your writing. If there are several topics that you like, just make a list of them and then cross out those that will appear more difficult to tell about.

Perfect Structure for This Type of Essays

Such an essay has a standard structure of an academic paper that you’ll find below:

  • Introduction. Here, you’ll include a thesis statement and grab the reader’s attention. While it should be clear what your paper tells about, avoid providing too many details in this part;
  • Body paragraphs. In this part of your paper, build your argument by describing events, developing characters, and writing dialogues;
  • Conclusion. It’s the final part of the text where you sum up everything written in the paper. Provide no new information in this text section.
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