How to Write a Narrative Essay

What is a narrative essay?

It’s the most common type of creative work in which it is required to express ideas about a given topic. Therefore, in order to correctly write a narrative essay, you need to know and understand the plot of the work (read book). This is 50% of success.

The remaining 50% consists of the ability to formulate ideas correctly:

  • choose the optimal structure;
  • find a problem;
  • formulate a point of view on it;
  • prove the position;
  • conclude.

A narrative essay describes an event that once happened to someone. For example, you can describe the story of a person who has been helped by stem cell research to cope with an illness.

How long should a narrative essay be

The requirements can’t prescribe narrative essay’s volume. Of course, the size of this essay is ordinary 2-3 pages of typewriting.

However, we should note that this type of work requires another approach compared to other essay types. So, here you should talk to the audience as much as you feel it is right.

Narrative essay outline

How to write a narrative essay? 

Your narrative essay should contain all the components of a good story. You need an introduction, place, and time of action, plot, characters, climax, and conclusion.

  • Introduction: How do you start your story? Will there be something important or useful that will be discussed later?
  • Time and place of action: where and when the story happened. What does this place look like? What words can bring the reader there?
  • Plot: what is happening. What is the essence of the story? What is it about? Why is this story worthy of being told?
  • Characters: who is involved in the story. What is told about the heroes of the story? What do the heroes tell us about the story?
  • Climax: what is exciting in this story. Is the story fascinating? Do readers want to know what happened next?
  • Conclusion: how and why it all ended. What is the moral of the story? How have the heroes of the story changed?

Narrative essay format

Narration is the oldest type of text. The oldest English story indicates that in the early times the text performed protective functions in a world of hostile nature inhabited by spirits. 

In the early periods, the narrative also performed educational functions, giving listeners information on examples of behavior in various situations. 

The narrative fulfills this function now, which relates it to normative texts reporting ethical standards and experience of behavior that can be used in various situations. 

At the same time, the narrative contains elements of entertainment

The purpose of the story can be a story about a significant incident or problem that continues to be relevant; a case that revealed the remarkable trait of one of the famous people.

It is required to write reasoning based on a quote or reflect your thoughts on a socially important issue. The purpose of this work is to formulate a thesis and confirm it with the necessary evidence from the book read or a film watched.

The work will be appreciated more if you not only prove the thesis but also refute the counter arguments that can be put forward against it.

By and large, there is no right or wrong reasoning. The main thing is to prove that your position has a right to exist, using arguments from the text or public life for this.

Narrative essay tips

How to start a narrative essay?

Often, students are concerned about the question of how to start writing a narrative essay. The introduction is considered traditional, in which brief information about the author of the statement or book is given.

The main part is the wording and proof of position/thesis. Choose powerful arguments: examples from literature, historical facts, current events.

It is also not difficult to write a conclusion in a narrative: once again reflect your own opinion on the problem of text or quotation.

  • Do not rush, but do not delay. First, consider the main thing, then the less important ones.
  • Make your essay interesting so that people understand its message and become interested in it.
  • Remember: do not postpone writing a narrative until the evening before delivery! It takes time to write a good narrative essay. Otherwise, in a hurry you can write a bad essay.
  • Before you start writing each new section, write down ideas related to it. This is better than relying on memory and risking forgetting something important.


  • Too long lists.
  • Using an unlabeled list inside a paragraph.
  • The use of the abbreviation “etc.”. Readers can understand it as “and I don’t know what else to give as an example”.

You must have a clear point of view. As a rule, a narrative essay is written with an author’s point of view, but you can show the story from a different angle if you do not forget about your vision of the problem.

As a narrator, you can use the pronoun “I” and the first-person narrative form. But do not abuse it. As with all types of essays, great persuasion comes from mentioning third-person facts and opinions.

Prepare the moral of the story. You are telling a story, but it must have some kind of morality. So put your main idea into the story through a thesis and make sure that all parts of the story support this thesis.

Answer yourself some questions: What have you learned? Does the narrative essay describe this? How have you changed? Show how history has changed you.

Carefully work out the language of a narrative essay. You’ll be able to wake up emotions in your readers, so try to approach the choice of words responsibly.

A great example of a narrative essay

Let’s have a look at the example of a narrative essay in which the author considers the problem of the Seven Deadly Sins in the context of modern life. 

Annotation. The narrative essay is dedicated to the Seven Deadly Sins. It reveals the primary meaning and significance of this concept in Christianity. As an example of how this concept is refracted today in life and art, the films “Seven” and “Devil’s Advocate” are used. 

Introduction. One of the basic concepts on which the Christian religion is based is the concept of sin. A sin is considered a violation of any Commandment, a violation of the law of conscience. Sin is lawlessness. 

However, some sins stand out in a special group called the Deadly Sins, as they lead to the destruction of the soul. There are seven in total, and these are Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, and Laziness. Those who surrender to them, or even to one of them, end up in Hell without the hope of salvation. 

Description of the Seven Deadly Sins (main part). At first glance, it is not very clear why these actions are considered the most dangerous for the human soul. After all, they are like ordinary feelings and actions that are common to most of us. 

Gluttony and lust are excessively increased natural bodily needs; We regularly get angry at someone, rejoice at our successes, get sad about failures, slightly envy more prosperous neighbors, and sometimes are a little greedy. However, it is here that the boundary between good and evil, good and bad, lies. 

The Seven Deadly Sins is the antithesis of the seven fundamental Virtues that are inherent in a good person and Christian. These virtues are Humility, Love, Moderation, Abstinence, Meekness, Generosity, Diligence. 

Pride means an exaggerated concept of its importance and the fact that a person puts himself above other people. 

Envy is associated with a strong desire to possess something that belongs to another person, be it a material object or some kind of quality. 

Gluttony is an uncontrolled desire to receive bodily pleasures, especially from food. 

Lust is also close to it, which destroys the soul of a person whose thoughts are directed exclusively at sexual objects. 

Anger is irritability and temper over the flaws of others. An avid person is never satisfied with what he has, constantly seeks to acquire wealth, and does not want to share anything with others. 

And, finally, Sloth leads to the fact that the sufferer of it is incapable of performing either physical or spiritual work. 

We all condemn and despise these qualities from others, and, meanwhile, none of us is free from these sins, although it is unlikely that you can find a person whom they would be equally overwhelmed at the same time. 

For centuries, people of art — artists, writers, and even musicians — have sought to solve this riddle with their own means — in painting, music, and literature. Today, the dominant position among the arts, of course, is the cinema. And one of the clearest examples of addressing this issue is the film “Seven”, directed by David Fincher. 

This is the story of a serial killer, each of whose victims is “punished” by him for indulging in one of the seven Deadly sins. He acts methodically, taking Dante as the guide. 

He divides them into three categories: perverse Love, insufficient Love, and excessive Love. In his poem, he describes in detail what types of punishments are committed in Hell for sins against Love. The anti-hero of the film “Seven,” whose name we will never recognize, uses these descriptions almost literally.

Police officers in the film find a dead glutton in a dirty room, their face buried in a plate with spoiled food.

Dante considers the punishment of sinners to be correct because they were unfair to others and reduced the amount of Love in the world. The murderer in the film argues in a similar way, only he does not expect Divine revenge, but takes matters into his own hands: “We see mortal sin in every street, in every house. And we endure it. So, this has come to an end.” 

Faced with the everyday horrors of the wrong side of life in New York, Detective Mills, who first believes in justice, mercy, and Love in human hearts, is gradually losing this faith, realizing how Mortal Sins have become an integral part of being. 

Dante can no longer provide revenge. He is too small and primitive to withstand the abyss of the vice of modern life. As a result, people who encounter it lose faith in whatever. 

The film gradually brings us to the conclusion that the primary source of today’s lawlessness is Pride and the greed associated with it. People have ceased to reckon with the interests of others, they seek to acquire power and money in order to be even more proud of themselves, and they are no longer interested in anything other than satisfying the desires of their “I,” including the most base. 

And, as the film shows, this is considered “normal.” Similar ideas can be found in another film featuring life in New York, “Devil’s Advocate”. 

Here, at a certain point in his life, the protagonist also faces a choice that at first does not seem too difficult. If in the movie “Seven,” Mills becomes a victim of Wrath, then Lomax in “Devil’s Advocate” could not resist Pride and Greed. 

Kevin Lomax, unlike the hero of the film “Seven,” manages to escape literally at the last moment, but the final of the film is deliberate in nature, which makes the warning contained in it very impressive. 


The desire for material, not spiritual, disbelief in virtue and Love, according to the authors of the films, is the source of all troubles. 

People have ceased to control themselves and their desires, and also do not want to be responsible for their actions. They are ready for anything to become rich and famous. They calmly sacrifice the well-being of other people in order to achieve their selfish goals. 

Films remind us that modern clothes do not make Mortal Sins less dangerous and that indulging in Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed and Laziness sooner or later leads to the destruction of the soul, even if you do not give this concept a religious meaning.