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Narrative essays are not as difficult as you imagine

You’ve been given a narrative essay to write but have no idea how to write narrative essays because you don’t think you’ve done one before. Well chances are, you have probably written one in school but just not realized it. Do you remember ever being asked to write about a memorable experience of some kind, such as an exciting journey, your first day at school, or a moment that changed your life? If you do, then you’ve written a narrative essay.

This is because a narrative essay is the opportunity for you to tell a story to the reader, so it is almost like a cross between an essay and a creative writing task. Like an essay, you should write fairly formally and in proper paragraphs which you have planned out in advance. Luckily, narrative essays don’t require the reading and research that other types of essay do, and you’re not really marked on what you say – just how you say it. This means that there can definitely be no ‘wrong answer’.

Keep your events in an easy-to-follow sequence – this doesn’t necessarily have to be completely chronological, but don’t make things too complicated for your reader to follow. A flashback can be effective to make things really intense and grip your reader from the beginning, but it is not advisable to repeatedly jump around in time, not just because that’s not how it actually happened in real life, but because your reader will feel lost.

Everyone should have plenty of ideas for narrative essays, unless they don’t get out much! Because it’s an essay you should explain why you have chosen this particular memory and why it was so significant in your life. You can either do this in your introduction or to wrap things up in your conclusion, or even as you go along; after description specific events that make up your story, you can talk about why they make the experience so memorable.

So that’s the essay part of it covered – but what about the narrative part? Well, because you’re talking about yourself, it will most likely be written from the first person perspective (using ‘I’) but some narrative essays are written from the third person perspective (using ‘he’ or ‘she’). Whichever you choose, just make sure that you’re consistent throughout, or you could really confuse your reader. As you’ll be writing about something that’s already happened to you, then the past tense is the obvious choice, but just make sure you’re consistent with that too.

You also need to make you essay interesting to read though, so don’t get too caught up in the mechanics of it and forget that it needs to be interesting. Use plenty of vivid modifiers and verbs to really bring your story to life. Multi-sensory descriptions will also make it much more exciting for your reader, because they could find out what you could smell, taste, feel and hear, rather than just what you could see. This means they will be able to imagine the scene very clearly in their head.

If you’re still not 100% sure about how to write narrative essays, then why not have a look at some examples online? Reading pieces written by others will give you an idea of what the finished item should look like in terms of structure and style, and you don’t have to worry about plagiarism because you will be writing an essay about your own experiences so the content will be completely different. The one thing that you’re not allowed to do, however, is to simply hand in someone else’s work and claim it as your own, because that is definitely plagiarism.

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