Writing a Narrative Essay: Tips & 20 Sample Topics

“I can do this,” I told myself. “It’s no different from regular academic writing. Is it?” This was my monologue as I fought to retain any meagre hope I had left after hours of struggle with my narrative paper.

Unfortunately, my scientific approach to narrative writing resulted in a soporific piece that would barely grab a reader’s attention. After multiple futile attempts, I learned some tips for writing a compelling narrative speech.

This article will share the tips I learned for a captivating narrative essay. In the end, we will also cover some narrative essay ideas to inspire your topic selection.

What is a narrative essay?

A narrative essay is a compelling story where you share an account of events that helped you discover some insight into life. Unlike personal stories, narrative essays are written to highlight a lesson that was brought about by a given experience.

Contrary to scientific writing, narrative writing requires quality narration skills and barely depends on research. Often, students may find themselves struggling with the narrative essay as they are not familiar with various narration tactics. Fortunately, narration skills can be honed over time, ensuring a smooth writing experience. 

Structure of a narrative essay

Similar to all academic tasks, the narrative essay is divided into an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. 


The introduction of a narrative essay should set a scene that hooks your reader into reading your story. For the most impact, the introduction may dangle the lesson of the story or highlight a key conflict, piquing your reader’s curiosity.

Your introduction should also feature a thesis statement. Unlike a scientific paper thesis, a thesis statement for a narrative essay gives a gist to the key lesson you learned. As such, the thesis does not have to warrant a debate but rather to communicate the lesson you picked from an experience.

e.g., Any misdoing perpetrated in secret eventually comes to light. A bitter lesson that inspired a wide chasm between me and my parents. 

We recommend that you research how to write an introduction for a narrative essay to compel your reader into reading your essay. 


The body of the narrative essay is where you expand your plot and give a chronological order of events leading to your conflict. Here, you can include dialogue and use vivid descriptions to paint an image in your reader’s mind, engaging them throughout your paper.

We recommend that you settle for either the first person/ third person narration to achieve uniformity in your storytelling. 


After sharing your experience, restate the key lessons you learned and offer final comments/ remarks for your reader. Refrain from introducing new ideas in the introduction as this may inspire confusion within your reader’s mind. 

Steps to follow when you are writing a narrative essay

Your approach to writing a narrative essay greatly determines the quality and appeal of your essay. Mindlessly going at the story in the hope to kickstart your creative juices rarely results in a great narrative essay.

Some of the steps we recommend for a great narrative essay are:

1. Brainstorm 

The first step in writing your essay is to consider the limitations of your essay prompt. Your tutor might have offered you an open-ended prompt or a closed question for your essay. The latter is more limiting than the former but still allows you freedom in writing your narration.

Before selecting a topic, take time to brainstorm the encounters you have had that relate to the prompt. What emotions did you feel when going through the events? What do you wish you had done differently? How did this event affect you?

After putting all these into perspective, you can establish an event that you can easily narrate and grab your reader by their pupils. 

2. Prepare a plan for your narrative

There are many items at play in a quality narrative. Ranging from the plot to the settings, characters to conflict, your essay should walk your reader through various events and allow them to experience all the emotions and settings you conjure in your writing.

Your plan should show the characters and their roles in sparking the conflict in your story. Also, discuss the emotions you felt at various moments to trigger a reaction from a reader as they experience your narration. 

3. Create an outline

Before you go into writing, prepare a plan outlining how each event fits into the puzzle. Your narrative essay outline should be divided into paragraphs and allow you to gauge the flow of your plot.

This outline should comprise short sentences defining what each paragraph will entail. The map will keep you from deviating from your key story and offer a smooth writing experience. 

Topics for narrative writing

Good topics for a narrative essay

  1. Experience is a great teacher
  2. An unpleasant incident that occurred to you
  3. A calamitous incident in your life
  4. Your favourite holiday and how it is observed in your culture
  5. The impact of media on culture
  6. How you were humiliated once

Ideas for a narrative essay

  1. The most terrifying experience of your life
  2. Discuss an instance when you did something unlawful but felt it was the proper thing to do
  3. Would you make your pastime into a school class?
  4. My finest achievement
  5. your worst social media experience
  6. An encounter that altered your perception of others
  7. A significant influence in your life

Topics for a narrative essay

  1. A time when you experienced racial discrimination
  2. A book that made a significant impact on your life
  3. What is the most terrifying story you’ve ever read?
  4. Describe a difficult decision you had to make
  5. Discuss a character who appears to be strong but is frail and delicate
  6. Your most memorable high school incident
  7. When you put your life in danger for someone else

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