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When was the last time you did not judge a book by its cover or the quality of the whole book by the quality of the first few pages? This is the impact of opening a story with a luring hook. The same is true for other forms of writing because the purpose of indulging this practice is to entertain and inform the readers and let them draw meaningful conclusions from the story.
What Is A Narrative Essay?
A narrative essay, as the name indicates, is an essay based on a narrative of a writer that relies heavily on personal experiences and incidents. It is usually written in the first person and the rationale behind writing a narrative essay is to help readers relate to the characters and imply moral lessons through a central idea or a theme.
In schools and colleges, students are asked to write narrative essays so that teachers can gauge their thinking and writing capabilities that will help them further their careers.
A narrative essay is different from other academic writing because it allows emotions and subjective perspectives to play a bigger part, contrary to empirical facts and figures.
Essential Elements of A Narrative Essay
If you are to follow a construction analogy, there are certain building blocks of a narrative essay just like a building. Without the balancing act between different elements, it is impossible for the building to stay erect.
In a narrative essay, writers try to balance the different forces at play so that the finished product is crisp, and clear, and packs a punch above its weight class.
Here are the essential elements of a narrative essay:
A theme in a narrative essay is the central idea of the whole story that the writer wants to convey through all the other elements. It can be implied but mostly it is stated in a clear statement.
The setting represents the time and space factor of the narrative essay as to where and when happened to the characters.
People inhabiting a narrative who go through trials and tribulations are called characters. There are both primary and secondary characters with protagonists and antagonists as the most noted types.
Point Of View
Point of view is about the subjective narrator through which a narrative is told. In personal narrative essays, this is conveyed from the point of view of the writer.
A thesis statement is a brief and bold sentence or a couple of sentences that highlight the central idea or the moral of the narrative essay. It is usually written at the end of the introduction.
The storyline of the narrative essay, from where it started to where it ended and how it ended, everything is covered in the plot.
Conflict is the driving force behind the narrative because it disrupts the status quo and allows the characters to follow their development arcs.
Structure of A Narrative Essay
Importance of An Effective Hook
There is no way the importance of a compelling hook can be downplayed. Many readers merely scan through the opening lines before determining whether they want to read the whole essay or not.
A hook is mostly used in fiction where writers are expected to introduce their novels or short stories from the start to leave a lasting impression on the readers.
In schools and colleges, teachers also resort to the opening as the first indicator of the quality of writing. Based on this, they assign marks and grades to assignments. That’s why students are advised to ace this part of the narrative essay to improve their grades.
Top 5 Narrative Essay Starters
Like many other creative endeavors, writing a narrative essay can be a daunting task for novice writers. Similarly, the first step of starting can stop many writers from achieving greatness. On the other side, once you get started, things somehow work out.
In this section, we will help students learn the nuances of the opening of a narrative essay through examples.
Quotes From Literature & Famous Persons
Quotes from literature and famous persons have a compounded effect on readers. In the research phase of your narrative essay writing journey, it is best to go through multiple sources and find the best quotes from credible sources.
Keep in mind that only those will work that link to your narrative, either directly or implicitly. So, before adding one to your essay, it is best to understand the context and background of the quote.
Anecdotes To Lure The Reader In
Anecdotes are great to start a conversation at gatherings with strangers. Since you are writing a narrative essay that is going to be read by a lot of people, starting with an anecdote can work as an ice-breaker as well as setting the stage.
Apart from being a good start, it can foreshadow the events of the story and make people wonder how the anecdote will connect with the narrative in the concluding section.
Bold Statements Get The Readers Off-Guard
If quotes are too passive and anecdotes are too shy to start a narrative essay, opening with a bold statement can get the readers off-guard. A bold statement can be anything too revealing about a place, person, or thing in the narrative to set the tone and stage of the story.
There are many works of literary fiction and non-fiction that uses this element of awe and surprise. But remember to balance it off with a neutral setting and a brief thesis statement in the introduction.
Statistics With A Personal Twist
Statistics are mostly used in other academic writings, such as theses, dissertations, and so on. They help readers understand the scale and reach of a subject based on understandable numbers and comparisons.
Using stats in a narrative essay can be tricky but students can use them in their favor by connecting them with the story.
For instance, if the narrative is about meeting someone out of the blue, you can reflect on the odds of actually happening.
Since the best starters are the ones that can engage readers at a deeper level, there is no other better way to do that than by directly asking a question. This is an attempt by the writer to help readers relate to the narrative and read on to find the answer to the question.
This is found in contemporary narrative essays where writers ask a question with a personal hook that readers either identify right away or miss and read the rest of the essay to find the answer. Either way, it is a win-win for the writer.
Since writing is subjective, there is no single best way to start a narrative essay. Writers resort to different things to create a big impact on their readers. Depending on the topic and level of studies, it is best to start with something eye-catching or thought-provoking.
Themes of grief and loss gain a lot of traction because readers can relate the narrative to their lives. But for the opening, you need to come up with effective one-liners, in the form of questions, statements, and surprises.
Here are some examples:
- The day I was born/ died
- Are we still alive if we see others living?
- 55% of men consider marriage a disaster
A narrative paragraph is about a personal incident or experience that changed the succeeding events for the writer. It is brief and packs a lot of punch for the reader.
A narrative is almost the same but it has multiple paragraphs, serving different purposes.
Apart from the quantitative differences, there are not many changes in the opening of a narrative paragraph or a narrative essay.
For years, many writers have tried their luck in writing narrative essays. Through their writing, we have learned that there are many ways to write a compelling opening to a narrative essay. Mostly it has one of the following or a combination of more;
- A shocking revelation
- A statistics with insightful numbers
- A riveting question for the readers
The opening holds a special place in the whole structure of a narrative essay. There are many ways to open a narrative, depending on the scope and reach of the topic. There are no chosen best words to start a narrative paragraph but phrases and words that describe an action, pose a question, or any other literary device to attract and retain the attention of the readers.
The ideal length of the introduction of a narrative essay is one paragraph. In this paragraph, writers need to set a perfect hook for the readers, introduce the setting, and close it off with a thesis statement.
In a five-paragraph narrative essay, the introduction comprises only one. So, students should keep that in mind before starting their planning for the essay.
Summing It Up
Although a narrative essay has different parts, the theme and overall subject of the essay remain uniform. Writers play out and balance the different elements in three main sections. The opening or introduction of the narrative essay is very important to the whole narrative because it sets the stage and lets people know about the setting, theme, and thesis statement of the essay.
We have shed ample light on the structure and importance of the opening in this post. In addition to this, you will find the five most important and effective starters for your narrative essays in schools and colleges.
So, if you want to improve your essay writing, this is the place to start!