What Are The 5 Steps To A Narrative Essay

September 9, 2022 F WP

What Are The 5 Steps To A Narrative Essay

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Narrative essay writing is one of the most popular and commonly used mediums to gauge the thinking and writing abilities of students in school and college. The material for this essay comes from personal experiences and events faced by the writer.

The language is different from other academic writing types as it relies on emotional and experiential terms and phrases to evoke images in the readers’ minds. Narrative essays are also widely used by college admission committees to grant admission to students based on their writing chops.

Even though it uses casual language and a personal story, a narrative essay always has a clear beginning and an end along with the steps involved in writing a narrative essay.  

The Importance of Following A Rigid Structure

Since it is more of a personal story than an essay with facts and figures, it is dependent on its form to be believable and relatable to its readers. Typically, every narrative essay has three distinct parts:

  • Opening
  • Body
  • Closing

Every part plays a crucial role in either setting the stage, moving the story forward, or ending it with valuable lessons learned highlighted before signing off.

It is important to follow predictable rigid structures in narrative essays because readers can have a hard time following the chain of events and ultimately drawing conclusions from the whole narrative.     

Different Narratives

Narratives differ in their outlook and character which is why there is always more than one perfect way to put it down on paper. Many writers add value to their essays by relying on these instruments.

Here are the four common types of narratives employed by writers to tell their stories:

  • Linear Narrative: The linear narrative is about presenting the details of a story in chronological order.
  • Non-Linear Narrative: In this type of narrative essay writing, writers rely on flashbacks and other literary devices to convey an out-of-order story.  
  • Quest Narrative: Quest narrative is about the struggle of the protagonist toward a goal, irrespective of time, setting, and plot.
  • Viewpoint Narrative: This narrative stresses on personal viewpoints of the characters in the story which are often extremely subjective. 

5 Key Steps To Write A Narrative Essay

Narrative essay writing, no matter how many times you have done it, requires certain planning and successful execution of that plan. Experts have chalked out certain key steps that can help writers compose a riveting narrative.

Before we move on to the easy steps to writing a narrative essay, these pro tips will always come in handy.

Pro Tips 

  • Certain topics or themes work well than others, such as tragedy, loss, new experiences, etc
  • The length of a narrative does not matter much in a tight frame as long as it fills other requirements
  • Some stories can be written in both linear and non-linear narratives so it is worth trying to add a new spin to the content 

Having Clear Purpose Before Commencing

Every narrative essay has a clear purpose, to entertain the readers by sharing a story with them. In turn, readers can draw meaningful conclusions from the story that can be relatable to their stories.

Many writers start writing under the impression that the purpose will emerge down the road and there is no need to bother about it in the beginning. This is not good. At least, they should come up with a cohesive theme and purpose for the narrative to ensure that they end up with a believable and valuable story to share with others.      

Phases – From Planning To Revision

Here are the five steps on how to write a narrative essay before turning it in for evaluation:

  • Planning
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Checking
  • Revisions

Planning The Deliverable

Planning is a crucial part before moving on to writing a narrative essay. It helps the writer understand the requirements and plan things out beforehand. In the case of writing for a class assignment or a college admission, it is always necessary to give your absolute best.      

Nailing The Perfect Topic

Topic selection is a no-brainer because everything else will eventually depend on it. Many writers rush at this point because they do not think much of the topic and try to wing it. In turn, they experience bottlenecks and writer’s block down the road. 

There are many ways to nail the perfect topic. Here are some useful insights:

  • Choosing the best theme helps nail the perfect topic
  • Recalling memories and studying past events analytically helps create a believable narrative with the perfect topic
  • Topics should not be too revealing or too bland    

Brainstorming Ideas

Before starting on any given topic, it is best to explore others and see if you can make them work. Since there are countless ways to come up with a topic and even intermingle several to create a holistic narrative, there is no need to show conformity and become dull in your pursuits. 

Brainstorming not only helps you with coming up with new ideas, but it also helps in bringing clarity to the old ones.  

Length of The Narrative Essay      

There is no hard and fast rule for narrative essay writing when it comes to word count. But it has a distinct structure with multiple parts, each one serving a clear purpose. That’s why most narrative essays are five pages long, roughly around 1500 words.

For college admissions, word count and topics are determined by college admission committees. Still, it is hardly less than 1000 words in any condition.    

Writing The Narrative Essay

After planning and understanding the deliverable, it is time to put the pen to the paper and start writing as it is one of the most important steps to take when writing a narrative essay. Many writers get overwhelmed with the new ideas and stories going off in their heads the moment they start writing.

That’s why it is necessary to understand the structure as it will help them planing the right information in the right compartment.  


The opening or introduction of the essay is about placing the hook, setting the scene, and topping it all off with a clear and bold thesis statement. 


The body is the central part of the essay as it has rich characters, unfolding of the plot, and progression of the setting toward the culmination of the story.


Every narrative essay has a conclusion. It is where the writer reflects on the lessons learned and shares insights with the readers that can be relatable to them.

Writing is the most crucial part because while writing, writers come up with new and even better ideas of how to move their narrative forward. That’s why the planning for the narrative never ends because they always need to either accommodate or reject these ideas.  

Edits & Reviews

Writers have never been fond of first drafts and for all the right reasons. No matter how careful and thoughtfully you went through it, there are always errors and inconsistencies in these drafts. That’s why editing and reviews not only just add value, but the necessary pull and grab to the text. 

Weeding Out Grammatical Errors

Grammatical errors may seem minute but they can run the impression and even the meaning of the story to the ground. There is always something childish and immature about leaving grammatical errors in the essay.

Either get it checked by a professional or use tools such as Grammarly to weed out all the grammatical errors from your essay. 

Contextual Inconsistencies

While grammatical errors are easy to spot and fix, contextual inconsistencies require further nuance and grip of the language. To find and resolve these issues, writers need to go through the whole story several times and tie the loose ends as they go. 

Tweaking & Fine-Tuning Every Section

Checking Phase

This phase is similar to editing and reviews but it has its place to cement the narrative. Instead of thinking that the work is done, writers must constantly strive for the best. 

Here are some of the parts of this phase to understand its importance and how to check the essay.

Going Through The Essay

Whether it is a grammatical error, a contextual inconsistency, or anything simply “off” about an essay, this part will deal with this. Students need to check every section of the story and make sure that everything makes sense to the reader. To be relatable, it has to be logical and even believable.   

Tying Loose Ends

Stories following non-linear or viewpoint narratives can fall prey to discontinuation. This can easily happen no matter how careful and prepared you were during the planning and writing phase. So, follow the characters’ stories and voices and make sure that they are all aligned to the conclusion to make a wholesome narrative.   

The flow of the Story

The story should be fluid with a close grip on the theme and purpose of the narrative. In this phase, it is also necessary for the writer to keep a tight grip on the flow and make sure that unnecessary description is not lagging or clogging the imagery for the readers.

Also, writers can use the age-old technique of “show, don’t tell” to keep it fluid and vibrant.   

Revision Phase

This phase may seem optional after going through extensive edits and checking the whole content, but it is better to be right and safe than sorry and embarrassed by flaws and errors in the narrative.  

Further Optimization

Writing is always subjective and there is always room for improvement. In that sense, writers can further optimize the narrative essay by checking out other essays and stories written by renowned authors. They can emulate their style, literary techniques, and so on in their stories for further added effect.  

Critical Analysis

Before turning it in, writers should further analyze the story and make sure that they have gotten everything right in its place. Critical analysis can reveal flaws and break the narrative, if there are any, and make sure that everything about the characters and plot is perfect and on point.

Reflection & Introspection

Many writers rush to the concluding point and leave many finer points unsaid. That’s why taking some extra time to go through the body of the essay and reflect and introspect different elements and morals in the conclusion can be a great deal for the overall reception of the essay. 

This was the last of the 5 steps in narrative writing. 


There are 5 essential parts of a narrative essay, that are common in them, no matter which type of narrative it is. These elements make the story come together as a whole and make it relatable to the readers.

– Characters
– Setting
– Plot
– Theme
– Conflict

The first step to write a narrative essay is to brainstorm ideas and come up with a topic. Everything else that comes, later on, will depend on it. That’s why it is considered the first and most crucial step in planning and writing a narrative essay.

A narrative paragraph explores personal experiences and events in the life of a writer that changed the future course for them. There are many ways to come up with the best writing style.
Many writers rely on linear and non-linear narrative writing styles while others take a chance on viewpoint or quest narrative to deliver their point.

The seven essential elements of narrative writing are;

– Plot
– Characters
– Point of View
– Setting
– Theme
– Conflict
– Style

Every riveting narrative has three essential parts or elements to make it believable with the flow of the content. These are the important parts of the narrative:

– Exposition (background information that is explained in the introduction phase)
– Complication (the central event that changed the course of the narrative or story)
– Resolution (the ending of the story where conclusions and reflections are drawn)


Narrative essays have countless ways to go around in content but there is often a rigid structure and elements to convey the story. In this article, we have gone through the essential elements and phases of writing a narrative essay, from planning and writing to reviewing and editing before submitting.

Students are advised to go through the article and learn the importance of each section and apply it to their narrative if they are ever wondering what are the steps in narrative writing.    

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