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Writing narrative essays is easy but writing a good narrative essay is another thing altogether. In academia, students are often asked to write essays so that instructors can gauge their writing and thinking capabilities. They are trained to understand the different elements and how to balance them for the ultimate effect, but it is mostly a hit or miss in the case of something as subjective as a narrative essay.
A Good Narrative Essay
Before we share some tips on writing a good narrative essay, it is necessary to define what it is. For that, we need to refer to the reasons why we write narrative essays in the first place.
The primary reason for writing narrative essays is to entertain the readers through a story based on a personal incident or experience from which they can draw parallels and extract valuable lessons.
To attain that effect, writers need to take into account the individual and collective effects of different elements of the narrative essay.
Essential Elements Of A Narrative Essay
Just like building blocks are necessary to erect an edifice, it is necessary to have all the essential elements in the essay to get desired effects. They are standardized and writers can learn about them in the succeeding lines.
- Theme – it is the central idea of the narrative that writers want to convey to the writers through all the other elements
- Plot – it is the structure of the story and narrative through space and time
- Characters – are the people who inhabit a narrative and convey the central idea of the story to readers, through their actions and words
- Conflict – it is the disruption of the status quo or in the narrative that triggers the change
- Setting – anything that is detailing and helps readers understand in terms of time and space of the story is setting
- Point of View – it refers to the perspective the narrative is weaved from; the narrator of the story and its way of looking at and describing things
Format of A Good Narrative Essay
Without understanding the structure and formatting of a good narrative essay, it is fruitless to expect writers to produce thought-provoking stories. A format is a predictable path or journey that a narrative must take, from start to the finish.
The standard school or college narrative essay has five paragraphs, with one each dedicated to the opening and closing of the essay. The rest of the three, making the bulk of the essay is the body. This is where most of the action takes place, plots unfold, and characters go through transformations.
Let us take a look at these parts one by one.
A Riveting Opening
The opening is where it all starts. It is also called introduction and it allows the writer to set the stage and lure the readers in with catchy elements. It can be a question, a statement, a setting, or anything, as long as it plays its part and is even remotely connected to the story.
For narrative essays, writers also state the thesis statement in the introduction. A thesis statement looks at the central idea of the story or a narrative, reflecting on the writer’s take.
Since it is the beginning of a story and only a paragraph, writers need to make the best of it through vigorous writing and research.
An All-Explaining Body
This part comprises three paragraphs in most cases or the biggest chunk of the overall essay, so it has to touch certain bases.
After the thesis statement, the writer somehow needs to justify the take by explaining the whole story. That’s why it needs to have all the essential elements of the narrative essay. The plot should form and unfold in this section and the characters should undergo their transformation. The conflict or central disruption should take place while the setting should be vivid and clear for readers to understand. Also, the point of view of the narrator should be perfectly executed
After checking all the boxes mentioned above, writers can hope to justify the meaning of the good narrative.
A Satisfying Closing
It has been observed that many writers spend a lot of time in the introduction and the body to form a compelling narrative but rush through the conclusion or closing. This could not be more detrimental to the whole narrative.
In conclusion, the writer needs to reflect on the story and help readers learn the lessons from it. Because it is the last part that readers will read, there are healthy chances that it will stay in their heads for a long time.
That’s the reason the conclusion should be written and edited extensively before turning your essay in.
Tips To Design A Winning Narrative Essay
Without further ado, let us take a look at some of the best tips for creating a good narrative essay. These tips are extremely practical and students can incorporate them into their essays immediately to see good results.
Pick The Right Topic
Choosing the right topic is the prerequisite to earning good scores for the narrative essay. A good topic should be interesting and eye-catching. It should have the quality to hint at what to expect in the essay but should not reveal too much.
Students can learn a lot by reading poetry and other literary works to see the connection between topics and the work.
Start With A Hook
In literature, a hook is considered to be a thing that can trap the reader and compel them to read more. Since the introduction is the first part of the essay that readers will lay their eyes on, it should have that magical effect.
Most novels and short stories capitalize on this effect by starting with an enticing hook. For narrative essays, writers should draw inspiration from their stories and come up with phrases or statements that will appeal to the reader to go on.
Keep Paragraphs Cohesive
Although paragraphs in a narrative essay serve different purposes, they must have bridging or cohesion between them. It means they must complement and support each other. As a whole, they should look like a part of a single, uninterrupted whole.
If we go through the standard structure, the five paragraphs should have close ties with one another to support the narrative from start to finish.
Employ Strong Verbs To Show Action
Narrative essays are filled with action and change that readers observe and draw parallels to learn the moral lesson hidden inside them. To better convey this effect, writers must think at least twice to assign strong and potent verbs to the action.
Using online tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway Editor, students can improve their narrative by infusing life into action.
Find Perfect Word For Everything
There are infinite ways to tell the same thing, but there is the right way to tell it in the story. One thing that is mostly lacking in the narrative essays of students in schools and colleges is that they don’t use the right word for the right thing.
To get that effect, online sources, dictionaries, and thesauruses are the best way to further tighten the narrative. By doing so, students will convey a better message in a smaller space and with fewer words compared to a mere description of the thing or the event.
Show, Don’t Tell
Showing the action and not telling it is another literary term that writers incorporate in their narrative to let readers experience the action. Instead of stuffing pages with bland details and descriptions, they place the reader in the center of the action through the strength of their narrative. This allows readers to learn better and enjoy the action without weaving a separate narrative of their own.
Let Characters Talk & Progress
Writers can convey unique personality details and quirks of the characters inhabiting the story with the help of dialogues. By using relevant dialects and words, readers can better identify with the characters and learn about them than the writer describing each character.
In other words, there is no point in placing people in your story if you are not going to let them talk.
Avoid Monotony In Every Sentence
Many students fall into the trap of starting every sentence from the same words or phrases and then repeating the practice throughout the length of the essay. This could be off-putting for readers who are expected to be entertained and learn from the narrative.
To avoid that, students should go through multiple revisions to improve on existing iterations.
Use Literary Devices
Literary devices are the tools that writers devise and implement in their writing to hint at bigger ideas and themes of the narrative. There are a lot of literary devices that are commonly used by writers, including alliteration, irony, similes, metaphors, and so on.
More often than not, they come in handy to help readers understand a point better than a plain description.
Solid Plot Structure For A Solid Narrative
The plot of a narrative essay is the sequential unfolding of events and actions that happened logically and believably. It is about giving cause to every important effect and fascinatingly leading a story, yet backed by the events of the story.
Many writers either give little thought or fail to realize the potential of the narrative in their stories, resulting in bland writing. So, keeping a tight grip on the plot leads to an overall better essay.
The number of paragraphs is not a pertinent metric to gauge the quality of an essay, but it is a good point to start. In most schools and colleges, the structure of a narrative essay is defined and it is about five paragraphs, one for opening and closing each, while the three are for the body which makes a big part of the narrative. So, for starters, a good narrative essay should have five paragraphs.
Writing good narrative essays can be intimidating because it is more about editing and cutting out the poor parts than actually adding new sections. That’s why students at schools struggle with keeping up the quality. Through interest and practice, they can master the basics which will help them develop the habit of writing good narrative essays on command.
There are certain essential elements that every narrative essay must have. Without them, the essay will be lacking in key parts and considered incomplete.
These are the essentials that writers must keep in mind:
The major difference between the two formats is the content. In a narrative essay, the writer relies on a personal experience or incident to weave a story. Whereas in a short story, the writer is not bound by this rule and can base the story on fictional characters, inhabiting fictional lands, and going through fictional events.
As students learn to understand the quality of writing in a narrative essay or any other form, they will know that editing is an essential part of good writing. Experts even believe that good writing is less writing and more editing. Since editing is about shaping and carving the narrative to help readers understand and visualize the journey of the protagonist, it plays a central role in strengthening the narrative across different formats.
If you want to do good in school and college narrative writing, here are some tips:
- Follow the traditional narrative structure
- Solid formatting
- Nailing all the elements of a narrative
- Using strong imagery
Narrative writing can help students realize their potential for writing and penchant for details. It also helps them to work things out in their head and then produce riveting narratives on paper.
This article explained the essential elements and what makes a good narrative essay. Apart from sharing the 10 practical and important tips to improve their narrative essays, we have also shed ample light on the structure and format of the narrative essays.
Before attempting to write a good narrative essay for school or college, students can learn a lot by going through this post.