How to Write a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is a chronological telling of a story or event derived from personal experience or memory by molding it within a larger framework of a philosophical theme. The writer not just describes an incident or adventure, but also emphasizes on the takeaway. A narrative essay encompasses the enduring meaning of a particular story or instance by addressing why the story is worth sharing in the first place. This is a step-by-step guide that will equip you with tools and knowledge on how to write a narrative essay.

1. Choose an incident and prepare

It is crucial to think about the theme of the narrative essay around which you have to write. The theme could be provided to you by your teacher or you may have to come up with something on your own, nevertheless, you have to connect the theme to an instance or event from your experience, that may convey the crux of that particular theme. You must keep in mind that no matter how small or insignificant you think an incident is, it could still work perfectly as a narrative essay. Still, it could be tricky to choose one anecdote or memory among many, that is suitable to weave a story around and to express the essence of a theme. However, there is a solution to this problem. The following paragraph includes information on how to write a narrative essay using Mind-mapping.


A mind map is a visual representation of your thoughts and opinions. It can be drawn in the form of a rough diagram that outlines the key areas of your though-process. You can design a mind map yourself quite simply using a pen and paper or through software. A mind-map helps you to collect and organize all your thoughts in a systematic and organized manner.

How to use mind-mapping to choose a suitable incident

First, note down the theme of your essay in the center of the map. Then start noting down all the various incidents, events and experiences that you can recall. While recollecting your memories, pay attention to the slightest of details. Take your time sought through all the details like- year, season, setting, people, objects, etc. Note them down in the different branches around the theme using vibrant colors and icons. This process of creative mind-mapping will stimulate your imagination and inspire new ideas. Pay special attention to the stitch together the chain of events so that you can build a cohesive sequence of the incident chronologically. Now, see if there is any particular event or experience that coincides with your theme. With the help of this mind-mapping process, not only have you arrived at your topic but also have enough material to start writing your essay.

2. Create an outline

Before you sit down to write the first draft of your narrative essay, it is imperative to construct an initial outline. This outline will help you keep focused on the theme and will save your time from unnecessary distractions. This outline will also guide your draft to keep the narration vivid and lively yet easy to comprehend. The outline will include a deadline that will help you to complete your essay on time. It is easy to construct an outline using mind-mapping techniques.

How to create an outline using mind-mapping techniques

You can use software to draw a mind-map or you can do it yourself. First, draw a rough sketch of the timeline of your incident. Write the topic or name of the event in the center of the map and then branch out different bubbles that contain specific pieces of the narrative. Then proceed by linking all the individual pieces. It will help you to chronologically arrange the narrative.

A narrative essay usually follows the basic structure of Introduction-Body-Conclusion. You must design your outline keeping that in mind. Extract your final outline as a Word document as use it as a template for your essay.

You can quickly glance through this outline to cross verify whether you are sticking to your storyline or getting sidetracked. This outline will also help you find your feet when you encounter a writer’s block and find it hard to continue writing. A mind-map is an excellent format to construct this outline as it is a visual articulation of your narrative structure.

3. Start writing the first draft

With your material and outline prepared, you are ready to start writing, however, there are a few things you must always keep in mind before you begin your first draft:-

a.) Write in the first-person narrative

It is the most organic way of writing a narrative essay. First-person narration involves the reader into the text by making it personal and therefore interesting. People are interested in hearing other people's story but they are more interested if it seems intimate and personal to the writer, which is accomplished through first-person narration.

b.) Devil is in the details

It is crucial to not miss any detail of your experience. You should keep in mind that the reader is learning about this incident through your essay and that they haven't experienced it themselves. Thus, you must paint a clear picture by describing the minute details of that topic. Piece together a blow-by-blow account that invites the reader into the world of your story, so that they can experience that event through your text.

c.) Creative word choice

The language of a narrative essay must ooze out dynamic and vivid word-usage to supplement the narrative arc. The objective is not just to convey information but rather, to draw the reader in and engage him in the storyline so that the reader is intrigued and invested in the outcome of the characters.

4. Do a thorough revision and proofread

It is important to go through the whole essay once you have finished writing. Certain criteria, you must ensure are complied with by your essay. First, you should see to it that the progression or chronology of events is proper and comprehensible for the reader. 

Second, try to involve and engage the reader in your narrative. Think about how you can enhance the description to more actively grab the attention of the reader.

Lastly, but most importantly, make sure you have conveyed the theme of your essay effectively through the story. Strenuously check whether you have convincingly established the relationship between the theme and the experience or not. The reader should not find it difficult to decode the text. The text must provide clarity and leave no room for doubt. The reader must be able to relate to the conclusion of the narrative. It should not feel out-of-place. Proof-reading will help you with that.


The above steps guide you on how to write a narrative essay, which is a great exercise as it reinvigorates your creativity and vitalizes your expression. We all have a desire to share our stories but are often afraid of criticism. The above steps will provide you a roadmap to overcome your fear. The key is to use the feedback as fuel to work upon weaknesses and hone your skills.