The 7 Secrets of Magnificent Narrative Writing

Navigating your way through the various options when it comes to essay writing can feel like you’re going through a minefield. Narrative, Descriptive, Expository, Persuasive … they can all seem like different ways of saying the same thing. In fact, some essay styles are very similar but each one has its own quirks and style rules which can help writers communicate with their audience and, once you understand them, they can even help you to craft the best piece possible.

1. Understand What a Narrative Essay Entails

Simply put, a narrative essay uses the act of story-telling in order to convey a message, teach a lesson, provide insight or educate the audience. Many times these stories are taken from a writer’s own personal experience, which can make starting the essay easier than writing other types of papers. Take full advantage of this when writing your rough draft. But a narrative paper also needs to involve the reader, so descriptions become especially important.

2. Let Your Rough Draft be Raw

The power of any personal story lies in how raw it is. When writing the rough draft, don’t hold anything back. If your story is a particularly powerful one, let yourself write the rough draft without restricting your language or descriptions. While you won’t want to leave your final draft scattered with F-bombs, including them in your rough draft will give you the creative wiggle room you need to tell your story in your own way and retain its powerful message. Cleaning up the language and tightening the writing can be done in the revision stages.

3. Make it Personal, But Keep it Professional

Although a narrative essay is built upon personal experience, the final result still needs to be polished and professional. A narrative essay isn’t an open letter, it still needs to build towards a specific conclusion, insight or position on a topic. When needed, include research data, anecdotal evidence and other forms of outside research in order to give greater weight to your main point. This also gives you the chance to leave your own story for a moment, capitalize on outside research, and then bring the readers back to your personal story in the conclusion.

4. Craft Descriptions With the Audience in Mind

Your readers won’t be coming into this paper with the same background knowledge you have on the subject. Be sure your descriptions are vivid and well written. Avoid using adverbs like very, almost, nearly or quite too often. Instead swap out phrases which use these adverbs with better descriptions. A house isn’t ‘quite old’, it’s seasoned, decrepit or ancient. Using more vivid language brings your words to life and makes the audience feel more involved.

5. Jump Into the Deep End

Beginning your essay with a bit of back story ay seem like a good idea, but getting right to the action will engage your readers from the first sentence. Begin your essay with a powerful statement or by jumping into your story just as the action is happening. You can backtrack and give the background information once you begin the body of your paper.

6. Know Where You’re Going

Using a personal story to write an essay makes you vulnerable to getting off track easily. Before you begin relating your own story, be sure you’ve hammered out the rough draft for both your introduction and conclusion ahead of time. This way you’ll always know what you want your final point to be. If you get lost on a tangent halfway through, you can refer back to your rough drafts to get back on track.

7. Know How to Cite

A narrative essay may be built upon a personal story, but citing other works can still play a major role. In many other essay types, it’s normal to cite as you go, including small references to papers, books or other resources as a part of the text. For a narrative essay, however, keep all citations until the end and include them in a Works Cited page at the end as opposed to including them within the main text. This will help your audience to follow your story easily without any disruption.