A narrative essay means the essay takes you from one position to another. The same may be said about the persuasive essay or even an expository essay, but unlike those, a narrative essay will only use a one-track method to get you there. The most common method is to have the writer write in the first person and to have events occur in a chronological or systematic order. Those are not the only ways a narrative essay may be written, but they are the easiest and if you have not written many narrative essays in the past then those are the tools you should use.
You can be creative with a narrative topic
Academic essays do not usually reward creativity. In fact, some of the highest scoring essays are often the ones that look as if they were written by robots. The field is a little more open with a narrative essay. Maybe it is because the writer is allowed to take the reader on a journey that is more personal.
Your choice of language may be creative too
The field is a little more open when it comes to the creative use of language. You are getting the reader from one point to another, but to get them there you may have to evoke emotions or some sort of empathy, and many humans respond to the creative use and choice of language.
The topic you pick can be personal
Pick up on the cues from your professor as to if your essay should be personal or not. If there is a focus on experience, then your professor is probably looking for something personal. Do not pick a topic that is too personal because it will only lead to embarrassment in the long run.
Personal essays are often narrative essays
If you are asked for a personal essay, then a narrative essay is probably the best way to go. It brings people into your personal world a lot quicker, especially if you write it in the first person.
You do not have to be burningly original
Your topic should not be a tired one, but it also doesn’t have to be original. If it is a personal essay, then your professor isn’t expecting to read about how you climbed the African K2, or how you saved a puppy from a burning house.
Identify what your professor wants when you are given your topic
This is a sneaky but clever way of grubbing an extra mark or two. Your professor has a motivation for giving you the essay. Ask yourself these questions and apply their answers to your choice of topic:
+ Does your professor want to see how much you have learned so far?
+ Is your professor checking your writing skills?
+ Is this a practice piece or a graded term paper piece?
+ Does your professor want you to cover a coming subject/module so he or she doesn’t have to go over it so much in class?
+ Is this assignment very similar to the one last term?
A conclusion isn’t needed but you should probably add one
You should probably add a conclusion because your teacher may have a marking guide that insists upon one, though you should know that a narrative essay does not always need a conclusion in the same way that a fictional book does not always have to say “The End” at the end.
Finish your essay with a concluding paragraph
It may be a good idea to finish with a strong concluding statement, but even then, your professor may be looking for something substantial because of a restrictive marking guide.
It is therefore better to add at least a paragraph for your conclusion, in which you can cover the guiding principle of your essay, or the moral/lesson held within your essay. You can go over the lesson/moral/principle again to highlight it from earlier, or you can reach your lesson/moral/principle within the conclusion. You can do it in an “after school special” manner and really spell it out with something such as, “Well, that summer I guess I learned that…” and then enter your lesson/moral/principle such as “…I shouldn’t let my cat lick my ear if I want to avoid an ear infection.”
Narrative Essay Topics:
1. My High School Prom and the Memories It Left Me
2. The history of our college mascot
3. Caught in a tornado
4. A boat trip in the moonlight
5. A lie can have serious consequences. Describe a lie that had major consequences for you
6. The First Time I met Professor “insert name here”
7. Sometimes a simple misunderstanding can lead to a major conflict. Describe a time when this happened to you.
8. Why I think I could write a novel
9. … and I was so embarrassed because
10. Tell about a time when you first did something on your own
11. Parents are our first and most important teachers. Describe a specific valuable lesson from one of your parents
12. My definition of true love
13. The best birthday celebration of my life so far
14. Why “insert name/object/event here” left me disillusioned
15. Appearances can be deceiving
16. The Experience that helped renew my faith
17. … and that was the end of our friendship
18. If I were President …
19. An eyewitness account of “insert title here”
20. There is much to be learned from our failure. Describe one of your own failures and what it taught you
21. How I am going to spend my next vacation
22. My greatest accomplishment so far
23. If I could create a time machine
24. How I measure failure
25. What raising a pet taught me
26. Why I never realized how important my parents were until I was older
27. My first college debate
28. Learning from failure. My experience of …
29. Searching for a role model
30. An encounter with the enemy
31. My Bar Mitzvah
32. How I conquer boredom
33. My vision of Utopia
34. How I lodged a patent for my invention
35. When I was a zookeeper for a day
36. Describe a time when you received a valuable gift
37. There’s a saying that a dog is man’s best friend. Describe an experience in your life when this was true
38. … and it was all a big misunderstanding
39. An experience that made me laugh until I cried
40. The day I met my favorite celebrity
41. My journey into Lord of the Rings country
42. Today I took a less-traveled path
43. The day I rebelled against …
44. The first serious rejection of my life
45. A childhood experience that helped me to grow up
46. A negative example of cowardice
47. The day I changed my perspective of …
48. The six wives of Henry VIII: A potted history
49. Today I cast my first fishing line
50. My first scholastic success