LEOLEO: Literacy Education Online

Narrative Essays


As a mode of expository writing, the narrative approach, more than any other, offers writers a chance to think and write about themselves. We all have experiences lodged in our memories which are worthy of sharing with readers. Yet sometimes they are so fused with other memories that a lot of the time spent in writing narrative is in the prewriting stage.

In this stage, writers first need to select an incident worthy of writing about and, second, to find relevance in that incident. To do this, writers might ask themselves what about the incident provided new insights or awareness. Finally, writers must dredge up details which will make the incident real for readers.

Principles of Writing Narrative Essays

Once an incident is chosen, the writer should keep three principles in mind.

  1. Remember to involve readers in the story. It is much more interesting to actually recreate an incident for readers than to simply tell about it.

  2. Find a generalization which the story supports. This is the only way the writer's personal experience will take on meaning for readers. This generalization does not have to encompass humanity as a whole; it can concern the writer, men, women, or children of various ages and backgrounds.

  3. Remember that although the main component of a narrative is the story, details must be carefully selected to support, explain, and enhance the story.

Conventions of Narrative Essays

In writing your narrative essay, keep the following conventions in mind.


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© 1995, 1996, 1997 The Write Place
LEO: Literacy Education Online
This handout was written by Judith Kilborn for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University and may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.

Last update: 28 September 1997

URL: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/narrative.html