How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay [2022] – Step-by-Step Guide

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Learning How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay?

Learning how to write a personal narrative essay is one of the essential skills that every individual should have. This skill can come in handy, not only in the academic setting but even in our personal or professional life.

Accordingly, this article will discuss the general definition of a narrative essay, its common examples, some techniques in writing, and a guide on whether you should buy one or not.

We are also giving a free personal narrative essay example to get you started!

I. What is a Personal Narrative Essay?

Like any other essay, narrative essays are one of the most commonly written papers in the academe and the workplace. Personal narrative essays have the purpose of telling a story, whether it is about the writer’s life or another character. It can also be factual, fictional, or a mix of both. 

Thus, knowing how to write a narrative essay is essential for our academics and our careers.

On the one hand, several fields in the workplace require writing narrative essays daily. This includes journalists, novelists, and field researchers, to name a few. These professions require a strong command of the language and the techniques to narrate the facts concisely and excitingly.

On the other hand, although other fields do not require a strong command over these techniques, there will be times when these would be needed. This includes writing a personal narration of evidence, personal memorandum, or even e-mails, to name a few. Although we do not realize it, we tend to use narration in our daily interactions with other individuals.

In line with this, the subsequent sections would not only answer the question “what is a personal narrative essay” but would focus on laying out the foundations of writing a narrative essay. To help you practice, the last section of this article will also provide a Free personal narrative essay to serve as a guide. 

These would give you the award-winning tips in writing an A+ narrative essay and even help you decide whether you should buy a narrative essay or write one for yourself.

II. Different kinds of Narrative Essays

Although there are many types of narrative essays, these essays can be categorized under four (4) major types, namely; (1) Quest Narrative, (2) Linear Narrative, (3) Non-linear narrative, and (4) Viewpoint narrative. Each of these has its distinct characteristics and effect on the reader, and basic knowledge of each is essential for anyone who knows how to write a personal narrative essay.

Four Types of Narrative Essays | Learn how to write or Buy Narrative Essay Today with AOS Essays
Four Main Types of Narrative Essays – Linear, Non-linear, Quest, and View-point Narrative

A. Quest Narrative

A quest narrative is one of the most common types of narrative in novels, screenwriting, and other literary pieces that focus on the protagonist’s life.

One of the distinctive aspects of this type of writing is its aim to highlight the life of the ‘hero’ by showing the specific quests and challenges that he would undertake to reach his goals. These goals could either be external (i.e., societal) or internal (i.e., self-doubt) to the protagonist.

Many pieces utilize a quest narrative as their storyline to ensure that their piece is exciting. This includes classic literature, films, music, and even art pieces, to name a few.

For example, in the 1950s classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs entitled Tarzan of the Apes, the author emphasized Tarzan’s challenges as he fought against human invaders. He again faced these same challenges as he was being reintegrated into society. This kind of external hardship would define the narrative of his story.

If you think this kind of narrative would be best for your narrative essay, check out our in-depth post on the specific techniques to write a quest narrative essay.

B. Linear Narrative Essay

Linear narratives are another type of common narrative essay. Some would also consider this one of the easiest types of essay to write because of the use of a chronological timeline that is usually based on the protagonist’s story.

This can be in the first, second, or third-person perspective, depending on who tells the story.

Linear narratives can also focus on either (1) the life of (2) a period in the life of the main characters. Since there is no need to think critically about the flow of events, the reader or viewer can easily comprehend the story itself and immerse themselves in the main characters’ story.

One of the most famous examples of a story that follows a linear narrative is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Whether in the classical literature or the movie rendition, it is clear that the story follows the chronological order of how Elizabeth Bennet’s quest to find a partner.

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C. Non-linear Narrative Essay

In contrast to a linear narrative essay, a non-linear narrative essay utilizes a disorganized timeline, where the story is presented out of order. This is usually used in films and literature to create tension, a sense of mystery, or even confusion on the part of the reader or viewer.

Accordingly, these confusions are usually cleared with flashbacks (a scene that takes place before the story or the current scene) or flash-forwards (a scene that takes place ahead of or in the future of the current story or scene). Several authors and writers would usually lay these little by little until the final pieces show the real and whole story in the narrative.

One of the most well-known examples of this kind of literature is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. From the story’s beginning, a flashback of Harry’s life as a newborn is shown to the readers. Several flashbacks and flash-forwards would be shown throughout the story to carefully lay out the story of his life and the secrets behind it.

Despite the exciting nature of a non-linear narrative, it is also one of the most challenging narratives to write. The author would have to consider how flashbacks and flash-forwards would be used to clear up confusion little by little without giving up the conclusion prematurely.

Thus, if you want to write a non-linear personal narrative essay, AOS Essays has professional story writers who can help you write your essay.

D. View-point Narrative

One exciting type of narrative essay is viewpoint narrative. Compared to other types of narratives, this kind of narrative usually uses the point-of-view of a third-person omniscient narrator, from which the primary characters’ experiences, thoughts, and perceptions are filtered from.

Additionally, some literature also uses a first-person point-of-view. The readers would only know that the narrator and the protagonists are the same people at the end of the story.

However, despite being an omniscient narrator, several configurations of this kind of narrative also allow for ‘lapses’ in its point-of-view. In some cases, this is manifested with the character acting contrary to what the narrator initially expected or the narrator correcting his initial idea about what could happen.

In this latter configuration, the reader or viewer perceives the narrator as either misguided or deceptive, allowing them to focus more on the individual ‘free-will’ of the character. This is also an effective way of creating a ‘push-and-pull’ tension between what the narrator is saying and what the protagonist is doing in the story.

Overall, a viewpoint narrative is essential in laying out the groundwork and guiding the viewers on how to perceive the subsequent events in the story. It can also be used to emphasize a certain point in the story or the character’s actions, among others.

However, anyone using this must be able to effectively use the narration without spoiling the story itself, thereby reducing the readers’ or viewers’ interest.

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III. How to Write Narrative Essay Outline

Before writing a narrative essay, one of the essential skills is knowing how to write a narrative essay outline. These kinds of outlines would not only guide the story’s flow but also allow the writer to make complex connections and diversions, similar to the kind used in non-linear narratives.

Accordingly, one of the most commonly used methods is starting with a linear timeline that would lay out the plot, characters, and other essential elements for the reader’s holistic understanding of the story. This is crucial since any plotholes, contradictions, illogical events, or continuity errors, to name a few, within the story could reduce the overall impact and quality of your narrative essay.

While you also have the option to buy a narrative essay, I would like to give an example first of how to write an outline for your work. This way, you can even find out if you are interested in writing it from scratch instead.

Here is an example of a narrative essay outline for a fictional linear narrative, with an example of its application to Grimm’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Example Narrative Essay Outline

A. Personal Narrative Introduction

The personal narrative introduction is one of the crucial parts of any narrative work. Contrary to the belief of many, the introduction does not only set forth the trajectory of your paper but could even make-or-break your chances of success. This is because mundane, tedious, cliche, and hard-to-read introductions would indeed bore your readers from the get-go.

The following are some tips on how to start a personal essay.

  • Hook

Placing a hook is essential for any narrative essay. Since these kinds of essays usually involve a lengthy description of the facts, using a phrase, statement, or sentence that would capture the reader’s (or viewer’s) attention is essential for your narrative essay’s success.

While there are a lot of hooks that you can use, some of the most common include; (1) quotation, (2) anecdotal, (3) statistic, (4) question, and (5) statement hooks.

Once upon a time in midwinter, when the snowflakes were falling like feathers from heaven, a queen sat sewing at her window, which had a frame of black ebony wood.

In the example shown above, the author used an anecdotal hook that initially stimulates the readers’ senses. This is also the reason for its captivating feel even at the very onset of the story.

  • Relationship of the Story to the Main Character

Another essential element in writing a personal narrative essay is the story’s relationship to the main character. This part of your outline should introduce the main character in relation to the dilemma or circumstances he faces.

Soon afterward she had a little daughter who was as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as ebony wood, and therefore they called her Little Snow-White. And as soon as the child was born, the queen died.

Accordingly, the quote above introduces Snow White, who is likely to be the fairest of them all. The final quote, “the queen died,” also foreshadows her tragic demise on the part of the Wicked Queen.

  • Thesis Statement/ Moral of the Story

The thesis statement or the moral of the story must be initially placed at the beginning (usually the last sentence of the introduction). However, personal narrative essays such as stories and novels might not have the moral of the story right at the beginning.

Nonetheless, it is good practice to place the moral or the thesis statement at the beginning of the outline to remind yourself and guide your writing.

After crafting your personal narrative introduction, the next step is to lay out the setting, characters, and background, to name a few. This next step would not only guide your reader throughout (unless such elements are purposely hidden at first) but would also serve as your guide during the whole writing process.

If you are still unsure about how to write a narrative essay outline, you can practice with the personal narrative template as provided in the succeeding sections.

B. Story Beginning

  • Setting

The setting describes one of the story’s most critical parts, which is why it is essential in writing your outline. Aside from guiding the reader by creating a mental image of the place, it would also allow you (the writer) to create a mental layout of the place where your setting would be.

Additionally, experienced writers would use this to help them imagine the place and use it in various events throughout the storyline.

A kingdom far, far away

In Snow White, Grimm did not use any specific setting. Nonetheless, one of the common settings in recent ideas is “a kingdom far, far away.” Although this set does not create a mental image, the words kingdom, together with other spatial elements throughout the story, would help establish this mental image.

  • Background

The story’s background refers to “a set of events invented for a plot, presented as preceding and leading up to that plot. It is a literary device of a narrative history chronologically earlier than the narrative of primary interest.”

In other words, it is used to provide a context to the story, whether such context would only be clear at the beginning, middle, or end of the story.

The rise of a princess that is the fairest of them all, and a Queen jealous of her beauty.

In Grimm’s Snow White, the story’s background was shown as early as the story’s beginning. From the quote above, it is already clear that Snow White’s existence and the Queen’s jealousy would ultimately be the conflict (or motivation) that would cause the series of events in the story.

  • Characters

The characters in the story present the primary (and side) characters in your story, along with the descriptions and relationships that they have with one another.

You can also create a character tree or character outline to determine the relationship between each character in the story. This would make it easier for you to visualize and remove uncertainties as early as possible.

In the story of Snow White, here are some of the main characters. It is good practice to place them in your outline together with a short description of them as a guide as to how each character would think, act, and perceive a given situation.

  • Snow White – main character; protagonist; upright; friendly; step-daughter of the Wicked Queen.
  • Wicked Queen – main antagonist; vile; jealous; possess the mirror; step-mother of Snow White.
  • Magic Mirror – sentient creature; located at the castle; possessed by the Queen; amoral creature.
  • Huntsman – Queen’s main henchmen; secondary antagonist; ordered to kill Snow White.
  • Prince – secondary protagonist; appears only at the end of the story; tall, fair, and handsome.

Note how the descriptions of each character would serve as a guide for an easier and better rendition of the timeline while you are writing.

  • Event Onset

The event onset determines and lays out the time when the adverse event began. It usually shows the point where the main character experiences the main challenge that he has to go through in order to succeed in his goals.

A year later, the king took himself another wife. She was a beautiful woman, but she was proud and arrogant, and she could not stand it if anyone might surpass her in beauty. She had a magic mirror. Every morning she stood before it, looked at herself, and said:

‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall, Who in this land is fairest of all?’

In the story of Snow White, several events onsets started Snow White’s tragedy. However, one of the foreshadowing events was the quote above, where the Queen started to get jealous of Snow White’s fairness and beauty.

If you are trying to learn how to write a narrative essay outline, learning how to create a clear and concise beginning effectively is essential so that you won’t get confused regarding the flow of your story.

C. Story Middle

  • Anecdote

The story middle provides the bulk of the narrative in your story. Several backstories, contextual points, and the side-stories of other characters can be placed in this part of your outline. These embellishments have the aim of making your narrative essay more interesting.

However, take note that these anecdotes must still connect to the main story itself. The gradual transition of events should lead to the climax, which is the next part of your story.

The queen took fright and turned yellow and green with envy. From that hour on, whenever she looked at Snow-White, her heart turned over inside her body, so great was her hatred for the girl. The envy and pride grew ever more significant, like a weed in her heart, until she had no peace day and night.

From the quote, the author laid a contextual background regarding the Wicke Queen’s desire to kill Snow White.

  • Climax

The climax is one of the most critical points of your narrative essay. Thus, it must sufficiently be established in your narrative essay outline.

Since it is “the highest or most intense point in the development or resolution of something,” you should take note that all the circumstances, events, and other pieces of the narrative were sufficient to build up to this emotional standpoint.

Now the apple had been so artfully made that only the red half was poisoned. Snow-White longed for the beautiful apple, and when she saw that the peasant woman was eating part of it she could no longer resist, and she stuck her hand out and took the poisoned half. She barely had a bite in her mouth when she fell to the ground dead.

In Snow White, the story’s climax was the point where Snow White was eventually poisoned by the Wicked Queen, leading to her death. This is the most emotionally appealing and intriguing part of the story.

D. Story Ending

  • Resolution

The resolution provides the culmination of the story. It usually provides the time when the main protagonist was able to rise above the ultimate challenge (climax) that he had to face.

The story resolution should be gradually declining in emotional appeal. Otherwise, such a part would still be a part of the climactic point of your story.

Now it came to pass that a prince entered these woods and happened onto the dwarfs’ house, where he sought shelter for the night. He saw the coffin on the mountain with beautiful Snow-White in it, and he read what was written on it with golden letters…

As he thus spoke, the good dwarfs felt pity for him and gave him the coffin. The prince had his servants carry it away on their shoulders. But then it happened that one of them stumbled on some brush, and this dislodged from Snow-White’s throat the piece of poisoned apple that she had bitten off. Not long afterward, she opened her eyes, lifted the lid from her coffin, sat up, and was alive again.

In Snow White, the gradual resolution happens when the Prince comes to see Snow White lying dead in her coffin. However, in Grimm’s version of the story, the Prince was able to save her after carrying her rather than kissing her, which is the narrative of the modern rendition of the story.

E. Narrative Conclusion

    • Moral of the Story

As stated earlier, the moral of the story may either be placed at the beginning or the end of the story. However, when placed in both, the latter should be a unification of the moral lesson with the story’s resolution.

In writing a narrative outline, it is also a good practice to place the moral as early as possible since it would guide the primary characters’ perceptions, decisions, and actions throughout the story.

In Grimm’s version of Snow White, two morals are usually emphasized in the story:

      • Power of Love –

The prince said joyfully, “You are with me.” He told her what had happened and said, “I love you more than anything else in the world. Come with me to my father’s castle. You shall become my wife.” Snow-White loved him, and she went with him. Their wedding was planned with great splendor and majesty.

      • Punishment of Evil; Dangers of Vanity –

Then they put a pair of iron shoes into burning coals. They were brought forth with tongs and placed before her. She was forced to step into the red-hot shoes and dance until she fell down dead.

All in all, the moral should be reiterated once again (whether manifestly or subtly) to provide a sense of closure to the readers.

From the outline above, it could be seen that Snow White’s story followed a linear narrative from when she was born to the time that she (almost) died and when she woke up again.

Note that the story was very straightforward to allow the readers to immerse into her life story. Even in Disney’s rendition of her story, this narrative timeline was used since a linear timeline is relatively easy to understand, especially for children.

Hence, if you are trying to learn how to write a personal narrative essay, the first thing you should determine is the timeline you would use and the various elements outlined above. Through time and practice, you could then learn how to write a more complex personal narrative template that would spice up your story.

As for now, you can check our free personal narrative essay examples below or have one specifically written for you today.

IV. Should I Buy Narrative Essay?

One of the drawbacks of writing a narrative essay is its complexity, especially for non-linear narratives. Thus, one option you can consider is to buy narrative essay.

Essay-writing Services usually have the right amount of skills and professionals who are adept at writing narrative essays.

In AOS Essays alone, we have more than eighty (80+) writers who have sufficient experience and expertise by writing as columnists, newspaper journalists, and junior novelists, to name a few. Thus, you can rest assured that your personal narrative will be made promptly, correctly, and excellently.

You can also use our pre-written services when you buy narrative essays to use as a guide for your work.

Overall, as an advocate of learning, we hope you can take all of this advice before deciding whether to buy a narrative essay or learn how to write a personal narrative essay yourself. Either way, we believe that by considering these pieces of advice, you can write your award-winning narrative essay today!

Looking for an Easier Way to Write your Essay?

Try Amazon One Step’s A+ Essay Writing Services, or Buy Analytical Essay and get:

  • 100% Plagiarism-free Essays
  • 100% Money-back guarantee
  • High-quality Assurance
  • Premium Writing Tools
  • 24/7 Customer Support

IV. Narrative Essay Example Topics

If you are looking for personal narrative essay examples, you can check the attachments provided below. Note that this is just one way of how you can learn how to write a personal narrative essay. Afterwards, you can tweak your approach as you get used to writing.

This is because narrative essays are one most the most diverse types of essays that you can work on almost any type of topic possible.

If you are looking for a list of narrative essay examples, check our posts here.

A. Free Personal Narrative Essay Example

Looking for a good personal narrative template? Check the sample below. 

AOS Essays have thousands of other samples in case you need some. 

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