Although schools may be veering away from it, learning how to write a personal narrative essay can take you far in life. Learn more in this guest post by Chicago, IL tutor Samantha S...
What is a personal narrative essay? A personal narrative essay is a type of essay that tells a story about a specific event or experience from your life.
You may be asked to write a personal narrative essay for high school or college, or you may be asked to write one as part of a job application.
Whatever the reason, writing a good personal narrative essay is important. It allows you to share your experiences and memories with others, and it can also help you reflect on those experiences and learn from them.
In this blog post, I will discuss some tips for writing an effective personal narrative essay. I will also explain why it is important to share your personal stories with others.
What Are the 5 Elements of a Personal Narrative?
A personal narrative is a story about a personal experience. No matter what the subject, all personal narratives have five elements:
The plot is the sequence of events in the story. It is what happens from beginning to end. The setting is the time and place where the story takes place. The characters are the people in the story. The conflict is the problem or challenge that the characters face. And finally, the resolution is how the problem or challenge is resolved.
Whether you are writing a personal narrative for school or for your own enjoyment, these five elements are essential in order to create a successful and engaging story. So next time you sit down to write your own personal narrative, make sure to keep these five elements in mind!
Not sure how to get started? Consider signing up to get writing lessons from a tutor. They’ll be able to give you the inspiration and advice you need, like what you see in the video below:
Why a Personal Narrative Essay Matters
Students, perhaps you have noticed the recent Common Core State Standard trend to veer away from such writing prompts as “What Did You Do On Summer Vacation?” Though nationwide curriculum currently mandates that best-practice instruction focuses on nonfiction, non-narrative writing, here’s why you should keep penning your stories down.
Your Stories Matter
First and foremost, your stories matter. They matter to you, to your family, and to the world. There is no one who can tell your experiences, your thoughts, and your dreams like you. Though as writers we often devalue our own work (believe me, I do it daily!), what seems mundane to us can be a wildly different perspective to an outsider. Someone wants to read your work! Someone needs to! And you probably need to tell the stories that you have. Be proud of who you are, and what you write.
Writing Begets Writing
Although the likelihood of what you will be writing for school probably involves more formal formats, such as essays, learning how to write personal narratives, as well as daily writing of any form will strengthen all writing skills. Think of your writing practice like an athlete who is training to compete. The more time you devote to pen and paper, or typing on the computer, the stronger a writer you will be when the time comes to turn that graded paper in.
Presenting Yourself is Really Important in Life
Thinking of going to college? Guess what? You’ll probably have to submit an essay, which will be focused on who you are. Thinking of getting a job? Same thing. Employers look for people who can write a snappy resume and a concise cover letter to catch their interest. Life is based on writing skills. Think you’ll get very far if your work emails are loaded with grammatical errors and sloppy writing? Think again. Presenting yourself in written word intelligently opens doors.
Writing is Creative
And hence, writing will hopefully be enjoyable in some shape or form. Writing should be an outlet, and an expression of you. Writing has so many avenues, from slam poetry to blogging, that whatever your personal taste, there is a writing modality to satiate. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing. It will take you great places — real and imagined — in life.
How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay Step by Step
A personal narrative essay is a story that is told from the writer’s point of view and should include a plot, conflict, and characters. Usually, a personal narrative essay is about a personal experience that had a significant impact on the writer. To write a personal narrative essay, start by choosing a memorable moment, event, or conflict in your life that you want to write about.
Then, use your personal story to describe your topic in detail. Next, introduce the conflict or problem that will be resolved in your story.
Lastly, conclude your essay by explaining the lessons or insights that you learned as a result of experiencing the event or conflict. By following these steps, you can write an engaging and effective personal narrative essay.
Let’s break it down even further so the process is as easy as can be
How to Write a Thesis for a Personal Narrative Essay
Writing a thesis for a personal narrative essay is similar to writing any other type of thesis statement. Thesis statements are clear and concise statements that are typically one sentence long. They state the main point or argument of an essay.
When writing a thesis statement for a personal narrative essay, there are many things to consider.
First, choose which event in your life you will be writing about and what point you want to make about it. Then, brainstorm some evidence from your own experience that will support this point.
Once you have gathered all of this information, you can begin drafting your thesis statement. Remember to keep your thesis statement concise and to the point.
How to Write an Outline for a Personal Narrative Essay
Before you start writing your personal narrative essay, it is important to create an outline. This will help you organize your thoughts and focus on the main points of the story you want to tell.
The first step is to choose a topic. Consider an event from your life that has had a significant impact on you, and try to narrow it down to a specific moment or theme.
Once you have a general idea of what you want to write about, begin creating an outline. Start with a brief introduction that will set the scene for your story. Then, flesh out the middle of the story with detail and description.
Finally, end with a strong conclusion that leaves your reader with something to think about. By following this simple structure, you can ensure that your personal narrative essay is both engaging and memorable.
How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay Introduction
A personal narrative essay tells the story of an event that happened in your life. You may have written a personal narrative before, but not for college. The introduction to a personal narrative essay sets the stage for the story you’re about to tell, creating context through details, descriptions, and imagery.
No matter what the purpose of your essay is, the introduction needs to include the following:
- A Hook: Something that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read more. This could be a quote, an anecdote, or a description of the scene you’re about to describe.
- Context: background information about the story you’re about to tell. This might include when and where the events took place, as well as any other important details that will help set the scene.
- Thesis Statement: A brief statement that sums up what you’ll be talking about in your essay. This could be something like “Despite my fear of heights, I decided to go skydiving.”
With these three elements in place, you’ll be on your way to writing a personal narrative that’s both engaging and memorable.
How to Write a Good Personal Narrative Essay Conclusion
The conclusion of a personal narrative essay should be written with the final paragraph of the journey. This is usually the resolution or turning point of the story. It is also where the writer can bring up any loose ends in the plot and wrap up the story.
A good conclusion should tie all the threads of the story together and leave readers satisfied. To write a good conclusion, start by revisiting the main theme or moral of the story. Then, briefly summarize what happened in the essay.
Finally, end with a strong sentence that leaves readers with something to think about. With these tips in mind, you can write a personal narrative essay that will stay with your readers long after they finish reading.
How to Write a First Person Narrative Essay – and Why You Should
So next time your teacher tells you to “stay on topic” and cite the text, remind yourself that maybe in that English class, at that time, that’s the writing task at hand. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways and times to express what stories you want to share. As writers, we are often told “we are what we write.” Don’t be afraid to own the experiences that have shaped your voice.
So if you are wondering how to write a personal narrative essay for high school or even how to write a personal narrative essay for college, hopefully, these tips have helped.
Writing a personal narrative essay can be a cathartic experience, and it can also help you learn more about yourself.
The process of writing down your experiences and thoughts can help you make connections that you may not have otherwise made. In addition, sharing your story with others can be empowering and inspiring.
We hope that this guide has helped you get started on writing your own personal narrative essay. If you have any questions or would like feedback on your essay, you may want to hire a writing tutor. It’s the best way to get feedback on your writing so you know where to go next with your story! Looking at how to write a personal narrative essay examples is another great way to familiarize yourself with the craft of personal narrative writing.
So what are you waiting for? Grab that pen and get to work!
Samantha S. teaches writing in Chicago, IL. She has her masters in the art of teaching, and a license to teach elementary education. Learn more about Samantha here!
Photo by ninniane