Narrative Essay 2020 (Definition, Outline, Tips)

Doesn’t it feel like being asked to write a narrative essay is like being asked to become

an author?

Do you feel like you’re not up for the challenge?

Hi, I’m Mark from EssayPro, and in this video, we’ll be covering the guidelines

for writing a Narrative Essay with these 11 Steps:

1. Make Sure You Like The Topic: Why would a story matter to you in the first


Have you ever thought about that?

Try to make it so that the story matters to you.

If you’re emotionally disengaged, it will be obvious in your writing.

Think of whatever you love, a topic that you constantly think about.

Got one in mind?

Well, it’s obvious that because you spent so much time thinking about it, you’re likely

to have a lot to say about it, with vivid language.

Compare that to being assigned something that bores you to no end.

Like, your result will be lifeless and bland, because you’ll treat it like a chore.

It’s usually passion that drives the best work.

But, if you can’t think of anything, come up with a bunch of ideas and narrow it down

to the one that hooks you the most – it’s better than nothing.

Here’s an example you can follow:

"Learning something new can be a scary experience.

One of the hardest things I've ever had to do was learn how to swim.

I was always afraid of the water, but I decided that swimming was an important skill that

I should learn.

I also thought it would be good exercise and help me to become physically stronger.

What I didn't realize was that learning to swim would also make me a more confident person.”

Example from our blog: https://samples.essaypro.com/Free-Essay-Samples/Swimming-For-The-First-Time.pdf


Plan and Start with a First Draft: If Rupert Giles taught us anything in Buffy

(shame on you if you don’t remember the show or haven’t watched it), it’s that

you always start with Research and Planning.

You have to plan it like a heist film, for instance Oceans 11.

In our case, it’s best to start with an outline in order to organize our thoughts

to help everything flow.

Formulas exist because they work, and bad formulas constantly get replaced by better


So, despite how much you might want to break out of the mold, first master the structures

that already exist.

Once you’re ready, start your first draft.

If you look at this visual, you’ll see the perfect example of the formula you should

be using.

This is the universal essay structure you should be working with.

The narrative essay is no different.

There is an introduction, which hooks the reader, introduces the setting, characters,

plot, and anything relevant to the progression of the story.

The body is where the action happens, and where the climax rises, reaches its peak,

and resolves.

The conclusion then deals with the part that asks, “What did we learn from this?”


Storyline Elements: Make sure the story contains the elements

of: A Plot

Characters A Setting

The Conflict The Resolution

And other things that help the text attract the attention of readers and make them psychologically


Your plot should be divided into: A setup, the main part, and the climax.

Think of any coming-of-age film.

The hero and his problems are introduced (that’s the setup), the journey to resolving the conflict

is the main part, and the climax is where it all builds up and is released.

The first thing that came to mind is the movie Hot Rod, the 2007 US comedy film that exploits

this structure.

The setup The main character Rod Kimble aspires to be a stuntman like his deceased father.

The conflict is that his stepfather Frank considers him a weakling and a loser, constantly

beating Rod in sparring.

However, Frank needs a heart transplant and the cost is $50,000.

After a series of hilarious events, the climax ends with Rod raising the money while doing

a jump, despite falling and having an out-of-body experience.

That said, The plot could feature:

Individual against individual - ex: Rivalry between people.

Individual against nature - ex: Natural disasters like tornadoes, and being lost in the rainforest.

Individual against society - ex: Going against what most people accept.

Individual against his own demons - ex: Battling guilt, or loss.

Make the characters real by adding dimensions to their personalities.

One dimensional characters are forgettable and often feel like Non-Playable Characters

in video games.

If you must use a one dimensional character, make that dimension extremely memorable.

When describing the setting, be consistent and maintain continuity, unless you’re trying

to set the story in a fever dream.

This isn’t that easy to do, and screenwriters sometimes make this mistake.

You’ll see it in how The Simpsons treats the ages of its main characters.

The conflict should be engaging and the reader should care about it.

This works through getting the reader to relate to the main character (or characters) by setting

up circumstances of emotional turmoil, and writing out his or her reaction.

If most readers would react the same way, they will be interested.

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone once gave a lecture at NYU, explaining that

they write their episodes in the action structure of But and Therefore, as opposed to a story

that progresses with the words And Then.

In other words: if you have something happen, it must have an exciting, glued-together consequence,

rather than a dull order of one event that follows another.

If it’s something happening and then something else happened with no crisis, you’ll bore

your reader.

However, if you have one situation that happens despite another, or as a consequence, you’re

closer and closer to hooking your reader.

The use of But means that you have a conflict, and Therefore means that there is a consequence.

If you use just have And Then, you’re dealing with a story that’s awkwardly pieced together,

like characters appearing and disappearing, or having unnatural emotional investment in

something, or event events happening that are poorly tied together.


The Point of View:

Your role in the story must be understandable.

Basically, work as a defense attorney for why the role is the way it is, by presenting

evidence and witness testimony in the form of details about the past.

These details should try to justify the behavior of the character.

When you do that, you humanize the character, but only if you remember to keep their personalities


J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye features an example of this in the character of Holden

Caulfield, whose actions are immature in the eyes of an adult, but “justifiable” in

the eyes of the 16-year-old Holden.


Proving and Supporting: Like the previous element, don’t only show

your opinion, but offer arguments to support it.

Convince the reader that the actions make sense, even if the protagonist isn’t justified

in his actions.

The sense comes from a detailed logical chain, but avoid describing too much.

Let me give you a good example of descriptive language:

“When I was younger, cooking came intrinsically with the holiday season, which made that time

of year the prime occasion for me to unite with ounces and ounces of satin dark chocolate,

various other messy and gooey ingredients, numerous cooking utensils, and the assistance

of my mother to cook what would soon be an edible masterpiece.”


Avoid Irrelevant Details:

If there are details added that neither progress the plot nor help describe anything of value,

you risk cluttering your work and confusing the reader.

The worst offender has to be the infamous fan fiction titled My Immortal – a Google

search will expose you to this notorious monstrosity, consisting of what not to do when writing

a narrative.

Other examples of irrelevant details include writing mostly about golf, when the narrative

is supposed to be about your character becoming a basketball player.


Clear Writing:

Don’t try to show off your vocabulary, because that just makes us think you’re very interested

in the Thesaurus.

To get most people to like what’s written, make sure the writing is easy to swallow.

Keep it simple.

Expensive vocabulary will stay expensive if used sparingly.

If you don’t, you risk coming off as those mocked on Reddit’s iamverysmart.


Describe Events Chronologically:

Despite the popularity of a broken chronology in many films, it’s best done by experts,

because otherwise having a narrative be out of sequence might be way too confusing to


Like, don’t try to copy Pulp Fiction and impress the reader with how you arranged the

timeline out of order, because this requires excellent knowledge of storytelling format

– i.e. where the emotions progress within the formula and how to organize the timeline

to match it.

If you’ve ever studied music, you’ll know about something called Chords – which is

like playing several notes at the same time – and Chord Progressions – which is where

you take Chords and play them in a sequence that creates a musical story, where the sounds

exhibit joy, sadness, curiosity, aggression, etc.

Writing a narrative is like that, except if you have it chronological order, it is easy

to follow an effective structure.

But, when you mix your timeline, if you’re an amateur writer, you risk stepping outside

the safe formula and the story progression could “sound” off.


Read Some Narrative Essay Examples:

Now, if you’re most people, chances are you’ll be too lazy to do so, but there’s

a general rule that if you want to be good at something, you copy what the experts are


So, study the structure of popular narratives and align your writing to their format.


Double-Check The Provided Requirements:

For full marks, it is really important that you follow the given instructions.

If the instructions are unclear, do not hesitate to contact whoever assigned it to you and

have them explain what to do.


Revise Your Essay:

Look through it again to make sure you didn’t make grammar & spelling errors, otherwise

it will be painful to read.

Do not skip over this step unless you have someone else doing it for you.

We highly recommend a resource called Grammarly.

It will identify the grammatical errors and propose alternative words that would fit the

text better.

We hope these steps will simplify your writing process.

If you enjoyed this video, like it and hit subscribe.

Let us know in the comment section below if you’d like us to cover a topic that interests


Thanks for watching.