To understand what a personal narrative essay is, one should knowwhat aims it pursues. We offer you a reverse method ofidentifying the nature a narrative essay. First, we’d like tohighlight what a personal narrative does not do:
- It doesn’t summarize things
- It doesn’t batter the readers with rhetorical questions
- It doesn’t focus much on the other’s life experiences
But it does the following:
- It describes the experience of yours
- It subtly prompts the readers about your feelings
- It stimulates them to arrive at their own conclusion
- It shares the intimate emotions
- It tells what you have learned and how it influenced yourfurther life
- It explains the things that are important for the writer
- It presents the writer’s dreams and intentions
Overall, a personal narrative essay tells a story. The proportionof what it can do and what does not is quite uneven, isn’t it?All you need is just let your ideas flow and keep writing untilthe end. If you have not still grabbed a pencil to start writing,it means you want to discover more about this type of essay.
So spare a bit of your precious time reading this guideline for abunch of pithy advice on how to write a personal narrative essay.
Why personal writing is a valuable skill
A great part of academic writing consists of nonfiction tasks.Teachers keep producing vast best-practice recommendations fornon-narrative writing as well as the Internet has hundreds ofarticles that guide students through high-level scientific-likeessays.
Therefore students are used to considering narrative essays assomething unimportant, old-fashioned and easy-crafted. Schoolstend to veer away from personal essays thus disabling thestudents to develop themselves as original and self-reflectivewriters. Still, the art of creating a personal narration can openmany doors in their life.
Then why learn how to write a personal narrative essay?
First and foremost, it will help you better understand who youare. Many students are all mixed up with a heap of ideas,feelings and emotions that may mislead them in sorting the thingsout. While practising hard to express themselves in a writtenform, they become more organized and thoughtful about who theyare in this world and who they wish to become in future.
A skill to write a personal narrative essay is essential forgetting a job. It is not a secret that hiring managers choosepeople who can compose a concise CV, a prompt-related coverletter and a catchy resume.
Good writing skills are crucial in modern life. A workingspecialist has to deal with loads of emails, presentations,reports and so on. Will he go far if his papers have sloppylanguage and grammar mistakes? Think harder! Your future will bemuch brighter if you practice narrative writing well in advance.
Tell your story effectively
A recipe of a successful narration has the following ingredients:
- Clarity. Complex sentences and vague words hinder clarity andshould be brushed off your paper. Distribute your ideas clearlywithin and between paragraphs.
Example: In spite of the fact that I have never participated inthe snooker tournaments before, I was enthusiastic to partake,yet I was too overwhelmed because of the crowds of new peoplethere.
Improved: I have never taken part in the snooker tournaments. Iwas excited to play, but at the same time embarrassed since I wasnew to that company.
- First-person narration. A personal story suggests that thereaders will absorb the things from the first-person perspective.But writers have a tendency to switch to second-person narrationwhich is ruinous for this type of essay.
Example: As you buy a round-trip ticket when going on a longvacation, you are expected to come back at a scheduled time. Youmay return it but with some inconveniences.
Improved: I think that buying a round-trip ticket for a longholiday may have certain inconveniences. Moreover, I feel nervousknowing that there is time pressure.
- Words varied in form. If you do not want your audience to getoff to sleep while reading, write dynamically and try not to tellthe story in a clinical fashion. Use the language – laypersonwords, slang, idioms and expressions – that you would use ineveryday life.
Example: I was given an array of mammoth tasks that in the actualcircumstances were out of my scope of duties.
Improved: They gave me a heap of tasks that actually didn’t comewith my territory.
Passive constructions are also not OK here.
- Avoid describing things of little substance. Remember thatyou are not writing a novel and have only a few pages to tellabout your personal experience. Therefore, you should not focuson each and every moment, in particular, if you are describingmovements. Your priority is something that really mattersotherwise your readers will get bored before you come up withmore important information.
Example: As I entered the room, I looked around and saw that thewardrobe was opened. I also noticed that some pictures above thesofa were missing. Then I opened the drawer and with feardiscovered that a box of jewels disappeared, too.
Improved: On entering the room, I saw it was messed up. Soon Irealized that some of the things had been stolen.
- Include quotes but do not cite them. Though MLA formatsupposes a writer to include citations, you can ignore this rulein a personal narrative essay. You are explaining your personalevents and feelings and citations can disrupt your narration.However, if you think that another source was helpful, include itin a reference list after the essay. We call it “WorksConsulted”.
These tips will enable you not to fall into the traps thatdeprive your essays of its success. Try to avoid these errors andyour ideas will go smoothly to get the readers in your wishfuldirection.
A word on writing strategies
Do you fancy what a writing process is going to be? Composing anessay needs two stages – pre-writing and writing it and itself.
First, grab a pen to brainstorm your essay topic. Think ofsomething memorable, beneficial to your development and valuable.It is good to list the events and then to decide on those whichare more chronological, interesting and colourful.
Finally, make sure that your topic is meaningful, i.e. has apoint. For example, scary stories might teach you something;funny stories tell how you learned a lesson in an ironic orcomical way.
This phase includes the following steps:
- Outlining the essay
As for storytelling, write like this:
- Show rather than tell.
The main goal of your story is to make the readers feel what youfeel, see what you see, hear what you hear and so on. They do notsimply have to read but experience the things you have showedthem. Make them live your life while they are holding your essaybefore their eyes.
- Describe actions and moods vividly.
Don’t write short sentences. Instead, depict everything usingcomplex sentence patterns.
- Give a full picture of other characters.
- Tense and voice.
You are re-living the event that already happened. So it makessense to use the past tenses. A present-tense narration is notfor everyone and, honestly speaking, is not a good decision. Asfor the tone of the story, it determines such things as languageuse and style. They will vary whether you choose to soundserious, funny or sombrous.
- Use descriptive language.
- Include conflict.
Some kind of conflict is essential for a good essay, especiallyif it relates to your personal experience. It might be adissonance between two feelings or a confrontation between youand your parent.
- Show your point.
Your story should have an interesting end. Also, it has to besatisfying for the readers who want to know what lesson you havelearned. An indirect, subtle description of your discoveries willwork better rather than a judgmental point.
Example: I learned not to judge by appearances.
Improved: If some other day I meet a guy dressed in freakishclothes or tattooed across the whole, I’ll have a closer look atwhat he or she is in deed and not in external.
Suggestions for personal narrative topics
A personal narrative essay is not only the outlining of theevents taken from your life. In fact, it is a reflection thatgoes deeper external descriptions. That is why you should centrethe facts and details on your main point making it appealing tothe audience. A successful narration is the one that relatesclose to the reader's life, too. The more congenial your story isto the others, the more impactful it will sound.
So where to go when choosing a topic for a personal essay? Wesuggest several options that will help you to come up with it:
- Turn to your childhood memories.
You may tell about your early perspectives about a particularfamily tradition, community ceremony or a person who impressedyou much. Your goal might be to illustrate your childish visiontowards the peers or adults. Avoid being too sentimental andbring into focus the things that have changed you.
- Recount some significant relationships that have helped youmature.
This experience might be either painful or happy. Nevertheless,it was important for your self-awareness and changed yourattitudes towards something or someone. Your story will get morepower on readers if you provide them with the description ofanother person who has contributed to your life experience.
- Think of a turning point in your life.
Here it is good to use a cause and effect technique as thereaders should get a sense of what you had at the beginning andwhat you became afterwards. You can pick any experienceregardless of its length; the main idea is to show itssignificance for your personal growth.
- Portray a place that is connected with some fateful andremarkable events.
Your life is not only the people who are near you. Very often weare deeply impressed and influenced by nature, buildings,monuments, surroundings and even things like books, musicalinstruments, toys, etc. Do not hesitate to choose a place with anegative significance. The life is not always bright and fun sofeel free to talk about unpleasant, hateful or gloomy places. Thepoint is to demonstrate its meaning, not its beauty orunattractiveness.
While exploring the topics for your essay, you may refer to thestories of other people. Real books and essays may inspire youmore than many theoretical writing guides. For the start, readthe essays crafted by diverse people who might be students,journalists, teachers, politicians, actors, musicians and others.For deeper penetration into the fiction world, we recommendgetting familiarized with the classic literary works ofoutstanding writers and essayists such as Clive Staples Lewis,George Orwell, John Galsworthy, Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain,Robert Louis Stevenson, T. S. Eliot or Virginia Woolf.
A list of popular topics
Feast your eyes on these amazing topics and you will surelyinvent a title for your narrative essay.
- A memorable family ritual
- An embarrassing teenage experience
- Some exciting moments from my sports career
- My first day at a new school
- An encounter that changed my attitude to people
- A disastrous meeting
- When I renewed faith in people
- An unexpected turn of events during my overseas journey
- My first visit to the
- A Family reunion that warms my heart
- My first serious failure
- A frightening story about terrorists
- A moment when my cherished illusions smashed
- My secret place
- My career goals
- A meeting with a fortune-teller
- Surviving in an ill school climate
- The things I would like to change in my school
- My first pet
- My acquaintance with a famous person
- How I have overcome the betrayal
- When I lost my close ones
- How I decided my money problem
- My first job interview
- An account of my first sports competition
- An occasion that made me jealous
- My volunteering during summer holidays
- Why I renewed respect my father
- How I survived the divorce of my parents
- An encounter that made me study harder
- My best Christmas present
- Why I hate being alone
- My first adult decision
- The comic situation at the concert
- My long illness
- My negative social network experience
- The time I had to lie to my parents
- People who changed my life
- Living in a new flat
- Exploring the jungles
- A moment when I cried a lot
- Why I do not trust people
- Growing up in the country
- Days with my granny
Willing to optimize your academic results? Still, need more helpon how to proceed with writing? Meeting the deadline? Wishingyour first essay to be perfect? Then write to us - we have allthe answers!
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