One of the most difficult forms of essay writing to master is the narrative essay. This is largely because, unlike most other forms, it resembles short story writing more closely than anything else. People often confuse the two and it’s easy to see why as they share much in common. But if you dismiss that uncertainty and stick to a few guidelines, you have a much better chance of gaining the grades you deserve.
Let’s take a look at some guidelines which will help you write a strong narrative essay:
1.Story Structure: A narrative essay conveys information as a story. It contains a structure like many pieces of narrative fiction – a beginning, middle and end, settings, a plot, characters etc.Unlike many examples of short story writing, however, a narrative essay is normally an exploration of one event and is usually told chronologically from the point of view of a narrator, in first person; like a diary (although a third person perspective can be used also). Some short stories have these elements, but they can also be non-linear and have more of an artificially constructed ‘point’ to them; a twist, a revelation etc. But narrative essays are different. In essence a narrative essay should tell a story which explores an experience or an event in a realistic manner. For example, you could be asked to ‘write a narrative essay describing a young girl’s feelings of living during the blitz in London, 1943’. You are going to tell that story in a structural way, but not flourish it with convoluted plot points.
2.Sensory Details: Essential to narrative essay writing is sensory detail. Make sure that you are describing the experiences that the narrator is having. Strike a balance between providing details which are important to the narrative being told or the main point you the writer are making. Anything else can be kept for short story writing.
3.Have Purpose: Some short story writers will explore ideas and feelings without purpose, but within a narrative essay you are exploring a specific event or moment. Make this central to everything you write. If you are writing an essay on a man living in a mental institute then everything you write should revolve around that key point.
Narrative essay writing shares much with short story writing and can be tricky to get just right. The guidelines above will help you develop a keen understanding of this type of essay, but the best thing you can do to improve is to practice with essay questions and to read well written narrative essays which will guide you effectively.