Narrative Essay Prompt
Choose one of the following topics to write your own narrative essay. The topic you decide on should be something you care about, and the narration should be a means of communicating an idea that ties to the essay’s theme. Remember in this essay, the narration is not an end in itself.
- Gaining independence
- A friend’s sacrifice
- A significant trip with your family
- A wedding or a funeral
- A incident from family legend
THE WORLD AROUND YOU
- A storm, a flood, an earthquake, or another natural event
- A school event
- The most important minutes of a sporting event
LESSONS OF DAILY LIFE
- A time you confronted authority
- A time you had to deliver bad news
- Your biggest social blunder
- Your first day of school
- The first performance you gave
- A first date
Writing Your Narrative Essay
To get started writing your essay:
- Review “What is an Essay?”
- Take time to review possible subjects
- Use prewriting to help you narrow your topic to one experience.
Remember that “story starters” are everywhere. Think about it—status updates on social media websites can be a good place to start. You may have already started a “note”on Facebook, and now is your chance to develop that idea into a full narrative. If you keep a journal or diary, a simple event may unfold into a narrative. Simply said, your stories may be closer than you think!
When drafting your essay:
- Develop an enticing title – although don’t let yourself get stuck on the title. A great title might suggest itself after you’ve begun the prewriting and drafting processes.
- Use the introduction to establish the situation the essay will address.
- Avoid addressing the assignment directly. (For example, don’t write “I am going to write about my most significant experience,” because this takes the fun out of reading the work!)
- Think of things said at the moment this experience started for you—perhaps use a quote, or an interesting part of the experience that will grab the reader.
- Let the story reflect your own voice. (Is your voice serious? Humorous? Matter-of-fact?)
- Organize the essay in a way that
- Establishes the situation [introduction];
- Introduces the complication(s) [body]; and
- States the lesson you learned [conclusion]
- To avoid just telling what happens, make sure your essay takes time to reflect on why this experience is significant.
Prewriting and Draft
For this assignment, you will work through the prewriting and drafting stages of your writing process in a narrative essay.
- Choose a writing prompt on the “Narrative Essay Assignment: Writing Prompt” page.
- Create a prewriting in the style of your choice for the prompt. Review the prewriting videos on the “My Writing Process: Prewriting and Draft” page if needed.
- Develop a draft essay according to the following formatting guidelines: (Papers submitted that do not meet these formatting requirements will be returned to you ungraded.)
- Minimum of 3 typed, double-spaced pages, Times New Roman, 12 pt font size
- MLA formatting (see the “Formatting Style for Papers” page as needed)
- Submit as Microsoft Word doc
Be sure to:
- Decide on something you care about so that the narration is a means of communicating an idea.
- Include characters, conflict, sensory details.
- Create a sequence of events in a plot.
- Develop an enticing title.
- Use the introduction to pull the reader into your singular experience.
- Avoid addressing the assignment directly. (don’t write “I am going to write about…” – this takes the fun out of reading the work!)
- Let the essay reflect your own voice (Is your voice serious? Humorous? Matter-of-fact?)
- Avoid telling just what happens by making sure your essay reflects on why this experience is significant.
Writing Community Review
For this assignment, you will need to share your Narrative Essay draft with your writing community via the discussion. Then you will choose a peer’s essay from your writing community and conduct a review.
Develop your response to your peer’s writing by focusing on each of these points:
- What makes the essay memorable? What did you like best?
- What is the meaning of the story? Why was the experience important to the audience?
- How did the writer structure the essay? Is there a beginning (problem), a middle (complication), an end (transformation)?
- What details may be missing and are needed for clarity? Is there something that the writer implies but does not actually carry out in the narrative?
- Does the essay focus on one event only? Is the topic narrowed enough to support a well-focused essay?
- What specific places in the essay did your peer succeed in narrating a singular experience?
- Where might the essay need cuts, adds, or reorders?
- Using the 6+1 Traits Rubric, are there any weaknesses in the essay that stand out?
- Using the Dartmouth Writing Program “Attending to Grammar” link, do you recognize a grammar problem with the essay? If so, where?
- What other supportive suggestions can you identify to improve the writing
Narrative Essay Final Draft
For this assignment, review the feedback posted from your writing community in the prior assignment: Narrative Essay – Writing Community Review. Work your way through the revising and proofreading stages of your writing process, and submit your final version of the essay.
1. Review the grading rubric as listed on this page.
3. Work through the revise stage of the writing process.
4. Work through the proofread stage of the writing process.
5. Create a final version of your Narrative Essay according to the following formatting guidelines*:
- 3-4 typed, double-spaced pages (about 600-750 words), 12 pt font size, Times New Roman;
- MLA formatting (see the “Formatting Style for Papers” page as needed); and
- Submitted as a Microsoft Word document
*Papers submitted that do not meet these requirements will be returned to you ungraded.
6. Submit your final version of your Narrative Essay as a single file upload.
Now that you have completed your Narrative Essay, take a few minutes to reflect on the experience and write about your process and what you learned. Write a reflection on your Narrative Essay writing experience using complete sentences.
1. Consider the following questions.
- What was most the challenging aspect of creating this essay?
- What did you learn about yourself as a writer?
- What might you do differently the next time you write this type of essay knowing what you know now after writing this essay?
2. Write your reflection on each question listed above, using complete sentences. Your final reflection assignment should fit the following guidelines:
- 1-1.5 typed, double-spaced pages, 12 pt font size, Times New Roman;
- Submitted as a Microsoft Word document
3. Submit your reflections as a single file upload.