How to Write a Personal Narrative Step by step + Example

Before you start writing a personal narrative essay, it is important to ask questions like, “what is a personal narrative essay?” and so on.

A personal narrative essay is a story about yourself that you choose to share in writing. More often than not, personal narrative essays form a large part of the types of narrative essays that are seen. Aside from telling your story, a personal narrative essay also shares your mindset, opinion, and explanation of certain life events. Personal narrative essays should be written in the first person to connect with the reader.

A personal essay could be based on a memory, favorite story, a trip you made, or even your career journey. A personal essay is a way to retell a personal experience creatively.

Components of a Personal Narrative Essay

To write an exceptional personal narrative essay, you need to understand the components of the essay. Here are some vital components that you must include.

  • Topic

Writing a personal essay begins with the choice of topic. Often, you are given a selection of areas to choose from if you are writing for a class test or assignment. A personal essay is not an argumentative essay where you have to argue the point of convincing your reader. It is more informative than instructive. Therefore, you need to choose your topic wisely. Your topic should be one that you are comfortable discussing and sharing with others.

After choosing your topic, you need to outline what you intend to include in your essay. If you are writing for a school assignment, chances are you have a word count limit. Even if you do not have a word count limit, a narrative essay is not expected to be a long story. Hence, it would be best if you itemized what aspects you intend to cover in your essay, preferably in chronological order. An outline is useful to guide you in making sure that you keep to the theme of the essay.

  • Introduction

Now, as you begin to write, you need an introduction. Your introduction should include information on the theme you intend to cover in your paper. Your introduction should be witty and attractive to the reader – in simple, understandable words that tell the reader what to expect as they read. Then, it would help if you created a flow from your introduction to the essay’s body.

  • Body

Writing the body of an essay should not be too difficult once you have created an outline of what you intend to write. Here in the body, you begin to flesh out the cogent details you earlier wrote out. Then, in expanding on your outlined points, be as descriptive as possible to give the reader a sense of being with you on the journey. Finally, a personal narrative essay tests how creative you can be in retelling a past event. In writing, you should aim to elicit in your reader the kind of feeling you had when you had the experience.

Depending on how much you have to write, you could have up to three or more paragraphs. Each paragraph should contain specific details like date, time, and an action. You should also ensure that the paragraphs are written in chronological order so that the story flows as the reader reads.

  • Conclusion

After the body of the essay comes the conclusion. This is an avenue for you to recap by pointing out some of the lessons you learned from your experience. It could also be an avenue to hint at other things you intend to do as a follow-up. First, like the introduction, your conclusion should not deviate from the theme but lead the reader to summarise what has been written. You could choose to also finish with another quote or anecdote, but it is not compulsory.

As you finish your essay with the conclusion, be patient enough to read through to check for errors. Make necessary corrections and ensure that the story is written in a way that will endear you to the reader.

How to Start a Personal Narrative Essay

Starting a personal narrative essay could be the same as starting a traditional narrative essay. Quotes, anecdotes, popular sayings that lead into your story can be creatively used as an opening. Beyond this, your first paragraph should give a general introduction to the purpose of the essay and the theme you intend to pursue.

Personal Narrative Essay Examples

Personal essays could be in the form of a class assignment, a college application essay, or a personal statement.

A college application is often written in response to a request by assessors. The essay will often ask you to state why you should be admitted to a particular program. You could also be asked to write an essay on how or why you decided to go for a particular program. This type of essay should be tailored to convince assessors that you are eligible for the program you are looking to get into.

Personal Narrative Essay Examples for College Applications

Personal Essay

Discover your true self and stay true to that. When I was younger, I thought I knew what I wanted to be, but I had no idea how to get there. So I started listening to all the people around me who said I would never be able to succeed at doing that and started to lose my way. It’s easy to get caught up in the fears and insecurities of the people who love you, but only you know what is the right path for you. Listen to your heart, your passions will guide you to the career and life that you were meant for.

Spend time alone. When you’re having trouble figuring out just who you’re supposed to be, the world can get noisy and distracting (see above). In order to hear your heart and know what is really important to you, spend some time alone  and get to like who you are in the silent spaces. What helps me most is spending some time in nature just watching the birds or listening to the sound of the wind in the trees. If this isn’t possible for you, just spending time in a quiet room without the noise of other people’s activities can be enough. When you know and like the person you are in the silent spaces, you have a better chance of knowing and understanding the path you’re meant to take.

Know where you’re going, but enjoy the journey to get there. You might know you need 12 more years of education and experience to finally achieve the position you want to be in and it will be tempting to put your head down and just work toward that goal without looking up, but you risk losing a lot of what life has to offer when you engage in that kind of activity. Set smaller milestones for you to reach and celebrate each step along the journey. Take the time to enjoy life in the moment and take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

Don’t wait for tomorrow. When my parents were younger, they wanted to take a world tour and see all of the special places they’d heard about and read about in books. They decided to wait until they had enough money to make the trip, but in the meantime, they started a family. Then my siblings and I were in school and the money was partially spent. When they finally had the money again, my dad was too old to make the trip and my mom was too tired. If there’s something you really want to do in your life, make it happen, the earlier the better.

If something needs changing, be part of the action  There is always going to be something wrong with the world and you will probably be surrounded by friends and relatives that complain about it. I know I am. Complaining about things will not make any difference to how they really are. The only thing that brings about change is taking action. If there’s something you feel needs to be changed enough to complain about, then stop complaining and become part of that change in whatever way you think is possible for you.

Finally, take time to be with the people you’re with. Life can get so busy that you’ll feel like you don’t have a moment to spare. When you find yourself trying to rush your old grandfather into his house so you can dash off to your meeting with your buddies, remember the reason you were with your grandfather in the first place and enjoy the moments you have together. Instead of constantly thinking of the next thing you want to say, the next distraction pulling at your attention, or the news that’s happening among some other circle of friends, remember to slow down and enjoy the time you have with the people you’re actually with at the moment.

In conclusion, writing a personal narrative is just like writing a narrative essay, only this time, from a personal perspective. It involves telling your story in the most creative way using the same format and structure as a typical essay.

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