How do I write a narrative essay about "one remarkable day in my life."I need help with everything, from the introduction to the conclusion.

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Choose a day when something significant happened to you. Then describe it in detail, but focusing the detail on describing how you felt and what the events meant to you. Use plenty of sensory details, and don't forget the dialogue! Both are critical to the narrative essay.
mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The earlier posters are right, of course, about how chronological order is the standard organizational pattern for a narrative essay. However, there's still a lot of room for adding your personal touch to the organization of the essay.

For example, a very effective introduction and/or conclusion could focus on the idea of "looking back." We often don't see someting that occurs to us as significant until some later point in our life. Or, to offer a second example, the essay could relate a day that began like any other but ended like nothing before or after. A narrative essay can even contain flashbacks or meaningful asides, just as stories that we tell often do.

To me, the term "narrative essay" explains a lot about the assignment. The "narrative" part of the term means that you'll be telling a story. Of course, that's not all that's involved. The "essay" part means that you can shape that story in any number of ways and assign whatever significance you want to the events that you are narrating.

So true!  Just to underscore what has been so well stated, it is the reflective introduction that often hooks the reader with its own unique and personally introspective touch.  After all, this style was used by Harper Lee who won a Pulitzer Prize.

jk180's profile pic

James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

The earlier posters are right, of course, about how chronological order is the standard organizational pattern for a narrative essay. However, there's still a lot of room for adding your personal touch to the organization of the essay.

For example, a very effective introduction and/or conclusion could focus on the idea of "looking back." We often don't see someting that occurs to us as significant until some later point in our life. Or, to offer a second example, the essay could relate a day that began like any other but ended like nothing before or after. A narrative essay can even contain flashbacks or meaningful asides, just as stories that we tell often do.

To me, the term "narrative essay" explains a lot about the assignment. The "narrative" part of the term means that you'll be telling a story. Of course, that's not all that's involved. The "essay" part means that you can shape that story in any number of ways and assign whatever significance you want to the events that you are narrating.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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A narrative essay proceeds in actual chronological time telling events as they actually occurred, without flashbacks or flash-forwards: e.g., First this happened and then this. Jed said this and then Bob replied. After that, we went here. Narrative accounts are also told in first person; they are always have an "I" voice and point of view: e.g., I heard Jed laugh at Alice's remark. We went to see what was funny.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Keep in mind that a narrative essay is simply one which tells a story.  The prompt to write about a remarkable day in your life means this is a personal narrative.

My best advice for you on this essay is to free-write a journal entry first.  To do this, think about what day you will write about.  Sit down for 10-15 minutes and just write, anything you can think of.  Write about what happened, include your thoughts and feelings, and be sure to put any specific details you remember that might make your essay more interesting.  Keep in mind that this is a free-writing exercise, which means that it does not matter the order in which your thoughts come out, it does not matter how they sound, and it does not matter if any of it is technically nor grammatically correct at this point.

NOTE: This free-write is not a rough draft.  It will not be turned in.  Hopefully your final draft will not closely resemble it either.

Instead, use this "free-write" as an exercise to get all your thoughts on paper.  Then, organize them.  Re-read what you've written and determine what message you wish to get across by telling this story.  Do you want to share something humorous? heartwarming? a lesson learned? something sad?  Keep in mind that it does not matter what the point of your narrative is, but it must have a point.  Using your "point" as the main focus for your essay, you can determine which details are necessary to your story and which are not.

It is usually easiest to organize a personal narrative chronologically.  If this works for your essay, go with it.  It will help you stay on track.  Think of your "remarkable day" in terms of beginning, middle, and end.  Use an outline or graphic organizer to put the details of your essay into these three groups.  This could very easily be the basis for your body paragraphs.

Once you have the bulk of your ideas visually organized, you can turn them into paragraphs.  I suggest writing the body of your essay first.  Then, the introduction needs to only introduce the main point of the essay and does not risk summarizing several details which will not be included.  Your conclusion, similarly, should leave your reader with a final thought or feeling which ties back to the point of the essay in the first place.

Keep in mind that personal narratives allow you to include personal thoughts, feelings, and emotions.  Also, they can be a little bit more creative than a typical expository essay.  Despite this, they still must have a topic/focus/thesis, thoughts must flow in a logical way, and the overall essay must be organized in a way that makes sense.

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