What are the important points one should keep in mind while writing a narrative essay?

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boomer-sooner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Narrative essays differ from most other types of formal writing because they are informal in nature.  The narrative essay also gives the writer much more poetic license in description of events than a formal essay.

The overall format must be in a logical and usually chronological order for the essay to be easy to follow for the reader.  More formal essays such as expository or persuasive essays may include switching from pro/con positions or jumping around a topic to evaluate the merit.  A narrative essay should flow from beginning to end in one smooth transition.  Keep in mind that the story should only include the relevant time to the narration.  If the story is about a funny incident at dinner, the entire day does not need to be relayed.  If there are key points which happened earlier in the day, those events should be summarized rather than given in a minute-by-minute accounting.

The way the story is told is also important.  First person writing can be used, but should be used sparingly.  Every detail is not necessary, only those which move the story or provide context to the unfolding events.  A descriptive essay can cover the minute details, but the narration must keep the story moving.  This does not imply that descriptions cannot be used; they should be used but should focus on the story.  If the wallpaper is not germane to the story, then it does not need to be described.

A key component of the narrative essay is the purpose of the story.  Much like fiction, there should be a genre for the essay to follow.  Is the story a drama or comedy?  Does it detail a life lesson?  How is it relevant to the reader?  The purpose of the essay should be to inform and engage the reader in the life events of the writer.