How do you write an outline for a personal narrative essay?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A narrative essay is a type of essay where the author writes of their own personal experiences and narrate the story. Unlike other forms of essays, in a personal narrative essay, you are allowed to use first-person narrative. When writing a narrative essay, it is important to have a solid structure and a good outline. Thus, there are three main elements you need to include in your essay:

1. The introduction: It is essential to start your essay with a strong, short, precise, and attractive introduction. You should write a hook in order to intrigue your audience, such as a quote, a question, an anecdote, or a strong statement. The purpose of the hook is to attract the reader and make them want to continue reading the story. After that, you should write a sentence or two that will set the scene and explain the importance of the topic you chose. The last part of the introduction is called the thesis statement, and with it, you will explain to the readers what direction you’re going to take with the essay. Keep in mind that the thesis statement represents your general attitude toward the topic you chose to write about.

2. The body: This is the most important part for the narration. The body paragraphs tell the story or the experience. You should make sure to make this part very interesting, emotional, and very detailed. You must try to engage the audience by giving them a background story. Remember to use logical transition sentences, to include anecdotes, and to be as descriptive as possible. You can include real conversations and situations; however, try and avoid using direct statements. If you provide several arguments, make sure that they’re followed by proper examples. The most important thing is to have a good flow of the narrative. Think of it as developing a good plot structure: have an exposition, a climax, and a resolution.

3. The conclusion: In the conclusion, you should include the moral of the story. Explain what lessons you learned from your experiences and how they affected your life. Essentially, the conclusion is another way to make the readers relate to your story. If you’re writing about contemporary socio-economic or political subjects that are important and controversial for today’s society, you should use this opportunity to present your own opinions on the subject and raise awareness for the issue.

Some additional details: Remember to use clear, concise, and formal language. Narrate the story chronologically, and try not to make it too complicated. Make it as simple as you can, as if you’re telling it to a child. If the topic allows it, try and use humor. It is always a good technique to lighten up the mood and engage the reader. In the end, don’t forget to proofread, revise, and edit your essay.

You can find a more detailed explanation on how to write a good personal narrative essay and provide a functional outline here. You can find some examples of personal narrative essays here.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial