What Defines a Narrative Essay?


Quick Answer

A narrative essay, also known as a personal essay or story, is a piece usually written in chronological order in which the writer details a personal experience. While a narrative essay can be written in second or third person, it is often presented in the first-person voice.

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Full Answer

A narrative essay is usually a short piece of writing about a single topic important to the writer. The essay should begin with a clear statement of the main idea, called the thesis, to inform the reader of the topic. The following paragraphs in the narrative essay support the thesis statement, and then the conclusion organizes the preceding paragraphs to reaffirm the thesis statement. A narrative essay should have provoking opening sentences that engage the reader's interest; clear explanations of who, what, where, when and why; a chronological timeline; and clear transitions. Since the essay is about the writer's personal experience, it is important that each idea presented to the reader is stated clearly. Each sentence needs to be clear and concise with even more care taken to any instances of dialogue. An important technique of a well-written narrative essay is to use "narrative tension," which is when information is gradually revealed to hold the reader's interest and prevent the essay from overwhelming the reader.

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