Writing Personal Narrative Essays - Two Types of Assignments
What is a Personal Narrative Essay?
This type of essay requires you to tell a story – a story about yourself. It does not mean that you will be writing your personal autobiography – leave that to celebrities and political figures or someday when you gain fame and fortune. No, a personal narrative essay definition for academic purposes is the production of a piece of writing that focuses on some aspect of your personal story – an event or situation that had a major impact on the development of your values, for example. There are two-three times when you may face writing a personal narrative essay during your academic career:
- An English instructor may assign personal essays that relate to experiences that you have had. What, for example, was the most frightening experience you have ever had? What was your best family vacation? Relate the most embarrassing moment of your life. Your narrative personal essay will relate to these topic assignments.
- You will be engaged in writing personal essays as a part of the college admissions process. In these instances, you will be given prompts to which you must respond, and you usually have options. Some typical prompts might include:
- Describe a time when you met with a failure. What was your response to that failure and what did you learn from it?
- Recount a time when you had a difficult choice to make. What thinking process did you use to make that choice?
- Who is a personal hero of yours? How did that person come to be a personal hero?
How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay for College Admissions
Some students really love to write personal essays, because they have a “flair” for creativity and great methods of entertaining their readers. Other students really struggle with this type of essay. When it is a part of the college admissions process, moreover, it is easy to get nervous and experience writer’s block. Here are some suggestions for those of you who are having a hard time:
- Begin early. If you are using the Common Application, the essay prompts are published at least a year in advance, and you will have plenty of time to think about each of those prompts and to select one that will be the easiest for you to write.
- Jot down notes to yourself. Use OneNote or another app to keep a running list of things you might include in the essay.
- Ask other people to respond to the prompt – those responses may give you some ideas you had not thought of.
The Actual Writing
- When you are ready to start writing, make a list of the points you are going to make in the order in which you are going to make them. Remember the personal experience narrative essay involves telling a story, and usually there will be a very logical flow of events in that story.
- Do not worry about the introduction at this time. You want to get your body paragraphs down first, and you want to have good transitions from one paragraph to the next. The concern at this point is to get the story on paper in a logical way – you will be revising it later.
- Write your introduction. The point of an introduction for this and any essay you may write is to engage the reader in your story immediately. Start with a short startling sentence, perhaps something that really impacted you in relationship to the story you will tell. Some examples might be. “I remember waking up and wishing I were still in my dream.” (You have failed at something and don’t want to face it), or “My little brother got cancer at the age of 5.” (Perhaps he is your hero). This will pique the interest of the reader right away. Think about the short stories or novels you have read. Go back and read how they began. You will get other good ideas for a possible opening sentence. The point is this: you want the reader to want to read your essay.
Getting Some Help
Great narrative essay writing is really an art form, and it is not a talent that most of us have. If you are having a difficult time understanding how to write a personal narrative essay, you should not feel like a failure – you have good company. Many brilliant individuals, who can write great academic works, cannot produce a personal narrative that is engaging and of high interest. Make the decision to get some help. You can certainly turn your personal story over to GrabMyEssay.com and simply say, “Help me with my essay” or “Help me with my personal narrative essay.” We will assign a creative writing genius who can weave that story into a compelling piece of writing that no one will be able to put down!
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Writing an engaging personal narrative essay requires you to focus on both the key points of information to be conveyed as well as the many details which make the narrative essay interesting.
Writing an Impactful Personal Narrative Essay
A personal narrative essay is about a personal experience, so it is usually written in the first person. To maximize its impact, the essay should:
- Be written to have an emotional impact on the reader
- Include a lot of references to sensory perceptions and emotions
- Use vivid details and imagery
Structure of the Essay
- The opening of the essay needs to let the reader know the essence of what you will be describing and your point of view.
- The body of the story needs to give the reader a very clear idea of what happened and how you (the author) feel about that. The story can be told chronologically or the facts may be grouped by importance or type.
- The final paragraph needs to wrap up and state the point of the story, whether it is a lesson, an idea, or just a learning experience.
Writing the Essay
Writing a good narrative essay requires you to include interesting information in an engaging way. Here are some tips:
- Record yourself telling the story. That will help your organize your story and make the writing flow.
- Include anecdotes and dialogue in the essay.
- Use transitory words to connect sentences like: therefore, however, or for example.
- Vary the structure of your sentences to make the writing more interesting. Try adding some compound, complex, or interrogative sentences.
- Make the words lively, descriptive, exciting, active, emotional, and precise.
Example of Narrative Writing
Here is an example of writing used in a personal narrative essay. Notice the tone and words that set the mood. You can almost feel the heat and humidity.
“It was the middle of springtime and across from my house where the incident took place. There was a lake there in which my brother and I loved to explore from time to time. The humidity and water drops where reminiscent of a fully functional sauna. The onslaught of heat and burning glow of the sun was relentless.”
Types of Essays
An essay is a short piece of writing which is either analytical or speculative. Most essays are written from the author’s point of view.
The word “essay” began to be used in 1588 when Michel de Montaigne published a book called Essais and the word represents a short work written on a particular subject.
There are many kinds of essays, and following is a short explanation of a few of them.
Persuasive or Argumentative Essay
The persuasive or argumentative essay picks a certain viewpoint and offers support of it with data, statistics, and other evidence. Its purpose is to make the reader agree with the proofs and conclusions. In other words, the reader should share the viewpoint of the writer.
Persuasive essays need to have logical and clear reasoning supported by facts and arguments.
A comparison essay will compare two things and point out their similarities and differences. The writer needs to find as many similarities and differences as possible so he will need to do some research.
It does not matter in what order the facts are presented, as long as they are easy to understand by the reader.
Descriptive essays answer the questions: how, what, why, when, and where. They can be written about any subject; a place, person, animal, event, thing, or memory. The writer will share with the reader what he feels and perceives.
The tone should be sensory in nature so the reader can almost see, smell, taste, hear, and feel what the author experienced.
A narrative essay tells a story that has a point to be made. The reader may receive an idea or a lesson from the essay. The story is told using sensory details and emotional language.
A narrative essay usually reflects something of a personal nature so many times it becomes a personal narrative essay.