Narrative Composition

How to Write a Narrative Composition |Tips & Examples



A narrative composition/essay tells a story. A narrative composition is a text used to construct and communicate a story, with characters, conflicts, and settings. Narrative writing is used in almost every piece of writing, whether fiction or nonfiction. It has a central point that the whole narrative revolves around, including incidents and characters. A narrative essay is similar to a simple five-paragraph essay, in that it has the same format. It is only different in that it is a narrative, having characters, incidents, and dialogues. Narrative writing includes poetry, anecdotes, and novels. This type of essay, along with the descriptive composition, allows you to get personal and creative.


A narrative essay is a way of testing your ability to tell a story in a clear and interesting way. You’re expected to think about where your story begins and ends, and how to convey it with eye-catching language and a satisfying pace.







What’s the difference between a narrative essay and a descriptive essay?



The key difference is that a narrative composition is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.




Characteristics of a narrative composition



These skills are quite different from those needed for formal writing. For instance, in a narrative composition it is important the use of:


  • past tenses (past simple and past perfect).


  • the first person (“I”) is encouraged.



  • dialogue.


  • suspense.


  • sensory elements (in the following lesson you have some examples of sensory elements).


  • descriptive elements (in the following lesson you have some examples of descriptive elements).




Elements of a narrative composition



What makes a narrative essay relies on three fundamental elements: character, theme, and dialogue.


Characters are very important in this type of writing, even if the essay is an autobiography, the person writing the essay becomes a character that involves some other characters who behave, act and do things like the rest of the participants presented in novels and stories.


It revolves around a theme or a motif, which it’s presented in a thesis statement that breaks down into three different parts. Further, in the text, these parts are elaborated through characters in body paragraphs that follow the essay structure.


Lastly, dialogue is used between characters to capture a conversation. It is the third most important element in which the narrative essay writer decides how to tell the story he or she wants to portray.




Format and structure of a narrative composition



Your essay must have a clear introduction, body paragraphs that are not only sequential, but also transitional, and an ending that leaves the reader with something to think about.


The introduction must contain a hook sentence that catches the attention of the reader, a thesis statement explaining what your essay is going to be about, and a clear description of why the topic is relevant to you. The main body should include an overview of the background and setting, all of the key people involved, some semblance of foreshadowing as well as the onset of the event and the climax, finally the resolution.


The conclusion has to address the moral of the story or the event’s significance; it could be used to add a call-to-action as well.




How to start a narrative composition?



Start the narrative writing with an exciting hook and engaging sensory details. You must set your essay’s tone from the beginning to grab the readers’ attention. One of the best ways to start a narrative essay is through a provoking statement or by asking a question to the person reading the paper. A tip to have in mind is to rely on descriptive words and adjectives that allow the reader to visualize the story better, try to be as detailed as possible without boring the other person. The text should be informative and engaging and at the same time authentic and compelling.


Following are different ways to start the essay:


  • Start with a mystery.


  • Use a quote from someone famous to catch your reader’s attention.


  • Add a funny, interesting or moving anecdote.


  • Ask questions; in this way, your writing will feel direct and more personal.


  • Start with a shocking statement or statistics that makes readers curious.





Examples of a narrative essay



An example of a short narrative essay, responding to the prompt “Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself. You should use the sentence ‘But you can call me Bob’” is shown below. Hover over different parts of the text to see how the structure works.





These initial sentences set the background for the story: the author’s previous attitude to subjects other than math and science. The author expresses this attitude with the terms “solid” and “serious” and with the rhetorical question in the third sentence.



Narrative composition example 1


A lesson to be learnt


Since elementary school, I have always favored subjects like science and math over the humanities. My instinct was always to think of these subjects as more solid and serious than classes like English. If there was no right answer, I thought, «why bother?» But recently I had an experience that taught me my academic interests are more flexible than I had thought: I took my first philosophy class.


Before I entered the classroom, I was skeptical. I waited outside with the other students and wondered what exactly philosophy would involve—I really had no idea. I imagined something pretty abstract: long, stilted conversations pondering the meaning of life. But what I got was something quite different.


A young man in jeans, Mr. Jones—“but you can call me Rob”—was far from the white-haired, buttoned-up old man I had half-expected. And rather than pulling us into pedantic arguments about obscure philosophical points, Rob engaged us on our level. To talk free will, we looked at our own choices. To talk ethics, we looked at dilemmas we had faced ourselves. By the end of class, I’d discovered that questions with no right answer can turn out to be the most interesting ones.


The experience has taught me to look at things a little more “philosophically”—and not just because it was a philosophy class! I learned that if I let go of my preconceptions, I can actually get a lot out of subjects I was previously dismissive of. The class taught me—in more ways than one—to look at things with an open mind.




Narrative Composition Sample 2


The Rescue


Everything had been totally different that Sunday morning, when the two boys had set out on their walk up the cool, pine-scented mountainside near the village where they lived. Near the top, Peter and Michael had climbed onto a rock to admire the view of the valley far below them.


That was when disaster had struck. On clambering down, Peter had tumbled awkwardly to the ground, his leg bent at a painful angle beneath him. Unable to move, he was forced to wait where he was, wrapped in Michael’s jacket, while Michael had begun the long trek down the mountainside to fetch help.


Michael looked down on the mountainside from the window of the helicopter. He felt increasingly helpless, as it looked totally different from the air and the network of tiny paths was mostly obscured from view by the thick covering of pine trees. To make matters worse, the light was fading fast and a thick blanket of mist was starting to form. Eventually the pilot and the three mountain rescue workers in the helicopter agreed that they would have to go back and continue the search for Michael’’ friend, Peter, on foot.


By seven o’clock that evening, they had left the helicopter in the village and gathered a mountain rescue team of fifteen men. Michael felt disheartened and scared for his friend’s safety. Slowly they ascended the mountain, scouring the numerous paths for Peter. The only sounds were crunching footsteps and the crackle of static on the walkie-talkies that the rescue workers carried to talk to each other. The mountainside was an eerie place after nightfall and gradually Michael started to wonder whether they would ever find Peter at all. Suddenly Michael heard a voice come over one of the walkie-talkies, “We’ve got him. We’re taking him down.” “I’m sorry,” said Michael to his friend later in the warm safety of the hospital room, “I didn’t realize it would take so long.”


The doctors decided to keep Peter at the hospital for the night in case of complications with his leg. Before leaving, Michael looked down at his friend and patted his shoulder as, silently, they both vowed never to go walking in the mountains again.




Narrative Composition Sample 3


What’s too much is too much!


(One option for the 1st paragraph):  I just knew I shouldn’t have gone out that Friday afternoon. I’d had a strange feeling all morning, a feeling that something was going to happen, but I told myself, “Don’t be afraid, Ida, you and your funny feelings! – pull yourself together and go and get the groceries.” So I did, and you’ll never guess what happened!


(Another option for the 1st paragraph): You know how someone feels when he is about to pay for his grocery shopping and finds his wallet is almost empty. Mumbling a poor excuse I headed for the bank, not prepared at all for what I was about to experience there.


I was waiting patiently in the queue when suddenly two men pulling black masks over their heads, rushed through the front door and began shouting and waving guns in the air. “This is a robbery,” yelled one of the masked men. “Do as we say and no one will get hurt!” The other bank robber herded us into a corner of the room and ordered us to lie face-down on the floor. I was terrified. My whole body froze in fear. Someone helped me down to the ground where all the other customers were huddled together, hardly even daring to breathe in case the men decided to carry out their threat and start shooting.


The cashiers were remarkably calm but I suppose their training had prepared them for such a situation. They busily emptied the contents of their tills into a bag the robbers had pushed over the counter to them. I kept expecting to hear the wailing of sirens as the police hurried to rescue us, but there was only an unbearable silence. Almost as suddenly as they had entered, the masked raiders grabbed their bag and left the building, jumping into a beige getaway car.


Minutes later, the police arrived. Several officers took off in their cars to see if they could catch the criminals, while others tried to calm us down enough so that they could take coherent statements.

Proofreading your writing



The review/proofreading of your writing is compulsory. Make sure you take at least 5 minutes to proofread your writing before submitting it or send it for its correction. This way you can spot mistakes o upgrade you writing.






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