Narrative Essay Topics

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Looking for narrative essay topics? A narrative essay is a format in which the author tells, or narrates, a story. They are non-fictional and deal with the author’s personal development. Unlike other forms of writing, using the first person is acceptable in narrative essays.

Narrative Essay Topic Ideas

  1. Tell your best story about a relative.
  2. Tell a story of a run-in you had with a relative, but tell the story with the relative as the narrator and you as his or her antagonist.
  3. Write a narrative essay about an intense event in your life that changed your philosophy or way of seeing the world. Post it on your blog. Be honest, but keep in mind that others will be reading this.
  4. Dialogue Practice: Write how you would ask where the restroom is at a restaurant. Now, ask as an Englishman, a Texan, a New Yorker, an elderly schoolteacher, a street kid, and a construction worker might ask. Choose words and style carefully.
  5. Fun with Dialogue: Play a videotape or DVD of a section of a film you have not seen—with the sound off. Write the dialogue you imagine the actors might be saying until you have a page.
  6. You are 85 years old, and your friends are gathered around your hospital bed. Before you die, you want to tell them one story of the many you’ve experienced, a story that will reveal to them who you really were and what your life meant. Tell that story. (It should be something that has not yet happened to you.)
  7. Description Practice: Describe the eyes, mouth, and one other feature of someone close to you. Make a list of potential descriptions, then choose the most revealing for character. Turn in one finished paragraph and your brain teaser.
  8. You are a drug rehabilitation counselor and have been asked to address a group of high school students on the dangers of drug use. You’re afraid they’ll be bored if you start out preaching, so you decide to tell a dramatic story to lead in to your point. Write this speech.
  9. Tell a story that brings an abstract idea to life. It may be true or fictional. Use one of these topics:
  • Courage
  • Prejudice
  • Failure
  • Cheating
  1. Alternate Viewpoint Practice: A mother (or father) aged 39, daughter (or son) aged 18, and a grandmother (or grandfather) live together. The grandparent wants to remarry. Break the class into groups of four—one for each part and one to record notes. Present possible ideas each character would have.
  2. Describing People Practice: Describe either yourself or a close friend. Go beyond the obvious. Visual rhetoric option: include a photograph of the person that conveys his or her personality, values or life story.
  3. List five conflicts in your life that could be potential narrative essays. Under each specify the opposing forces and mention a key incident in which the conflict came to a head.
  4. Tell your peer group a story you’re thinking of writing. Then ask each peer to express the ideas and feelings of one person in the story.

Narrative Essay TopicsNarrative essays are different from short stories, which are fictional; the author is free to change the plot, add characters or rewrite the ending of a short story to better fit a narrative arc. With a narrative essay, the author must pull a cohesive narrative arc from her memory of true events. Narrative essays must include a thesis statement and the essay is used to support this. Short stories do not require a thesis statement.

Narrative essays often overlap with other forms of writing. Non-fiction narrative essays are considered a form of creative non-fiction, a genre that combines the truth-telling aspects of journalism with literary styles found in traditional fiction. Memoirs are similar to narrative essays. An organized collection of non-fiction narrative essays constitutes a memoir, but a single non-fiction narrative essay cannot be considered such. An autobiography is distinct from both a memoir and a narrative essay because it chronicles the events of a person’s entire lifetime, rather than focusing on specific experiences.

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