Home Blog Ultimate Guide to a Narrative Essay How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay - Samples & Outline

How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay - Samples & Outline

How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay - Samples & Outline

Writing a personal narrative essay is not like writing any other type of essay. It's about writing about your personal experience or telling a story from your point of view. Whereas in the simple narrative essay, you can also write fictional stories and stories from other points of view. Personal narrative essay writing requires exceptional creative writing skills.

Personal narrative essays are short stories about you. It tells the reader about what happened and how you felt at that moment. The writer shares his personal experiences, providing sensory details of the experience through vivid language.

Learn to write an impressive personal narrative essay through our step by step writing guide.

What is a Personal Narrative Essay

A personal narrative essay is a kind of short story. The only difference is; the short story could be real or fictional. Whereas, a personal narrative essay is about the writer's personal experience. It is usually written in the first person, and it has a clear narrative that’s focused on a specific moment.

The professors usually ask high school students to write these kinds of essays more than any other type of essay. As they invoke creative writing skills, they also provide insight into a student’s personal life. These essays allow the professor to evaluate the student’s skills of engaging the reader in their story.

It has a specific plot around which the whole story revolves. It also includes all the characters that have played some part in the story. It provides all sensory details of the event and the sequence of how the events occurred in the story.

Elements of Personal Narrative Essay

A personal narrative essay has three essential elements: theme, character, and dialogue.

  • Theme

    As it is discussed above, a personal narrative essay has a specific theme around which the whole story revolves.

  • Character

    Characters play a significant role in personal narrative essays. Characters are the people who act, behave, and perform in the story.

  • Settings

    Settings are the time and place of events happening. In other words, it is when and where the event has occurred.

Personal Narrative Essay Outline

The format of a personal narrative essay is similar to the other type of essay. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. The basic outline is as follow:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion


As you are telling a story, the beginning should grab the readers’ attention and make him want to read your story. The introduction paragraph could start with a compelling hook statement, a famous quote, or a dialogue.

Body Paragraphs

The body or the middle section of the essay provides sensory details of the event. It provides a complete description of the event, i.e. the time and place of the event happening. It provides a full description of characters that act, behave, and play in the story.

As you are telling a story, present the details in chronological order. Start telling the story from the beginning and work through the end. The flow of the story should be the same as the sequence of actual events.


The conclusion provides the climax of the story. It wraps up the whole story and states the main point of the story. For example: whether you have learned something from the event or is it just an experience.

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How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay

The key to writing an amazing and impressive personal narrative is how you help a reader experience your story. An excellent narrative essay doesn't tell what happened. Instead, it shows what happened precisely and how you have felt at that moment.

It is written chronologically and includes all details, emotions, characters, and other elements that recreate the story.

Here is how you can write a personal narrative essay:

  • Choose the topic

    The first and foremost thing is to choose a topic for your story. As personal narrative essays are about your personal experience, the topic should be something you are extremely passionate about.

  • Create an Outline

    Once you have decided on the topic and the story that you want to tell, draft an outline of it. The outline will help you recall the event and follow the actual sequence of the event. It will also help you organize your story.

  • Start With a Good Hook

    As you are going to narrate a personal story, start with an eye-catching hook. It will help you get the reader's attention. A captivating dialogue could be used as a hook statement. Other than that, a quote or an anecdote can also be a hook statement.

  • Vivid Description

    As it is told above, the purpose of a personal narrative essay is to show rather than tell. Hence try to engage the five senses of the reader with a vivid description of your story. Paint an image in the reader's mind and take him to the actual happening of the event.

  • Use Transition words

    Usage of transition words helps you make links between the storyline. Use words like; however, therefore, moreover, etc.

  • Focus on Important Moments

    Your story has a lot of moments, but not all of them have the same importance. Choose the most important moments of your story and keep focused on them. Zoom into them and provide more details and description of those moments.

  • Add Emotions

    The purpose of a personal narrative essay is to show the reader what and how you have felt. Hence don't forget to add the emotions, as you have to make the reader feel what you have felt. Describe all the feelings in detail to show the reader how you have felt at different moments during your story.

  • Be Consistent

    Be consistent with your story; don't distract towards irrelevant details. Stick to the one-story and avoid any inconsistency pattern in your story. If you add details of multiple events, the reader will get confused and will soon lose interest.

    Use 1st person impressions as you are writing a personal narrative. And, you want to show the reader that you are telling your own story. Follow the same impression throughout the essay and maintain the smooth flow of your story.

  • Prove the Significance of Your Experience

    As it is a personal narrative, you don't have to provide evidence to prove the significance of your story. Rather, you have to convey a broader message through your story. You have to tell the reader about what you have learned or how that particular moment changed your life.

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Personal Narrative Essay Topics

While you choose a topic for your personal narrative essay, focus on the things you are passionately ambitious about. Choosing a topic or the story that you feel the most connected with, helps you write your story impressively.

Here are some amazing topic ideas for your personal narrative essay:

  • My first pizza order
  • A backyard in my grandma's house
  • My first day at school
  • When I entered the Disney land
  • The day my little sister was born
  • The moment I lost my father
  • My best friend’s engagement ceremony
  • A day at Jurassic park
  • My first visit to Huawei
  • Sunday a fun day
  • A day at the beach
  • My first Japanese pastry
  • My first attempt at baking
  • A moment that changed my life
  • The most amazing memory of my childhood

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Personal Narrative Essay Examples

Reading examples help you understand the basics of an essay and how to structure an essay. Here are some amazing examples to help you know how you should structure and organize your personal narrative essay:

Personal Narrative Essay for High School (PDF)

Personal Narrative Essay for College (PDF)

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