How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay


Length: 1129 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
Need writing help? Check your paper »

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓
How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay


There is very little mystery to writing the personal narrative essay. There is no proper topic for such an essay. An essay can be about a variety of personal experiences. You, the writer, have the right to say what you want about your personal experience. You can write about anything -- Aunt Sally, the funky necklace you bought at a garage sale, the harrowing experience of being stuck in an elevator, the best Christmas you ever had, the worst day of your life. No topic or subject is off-limits; therefore there are endless opportunities to write an essay about your personal, point-of-view of what happened. Often the reason behind wanting to write a personal essay is unclear. Once the writing begins and the events are recorded and recounted it becomes clear that the writer is searching to find the meaning, the universal truth, the lesson learned from the experience. When writing, rewriting and good editing coalesce, a personal narrative essay becomes a beautiful thing. It shows how the past or a memory’s significance affects the present or even the future.

We all have stories to tell. But facing a blank page is intimidating. Knowing where to begin becomes a real dilemma. A good place to start is with the word I. Write I was, I saw, I did, I went, I cried, I screamed, I took for granted. I is an empowering word. Once you write it on the page it empowers you to tell your story. That’s exactly what you are going to do next. Tell the story. Get it all out. Don’t worry about how many times I appears in the text. Don’t worry how scattered and unfocused thoughts are. Write however your mind tells you to write. This style is often called freewheeling writing or stream of consciousness. Once the story is all down on paper you will go back and begin to shape the essay into a form that says exactly what you want it to say about your experience. If you’re discouraged over what you’ve written, back away from it. Let it rest. Take a walk. Do something that distracts your mind from writing the essay. Many writers find that even while doing something other than writing, their writing mind continues to work out what needs to be said and continues to uncover the multi-layered associations and voices of what they’re writing about.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay." 123HelpMe.com. 13 Dec 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=20916>.
Title Length Color Rating  
Essay on Why We Write-Personal Narrative - Why We Write-Personal Narrative On Monday nights I get together with a few friends to exchange ideas about writing and to exchange pieces that we have written. A few Mondays ago one of those friends was having the most fundamental of creative writing problems. "Why should I ever write anything?" she moaned. "Why should any of us. No one wants to hear anything I have to say because I have nothing new to say about any of it." After I, along with the rest of the group, tossed some sympathetic and half-heartedly reassuring words to her I had a thought....   [tags: Papers] 398 words
(1.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Personal Narrative: Teaching Others How I Write Essay - For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed writing. Writing is an opportunity for me to express my thoughts and feelings while helping me grow to understand who I am as an individual, a student and furthermore, a future teacher. Yet, if someone were to ask me how I do it, I am afraid I could not give him or her a clear and precise answer. Trying to find that answer almost seems harder for me than the actual writing process itself. However, after having done my student teaching last semester, I have learned that modeling my own writing for the students not only helps them to see more clearly how I write, but helps me understand how I write as well....   [tags: Narrative Essay Writing English Teacher Student] 1290 words
(3.7 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay on I Write from the Heart - Recently a friend of mine read a couple of my short stories. One was a story that was very near and dear to my heart. She looked over at me, tears streaming down her face, and asked how I could write something that was so painful to relive, yet which made someone such as herself feel as if they were living the experience themselves. I explained to her that is what a personal essay is supposed to do - touch someone; pull on the heartstrings of the reader. Her reaction also confirmed that I had succeeded in writing my story the way I had intended....   [tags: Personal Narrative, essay about myself] 479 words
(1.4 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
I Will Write Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow Essay - I Will Write Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." - Oscar Wilde Life, I think, if we could map it out on some sort of cosmic parchment, would be a tapestry of paths taken, woven in on each other in a tangle resembling nothing if not a spider web. Somewhere in the midst of these interlocking and twisting trails of all the ways I've gone, the ways I've planned to go and the roads I have abandoned I managed to find two trends that form a frame for all the other twists and turns that may come....   [tags: Personal Narrative Writing] 2843 words
(8.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on How I Learned To Read And Write - Ron Padgett, the author of Creative Reading, recalls how he learned to read and write as though these things happened yesterday. Like Padgett, I tried recalling my reading and writing history. When my parents read to me, they enjoyed reading Dr. Suess books, which became popular with the publication of The Cat In The Hat. I was only interested in looking at books with color. When the books were colorful they grabbed my attention quickly. I couldn’t wait for my parents to come in my room at night and read to me from The Cat in the Hat....   [tags: Personal Narrative, Education] 1191 words
(3.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Writing a Personal Narrative Essay - Purpose and Audience Personal narratives allow you to share your life with others and vicariously experience the things that happen around you. Your job as a writer is to put the reader in the midst of the action letting him or her live through an experience. Although a great deal of writing has a thesis, stories are different. A good story creates a dramatic effect, makes us laugh, gives us pleasurable fright, and/or gets us on the edge of our seats. A story has done its job if we can say, "Yes, that captures what living with my father feels like," or "Yes, that’s what being cut from the football team felt like." Structure There are a variety of ways to structure your narrative story....   [tags: Personal Narrative Writing] 473 words
(1.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Teaching Others How I Write Essay - The Unfinished Works of Joe Foley Recently, web sites have been springing up in the cyberspaces between the spheres like, well, webs spun overnight. Unfortunately, there is no official protocol for designing and using facets of the World Wide Web. Perhaps in time, a "webiquette" will arise as did "netiquette" for the newsgroups that have been on the internet for a relatively longer time. Rules for relatively short sigs, or signature files, have arisen by mutual consent on the newsgroups. Perhaps someday owners of web sites will be flamed for including overly large graphics....   [tags: Personal Narrative]
:: 1 Works Cited
1009 words
(2.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Personal Narrative- Following God's Will - Personal Narrative- Following God's Will As James 2:26 tells us, faith without works is dead - part of living the Christian life is obeying God. God has given us many commands in His Word. Not only are there specific commands for all Christians, but God also promises to give Christians His Holy Spirit to guide us not only through various difficult experiences in our lives, but additionally in following God’s will. God has commanded that everyone love Him first and foremost, above all things. He is our reason for living; only His Grace can and does save us from Hell....   [tags: Personal Narrative Writing] 806 words
(2.3 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Personal Narrative - Rejoice in the Lord Always Essay - Personal Narrative- The Bible Spoke to Me I sat on my bed. Alone. Lonely. But I wasn’t. Everything that everyone had said, left unsaid, was with me. Smothering me. As scenes danced mockingly through my mind, I cried out, “Does anyone care about me?. Does anyone care if I come to school or church-would anyone notice if I just quit?!” A small, still voice whispered in my ear. Something stirred, struggling to be free, but my tormented mind smothered it, preferring to drown in self pity. “Does anyone listen to me....   [tags: Personal Narrative Writing] 478 words
(1.4 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Personal Narrative Essay - Personal Narrative My life never was the straightest forward to talk or write about. As sad as it seems, the only memories that stand out are not very happy ones. I am 17. I was born in Gloucester. Both of my parents raised me, and at the beginning of my life we definitely didn’t live in luxury....   [tags: Papers] 1036 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]

Related Searches






Personal narrative essays are essentially non-fiction stories, ones that are neatly arranged like a road map that take the reader from point A to point B to point C. In life, and in our own personal experience, things aren’t so straightforward as A-B-C. Characters, facts, places, conversations and reporting what happened, where you went, what you saw and what you did isn’t always so neatly pulled together. That is your job, as the writer, to pull together all the elements so they bring the reader to the universal truth, the lesson learned or insight gained in your experience. How do you do this? Through re-writing and re-writing.

Each time you redo the story more will be revealed to you. You will get “in touch” with the universal truth. Every rewrite of the story will lead you to the aha! Once you get the aha! the next rewrite will show dramatic improvement. You will be able to arrange events into a chronological sequence that best suits the aha!. When you know the aha! create events, think up examples to better illustrate the theme of your essay. Use the senses when describing anything. Example, …It was a stellar day. The air had a salty tang to it as it blew off the ocean. Little white caps broke not more than twenty feet out then rushed to meet the shore. Above me sea gulls screeched and circled in a cloudless blue sky. The sun was in its Spring zenith…. The more descriptive language you use, the more you will place the reader right there in the experience with you. Colorful or hard-driving language are the tools of the essayist.

Essay writing forces you to shape your experience until it can be fully understood by others. Use every tool available in the writing craft. Construct dialogue, use metaphors but most importantly, use language with a wide breadth of sensory detail. If you find yourself getting lost, stop writing. Start reading other essays. Every issue of Reader’s Digest always has at least two. Read eight back issues of a magazine with personal narrative essays in their content. By osmosis, you’ll get the feel of how essays are constructed. Go back and do the rework on yours. Include dialogue, include examples that best support or illustrate the aha! of the experience you’re writing about. Beef up the description of a character. Give them succinct, meaningful dialogue that pushes the reader closer and closer to the aha! of your essay.

The next step is to get feedback on what you have written. If someone close to you or someone really intimate with the experience you’ve written about says, “Hey, that’s not the way it happened,” don’t worry. Little white lies are serving to drive the aha! of the experience into the mind of the reader. Your truth is embedded in your writing. To enable the reader to visualize or grasp the concept, little white lies are a necessity. Listen to the responses of readers, then go back a rewrite the portions that were unclear to the reader.

Next, have someone read the essay aloud to you or you read it aloud into a tape recorder.

Listen to the flow of words. Listen to where the reader stumbles. Listen where pauses fall. Listen to where the reader runs out of breath. These are all clues as to where more refining or tweaking need to be done. Go back and do it! You are close to sitting back in the chair and saying, “Yes! This is exactly what I wanted to say about what I experienced.” It is a beautiful feeling. Work to achieve it.

To recap how to write a personal narrative essay follow these points:

·Write I on a blank page.

·Tell the story as it flows from your mind.

·Let the story rest in its scattered, unfocused form.

·Begin rewriting. Shaping events in a way to best suit what you want to say.

·Rejoice when the aha! of your experience is revealed.

·Re-write, re-write, and re-write. Little white lies are okay.

·Use language that is full of words that tap into the senses.

·Get feedback from a reader.

·Re-write.

·Have the essay read aloud. Listen.

·Fine tune and tweak.

·Grin from ear-to-ear when everything on the page reveals the aha! in the experience perfectly.

·And – Kudos on a job well done!


Return to 123HelpMe.com