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6 Tips for Writing Personal Narrative Essays

A personal narrative essay requires both objectivity as well as subjectivity. To be able to recognize the significance of an event or situation, you will need to be objective. You must also be able to express your feelings and thoughts to support your points.

Personal narratives allow you to be both the muse as well as the creator. You have complete control over the story. It comes with guidelines, just like other types of writing.

1. Describe your personal narrative essay topic as a story

It must contain an introduction, characters and plot. It can also be structured with an introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction should establish the tone and the body should be focused on the main points. The conclusion should tell the reader the lessons that you’ve learned from the story.

2. Give your personal narrative a clear purpose

Your perspective should be expressed in your narrative essay. This is much more difficult than it sounds. It is important to determine your point of view, what you want your reader take away and your voice. Before you begin writing, it is a good idea for you to have a clear purpose in mind.

Let’s suppose you want to write about depression and not taking medication. You could write about any topic you like, but defining a purpose helps you to focus your writing and decide which stories to tell. Do you advocate for a holistic approach or want to share your emotions for those who might be interested in it?

This will enable you to focus on the things that you did and didn’t do. It will also allow you to reflect on the changes you made along the journey.

3. Don’t Tell

The narration is a narrative. It should tell the story, not tell them. The author should not only be a storyteller but also play a part in the lives of the characters. This is a key point to remember when writing. Your perspective can make a huge difference in how your reader views your overall plot. Do not just tell everything because it happened to me. Your reader will respond by taking action.

ProWritingAid can help you find instances where telling is more common than showing. You could use the following example instead of:

“You never let you do anything!” I wept disdainfully.


“You never let you do anything!”

My mother still swears to me that the look I gave her while I spoke those words could have ruined milk.

ProWritingAid can help you locate these instances and make edits without having to spend hours going through your work.

4. Use “I,” But Don’t Overuse It

Authors have the right to the story. Therefore, the pronoun “I” in the first person is used throughout. It’s important to not use it too often, as it can make the story seem self-centered and redundant.

ProWritingAid also has the Style Report that will help you determine if your sentences are too long with “I” and how to add more variety.

5. Pay attention to tenses

Understanding is all about understanding the tense. Many authors use the past tense to tell personal narratives. They mainly relate the story of past events. This allows you to distinguish between your present, narrating voice, and your past self. Write in the present tense if you want to keep your writing consistent.

6. Be satisfied with your conclusion

Give your readers a memorable closing scene to satisfy their needs. The narration should build the plot up to the climax. It doesn’t need to be anything extraordinary or shocking. Just something that gives an interesting perspective on your story.

It is important to communicate the takeaways and lessons learned without lecturing. Show rather than tell whenever possible. Do not tell what you have learned. Instead, tell what you did differently. This will allow your story to shine without sounding preachy.

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