Writing Process: Purpose of a Narrative Essay

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12887

Everybody has a story to tell. You will be asked to tell a personal story sooner or later, whether it's about a vacation or a vaccination! Learn to tell your story in an interesting, intelligent way!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type

Lesson Plan - Get It!

  • What is your favorite memory?
  • How can you write it down so others can enjoy it just like you remember it?

My favorite memory of my Grammy is decorating Christmas cookies:

Every November, she and her sisters would bake a ton of sugar cookies cut into all sorts of shapes. Stars, trees, stockings, and Santa Claus were some of the shapes in which the cookies were cut. They would get together after all the cookies had been baked and decorate cookies until they were finished. Most of the time, it took all day and all night. Grammy would always keep some cookies and let us help decorate them on a different day. She made us some icing to use and we were allowed to keep any cookies we decorated. It was so much fun! Grammy would hide some of the cookies she decorated and bring them out at Christmas so we could all enjoy them.

The paragraph above is a narrative paragraph. In a narrative paragraph or essay, you tell a story, most of the time about a personal experience you have had. However, you also make a point or have a meaning to relate through the story. The purpose is not only to entertain someone, but also to show the reason for the story by explaining the importance of the experience.

When you write a narrative essay, you will develop the events or experiences using good writing skills and descriptive details, and structure the events chronologically. The purpose is usually stated in the first sentence or topic sentence. Including dialogue is a good idea because it helps the reader learn more about your characters. You should write using sensory details and bright descriptions to involve the reader. All of these elements should blend together to form your narrative essay.

Follow the link and read the following student model of a narrative essay, titled The Great Paw Paw. After you read the essay, answer the following questions on a piece of paper, then check your answers in the interactive:

Biographies and autobiographies are also narrative writing because they tell the story of someone’s life. A biography is written by someone other than the person it is about, and an autobiography is written by the person himself or herself. Here is an excerpt of an autobiography, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl:

Sunday, 14 June, 1942

On Friday, June 12th, I woke up at six o’clock and no wonder; it was my birthday. But of course I was not allowed to get up at that hour, so I had to control my curiosity until a quarter to seven. Then I could bear it no longer, and went to the dining room, where I received a warm welcome from Moortje (the cat).

Soon after seven I went to Mummy and Daddy and then to the sitting room to undo my presents. The first to greet me was you, possibly the nicest of all. Then on the table there were a bunch of roses, a plant, and some peonies, and more arrived during the day.

I got masses of things from Mummy and Daddy, and was thoroughly spoiled by various friends. Among other things I was given Camera Obscura, a party game, lots of sweets, chocolates, a puzzle, a brooch, Tales and Legends of the Netherlands by Joseph Cohen, Daisy’s Mountain Holiday (a terrific book), and some money. Now I can buy The Myths of Greece and Rome — grand!

The excerpt above is only one of many autobiographies that are available to you. Biographies are also very interesting and wonderful examples of narrative writing. If you have a favorite historical figure, you should look in your library for biographies and autobiographies about him or her to read. The more your read, the better you write.

As you look for narrative pieces to read, remember to try to read a variety of types to expand your understanding of narrative writing. You want to look for fiction and non-fiction pieces to read.

Continue to the Got It? section to learn more about how a narrative piece is organized.

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