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Choosing an Appropriate Topic for a Narrative Essay

One of the most common types of essays you will write in school and throughout your life is a narrative essay. A narrative essay tells a true story and most often these types of essays are derived from the writer's life and experiences. This is your chance to tell your readers something about you. When writing a narrative essay, you generally do not have to do any type of research since the essay involves a topic you know well, yourself. You will still need to organize your paper and provide a plot, a climax, and a conclusion. If you've never written in this style before, you might take a moment to read some famous narrations so that you have an idea as to how to proceed.

Before Beginning

Read some of these essays by writers who are known for their storytelling abilities.

"My Watch: An Instructive Little Tale" or “Two Ways of Seeing a River” by Mark Twain
"Walking" by Henry David Thoreau
"Sojourner Truth: The Libyan Sibyl" by Harriet Beecher Stowe
"A Hanging" by George Orwell

When reading these essays, pay close attention to the way these authors organize their works. As a writer, your job is to use specific details to show readers what is happening, not to merely tell them about it. This means that your writing should be as visual as possible and will often include emotional language.
Finding a topic for a narrative essay can be difficult, but these types of essays do tend to work best when you relate your own experiences. Remember, you don't necessarily need to relate any type of weighty truths about the world and humanity's place in it, but rather you simply need to effectively relate a truth about your life.

Childhood Memories

Think about your childhood for a moment. Do you recall any people, places, or things that made an impact on you? This could be a pet, a favorite teacher, a friend, a special holiday, a “secret” hiding place such as a treehouse, or even the first time you read a book by your favorite author. You could also include less positive firsts such as the first time you had to say goodbye to somebody special or the death of a pet. Try not to rely upon adjectives to convey your emotions, but instead utilize verbs to paint a picture for your readers.

Pivotal Moments

Most people have had an experience that changed their lives completely. This can be a big move, a marriage, a birth, a graduation, or any other life-changingl moments that helped you move from one phase of your life to another. They might also be smaller, quieter moments whose significance you missed until much later.

Describe a journey that had an impact upon your life. This can be an actual physical trip from one place to another or a spiritual journey. Explain why this was important to your life. Provide your reader with some vignettes to model the changes you found at the end of the journey as opposed to your life before beginning the journey.

People and Places

Think about places you have been throughout your life that have made an impact upon you. This can be a childhood memory or it might be somewhere you go regularly as an adult. Describe this location to your readers and its importance to your life. Memories of this place might be positive, but negative ones make good narrative essay material as well.

Most people have had a significant relationship in their lives, either with a parent or grandparent, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or school mates. Describe an important relationship in your life and the effect it had on you. If it changed you, try to describe the way you were before the relationship using specific memories as well as a description of how you are today.

More on the topic:

Guide to Grammar and Writing: Narrative and Descriptive