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295 personal narrative ideas: diverse topics for your essay.

January 6, 2022

295 Personal Narrative Ideas

Personal narrative writing involves writing about a real-life experience. It’s like non-fiction. You’re writing a story about yourself because it happened to you. At some point, your stories are the perfect personal narrative writing ideas because they are yours.

This way, you get to connect with people. As a student in high school, college, middle school, or university, you can impress your teachers or professors with good personal narrative topics. By choosing the perfect topic, you can create a stellar essay to earn high grades.

Characteristics of a Good Personal Narrative Piece

As a kind of writing which relies on individual experience, your story must:

Have a Clear Purpose This could be a narration of why the story is important to you. The purpose of the story must be clearly expressed without making direct statements about it. Organized Facts and Events The fact you are writing a story about your life doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be organized. You should write sequentially as much as possible to make it organized and lucid. Sensory Description You must also describe your feeling in a way the audience can connect with it. If you need to describe how the cold touch of rain sliced through your skin on a winter dawn, do it. Let your audience feel it as much as you felt it. Involve Readers Your readers must feel important while reading your story. To achieve this, your story must carry them along. If there’s something you need to explain, explain it to make everything clear to them. Include Conflict A story is incomplete without conflicts. This is why you must create enthralling conflicts for your characters. The higher the stake, the better the feelings when the protagonist scales through it.

All these, in addition to a thesis statement are all important features that must be seen in any personal narrative writing.

The Structure of a Personal Narrative Essay

After knowing what your personal essay must have as its features, you must also structure your essay properly. To do this, you should follow this organizational structure:

  • Introduction

This is where you grab your readers’ attention. You should set the scene where major characters of the story are also introduced. After this, discuss the role of the argument and introduce the characters. Your introduction must be captivating. Note that you’re writing a story, not a paper.

This is where everything about the story is shared. You must add all the details you know to your story. For instance, the hiking experience must be profoundly discussed, and so do the events that changed you. If you also want to talk about people, describe them. Doing this lets you show your readers, not tell them the story. When you need to change the course of the story, you can write in a new paragraph.

Our list will be extremely helpful to start your essay, but we can assist you even more along the whole process if you want to pay for essay online and save your time for something more entertaining.

Personal Narrative Writing Prompts

As students, one of the most important essays you may ever write is a personal narrative one. This is one of the ways to reveal yourself to strangers and friends. It’s a way to knows more about yourself and other people. You can consider these ideas for a personal narrative piece:

  • Identify your most threatening challenges
  • What would you say are your survival strategies?
  • How do you cope when you fail?
  • Would you say that you can’t succeed unless you fail?
  • Discuss what you do to achieve your goals
  • Do you think “leave your comfort zone” is a sham?
  • What do you think about yourself when you’re scared?
  • Would you say you don’t mind loneliness?
  • What does crying mean to you?
  • What are your fears?
  • Do you harbor superstitions, what are they?
  • Do you feel no one is seeing you as they should
  • Write about your rules for life
  • Write about your response to bullies
  • Write about how you give yourself peace
  • How do you relax within the limited time you have to yourself?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • How do you integrate feedback to improve?
  • Would you say becoming an adult is difficult?
  • What is the responsibility that scares you the most and why?
  • When was your saddest day and why was it?
  • How does stress not make anything easy for you?
  • Do you act anyhow when you’re provoked?
  • How do you perform under pressure?
  • Can you discuss what makes you happy?
  • Discuss what criticism means and how you take them in
  • Discuss what your decision-making process is like
  • Explain what motivates you the most
  • Do you think you have self-control
  • Are you presently easy or hard on yourself to reach your goals?
  • Can you work under any circumstances?
  • Do you think you’re a creative person?
  • What are the conditions that helped you maximize your potentials
  • Would you say you’re emotionally intelligent?
  • Would you say you can perform the most when you collaborate
  • Are you ready for the competitive workplace?
  • Would you say you’re a great speaker?
  • Would you say you’re a better listener?
  • Do you think you’re an agreeable person?
  • Discuss what you think about peer pressure.

Personal Narrative Essay Ideas

For your personal essays, how do you discover great essay ideas? You can consider custom personal narrative prompts which are unique to specific events. Some of the topics which are target-oriented are:

  • Discuss a time you took more risks than others
  • What makes you a daredevil?
  • What has made you brave?
  • Would you say you’re impulsive?
  • Discuss your strategies against boredom
  • What are the pranks you’ve ever fallen for
  • How do you apologize when you’re wrong?
  • Do you think you’re a cynical person?
  • Discuss three things that annoy you
  • Would you say you’re materialistic?
  • Do you consider yourself a minimalist?
  • How do you say goodbye?
  • Are you on the right or the left?
  • What do you think people think about you?
  • Why do you think what others think should matter?
  • Write about your role model
  • Would you say you’re weird?
  • Would you say you’re a nonconformist?
  • Do you believe in magic?
  • Why should you be inspired by people?
  • Do you think your role models are heroes?
  • Would you think role models must be famous
  • Outside your family, are you a different person?
  • Within your family, do you want to be someone else?
  • Which live show do you love the most?
  • Discuss how someone has made a difference in your life
  • What are the kinds of music you like?
  • Discuss what you’d put in a thank you note
  • Write what you’d do if you’re to invite your enemies to dinner
  • Recall a time to speak to a large audience of people and write how it felt
  • Do you think family is everything?
  • Do you think you can’t be anything without family?
  • Would you say you want to change your role in the family?
  • What are the programs that keep you closer?
  • If your life would be a movie, which of the autobiographies would it be?
  • Choose a profession of your choice and discuss why
  • What do you think about sacrifice?
  • Discuss a family treasure
  • Would you say you have hobbies someone has adopted
  • Why are you called your name?

Personal Narrative Ideas High School

As high school students, you also need to develop personal narrative essays. These could be essays about your parents, neighbors, or your home. Choose from these personal narrative ideas for high school students:

  • Describe your relationship with your parents?
  • Would you say your parents permit you?
  • Discuss the freedom your parents give you
  • Do you think your curfew hours make it difficult to live?
  • Would you say you enjoy your parents, why?
  • Would you prefer to be a parent too?
  • What do your parents do with your bad report card?
  • Would you say parenting is difficult?
  • Do your parents like online learning?
  • Are your parents hard on you to do things?
  • Do you think parenting could be something to be embarrassed by?
  • How did your parents influence the school you attended?
  • Do your parents let you create things on your own?
  • Do you think you have great teachers and patients?
  • What will your neighbors say about you?
  • Which characters perfectly describe your neighbors and why?
  • What is a common slogan in your environment?
  • What are the TV shows you can’t stop watching?
  • What do you think about supporting community sport?
  • Write about the mayor of your city
  • Where is your favorite place?
  • Write about your favorite joint
  • Write about a park you love
  • Discuss how you spend time with nature
  • Would you say you see bad things every day?
  • Do you love your home?
  • What is your favorite ad slogan and why?
  • What does chatting with the police feel like?
  • Have you ever been assaulted?
  • Do you think you’re easily annoyed?

Personal Narrative Topic Ideas

If you’d love to discuss anything at all, there are tons of custom ideas on narrative writing. Some personal narrative ideas are also based on religion, sexuality, race, and many other issues of the world today. Consider:

  • Would you say you have no religion?
  • Do you think the older generations are too religious?
  • Write about how you know about other religions
  • Write about what you know about other religions
  • Discuss the difference between male and female
  • Do you acknowledge the rights of trans people?
  • Do you think the LGTBQ is complicated?
  • Will you share parental responsibilities?
  • What do you know about sex?
  • What do you know about gender issues?
  • What is your experience of love?
  • How does being a ‘real man’ feel?
  • Do you think you can be biased?
  • Is there a difference in the ways sons and daughters are treated in the home?
  • Should there a more pressure on daughters than men
  • Discuss your racial identity and why it’s important to talk about it
  • Would you say you’re a feminist?
  • Discuss your encounter with sexual harassment
  • Discuss what you think about catcalling
  • What do you think about social hierarchies?
  • Discuss the last time you interacted with someone of another race
  • Do you think you have racial biases too?
  • Would you say you experienced racism before, as black
  • Which one is more important to you: money or love
  • Are you happy with yourself?
  • Would you say money can’t buy happiness too?
  • What do you pay attention to the most in the world?
  • Do you think it’s okay to be addicted to phones
  • How do you teach people about money?
  • What are the most important things in your life?

Personal Narrative Writing Ideas

As an attempt to discuss something that deals with people’s daily affairs, good ideas for personal narrative may be hard to come by. Rather than go through the trouble of finding how to think of ideas for a personal narrative, these are custom ideas for you:

  • What are the things that matter most for you?
  • Narrate what you hope to have in your dream home
  • Narrate your experience as if you’d lived in the woods
  • Narrate your most fun childhood memory
  • Discuss what your passion was as a child
  • Explain what you loved most as a child
  • Write about your favorite childhood shows and books
  • Discuss your favorite childhood picture book
  • Write about your childhood influences
  • Discuss your childhood most loved places
  • Discuss the little things your parents did they made you happy
  • Write about the first time you went out with your parents
  • Narrate your experience of a swing
  • What was your favorite song as a child? Write a response to it
  • Which food do you wish you’d eaten as a child
  • Narrate what made a gift the best you ever had
  • Write about what your most memorable letter
  • Write about the divorce of a family friend or neighbor
  • Discuss the consequence of separation from a state
  • Write about how migrated from a place to another
  • Write about how angry your father or mother could be at themselves
  • Write about your favorite memories of sleepovers
  • How did it feel when you found something you thought you’d lost?
  • What are your most prized lessons of teenage years?
  • Would you do something else differently not as an adult when you were 13?
  • Narrate the achievements that made you proud
  • Discuss the rites you engaged in
  • Write about your message to the older generation
  • Write a message to the younger generation
  • Describe yourself as if you’re a 13-year-old right now
  • Share a story of your ethical dilemma
  • Discuss your sex experience; whether you had it not
  • Write about something you cared about that you shouldn’t have
  • Write about something you didn’t care about but you should have
  • Discuss the last time you collected money from a stranger
  • Write about the last time a stranger kissed you
  • Discuss your memorable lying experience
  • Narrate your experience with drugs
  • Explain your experience with gossiping
  • Have you ever cheated in exams?

Personal Narrative Ideas College

As a college student, you can also develop incredible personal narrative pieces. Through these pieces, you can connect with your colleagues and share your ideas. Consider these personal narrative prompts:

  • Why did you choose the screen time you chose?
  • What would you do without a smartphone?
  • Narrate your gaming experiences and the thrill you feel
  • Write about the apps that do nothing but reduce you
  • Would you say tech takes a huge responsibility for change in your life?
  • Would you say you are interested in technology?
  • What is your experience of religion?
  • What is your experience of God?
  • Narrate if you’ve had an encounter with God or religion before
  • Explain what you’d do if you have control over others
  • Narrate what you would control if you can
  • Narrate what you can do without thinking otherwise
  • What would you say are your best features of YouTube
  • Narrate your experience of a date over the internet
  • Narrate your experience of seeking to advice online
  • Discuss your favorite online sports
  • Write about your online sad story
  • Write about a terrible experience of bullying online
  • Discuss how you fact check what you read online
  • Write about how you express yourself online
  • Would you say you trust Wikipedia?
  • Would you say you enjoy online reviews?
  • What is your comment on porn?
  • Would you give your passwords out?
  • If you have a partner, will you share everything?
  • What would you do if you just made a fraudulent purchase?
  • Do you chat with anonymous people?
  • How do you keep your passwords safe?
  • Are there things your parents won’t believe that is on the internet?
  • Write about why you trust social media
  • What is your favorite Facebook experience?
  • What is your favorite Twitter experience?
  • What is your experience of wrong grammar structure online?
  • Did you ever go through Instagram feeds with envy?
  • Did you ever download a stranger’s picture because you like them?

Personal Narrative Ideas for Middle School

At this stage, you have also had plausible experiences of life. What can you say about your life, or your experiences? You can write from these interesting personal narrative ideas:

  • What do you know about poo divas and who’s your favorite?
  • Write about your first karaoke performance
  • Write about the artists you’d like lined up
  • Narrate your earliest connection with music
  • Narrate your earliest experience of music
  • Write about the most loving but sad thing that ever happened to you
  • Why do you avoid people?
  • Narrate your experience of being stalked
  • Discuss how you think social media has been abused
  • Tell a story about your most favorite songs
  • Tell a story about the music which has inspired you the most
  • Which television show would you bring back?
  • Which of your childhood commercials is your favorite?
  • Why do you prefer cartoons?
  • Discuss how television helped your family stay together
  • Narrate the work nature of your parents
  • Discuss your experience of being cheated
  • Which music star do you love?
  • Which music tells you about life?
  • Which artist tells stories the most?
  • How does the music you listen to Influence you?
  • Narrate what you think are the best period of your life yet
  • Narrate your favorite movies
  • Narrate a public performance experience
  • Discuss the bad things about horror movies
  • Write about your favorite comedians
  • Narrate your experience of gaming
  • Would you play violent games?
  • Do you think zombies are real?
  • Do you feel guilty or excited that you kill zombies?

Good Ideas for a Personal Narrative Essay

If you need to discuss cool events and languages, there are good personal narrative topics for you. Some of these topics are:

  • Narrate your experience at the museum
  • What is your favorite visual artist?
  • Discuss your most fascinating work of art
  • Write about the importance of education
  • Would you say you can’t live without art
  • Which words do you like using?
  • Which words don’t you like using?
  • What are the slangs you used to love?
  • What has changed since you started using some words
  • Would you call someone a shag? Why?
  • Which word do you think people use too much?
  • Narrate what you consider a great conversation
  • Discuss your time with a lover
  • Narrate your experience discussing with your mum
  • Narrate your experience discussing with your dad
  • Narrate your experience teaching your grandparents about something on a smartphone
  • Write about a time you felt you talked too much
  • Write about a time you used satires
  • Write about a time you attacked people but didn’t feel bad
  • What would you say are the most terrible things you’ve done?
  • If you had to learn a language, which would it be?
  • How do you use your body language and why do you use it?
  • If you can influence someone’s memory, what would it be and why would you do it?
  • Write about what stresses you the most about school without using F words or castigating anyone
  • Discuss what you once looked forward to but no longer look forward to
  • Would you rather take private classes, online classes, or physical classes with other students and why would you choose your choice?
  • Discuss your experience with bullying and what you could have done when you were bullied or when someone you know was bullied
  • Write about the kind of school you wish you had attended and the experience you wish you had had
  • Write about the things you hate the most about going to your religious places and the things you wish they had
  • Discuss what it would mean to not be educated at all.

Interesting Personal Narrative Ideas

There are also interesting personal narrative essay ideas across all classes. You can choose these essay ideas for your college, high school, middle school, or university assignments. Options to consider are:

  • What have you had to do which you didn’t like?
  • Discuss how best you once participated in class
  • Write about a memorable experience of school you wish were yours
  • Write about a memorable experience of a relationship you wish you could have
  • Discuss your first encounter with a difficult subject and write when you realize you may fail the course
  • Tell a story about what you thought is fascinating about relationships that are no longer fascinating?
  • Tell a story about what you think about digital skills and why it is important in the future
  • Would you say that programming and computer coding offers more opportunities than any other skills?
  • Narrate a terrible experience of yours after you failed an exam and what your parents did
  • Narrate the saddest day in class for you
  • You were invited to speak to your class about how you spent your weekend or holiday, what were the things that ran through your mind and did you speak?
  • Like your friends, you had many terrible and shameful experiences while studying simply because you’re a shy person, narrate some of the most important and terrible moments of your school life
  • Write a story about a teacher you would like to appreciate detailing the important things the teacher had done to you without isolating the bad things he or she had also done
  • Discuss the textbook you ever felt disgusted with and why you did
  • Do you think your teachers are as vast with technology as they ought to be, and would you feel bad if you had insulted them at one time or the other when you were young?
  • Narrate the most arousing party you went to focusing on the sensory details which made it different from other parties and proms
  • If you will deliver a speech about the horribleness of physical bullying or cyberbullying, focusing on experiences that could make people cry, how would you write the speech and how would you perform it?
  • Would you flog students you considered rebellious in your class if you were a teacher, even if the student is truly stubborn and should have probably been in a juvenile center?
  • What are the mental health issues you wish people had talked about the most when you were in high school?
  • If you could talk to the authorities about the things you think were important for students which weren’t done, what would they be, and how would you do it?

Get Narrative Essay Help

With these exciting topics, you can create a professional personal narrative essay based on your adult or childhood experiences. However, if you need someone to write your essay or assignment, you can hire top-notch writers online.

We are one of the best professional writing services with years of experience writing for college, high school, and university students. We have professors and teachers in our team who create essays to help students score high grades. If you’d like to make the best submission, you can hire these writers.

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Telling the Story of Yourself: 6 Steps to Writing Personal Narratives

Jennifer Xue

Jennifer Xue

writing personal narratives

Table of Contents

Why do we write personal narratives, 6 guidelines for writing personal narrative essays, inspiring personal narratives, examples of personal narrative essays, tell your story.

First off, you might be wondering: what is a personal narrative? In short, personal narratives are stories we tell about ourselves that focus on our growth, lessons learned, and reflections on our experiences.

From stories about inspirational figures we heard as children to any essay, article, or exercise where we're asked to express opinions on a situation, thing, or individual—personal narratives are everywhere.

According to Psychology Today, personal narratives allow authors to feel and release pains, while savouring moments of strength and resilience. Such emotions provide an avenue for both authors and readers to connect while supporting healing in the process.

That all sounds great. But when it comes to putting the words down on paper, we often end up with a list of experiences and no real structure to tie them together.

In this article, we'll discuss what a personal narrative essay is further, learn the 6 steps to writing one, and look at some examples of great personal narratives.

As readers, we're fascinated by memoirs, autobiographies, and long-form personal narrative articles, as they provide a glimpse into the authors' thought processes, ideas, and feelings. But you don't have to be writing your whole life story to create a personal narrative.

You might be a student writing an admissions essay , or be trying to tell your professional story in a cover letter. Regardless of your purpose, your narrative will focus on personal growth, reflections, and lessons.

Personal narratives help us connect with other people's stories due to their easy-to-digest format and because humans are empathising creatures.

We can better understand how others feel and think when we were told stories that allow us to see the world from their perspectives. The author's "I think" and "I feel" instantaneously become ours, as the brain doesn't know whether what we read is real or imaginary.

In her best-selling book Wired for Story, Lisa Cron explains that the human brain craves tales as it's hard-wired through evolution to learn what happens next. Since the brain doesn't know whether what you are reading is actual or not, we can register the moral of the story cognitively and affectively.

In academia, a narrative essay tells a story which is experiential, anecdotal, or personal. It allows the author to creatively express their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and opinions. Its length can be anywhere from a few paragraphs to hundreds of pages.

Outside of academia, personal narratives are known as a form of journalism or non-fiction works called "narrative journalism." Even highly prestigious publications like the New York Times and Time magazine have sections dedicated to personal narratives. The New Yorke is a magazine dedicated solely to this genre.

The New York Times holds personal narrative essay contests. The winners are selected because they:

had a clear narrative arc with a conflict and a main character who changed in some way. They artfully balanced the action of the story with reflection on what it meant to the writer. They took risks, like including dialogue or playing with punctuation, sentence structure and word choice to develop a strong voice. And, perhaps most important, they focused on a specific moment or theme – a conversation, a trip to the mall, a speech tournament, a hospital visit – instead of trying to sum up the writer’s life in 600 words.

In a nutshell, a personal narrative can cover any reflective and contemplative subject with a strong voice and a unique perspective, including uncommon private values. It's written in first person and the story encompasses a specific moment in time worthy of a discussion.

Writing a personal narrative essay involves both objectivity and subjectivity. You'll need to be objective enough to recognise the importance of an event or a situation to explore and write about. On the other hand, you must be subjective enough to inject private thoughts and feelings to make your point.

With personal narratives, you are both the muse and the creator – you have control over how your story is told. However, like any other type of writing, it comes with guidelines.

1. Write Your Personal Narrative as a Story

As a story, it must include an introduction, characters, plot, setting, climax, anti-climax (if any), and conclusion. Another way to approach it is by structuring it with an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should set the tone, while the body should focus on the key point(s) you want to get across. The conclusion can tell the reader what lessons you have learned from the story you've just told.

2. Give Your Personal Narrative a Clear Purpose

Your narrative essay should reflect your unique perspective on life. This is a lot harder than it sounds. You need to establish your perspective, the key things you want your reader to take away, and your tone of voice. It's a good idea to have a set purpose in mind for the narrative before you start writing.

Let's say you want to write about how you manage depression without taking any medicine. This could go in any number of ways, but isolating a purpose will help you focus your writing and choose which stories to tell. Are you advocating for a holistic approach, or do you want to describe your emotional experience for people thinking of trying it?

Having this focus will allow you to put your own unique take on what you did (and didn't do, if applicable), what changed you, and the lessons learned along the way.

3. Show, Don't Tell

It's a narration, so the narrative should show readers what happened, instead of telling them. As well as being a storyteller, the author should take part as one of the characters. Keep this in mind when writing, as the way you shape your perspective can have a big impact on how your reader sees your overarching plot. Don't slip into just explaining everything that happened because it happened to you. Show your reader with action.

dialogue tags

You can check for instances of telling rather than showing with ProWritingAid. For example, instead of:

"You never let me do anything!" I cried disdainfully.
"You never let me do anything!" To this day, my mother swears that the glare I levelled at her as I spat those words out could have soured milk.

Using ProWritingAid will help you find these instances in your manuscript and edit them without spending hours trawling through your work yourself.

4. Use "I," But Don't Overuse It

You, the author, take ownership of the story, so the first person pronoun "I" is used throughout. However, you shouldn't overuse it, as it'd make it sound too self-centred and redundant.

ProWritingAid can also help you here – the Style Report will tell you if you've started too many sentences with "I", and show you how to introduce more variation in your writing.

5. Pay Attention to Tenses

Tense is key to understanding. Personal narratives mostly tell the story of events that happened in the past, so many authors choose to use the past tense. This helps separate out your current, narrating voice and your past self who you are narrating. If you're writing in the present tense, make sure that you keep it consistent throughout.

tenses in narratives

6. Make Your Conclusion Satisfying

Satisfy your readers by giving them an unforgettable closing scene. The body of the narration should build up the plot to climax. This doesn't have to be something incredible or shocking, just something that helps give an interesting take on your story.

The takeaways or the lessons learned should be written without lecturing. Whenever possible, continue to show rather than tell. Don't say what you learned, narrate what you do differently now. This will help the moral of your story shine through without being too preachy.

GoodReads is a great starting point for selecting read-worthy personal narrative books. Here are five of my favourites.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen, the author of 386 books, wrote this poetic story about a daughter and her father who went owling. Instead of learning about owls, Yolen invites readers to contemplate the meaning of gentleness and hope.

Night by Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. This Holocaust memoir has a strong message that such horrific events should never be repeated.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

This classic is a must-read by young and old alike. It's a remarkable diary by a 13-year-old Jewish girl who hid inside a secret annexe of an old building during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1942.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

This is a personal narrative written by a brave author renowned for her clarity, passion, and honesty. Didion shares how in December 2003, she lost her husband of 40 years to a massive heart attack and dealt with the acute illness of her only daughter. She speaks about grief, memories, illness, and hope.

Educated by Tara Westover

Author Tara Westover was raised by survivalist parents. She didn't go to school until 17 years of age, which later took her to Harvard and Cambridge. It's a story about the struggle for quest for knowledge and self-reinvention.

Narrative and personal narrative journalism are gaining more popularity these days. You can find distinguished personal narratives all over the web.

Curating the best of the best of personal narratives and narrative essays from all over the web. Some are award-winning articles.

Narratively

Long-form writing to celebrate humanity through storytelling. It publishes personal narrative essays written to provoke, inspire, and reflect, touching lesser-known and overlooked subjects.

Narrative Magazine

It publishes non,fiction narratives, poetry, and fiction. Among its contributors is Frank Conroy, the author of Stop-Time , a memoir that has never been out of print since 1967.

Thought Catalog

Aimed at Generation Z, it publishes personal narrative essays on self-improvement, family, friendship, romance, and others.

Personal narratives will continue to be popular as our brains are wired for stories. We love reading about others and telling stories of ourselves, as they bring satisfaction and a better understanding of the world around us.

Personal narratives make us better humans. Enjoy telling yours!

ideas to write a personal narrative on

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Love writing? ProWritingAid will help you improve the style, strength, and clarity of your stories.

Jennifer Xue is an award-winning e-book author with 2,500+ articles and 100+ e-books/reports published under her belt. She also taught 50+ college-level essay and paper writing classes. Her byline has appeared in Forbes, Fortune, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Business.com, Business2Community, Addicted2Success, Good Men Project, and others. Her blog is JenniferXue.com. Follow her on Twitter @jenxuewrites].

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How to Write a Personal Narrative [in 10 Easy Steps]

This blog post will explain how to write a personal narrative by exploring how to craft engaging personal narratives, drawing on your own experiences and emotions.

Table of Contents

Do you hate writing personal narratives? So did I, until I learned how to do it correctly. This blog post will explain how to write a personal narrative by exploring how to craft engaging personal narratives, drawing on your own experiences and emotions. So pull up a chair, get comfortable, and let’s get started!

What is a Personal Narrative?

A personal narrative is a story about a significant event in your life. It can be funny, heartwarming, painful, or all of the above. The key is that it needs to be meaningful to you somehow.

Think back to the last personal narrative you wrote. Chances are, you started with a scene: maybe you were climbing a tree on a hot summer day or looking out at the snow-capped mountains from your window on a frigid winter night.

Whatever the scene, it was likely something that stirred up strong emotions within you and compelled you to write about it. And that’s the key to writing a good personal narrative: start with a scene that will hook your readers and make them feel something.

A personal narrative essay is usually based on a single event that significantly impacted the writer. It could be something as small as a childhood memory or as momentous as a life-changing event.

The important thing is that the event should have affected you and that you can share what happened clearly and interestingly.

Why Write a Personal Narrative?

There are many reasons why you might want to write a personal narrative. Maybe you want to share a funny story about something that happened to you, or maybe you want to write about a time when you faced a challenge and overcame it.

Personal narratives can also be used to communicate important lessons that you’ve learned in life. By sharing your experiences, you can help others learn from your mistakes or inspire them to face their own challenges.

Whatever your reason for writing a personal narrative, remember that your goal is to connect with your reader and make them feel something. With that in mind, let’s move on to some tips for how to write a personal narrative

Features of a Personal Narrative

When writing a personal narrative, it’s important to keep the following features in mind:

First-person point of view: Personal narratives are usually written in first person, meaning they’re written from your perspective. This helps create a more intimate connection between you and the reader.

Dialog: Dialog, or conversation, can be a great way to add interest to a personal narrative. It can also help to further develop the characters in your story.

Vivid descriptions: Personal narratives are all about painting a picture for the reader. Be sure to use descriptive language to bring your story to life.

Emotional appeal: As we mentioned before, personal narratives should stir up strong emotions in the reader. Whether you’re writing about a funny moment or a life-changing event, your goal is to connect with your reader on an emotional level.

Now that we’ve gone over some of the key features of a personal narrative, let’s move on to the next step: brainstorming ideas for your narrative.

Brainstorming Ideas for Your Personal Narrative

One of the best ways to come up with ideas for a personal narrative is to brainstorm a list of potential topics. To get you started, here are some prompts that you can use to spark your creativity:

  • A time when you faced a challenge
  • An experience that changed your life
  • A memory that makes you laugh or cry
  • A place that’s special to you
  • A relationship that’s significant to you
  • A hobby or interest you’re passionate about
  • Something you’re afraid of
  • A time when you felt embarrassed or ashamed
  • A moment when you were proud of yourself
  • A time when you made a mistake

Once you’ve brainstormed a list of potential topics, it’s time to choose the one that you’re going to write about.

To do that, ask yourself the following questions:

What’s the most memorable experience I want to write about?

What’s the best way to tell this story?

What details can I include to make this story more interesting?

What lessons have I learned from this experience?

By asking yourself these questions, you should be able to narrow down your list of potential topics to the one that you’re going to write about.

Now that we’ve gone over how to brainstorm and choose a topic for your personal narrative let’s move on to the next step: creating an outline.

Creating an Outline for Your Personal Narrative

Once you’ve chosen your topic, it’s time to start planning your story. The best way to do that is to create an outline.

Here’s a basic outline for a personal narrative:

Introduction:

Start with a hook or an interesting opening that will grab the reader’s attention. Then, give some background information about your topic. Finally, explain what you’re going to write about in your story.

Body paragraphs:

In the body paragraphs of your narrative, you’ll need to include enough detail to bring your story to life and make it interesting for the reader. Be sure to include sensory details, dialogue, and other elements to help create a vivid picture for the reader.

Conclusion:

In the conclusion of your narrative, you’ll want to wrap up your story and leave the reader with a strong final impression. You can share the lessons you learned from your experience or explain how this experience has affected you. By creating an outline before you start writing, you’ll be able to organize your thoughts and ensure that your story flows smoothly.

Now that we’ve gone over how to create an outline for your personal narrative, let’s move on to the next step: writing your story.

How to Write a Personal Narrative: 9 Tips

Now that we’ve answered the question.”What is a personal narrative?” and discussed some reasons why you might want to write one, it’s time to get started! Here are nine tips for how to write a personal narrative that will resonate with your readers:

1. Start with a scene

As we mentioned, the best way to hook your reader is to start with a scene. This could be a specific event that you remember vividly, or it could be an ongoing experience you feel strongly about.

Whichever route you choose, set the scene by providing enough details for your reader to picture what’s going on. If you’re writing about a specific event, describe where it took place, the weather, who was there, and what you were doing.

If you’re writing about an ongoing experience, describe the setting in detail and provide some background information on why it’s significant to you.

2. Use strong verbs

Once you’ve set the scene, it’s time to move into the action. Use strong verbs to describe what’s happening and help your reader feel like they’re right there in the thick of things.

For example, instead of saying, “I was walking down the street,” you could say, “I strutted down the street.” The verb “strut” adds attitude and makes the scene more interesting to read.

Likewise, instead of saying, “I was scared,” you could say, “I quaked with fear.” This not only sounds more interesting, but it also provides insight into your emotional state at the time.

3. Use sensory details

In addition to using strong verbs, another way to make your readers feel like they’re in the scene is to use sensory details. Describe what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.

For example, if you’re writing about a time when you were very scared, you might say: “My heart pounded in my chest, and I felt like I was going to vomit.” Using these types of details, you can help your reader feel the same emotions you felt at the time.

4. Be honest

One of the most important things to remember when writing a personal narrative is, to be honest. Don’t try to make yourself look better or worse than you are – just write about what happened as truthfully as you can.

Being honest doesn’t mean you have to share everything – sometimes, it’s okay to leave out details that are too personal or hurtful. But in general, try to be as open and truthful as you can about your experiences.

5. Avoid cliches

When writing a personal narrative, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using cliches. For example, you might be tempted to say something like, “It was a dark and stormy night,” or “I had an epiphany.”

While there’s nothing wrong with using a well-known phrase every once in a while, try to avoid relying on them too much. Instead, challenge yourself to be creative and develop your own way of describing things.

6. Write in first person

When writing a personal narrative, it’s important to write in first person. This means using “I” statements, such as “I walked down the street.”

Writing in first person gives your story a more personal feel and allows your readers to connect with you more easily.

7. Use flashbacks sparingly

While flashbacks can be a great way to provide background information or add intrigue to your story, they should be used sparingly. If you use too many flashbacks, it can be confusing for your reader and make your story less cohesive.

If you do decide to use a flashback, make sure it’s relevant to the current story and that you provide enough context for your reader to understand what’s going on.

8. Write a strong ending

The ending of your personal narrative is just as important as the beginning. After all, this is the part of the story your reader will remember the most.

One way to end your story on a strong note is to tie everything back to the main theme or moral of the story. For example, if you’re writing about a time when you overcame a challenge, you might say, “I learned that I was stronger than I thought I was.”

Another way to create a strong ending is to leave your reader with a question or a cliffhanger. This will make them think about your story long after reading it.

9. Edit and revise

Once you’ve finished writing your personal narrative, editing and revising your work is important. This will help you fix any errors and ensure your story is as strong as it can be.

When editing, pay attention to spelling, grammar, and punctuation. You should also make sure your story flows smoothly and that there are no plot holes.

narrative, it’s important to edit and revise it. This will help you fix any errors and ensure your story is as strong as it can be.

Consider using Grammarly to help you with editing. This tool can catch grammar mistakes that you might miss. It’s also a great way to improve your writing skills in general.

When revising your story, ask yourself if there’s anything you can add or remove to make it better. Sometimes, less is more. Removing unnecessary details can make your story more impactful.

Finally, make sure the overall structure of your story makes sense. This includes the order of events and how each scene transitions into the next.

10. Publish your story

Once you’re happy with your story, it’s time to share it with the world. There are a few different ways you can do this.

If you want to keep your story private, you could simply save it on your computer or print it out. You could also bind it into a book or create a digital book using a program like Scrivener.

If you’re interested in sharing your story with a wider audience, you could submit it to a literary magazine or website. You could also self-publish your story as an ebook or print book.

No matter how you share your story, just remember that the most important thing is that you’re happy with it. Don’t worry about what other people think—just focus on creating a story you’re proud of.

Examples of Personal Narratives

Now that you know how to write a personal narrative, it’s time to see some examples. Reading examples of personal narratives can give you an idea of how to structure your story.

Below, you’ll find a few examples of personal narratives. The first compelling personal narrative is about a young woman’s experience with her father, and the second is about a young boy’s experience at summer camp.

Example 1: “My Father and I”

I was always close with my father, but it wasn’t until I went away to college that I realized how much he truly meant to me.

Growing up, my father was always busy with work. He was a successful lawyer, and his job often required him to travel. As a result, I didn’t see him as much as I would have liked.

When I left for college, I was nervous about being away from home. But my father assured me that everything would be okay. He told me he was always there for me, even if he couldn’t be there in person.

Throughout my first year of college, my father and I texted each other almost daily. He would ask me about my classes, and I would tell him about my friends and what I was doing. Even though we were so far apart, it was great to connect with him.

Then, one day, I got a call from my father. He sounded strange, and he told me he had some bad news. He had been diagnosed with cancer.

I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. All I could think about was how much I wanted to be with him.

Fortunately, my father’s cancer was caught early, and he was able to receive treatment. I flew home as soon as possible and spent the next few months helping him recover.

Although it was difficult, it also brought my father and me closer together. We talked more than ever, and I could finally see how much he truly loved me.

Now, my father is healthy and happy. We still text each other almost daily, and I cherish our relationship more than ever.

Example 2: “My Summer at Camp”

When I was ten years old, I went to summer camp for the first time. I was nervous about being away from home, but I was also excited to meet new people and try new things.

As soon as I arrived at camp, I made a beeline for the nearest bunk. I had been assigned to a bunk with other ten-year-old girls and was eager to get to know them.

However, I soon realized that the other girls in my bunk didn’t want to be friends with me. They would exclude me from their games and conversations and often make fun of me.

I was hurt and confused. I didn’t understand why they didn’t like me.

One day, I decided to take a walk around camp. I had always loved exploring, hoping to find someplace new to play.

As I was walking, I heard laughter coming from a nearby cabin. I walked closer and saw a group of girls my age playing together. They looked like they were having so much fun.

I hesitated for a moment, unsure whether I should go over. But then I decided that there was nothing to lose. So, I walked up to the group of girls and asked if I could join them.

At first, they were hesitant. But after a few minutes, they welcomed me into the group. We spent the rest of the summer playing together and becoming close friends.

That experience taught me a lot about friendship and acceptance. I learned that being different is okay and that there’s always a place for you somewhere.

Now, whenever I see someone who looks like they’re feeling left out, I make sure to include them. Because I know what it feels like to be excluded, and I don’t want anyone to feel that way.

Personal narratives are a great way to connect with your reader. They allow you to share your experiences and lessons learned relatable and engagingly. Hopefully, these examples have inspired you to start writing your personal narrative.

Happy writing!

A personal narrative is a story that recounts a writer’s personal experience.

What is the purpose of a Personal Narrative?

The purpose of a personal narrative is to share an experience that has affected the writer in some way. The goal is to connect with the reader and give them a glimpse into your life.

How long should a Personal Narrative be?

A personal narrative can be as short or as long as you want it to be. There is no set length for a personal narrative. However, it’s generally best to keep your story focused and concise.

Show Don’t Tell Writing Exercises: How To

Conversational style writing examples.

Willow Tenny

When it comes to writing, Willow Tenny is a true pro. She has a wealth of experience in SEO copywriting and creative writing, and she knows exactly what it takes to produce quality content. On her blog, Willow Writes, Willow shares top writing strategies with both beginners and experienced writers.

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From the ancient Pagan tradition to modern popular culture, the phrase "So Mote it Be" has been used for centuries with various meanings and intentions

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Daily Inspiration: 365 Writing Prompts for Personal Narratives

By: Author Paul Jenkins

Posted on September 5, 2023

Categories Writing

You’ve got a story itching to be told, but you’re not sure where to start. That’s where we step in!

This article guides you through creating compelling prompts for personal narratives. You’ll learn how to unearth ideas, structure your narrative, and polish your writing skills.

Get ready to turn life’s fleeting moments into timeless tales that captivate audiences. Start exploring now – who knows what incredible stories you’ll uncover?

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the structure of a personal narrative is important.
  • Dig deep within oneself for narrative ideas and emphasize emotional connections.
  • Customize prompts to resonate with individual stories and use vibrant language to inspire reflection.
  • Explore different narrative perspectives, enhance emotional impact, and make the words pulse with life to engage the audience.

365 Writing Prompts for Personal Narratives

Here are 365 writing prompts to inspire personal narratives:

  • Write about a vivid childhood memory.
  • Describe your first day of school.
  • Write about a time you got lost.
  • Describe a family tradition or holiday celebration.
  • Write about an embarrassing moment.
  • Describe a time you overcame a fear.
  • Write about your first job or work experience.
  • Describe a teacher who influenced you.
  • Write about a difficult decision you had to make.
  • Describe a major accomplishment.
  • Write about a time you failed at something. What did you learn?
  • Describe a place that is special to you. Why?
  • Write about a possession that is important to you. Why?
  • Describe a memorable experience with a friend.
  • Write about a time you stood up for someone else.
  • Write about a difficult challenge you faced.
  • Describe your favorite childhood toy.
  • Write about an experience that changed your perspective.
  • Describe a time you felt out of place. Why?
  • Write about a risk you took.
  • Describe a memorable trip or vacation.
  • Write about a time you learned a lesson the hard way.
  • Describe a fight or conflict you witnessed.
  • Write about a time you felt jealous or envious.
  • Describe an act of heroism you witnessed.
  • Write about a time luck or chance played a role in your life.
  • Describe a time you experienced culture shock.
  • Write about a difficult or uncomfortable family situation.
  • Describe a teacher who had an impact on you, good or bad.
  • Write about a time you felt proud of yourself or someone else.
  • Describe a memorable experience involving animals or pets.
  • Write about a time you experienced a moment of clarity or epiphany.
  • Describe a time you learned something unexpectedly.
  • Write about a major turning point in your life.
  • Describe a memorable meal you had. Why was it memorable?
  • Write about a time you overcame homesickness.
  • Describe a sports triumph or defeat.
  • Write about a time you were unfairly punished or blamed.
  • Describe a time you felt remorse or regret.
  • Write about a situation in which you misjudged someone initially.
  • Describe a time you got lost in a new or unfamiliar place. How did you handle it?
  • Write about a strange coincidence that occurred in your life.
  • Describe a memorable neighbors or childhood friend.
  • Write about a time you had to adapt to a new country or culture.
  • Describe a favorite hiding spot you had as a child. Why was it special?
  • Write about a struggle adjusting to a new school.
  • Describe a time you felt like an outsider. Why?
  • Write about a scary or disturbing movie scene or story. Why did it affect you?
  • Describe a memorable birthday or celebration.
  • Write about a person who affected your view of the world, for better or worse.
  • Describe a time you experienced unexplained or paranormal phenomena.
  • Write about an accomplishment that took years of practice or effort.
  • Describe a difficult journey you went on. Why was it memorable?
  • Write about a time you got blamed unfairly by someone else. How did you respond?
  • Describe a significant risk that paid off.
  • Write about a time you behaved unethically. What did you learn from it?
  • Describe a memorable weekend or trip with friends.
  • Write about a time you felt homesick. What did you miss the most?
  • Describe your first experience with death or loss. How did it affect you?
  • Write about an experience that left you disillusioned or disappointed.
  • Describe a time you got lost on your way to an event or place. What happened?
  • Write about a gift that had deep meaning or significance.
  • Describe an experience where you misjudged a dangerous situation or person.
  • Write about a time you felt really scared by something. What happened?
  • Describe a memorable experience involving music, concerts, or bands.
  • Write about an achievement you worked hard for.
  • Describe a time you failed or made a big mistake. What lesson did you learn?
  • Write about a person who shaped or influenced your identity.
  • Describe a time you took a risk that didn’t turn out as expected.
  • Write about a time you felt guilt or shame. Why?
  • Describe a memorable experience you had while traveling.
  • Write about an experience that changed your perspective on life.
  • Describe a time you stood up to injustice or fought for a cause.
  • Write about a person who had a big impact on who you are today.
  • Describe a childhood event that shaped your personality and identity.
  • Write about a difficult period or circumstance in your life. How did you get through it?
  • Describe a time you felt overwhelmed by something. How did you handle it?
  • Write about an accomplishment that took years of practice or effort to achieve.
  • Describe a memorable act of kindness or generosity you witnessed or received.
  • Write about an experience where you gained new wisdom or perspective.
  • Describe a time you had to be brave or courageous. What did you learn?
  • Write about a childhood dream you had back then. Did it come true?
  • Describe a situation where you had to adapt to an unfamiliar environment or culture.
  • Write about a person who encouraged or inspired you to pursue your dreams.
  • Describe a time you failed at an important goal. How did it affect you?
  • Write about a difficult period in your life. What insights did you gain?
  • Describe a memorable experience you had in nature or the outdoors.
  • Write about a time you were hospitalized or had a serious illness or injury.
  • Describe a childhood room or space that you remember vividly.
  • Write about an experience that shattered your assumptions or worldview.
  • Describe a memorable teacher who impacted your life.
  • Write about an experience where you gained confidence in yourself.
  • Describe a time you felt inadequate or lacked confidence. How did you overcome it?
  • Write about a difficult challenge that brought unexpected rewards when you overcame it.
  • Describe a memorable family celebration or tradition.
  • Write about an experience or relationship that changed the way you think.
  • Describe a time you felt unsupported or underappreciated in an endeavor.
  • Write about an experience where you had to overcome loneliness. What helped you through it?
  • Describe a person who changed your way of thinking about something important.
  • Write about a time you faced adversity and became stronger from it.
  • Describe a childhood event that you now see differently as an adult.
  • Write about an experience where you had to overcome prejudice or unfairness.
  • Describe a time you felt betrayed or let down by someone important to you.
  • Write about an achievement that took years of practice and perseverance to accomplish.
  • Describe a situation where you misjudged someone and had to reevaluate your assumptions.
  • Write about an experience that changed your outlook on life in an important way.
  • Describe a time you learned a difficult life lesson through experience.
  • Write about a childhood event that helped shape your personality and identity.
  • Describe a time your effort or hard work paid off in an important way.
  • Write about an experience that gave you new insight into yourself or others.
  • Describe a difficult period in your life. What did you learn from the experience?
  • Write about an event or relationship that widened your perspective.
  • Describe a time you overcame hardship through perseverance and inner strength.
  • Write about a risk that led to an unexpected opportunity or benefit.
  • Describe an experience that taught you an important truth about life.
  • Write about a childhood event that left a lasting impression on you.
  • Describe a time you had to be brave or courageous. What did it teach you about yourself?
  • Write about an achievement that required you to overcome self-doubt.
  • Describe a childhood memory that feels magical or special to recall.
  • Write about a difficult experience that made you wiser in the end.
  • Describe a time you felt powerful. What was the source of that feeling?
  • Describe a time you stood up for someone else.
  • Write about a situation where you had to overcome loneliness or isolation.
  • Describe a childhood event that you now see from a different perspective.
  • Write about a person who inspired you to make a positive change.
  • Describe a time you overcame stage fright or shyness.
  • Write about an experience that gave you new insight into your strengths.
  • Describe a childhood ritual or tradition that was important to you.
  • Write about a time you were treated unfairly because of a stereotype or assumption.
  • Describe a choice you made that had an unexpected outcome, for better or worse.
  • Write about an experience that demonstrated the power of teamwork.
  • Describe a difficult period in your life. What insights did you gain?
  • Write about a time you felt unsupported in an important endeavor.
  • Describe a childhood hiding place or secret fort. What made it special?
  • Write about an accomplishment that required persistence through many obstacles.
  • Describe a time you felt disillusioned with an organization or institution. Why?
  • Write about an experience that left you feeling inadequate or lacking in confidence. How did you respond?
  • Describe a childhood event that helped shape your identity and values.
  • Write about an achievement that took many tries and failures to accomplish.
  • Describe a time you overcame prejudice, unfairness, or mistreatment.
  • Write about an experience that profoundly shaped your worldview or outlook on life.
  • Describe a childhood dream you had back then. Did it come true? If not, how did your goals change?
  • Write about an accomplishment you worked hard for over a long period.
  • Describe a time you failed at an endeavor. What lessons did you take from it?
  • Write about a person who profoundly influenced your way of thinking.
  • Describe a difficult journey that led to an important realization.
  • Write about a childhood event that you remember vividly. What impressions stand out?
  • Describe a time you had to adapt to an unfamiliar environment or culture. What challenges did you face?
  • Write about an experience that required you to draw on inner strength or courage.
  • Describe a childhood ritual or tradition that left a lasting impression on you.
  • Write about a time you felt homesick. What comforted you?
  • Describe an event that shattered your assumptions or worldview. How did you respond?
  • Write about a risk that led to an unexpected opportunity.
  • Describe an endeavor where support from others made all the difference.
  • Write about an experience where your effort paid off in an important or meaningful way.
  • Write about a time you failed at a goal. How did it change your attitude toward success and failure?
  • Describe a childhood activity you engaged in over and over. What drew you to it?
  • Write about an experience that demonstrated the power of forgiveness.
  • Describe a childhood event that left you disillusioned. How did your perspective change over time?
  • Write about a difficult experience that made you stronger. What lessons did you take from it?
  • Describe a childhood memory that feels magical or dreamlike to recall.
  • Write about a time you felt remorse or regret. What did you learn from it?
  • Describe an experience that gave you new insight into yourself.
  • Write about a time your view of someone changed significantly, for better or worse.
  • Describe a childhood hideaway or fort that was a special place for you.
  • Write about a difficult period in your life. How did you manage to stay hopeful?
  • Describe an experience where your effort was not fairly rewarded or recognized. How did you respond?
  • Write about a childhood event that you now understand differently as an adult.
  • Describe an endeavor that required you to overcome loneliness or homesickness.
  • Write about an experience that taught you the value of perseverance.
  • Describe a time you felt inadequate or lacked self-confidence. What helped you overcome it?
  • Write about an accomplishment you are proud of achieving through dedication and effort.
  • Describe a struggle that ultimately made you stronger. What did you learn from it?
  • Write about a time you failed at something important. How did you respond?
  • Describe a childhood experience that you remember vividly. What images or impressions stand out?
  • Write about an event that led to a profound realization or moment of clarity.
  • Describe a difficult life event that changed your outlook in an important way.
  • Write about a risk that paid off unexpectedly.
  • Describe a time you overcame prejudice or unfair treatment.
  • Write about an experience that taught you an important truth.
  • Write about an accomplishment you had to persevere through challenges to achieve.
  • Describe a time you felt betrayed or let down. How did the experience affect you?
  • Write about an endeavor that required support from others to accomplish.
  • Describe a choice you made that had an unexpected outcome, good or bad. What did you learn?
  • Write about a difficult period that led to important personal growth.
  • Describe a childhood tradition that was important to you.
  • Write about an event that changed your perspective on life.
  • Describe a time you overcame self-doubt to accomplish something important.
  • Write about an experience where you misjudged a person or situation. How did your view change?
  • Describe an event that made you feel disillusioned or disappointed. How did you respond?
  • Write about an accomplishment you worked hard for over a long period of time.
  • Describe a childhood ritual you engaged in repeatedly. What drew you to it?
  • Write about a time your perspective on life shifted profoundly.
  • Describe an endeavor where perseverance through challenges led to an important achievement.
  • Write about a difficult experience that taught you a life lesson.
  • Describe a childhood event that stands out as especially vivid or magical in memory.
  • Write about a realization or insight that profoundly changed your worldview.
  • Describe a memorable teacher who had an impact on your life.
  • Write about an experience where your hard work and dedication paid off.
  • Describe an event that shattered your assumptions or beliefs at the time. How did it change you?
  • Write about a risk you took that led to an unexpected positive outcome.
  • Describe a childhood ritual or tradition that connected you with family or friends.
  • Write about a struggle that led to important personal growth and understanding.
  • Describe a realization about yourself that gave you new confidence or understanding.
  • Write about a difficult period in your life. How did you maintain hope?
  • Describe a memorable experience involving music or concerts. Why was it meaningful?
  • Write about an event that profoundly changed your worldview or beliefs at the time.
  • Describe a childhood activity you found soothing or comforting. Why did you enjoy it?
  • Describe a time you felt homesick or nostalgic. What did you miss most?
  • Write about an event that gave you new insight into your strengths.
  • Describe a risk or chance you took that paid off unexpectedly well.
  • Write about a struggle that ultimately helped you grow stronger.
  • Describe a childhood memory that feels almost dreamlike to recall.
  • Describe a time you felt inadequate or lacked self-confidence. How did you overcome it?
  • Write about a realization that profoundly changed your perspective.
  • Describe a difficult experience that taught you an important lesson.
  • Write about an endeavor where perseverance through setbacks led to an important achievement.
  • Describe a risk you took that led to an unexpected opportunity.
  • Write about a time you felt betrayed or disappointed by someone important to you. How did the experience impact you?
  • Describe an event that gave you new insight into someone else’s life or experiences.
  • Describe a struggle or difficult circumstance that made you stronger in the end. What lessons did it provide?
  • Write about a realization or moment of clarity that changed your perspective.
  • Describe a difficult experience that altered your worldview. What ultimately helped you move forward?
  • Write about an accomplishment requiring long-term effort and perseverance through obstacles to achieve.
  • Describe a time you felt out of place or like you didn’t belong. What did you learn from the experience?
  • Write about an experience that taught you to appreciate something you once took for granted.
  • Describe a childhood tradition that was important to your family.
  • Write about a realization that profoundly shifted your worldview or beliefs.
  • Describe a difficult period in your life when you had to overcome loneliness. What helped you through?
  • Describe a struggle that ultimately made you wiser and stronger. What lessons did it provide?
  • Write about a time you felt unsupported in an important endeavor. How did you maintain resilience?
  • Describe a childhood event that you remember vividly. What images or impressions stand out?
  • Write about an experience where your dedication and hard work paid off.
  • Write about a difficult life event that changed your perspective in an important way.
  • Write about a time you failed at something important. How did the experience impact you?
  • Describe an endeavor that required you to overcome homesickness or loneliness.
  • Describe a risk you took that led to an unexpected positive outcome.
  • Write about an accomplishment requiring dedication and perseverance over years.
  • Describe a struggle or setback that led to personal growth. What did you learn from the experience?
  • Write about a childhood event that helped shape your identity and values.
  • Describe a realization that profoundly changed your worldview or beliefs.
  • Write about a difficult period in your life. How did you maintain resilience?
  • Describe an experience where your effort was not fairly recognized. How did you respond?
  • Describe an event that shattered your assumptions or worldview at the time. How did you adapt?
  • Write about an experience where you misjudged a situation initially. How did your perspective change?
  • Write about a struggle that ultimately made you wiser and more resilient.
  • Write about a teacher who had an impact on your life.
  • Describe an accomplishment requiring dedication through challenges over years.
  • Write about an experience that gave you new insight into yourself.
  • Describe a difficult period in your life. What lessons did you take from it?
  • Describe a childhood event that you remember vividly. What images stand out?
  • Write about a time you felt unsupported in an endeavor. How did you maintain resilience?
  • Describe an experience that taught you an important truth.
  • Write about an event that led to a profound shift in your worldview or beliefs.
  • Write about a risk you took that paid off unexpectedly well.
  • Describe a struggle that ultimately made you wiser and stronger. What did you learn?
  • Write about a realization about yourself that gave you new insight or confidence.
  • Describe a difficult experience that taught you a life lesson. What was it?
  • Write about an accomplishment requiring dedication through challenges and setbacks.
  • Describe an event that led to an important shift in your perspective or worldview.
  • Describe a childhood tradition that connected you with family or friends.
  • Write about a struggle that ultimately helped you grow stronger. What lessons did it provide?
  • Describe an experience that gave you new insight into your strengths.
  • Describe a childhood event that helped shape your personality and values.
  • Write about an accomplishment requiring dedication through challenges over years.
  • Describe a realization that profoundly changed your perspective on something.
  • Write about a time you felt out of place or like you didn’t belong. What did you take from the experience?
  • Write about an endeavor where support from others made all the difference.
  • Describe a childhood tradition that connects you to family or heritage.
  • Write about a struggle or difficulty that led to important personal growth. What did you learn?
  • Describe an event that profoundly shaped your worldview at the time. How do you see it now?
  • Write about a realization or moment of clarity that changed your perspective profoundly.
  • Describe a challenging experience that made you wiser and stronger in the end.
  • Write about a childhood event that helped shape your values and identity.
  • Describe a time you felt homesick. What comforted you?
  • Write about a struggle that strengthened your resilience and perseverance. What did you learn?
  • Describe an experience that gave you new confidence in yourself.
  • Write about a difficult period in your life that led to personal growth.
  • Write about an event that profoundly changed your perspective or worldview.
  • Describe a challenging experience that taught you an important life lesson. What was it?
  • Write about a childhood memory that remains vivid and magical to you.
  • Describe a risk you took that paid off unexpectedly well.
  • Describe a struggle that led to important personal growth and understanding.
  • Describe an experience that profoundly changed your worldview or beliefs at the time.
  • Write about a realization that gave you new perspective on something important.
  • Write about an experience where perseverance through challenges led to an accomplishment.
  • Describe a childhood tradition that was special to you.
  • Write about a struggle or setback that ultimately made you stronger. What did you learn?
  • Describe an experience that demonstrated the power of teamwork.
  • Write about an event that led to a profound shift in your perspective or worldview.
  • Describe a childhood memory that remains vivid and magical in your mind.
  • Write about a time you lacked self-confidence. How did you overcome it?
  • Describe an experience that taught you an important life lesson.
  • Write about an accomplishment requiring dedication through challenges over time.
  • Write about a difficult period that led to personal growth. What did you learn?
  • Describe a childhood tradition that connected you to your heritage or family.
  • Write about a realization that profoundly changed your perspective on something.
  • Describe a struggle that ultimately strengthened your resilience and wisdom.
  • Describe a childhood event that shaped your identity and values.
  • Write about a time you felt unsupported in an endeavor. How did you persist despite challenges?
  • Describe an accomplishment requiring years of sustained effort and dedication.
  • Write about an experience that taught you an important truth about life.
  • Write about an event that profoundly shifted your worldview or beliefs at the time. How do you see it now?
  • Describe a struggle or setback that ultimately strengthened your wisdom and resilience. What lessons did it provide?
  • Write about a childhood tradition that connected you to family or cultural heritage.
  • Describe an experience that gave you new insight into your own strengths and abilities.
  • Write about a time you felt inadequate or lacked confidence. How did you overcome it?
  • Describe a risk you took that paid off in an unexpected positive way.
  • Write about a difficult period in your life that led to personal growth. What insights did you gain?
  • Write about a childhood tradition that maintains its significance for you.
  • Describe a struggle or setback that ultimately made you wiser and stronger. What did you learn from it?
  • Write about a risk you took that paid off in an unexpected positive way.
  • Describe an experience that demonstrated the power of perseverance through challenges.
  • Write about an event that shattered your assumptions or worldview at the time. How did you respond?
  • Describe a childhood memory that remains especially vivid or magical for you.
  • Describe an accomplishment requiring sustained effort and dedication over years.
  • Write about an experience that taught you an important truth. What was it?
  • Describe a time you lacked confidence. What helped you overcome it?
  • Describe a childhood tradition that maintains deep significance for you.
  • Write about a struggle or setback that ultimately strengthened your wisdom and resilience. What lessons did it provide?
  • Write about an experience that gave you new insight into your own abilities and potential.
  • Describe an event that profoundly changed your worldview or beliefs at the time. How do you see it now?
  • Write about a challenging experience that made you wiser and stronger in the end. What did you learn?

Understanding the Personal Narrative Structure

Ze A Hand-Drawn Diagram Of Personal Narrative Structure: Introduction, Climax, And Conclusion, With Arrows Showing Flow

It’s crucial to understand the structure of a personal narrative to effectively tell your story.

Picture this: you’re an artist, and your life is a canvas. Your experiences form the vibrant colors that make up your masterpiece.

The Narrative Tone Importance isn’t something to gloss over; it sets the mood, affecting how your audience perceives your tale.

Now imagine each person in your life as a character in this grand narrative. Character Development Essentials are key; they give depth and dimension to these characters, making them real for your readers.

Your mother isn’t just ‘Mom’, she’s the steadfast rock braving life’s storms with grace.

How to Unearth Your Personal Narrative Ideas

Ividual Digging Up A Treasure Chest Full Of Various Symbols Such As A Heart, A Brain, A House, A Globe And A Childhood Toy From A Soil Rich With Scattered Words

You’ve got to dig deep within yourself to unearth your own narrative ideas. It’s not about scratching the surface; it’s about delving into the core of your experiences and extracting the raw, real stories that have shaped you.

Emotional connections are your guide here. Feelings don’t lie. They paint vivid pictures, etching storylines in your mind ripe for exploration.

Imagine this: A moment of triumph, a tear shed in loss, or a hearty laugh shared with a friend. Visualize these instances in high definition detail. Each emotion is a color on your palette; each memory is a stroke on canvas creating an exquisite tapestry of personal narratives.

Techniques for Developing Engaging Prompts

Storming Session With A Spiral Notebook, A Fountain Pen, Layered Sticky Notes With Bullet Points, A Lit Candle, And A Steaming Cup Of Coffee On An Antique Wooden Desk

Developing engaging queries involves a mix of creativity and understanding your audience’s interests. Unleash the power of prompts customization, mold your questions in such a way that they resonate with each individual’s story. Imagine yourself as an artisan, sculpting each query to fit uniquely to every narrative, ensuring narrative authenticity.

Use vibrant language that inspires reflection and introspection. Make them feel as though they’re on a journey of self-discovery. Ask about their dreams, fears, triumphs or failures – any experiences that have shaped who they are today. Paint pictures with your words so vividly that it sparks their imagination.

Examples of Effective Writing Prompts for Personal Narratives

L Notebook Opened At A Page With Hand-Drawn Light Bulbs, Each Containing Different Symbolic Elements Like A Feathered Quill, A Family Tree, A Heart, A Diary, And A Timeline

Let’s delve into some examples of effective queries that can elicit compelling life stories. These prompts are designed to spark your creativity and draw out those narrative themes buried in the depths of your memories.

  • Prompt inspiration
  • Describe a turning point in your life. This prompt encourages you to think about a momentous event that altered the trajectory of your life.
  • Recount a time when you faced a significant challenge. Here, you’re invited to share struggles and how you’ve overcome them.
  • Narrative Themes
  • Share an experience where you learned something about yourself. This one helps unearth self-discovery themes.
  • Talk about someone who has greatly influenced you. It nudges reflection on relationships shaping our lives.

These prompts inspire introspection, helping bring forth captivating narratives from your own experiences.

Tips to Improve Your Personal Narrative Writing Skills

Holding A Shining Pen Poised Over A Blank Journal, Surrounded By A Brain-Shaped Light Bulb, A Magnifying Glass, And A Compass

Improving your storytelling prowess involves a few key strategies that’ll make your tales more engaging and compelling. Dive into the depths of Narrative Perspective Exploration, switch between first-person and third-person views, even dare to be omniscient! You’re the puppet master, controlling not just what happens, but how it’s perceived.

Don’t shy away from Emotional Impact Enhancement. Remember, you’re painting with feelings here. Craft scenarios that evoke joy or sadness; let anger simmer or surprise explode. Your words should pulse with life, making hearts race and eyes well up.

In this journey of personal narrative writing improvement, you’re not just telling a story—you’re making readers live it. Be brave. Be daring. And above all else—be unforgettable.

So, you’ve got this! You’re armed with tools to dig up personal narrative ideas, craft engaging prompts, and boost your writing skills.

Now it’s your turn to create stories that resonate. Remember, your experiences are unique – they deserve to be shared.

Go on, inspire the world with your tales!

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  • How to Write a Personal Narrative (And Why It’s So Important)

What Is a Personal Narrative?

What are the major components of a personal narrative, how to write a personal narrative, personal narrative topics and ideas, where can i use personal narratives, summing it all up.

The purpose of a personal narrative is to describe a specific story in your life. No matter who you are, you have a plethora of life experiences, events, and stories that can be crafted into a compelling personal narrative for use in an article, blog post, case study, etc.

But, that’s easier said than done.

Detailing your story with dialogue, settings, main events, descriptions of people, and various other personal observations takes a skill that doesn’t come easy to most.

If you are struggling with creating your prose narrative, this article will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how you can write a descriptive essay with vivid details that engages the audience and reflect your important events, personal growth, reflections, life lessons, and more.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

  • What is a personal narrative?
  • What are the major components of a personal narrative?
  • How to write a personal narrative
  • Personal narrative topics and ideas
  • Where can I use personal narratives?
  • Summing it all up

According to Classroom.com , “A personal narrative essay is a story with a plot that includes a beginning, middle, and end.”

Pretty simple, isn’t it?

Personal narratives are useful for almost any type of writing in terms of connecting to wider audiences. Neal Taparia, a serial entrepreneur who runs brain training and jigsaw puzzle site I’m a Puzzle explains, “Personal narratives allow you to connect deeply to people. With our businesses, we always explain our personal journey on why we started the business, which creates a strong brand connection.”

A personal narrative is based on your real-life personal experiences that have significant meaning for you, the writer.

The experience may have resulted in you learning a life lesson or gaining valuable insight. Either way, when narrating the story, you must make sure it has a narrow, clearly defined focus.

Focus on the central idea, theme, or message based on a specific and significant event so you can share why it was important or meaningful to you.

Here are the pieces you need to craft a compelling narrative:

  • Introduction: Your personal narrative needs a strong introduction that will serve as an attention-grabbing hook to pique your readers’ interest and ensure that they go on to read the rest of your personal narrative.
  • Plot: Your story needs a strong plot with interesting and specific details that will add substance to your story and contribute powerfully to your portrayal of the experience. Your plot must not only describe what happened in a way that appeals to the reader’s senses, but it must also have a logical sequence to ensure that it flows perfectly from start to finish.
  • Characters: Your personal narrative must describe all the characters involved in the experience. You can develop the characters through interesting details describing each of their traits, such as their appearance, words, actions, etc.
  • Setting: Your personal narrative must describe the setting in a vivid way. Where and when did the events or experience occur? Use expressive language that makes the setting come alive for readers.
  • Climax: Make sure your personal narrative builds to a climax or satisfying resolution of the problem. Where most personal narratives are concerned, this resolution leads to some sort of personal growth for the author, which you should make clear in your story.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion of your personal narrative needs to be a strong one that will leave your readers with a lasting impression of the insights or deeper understanding that you gained from the experience.

When you begin working on your first personal narrative, just remember that perfect is the enemy of good . This is your narrative, so just be authentic and honest. Figure out an approach that works and do your best. Trust me, when you are honest about yourself, people listen – even if you struggle a little along the way.

Now that you know the different elements of a good personal narrative, here is a step-by-step guide to help you write a great story of your own.

Step #1: Create a Structure or Outline: Using the tips outlined above for the different elements of a narrative, create a structure that divides your story into those different parts.

Step #2: Write in First Person. Use “I” when writing your personal narrative. However, don’t overuse that word. Make sure to use variations to make your style unique.

Step #3: Bring Your Story to Life. Your story should be well-detailed and it must bring all the different characters to life. You must give it different subplots, and make sure all of it is presented in an interesting way through developments designed to intrigue the reader.

Step #4: Write in a Chronological Order. Chronology is important when writing a personal narrative. You must set the order of your story to properly convey your writing purpose, otherwise, you risk misleading your readers or forgetting important incidents which may take away the whole context of your writing.

Step #5: Edit and Proofread Your Story. After creating your first draft, make sure you revise it thoroughly. If there are any repetitions of arguments or ideas, delete them. Rephrase any sentences that are hard to grasp and check for grammar and spelling mistakes.

Writing a personal narrative can be hard, particularly for anyone with no experience in writing . But, following the guidelines outlined above will make your work a little easier.

To inspire your own writing, listed below are some interesting personal narrative topics you might consider:

Here are a few examples of personal narrative topics and ideas to help you get started on your own story.

  • Achieving a goal
  • A childhood memory
  • A realization
  • An event that caused a major change in my life
  • My best friend
  • The most embarrassing moment in my life
  • The biggest mistake I ever made
  • The happiest moment of my life

When it comes to personal narratives, anything goes, and you’ll be able to find a wide range of writing prompts from topics such as scary experiences and joyful events to celebratory moments, interesting happenings, or hard times. Use them as writing hacks to fire up your imagination.

To further inspire you, here are some great examples of personal narratives from a few well-known and experienced writers.

article writing template

If you’re writing a personal narrative, you can always share it on your own blog, submit it to another blog as a guest post, or even try to find a print publication to accept it.

But there are many other ways to use a personal narrative as well.

You can use personal narratives if you’re creating online courses. As a professor, I’ve found that the best way to connect with my students is by sharing a personal narrative. Additionally, if you purchase new PLR courses , adding personal narratives is a great way to make the content seem like it’s your own.

Personal narratives can be used effectively in presentations to build rapport with an audience. For example, if you’re using webinar hosting software to connect with your employees, you can use a personal narrative to discuss your personal experience with whatever it is you’re discussing.

When creating webinars or other videos, personal narratives are only half of the battle. You also need to make sure you’re professional video editing software to give your narrative the light it needs to really shine.

Truth be told, knowing how to write a personal narrative opens a world of opportunities. It allows you to create immediate rapport with others and creates avenues for authentically sharing your own self.

Personal narratives open up the door for empathizing with and relating to others. Even if I’m just talking about using a new product offered by a company, I’m talking about myself using the product.

It’s not just about the newest widget. It’s about me relating to you in a personal way.

This is an entirely different dynamic than writing bland copy and hoping someone finds it intriguing enough to buy whatever you’re selling. It doesn’t just build rapport, it opens the door to something much more powerful: true human connection.

As a website entrepreneur and marketing professor, Ron Stefanski strives to help people create and market their own online business with his blog that reaches over 100,000 people each month. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com

You can also connect with him on YouTube or Linkedin .

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Personal Narrative Writing Guide

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WHAT IS A PERSONAL NARRATIVE?

Personal Narrative | personal narrative writing28129 1 | Personal Narrative Writing Guide | literacyideas.com

A Personal Narrative recounts an event or experience from the writer’s life in story form and often in intimate detail. This text type not only relates to the events happening around the author but also often reveals the writer’s inner thoughts and emotions also.

A personal narrative can be understood as nonfiction storytelling based on the writer’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Told in the first person, the writer draws on their life events to construct a story.

Combining elements of nonfiction recount writing with introspection and the frequent use of literary devices more commonly associated with fiction and poetry, a personal narrative can be best understood as a type of creative nonfiction .

PERSONAL NARRATIVE VERSUS A PERSONAL RECOUNT: SO WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Personal narratives are also frequently referred to as personal recounts. They share much in common but are unique text types, so let’s explore how they compare and contrast.

When we first instruct our students to write stories based on the events of their own lives, they will inevitably write simple recounts. These recounts are based on retelling personal incidents of their lives but lack the depth we can typically expect to find in a personal narrative.

While personal narratives also recount events from the writer’s life, with greater emphasis placed on exploring the writer’s thoughts and feelings on these events rather than just what happened.

A personal narrative is a means for the writer to explore the meaning of the events in their life. It is, at its core, an introspective and creative endeavor that focuses as much on the interior life of the writer as it does on external events.

Visual Writing

While the conclusion of a traditional recount usually provides some of the writer’s insights, in a personal narrative, these are woven throughout the text.

STRUCTURE AND FEATURES OF A PERSONAL NARRATIVE

Personal narrative structure.

ORIENTATION Explain the who, what, when, and where of the experience in your introduction to your audience.

FOCUS Mainly focus on meaningful events.

CHRONOLOGY Events are described in the sequence in which they occurred.

ORGANIZATION Relevant information is organized into paragraphs

INSIGHT & MEANING Include personal comments, opinions or interpretations of the experience or event in your personal narrative.

PERSONAL NARRATIVE FEATURES

TENSE The first and third person are used most frequently and recall is always written in the past tense. Present tense can be used for analysis and opinion.

NOUNS Use proper nouns to refer to specific people, places times and events

VOICE Both active and passive voice are used in recounts. Use these to express your emotions and thinking clearly.

CONNECTIVES Use conjunctions and connectives to link events and indicate time sequence in your personal narrative.

A COMPLETE TEACHING UNIT ON PERSONAL NARRATIVE WRITING

Personal Narrative | personal narrative writing unit 1 | Personal Narrative Writing Guide | literacyideas.com

Teach your students to write AMAZING PERSONAL NARRATIVES using a proven model of research skills, writing strategies and engaging content. ALL CONTENT, RESOURCES AND ASSESSMENT TOOLS INCLUDED covering.

Download this COMPLETE 85 PAGE UNIT today. NO PREPARATION REQUIRED.

HOW LONG SHOULD A PERSONAL NARRATIVE BE?

The personal narrative is a modern text type and therefore has no traditionally defined optimum length, and we can find texts ranging from a couple of hundred words to a multi-volume series in this genre. 

However, for our students, this text type can be thought of in terms of length as similar to an essay. Like an essay, the text needs to be long enough to comprehensively answer the question, prompt, or the event/experience the student is retelling.

David Sedaris, the American writer and one of the best-known writers of humorous personal narratives, has written many books that could accurately be classified in this genre.

While these full-length books are often built around a loose theme, each chapter could stand alone as a personal narrative essay in its own right, each built around a single identifiable experience or event. 

As with an essay, the length of a personal narrative can be based on a variety of factors, including:

  • Age and ability of the students
  • Specifics of the question or writing prompt
  • Any limitation imposed by a word count
  • The complexity of the event/experience being written about.

Regardless of length, given its structural similarity with the essay, personal narratives usually follow a basic three-part structure.

HOW TO WRITE A PERSONAL NARRATIVE STEP-BY-STEP

We mentioned previously that this text type is relatively modern, so there aren’t many fixed rules concerning structure. That said, we can usually identify three distinct parts of a personal narrative corresponding to the three parts outlined in the hamburger essay or the 5-paragraph essay format. These are:

Personal Narrative | 5 paragraph essay3Dburger | Personal Narrative Writing Guide | literacyideas.com

  • The introduction
  • The body paragraphs
  • The conclusion

If you want an in-depth guide to this format, check out our comprehensive article here . But, for now, let’s take a brief look at the purpose of each section as it relates to a personal narrative.

WRITING THE INTRODUCTION OF A PERSONAL NARRATIVE

Personal Narrative | personal narrative writing28329 768x576 1 | Personal Narrative Writing Guide | literacyideas.com

The introduction of a personal narrative performs several functions. 

1: It hooks the Reader

The first job of the introduction is to ‘hook’ the reader. If we can’t catch the reader’s interest initially, there will be no middle or end for the reader. A strong hook is needed at the very outset, and it can take several forms. 

Some effective hooks to open a personal narrative with include:

  • A bold claim
  • An interesting anecdote
  • A fascinating fact or revealing statistic
  • A compelling quotation

Whichever technique the student chooses to open their narrative with, they should ensure it is relevant to the subject matter explored, whether it focuses on external or internal events or experiences or a mixture of both. 

2: It orients the Reader

Like many other nonfiction and fiction text types, the opening paragraph (or paragraphs) will also orient the reader by answering some basic questions such as:

  • What is the text about?
  • Who is in this story?
  • Where is it set?
  • When do the events or experiences occur?

While it may also hint at why these events or experiences matter, a detailed answer to the why of a personal narrative may be saved for the text’s conclusion.

This section of the personal narrative can also be thought of as The Exposition .

3: It Sets the Tone

The introduction reveals not only what the text will be about but also how the writer (and, by extension, the reader) will treat the topic. This is the tone.

For example, a more sombre tone has been established where the language used is serious and formal. In this instance, the reader will adopt a more serious approach to the work.

On the other hand, if the treatment of the event or experience is humorous, this will be apparent in the language choices the writer makes and the mood they establish. Going forward, the reader can reasonably expect to be amused by what’s to come in the text.

THE BODY PARAGRAPHS OF A PERSONAL NARRATIVE

The body paragraphs of a personal narrative comprise the bulk of the text. 

As with any type of recount, this section will generally focus on the chronological retelling of an event or experience. 

However, there is another significant difference between this type of recount and the other types.’ The root of this difference can be found in the word ‘narrative’.

While the body paragraphs of a personal narrative can make use of some of the defining characteristics of more traditional types of recount, if the introduction acts as the exposition of the setting and character of the story, the body paragraphs move the text along its story arc.

Though we will cover the main elements briefly, structuring a story is an art in itself and if you want to find out more about it, check out our detailed article on the subject here.

Also, if you want to learn more about the structure of general recounts, find out more here .

While we’ve seen that the introduction of a personal narrative corresponds to a story’s exposition, the following elements of a story arc can be found in the text’s body.

1: The Problem

The problem or conflict is an essential ingredient in any story worth the name. It creates the story’s focal point, ignites the reader’s interest, and drives the story forward. In a personal narrative, this problem can be internal or external, however, there is often an emphasis placed on how the issues affect the writer psychologically.  2: The Rising Action  

As the narrative develops, the dramatic tension will tend to increase. The main problem will intensify, or the writer may introduce additional more minor problems to amp things up. 3: The Climax

This is where the story reaches its dramatic high point. In the case of a personal narrative where the conflict or problem is psychological, this drama and its climax may play out internally.

WRITING THE CONCLUSION OF YOUR PERSONAL NARRATIVE ESSAY

Personal Narrative | personal narrative writing28429 1 | Personal Narrative Writing Guide | literacyideas.com

This third and final section of the personal narrative performs a slightly different function to a regular essay’s conclusion. 

While the conclusions of most nonfiction text types focus on restating a central thesis and/or providing a summary of arguments, the conclusion in a personal narrative follows a story’s final section more closely. 

That is, it usually contains the story’s falling action and resolution.

Let’s take a quick look at each.

1: The Falling Action

The story arc dips in dramatic tension after the dramatic high point of the climax. As personal narratives often focus on ‘internal’ events, this ‘action’ can also occur internally. 2: Resolution

The resolution marks the end of the story, and in this text type, it usually involves some personal change in circumstances or transformation. It can also take the form of a lesson learned or new knowledge attained.

TIPS FOR WRITING A GREAT PERSONAL NARRATIVE ESSAY

  • Begin with a clear and compelling story: Your personal narrative essay should focus on a significant event or experience in your life that you want to share with the reader.
  • Write in the first person perspective: Use “I” statements to describe your experiences and thoughts and take us inside your mind.
  • Be descriptive: To bring your story to life, use descriptive language to paint a picture of the sights, sounds, and emotions of your experience.
  • Focus on what matters the most: Tell a powerful story with just a few key details. When writing your personal narrative, focus on the most impactful events and thoughts that help convey your message.
  • Emphasize the impact the experience had upon you: Leave the reader with a clear understanding of the impact that the experience had on your life.
  • Be true to yourself: Ensure your personal narrative essay is honest and genuine in your descriptions and reflections.
  • Deliver a powerful ending: The conclusion should summarize the major points of your essay and leave the reader with a lasting impression.
  • Review and Revise: Don’t be afraid to proofread your essay several times to ensure it is the best it can be.

Personal Narrative | LITERACY IDEAS FRONT PAGE 1 | Personal Narrative Writing Guide | literacyideas.com

Teaching Resources

Use our resources and tools to improve your student’s writing skills through proven teaching strategies.

PERSONAL NARRATIVE TEACHING STRATEGIES AND ACTIVITIES

PERSONAL NARRATIVE PRACTICE EXERCISE: ACTIVITY 1

  • Organise your students into small groups of four or five
  • Provide each group with a selection of personal recounts
  • Can the students identify how each sample text attempts to hook the reader in the opening paragraph?
  • How effectively does the introduction of each text orient the reader?
  • What is the tone of the text? How has this tone been created?

PERSONAL NARRATIVE PRACTICE EXERCISE: ACTIVITY 2

In their groups, with their sample personal narrative texts, ask students to identify how the writer deals with each element as listed below and discuss how effectively they have done so.

  • The Problem
  • The Rising Action

PERSONAL NARRATIVE PRACTICE EXERCISE: ACTIVITY 3

Now students understand how to structure and write each stage of their personal narrative, encourage them to spend some time brainstorming events and experiences from their lives that could serve as the topic for their writing.

When they have chosen a suitable topic, instruct them to begin planning the writing of their text using the categories listed above. They might even wish to create a simple graphic organizer to help. 

For example:

Introduction

  • What is the opening hook?

Body Paragraphs

  • What is the central problem?
  • What happens in the rising action?
  • How does the climax play out?
  • What happens in the falling action?
  • What is the resolution of the story?

Once students have their narrative adequately planned, it’s time to get them writing earnestly to put all that theory into practice.

PERSONAL NARRATIVE WRITING TEMPLATE / GRAPHIC ORGANIZER

Personal Narrative | perosnal narrative graphic organizer 1 | Personal Narrative Writing Guide | literacyideas.com

PERSONAL NARRATIVE WRITING EXAMPLES

Personal Narrative | img 610a32004d4a4 1 | Personal Narrative Writing Guide | literacyideas.com

VIDEO TUTORIAL ON PERSONAL NARRATIVE WRITING

Personal Narrative | YOUTUBE 1280 x 720 13 | Personal Narrative Writing Guide | literacyideas.com

NARRATIVE WRITING CHECKLIST BUNDLE

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RELEVANT ARTICLES

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Personal Narrative | historical recount writing | How to Write a Historical Recount Text | literacyideas.com

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5 Easy Recount Writing Lesson Plans students love.

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15 Awesome Recount & Personal Narrative Topics

ideas to write a personal narrative on

Explore our Teaching Unit on PERSONAL NARRATIVES

Personal Narrative | Definition, Ideas & Examples

  • February 19, 2024

Table of Contents:

What is a personal narrative, how to write a personal narrative, 1- choose a topic, 2- ideas for your story:, 3- create an outline:, 4- write your first draft:, 5- revise your draft:, ideas for a personal narrative, examples of a personal narrative, 1- born a crime by trevor noah:, 2- eat, pray, love by elizabeth gilbert:, 3- i am malala by malala yousafzai:, why is creating an outline an important step in writing a personal narrative, what is the purpose of a personal narrative, how long should a personal narrative be, what is one technique an author can use to create an engaging personal narrative, how do i generate ideas for a personal narrative, can anyone write a personal narrative, conclusion:.

A personal narrative is a special kind of writing where you tell your story. It’s like sharing a piece of your life with others through words. When you write a narrative, you’re not just writing about what happened but sharing your feelings, thoughts, and unique perspective on life. It’s a creative way to express yourself and let others see the world through your eyes. So, let’s explore how you can make your narrative not just a story but a reflection of who you are.

A personal narrative is a form of creative nonfiction that uses the first-person point of view to recount a personal experience. It differs from a biography or an autobiography in that it focuses on a specific event or a series of events that shaped your identity, values, or worldview. A personal narrative is not a factual report of what happened, but a subjective interpretation of how you felt, what you learned, and what you want to convey to the readers.

Writing a personal narrative can be a rewarding and enjoyable process, but it also requires some planning and preparation. If needed, you can hire a narrative writer . Here are some steps to help you write a personal narrative:

Choose a topic that interests you and that you want to share with others. Think about why this topic is important to you and what message you want to convey.

Brainstorm some ideas for your story. You can use a mind map, a list, or a journal to jot down some details, such as the setting, the characters, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution.

Create an outline for your narrative. You can use a traditional structure of introduction, body, and conclusion, or you can experiment with different formats, such as flashbacks, dialogue, or descriptive scenes.

Use the first-person point of view and vivid language to engage the readers and make them feel like they are part of your story. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or word count at this stage. Just focus on expressing your thoughts and emotions.

Read your strong narrative writing aloud and check for clarity, coherence, and consistency. Make sure your story has a clear beginning, middle, and end, and that it flows smoothly from one paragraph to another. You can also ask someone else to read your draft and give you feedback.

6- Edit and Proofread:

Edit and proofread your final draft. Check for any errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, or formatting. You can also use a tool like VanillaHeartBookandAuthors to help you improve your writing style and readability. Finally, make sure your narrative meets the requirements of your assignment or purpose.

There are many possible topics for a personal narrative, as long as they are meaningful and relevant to you. Some common ideas are:

  • A memorable moment from your childhood, such as your first day of school, a family vacation, or a birthday party.
  • A significant challenge or achievement in your life, such as overcoming a fear, winning a competition, or graduating from college.
  • A life-changing event or decision, such as moving to a new place, changing your career, or getting married.
  • A relationship or encounter with someone who influenced you, such as a friend, a teacher, a mentor, or a stranger.
  • A reflection on a personal value or belief, such as your faith, your philosophy, or your political views.

To give you some inspiration, here are some excerpts from famous personal narratives:

“I grew up in South Africa during apartheid, which was awkward because I was raised in a mixed family, with me being the mixed one. My mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, is black. My father, Robert, is white. Swiss/German, to be precise, which Swiss/Germans invariably are.”

“I wish Giovanni would kiss me. Oh, but there are so many reasons why this would be a terrible idea. To begin with, Giovanni is ten years younger than I am, and — like most Italian guys in their twenties — he still lives with his mother.”

“When I was born, people in our village commiserated with my mother and nobody congratulated my father. I arrived at dawn as the last star blinked in the morning sky. Although I was a girl in a patriarchal culture, I was also the first child and my parents had taken a risk.”

Creating an outline is an important step in writing a personal narrative because it helps you organize your ideas, structure your story, and avoid missing or irrelevant details. An outline also makes it easier to revise and edit your draft later.

The purpose of a personal narrative is to share your personal experience, thoughts, and feelings with the readers, and to convey a message or a lesson that you learned from it. A personal narrative can also entertain, inform, or persuade the readers, depending on your goal.

A personal narrative typically ranges from 1 to 5 pages. However, its length ultimately depends on the depth of the story and the writer’s ability to maintain reader engagement.

One technique for creating an engaging personal narrative is to employ vivid descriptive language, painting a detailed picture of experiences and emotions to captivate readers and immerse them in the story.

Ideas for your narrative can spring from any impactful life event. Reflect on moments that stirred strong emotions or led to significant changes. These can be milestones, challenges, or simple yet memorable experiences.

Absolutely! Writing a Personal narrative is something anyone can do. It involves narrating your own experiences in your own narrative voice . What makes it unique is the personal flavor and perspective you bring to the story, making it exclusively yours.

A personal narrative is a powerful way to tell your story and connect with your audience. By following the steps above, you can write a personal narrative that is captivating, meaningful, and original. Remember, a personal narrative is not just about what happened, but about how you felt, what you learned, and what you want to say.

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How to Write a Personal Narrative like a Pro (With Examples)

Last Updated: December 12, 2023 Fact Checked

Template and Sample Narrative

  • Brainstorming

This article was co-authored by Grant Faulkner, MA . Grant Faulkner is the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the co-founder of 100 Word Story, a literary magazine. Grant has published two books on writing and has been published in The New York Times and Writer’s Digest. He co-hosts Write-minded, a weekly podcast on writing and publishing, and has a M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.  There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 863,437 times.

Personal narratives focus on a particular real life event that was pivotal or important for the writer. You may have to write a personal narrative as part of a college application or as an assignment for a class. To write a strong personal narrative, start by coming up with an engaging idea. Then, write the narrative with an opening hook and a detailed, organized structure. Always review and revise the personal narrative before handing it in so it is at its best.

Things You Should Know

  • Center your narrative around an important moment in your life. For example, you might write about a time you had to make a hard decision or deal with a conflict.
  • Move chronologically through the events you’re discussing. This will make your narrative easy to follow and draw your reader in.
  • Finish with a moral takeaway or a life lesson. What did you learn from these events, and why is it important? How did they shape you as a person?

ideas to write a personal narrative on

Brainstorming Ideas for the Narrative

Step 1 Focus on a memorable event or moment in your life.

  • For example, you may write about your struggles with body image in high school and how you overcame them in adulthood. Or you may write about your disastrous 15th birthday party and how it affected your relationship with your mother.

Step 2 Expand on an important conflict in your life.

  • For example, you write a personal narrative about your complicated relationship with your birth mother. Or you may write about a conflict you have with a sport you play or a club you are a part of.

Step 3 Think about a particular theme or idea.

  • For example, you may explore a theme like poverty by writing about your family’s struggle with money and finances. You may write about having to defer college applications to work at your parent’s business to make ends meet for your family.

Step 4 Read examples of personal narrative.

  • The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard
  • Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  • The Lives section of The New York Times

Writing the Personal Narrative

Step 1 Start with a hook.

  • For example, the first line in the personal narrative by Tony Gervino is attention grabbing: “I was 6 when my brother John leaned across the kitchen table and casually whispered that he had killed Santa Claus.” [5] X Research source

Step 2 Set the scene with action.

  • For example, in Tony Gervino’s essay, he sets the scene by providing setting, character, and narrative voice: “It was July 1973, we were living in Scarsdale, N.Y., and he was four years older than I was, although that seemed like decades.”

Step 3 Move chronologically through the events.

  • For example, you may start with an event in childhood with your older sister and then move forward in time to the present day, focusing on you and your older sister as adults.

Step 4 Use sensory detail and description.

  • For example, you may describe the feeling of your mother’s famous lemon cake as “rich and zesty, with a special ingredient that to this day, I cannot identify.”

Step 5 Finish with a moral or takeaway.

  • For example, you may end a personal narrative about your complicated relationship with your troubled sister by ending on a recent memory where you both enjoyed each other’s company. You may leave the reader with a lesson you have learned about loving someone, even with all their messiness and baggage.

Polishing the Personal Narrative

Step 1 Read the narrative out loud.

  • You can also try reading the narrative out loud to someone else so they can hear how it sounds. This can then make it easier for them to give you feedback.

Step 2 Show the narrative to others.

  • Be willing to accept feedback from others. Be open to constructive criticism as it will likely strengthen the narrative.

Step 3 Revise the narrative for clarity and length.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

You Might Also Like

Write a Personal Essay

  • How to Write a Narrative Essay
  • How to Write a Journal Entry
  • How to Write an Epistolary Narrative
  • How to Write an Autobiography
  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/personal-narrative-examples
  • ↑ https://www.byrdseed.com/writing-better-personal-narratives/
  • ↑ https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/grammar-rules-and-tips/tips-for-writing-a-personal-narrative-essay.html
  • ↑ https://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/magazine/lives-a-rats-tale.html
  • ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/10-1-narration/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/reading-aloud/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/revising-drafts/

About This Article

Grant Faulkner, MA

To write a personal narrative, start by choosing a memorable moment, event, or conflict in your life that you want to write about. Then, use your personal narrative to describe your story, going chronologically through the events. Try to use a lot of sensory detail, like how things smelled, sounded, felt, and looked, so your readers can picture everything you're describing. At the end of your narrative, include a lesson you learned or something you took away from the experience. To learn how to brainstorm ideas for your personal narrative, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Academic Writing Success

How to Master Writing a Compelling Personal Narrative

by Suzanne Davis | Jun 18, 2020 | Writing Essays and Papers | 2 comments

I dreaded writing personal narrative essays.

I cringed when teachers assigned a personal narrative essay. I couldn’t think of an interesting story about myself. And even if I chose a fascinating personal narrative story, I struggled with how to write about it. But when I was in college that changed because I realized writing a personal narrative essay isn’t like writing any other kind of essay. No, it’s writing a story that reveals some piece of myself. 

And I love stories.  A personal narrative is a story about you. It’s the same as any other story: it has a beginning, middle, and end.  The difference is that it’s from your life. Through that story, you show your reader something that is unique to you. 

It can be a story that conveys your humor, your sensitivity, what scares you, excites you, angers you, or makes you sad.  A personal narrative essay lets other people connect with you.   There are 3 key things you need to know about writing a personal narrative essay:

  • How to choose a good personal narrative essay topic.
  • How to develop your personal narrative essay ideas.
  • How to write a compelling personal narrative essay.

Choosing a Personal Narrative Topic 

There are 2 steps to choosing a good personal narrative essay topic.  The first is brainstorming stories from your life, and the second is evaluating the stories you list. Brainstorming:  Choose a place where you can focus. Then answer these questions :

  • What are some significant stories from your life?
  • When did you face a challenge or obstacle in your life?
  • What are some funny things that happened to you or funny things you did?
  • What stories are your most important memories?
  • What are some sad events and what are some happy events from your life?

List as many ideas as you can for each of these questions. Don’t stop and erase any of your ideas. You want as many as choices as possible. Another way to discover a personal narrative essay topic is to select a writing prompt for personal narrative essays.  Search online for personal narrative essay prompts.  You’ll find great personal narrative writing prompts in my blog post, “11 Excellent Personal Narrative Essay Writing Prompts for College Students.”  https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/11-excellent-personal-narrative-writing-prompts-for-college-students/ I’ve included 8 personal narrative writing prompts in the infographic here:

Personal Narrative Writing Prompts

Evaluating a personal narrative topic:  Now that you have several ideas, decide which stories are most interesting to you. If your story bores you, it will be hard to write a story that grabs your reader’s attention. Once you’ve narrowed your list, follow these steps to analyze your stories:

  • Check to see if there is a beginning, middle, and end to each story. Does the middle of your story have one important moment or event in the story?  This important moment is called the climax of a story. Which narrative essay topics have a climax?
  • Go over your list and look for stories you remember well. What stories can you describe in detail?
  • Consider whether a story is one you want to share with other people. If it makes you uncomfortable to have other people know about this event then select another personal narrative essay topic.
  • Analyze your personal narrative essay ideas again and choose a story you really want to write about and share with other people.

Developing a Personal Narrative Essay: Planning vs. Pantsing

There are 2 ways to develop your personal narrative: 1) plan your story or 2) write your story by the “seat of your pants.” Planning is where you figure out the things you want to include in your essay, and where you will include these things before writing. Pantsing or “writing by the seat of your pants” is where you take a personal narrative essay topic and start writing about it from beginning to end.  You don’t think about the things you want to include ahead of time. Both planning and pantsing work for developing a personal narrative essay.  It’s just a matter of which you like better.

Planning Your Personal Narrative

Planning a personal narrative essay is like planning any other kind of story.  You plan a beginning, a middle, and an end.  But for a personal narrative essay, you also include what you learned or realized because of this story. List the order in which things occurred.  You can do this in a simple list or you could create a story outline.

  • First, how did the story start? Here you want to include the setting of where your story began. Describe the first thing that happened.
  • Second, list the things that happened next. These things lead up to your climax.  The climax is the most important part of your story.
  • Third, how does the story end? The ending of your story is the resolution.  A resolution in a personal narrative lets your reader know the result of everything that happened.
  • Add any important realization or thing you learned from the experience.

Pantsing a Personal Narrative Essay

You’ll hear many writers talk about “pantsing” or writing by the “seat of their pants.”  They mean that they don’t plan what they will write before they start writing.  This method works well for some people writing personal narrative essays.

If you are pantsing a personal narrative essay, write down your topic.  Select a starting point for your story. Then write your story from beginning to end. When you finish writing, go back and see if you have all the pieces of your story from beginning to end.

  • Where did you begin your story? What is the setting for your story (time and place)?  What is the first thing that happened?
  • What events happen that lead up to the most important moment of your story?
  • What is the climax of your story?
  • How does your story end?
  • What did you learn or realize?

Go back and add any missing pieces to your essay.

Writing a Personal Narrative 

The key to writing a fascinating and powerful personal narrative is how you help a reader experience the story. A good personal narrative essay shows what happened and how you felt.  It doesn’t tell what happened like a report of events. It follows the writing mantra of “show: don’t tell.” It has a lot of vivid description, emotion, and other elements that re-create your story. Here are things you can include your personal narrative:

Vivid Description:   As you write your story try to add the five senses to your story. What did you see?  What did you hear? What did you taste? What did you smell? What did you touch? Not every story has all five senses. That’s fine. Focus on describing the setting, characters, and actions in your story.  Use the senses that are most relevant to your story.  

Zoom in on important moments: There are pieces of your story that are more significant or interesting than other elements of your story.  Select a few important moments in your story and add more detail and description to those parts. It’s like taking a photo of birds. You can capture the whole picture of the birds, but if you want to feature a bluebird, or cardinal or another type of bird, you would zoom in on that bird.  You would see up close the colors of the feathers on its wings, the size of the bird’s feet, and how it is flying in the skying. You can do the same with your story. Zooming will draw the reader into important moments.

Emotion:  In a personal narrative essay, readers want to feel a connection to what you felt. If you were nervous or scared in the story then describe that. Describe how you felt at different times during your story.

Dialogue:  Can you add dialogue between yourself and another person? Some stories only have one person, so it may not be possible to add dialogue.  But character dialogue can add excitement.  If you add dialogue choose important things people said.  Be careful not to have too much dialogue in your personal narrative essay. Your readers want to see other kinds of action too.

In medias res:  In medias res is a Latin phrase that means “in the midst of things” Encyclopedia Britannica  https://www.britannica.com/art/in-medias-res-literature. In medias res is a technique where the writer begins his/her narrative at a point of action or a crucial moment in the story.  Then the narrative “flashes back” to the beginning of the story.  This writing strategy immerses readers in a story. It’s a way to make readers feel what you felt at that moment.  In medias res , is a wonderful technique to use in personal narratives. Test it out and see if it suits your personal narrative essay.

Enjoy Writing a Personal Narrative

When you write a personal narrative focus on making it a sensory experience.  You don’t need to use sophisticated language or writing techniques.  You just need to write your story well. Writing a personal narrative can be fun, exciting, and/or deeply moving.  Don’t panic or fear writing a personal narrative because you have many stories within you.  Stories that are great to share, and stories people will love to read.  And you are the best person to write your own stories.  Personal narrative essays are one of the most creative things you can write, so enjoy the process, and craft your own story. Try these tips as you write your next personal narrative.  And if this post helped you, please pin it to Pinterest or share it on your favorite social media!   Photo by  Sergey Zolkin  on  Unsplash

[…] story.  Check out the post “How to Master Writing a Compelling Personal Narrative Essay” https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/writing-a-personal-narrative/  to see how to use the show don’t tell approach in writing personal […]

Narrative writting and other acamedic writting is most needed. Speaking can find any where but English writting lessons and teachers teach it is very rare.

Hello Mubarik, yes narrative writing and academic writing are important. I am glad I can help you.

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A narrative essay is one of the most intimidating assignments you can be handed at any level of your education. Where you've previously written argumentative essays that make a point or analytic essays that dissect meaning, a narrative essay asks you to write what is effectively a story .

But unlike a simple work of creative fiction, your narrative essay must have a clear and concrete motif —a recurring theme or idea that you’ll explore throughout. Narrative essays are less rigid, more creative in expression, and therefore pretty different from most other essays you’ll be writing.

But not to fear—in this article, we’ll be covering what a narrative essay is, how to write a good one, and also analyzing some personal narrative essay examples to show you what a great one looks like.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

At first glance, a narrative essay might sound like you’re just writing a story. Like the stories you're used to reading, a narrative essay is generally (but not always) chronological, following a clear throughline from beginning to end. Even if the story jumps around in time, all the details will come back to one specific theme, demonstrated through your choice in motifs.

Unlike many creative stories, however, your narrative essay should be based in fact. That doesn’t mean that every detail needs to be pure and untainted by imagination, but rather that you shouldn’t wholly invent the events of your narrative essay. There’s nothing wrong with inventing a person’s words if you can’t remember them exactly, but you shouldn’t say they said something they weren’t even close to saying.

Another big difference between narrative essays and creative fiction—as well as other kinds of essays—is that narrative essays are based on motifs. A motif is a dominant idea or theme, one that you establish before writing the essay. As you’re crafting the narrative, it’ll feed back into your motif to create a comprehensive picture of whatever that motif is.

For example, say you want to write a narrative essay about how your first day in high school helped you establish your identity. You might discuss events like trying to figure out where to sit in the cafeteria, having to describe yourself in five words as an icebreaker in your math class, or being unsure what to do during your lunch break because it’s no longer acceptable to go outside and play during lunch. All of those ideas feed back into the central motif of establishing your identity.

The important thing to remember is that while a narrative essay is typically told chronologically and intended to read like a story, it is not purely for entertainment value. A narrative essay delivers its theme by deliberately weaving the motifs through the events, scenes, and details. While a narrative essay may be entertaining, its primary purpose is to tell a complete story based on a central meaning.

Unlike other essay forms, it is totally okay—even expected—to use first-person narration in narrative essays. If you’re writing a story about yourself, it’s natural to refer to yourself within the essay. It’s also okay to use other perspectives, such as third- or even second-person, but that should only be done if it better serves your motif. Generally speaking, your narrative essay should be in first-person perspective.

Though your motif choices may feel at times like you’re making a point the way you would in an argumentative essay, a narrative essay’s goal is to tell a story, not convince the reader of anything. Your reader should be able to tell what your motif is from reading, but you don’t have to change their mind about anything. If they don’t understand the point you are making, you should consider strengthening the delivery of the events and descriptions that support your motif.

Narrative essays also share some features with analytical essays, in which you derive meaning from a book, film, or other media. But narrative essays work differently—you’re not trying to draw meaning from an existing text, but rather using an event you’ve experienced to convey meaning. In an analytical essay, you examine narrative, whereas in a narrative essay you create narrative.

The structure of a narrative essay is also a bit different than other essays. You’ll generally be getting your point across chronologically as opposed to grouping together specific arguments in paragraphs or sections. To return to the example of an essay discussing your first day of high school and how it impacted the shaping of your identity, it would be weird to put the events out of order, even if not knowing what to do after lunch feels like a stronger idea than choosing where to sit. Instead of organizing to deliver your information based on maximum impact, you’ll be telling your story as it happened, using concrete details to reinforce your theme.

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3 Great Narrative Essay Examples

One of the best ways to learn how to write a narrative essay is to look at a great narrative essay sample. Let’s take a look at some truly stellar narrative essay examples and dive into what exactly makes them work so well.

A Ticket to the Fair by David Foster Wallace

Today is Press Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, and I’m supposed to be at the fairgrounds by 9:00 A.M. to get my credentials. I imagine credentials to be a small white card in the band of a fedora. I’ve never been considered press before. My real interest in credentials is getting into rides and shows for free. I’m fresh in from the East Coast, for an East Coast magazine. Why exactly they’re interested in the Illinois State Fair remains unclear to me. I suspect that every so often editors at East Coast magazines slap their foreheads and remember that about 90 percent of the United States lies between the coasts, and figure they’ll engage somebody to do pith-helmeted anthropological reporting on something rural and heartlandish. I think they asked me to do this because I grew up here, just a couple hours’ drive from downstate Springfield. I never did go to the state fair, though—I pretty much topped out at the county fair level. Actually, I haven’t been back to Illinois for a long time, and I can’t say I’ve missed it.

Throughout this essay, David Foster Wallace recounts his experience as press at the Illinois State Fair. But it’s clear from this opening that he’s not just reporting on the events exactly as they happened—though that’s also true— but rather making a point about how the East Coast, where he lives and works, thinks about the Midwest.

In his opening paragraph, Wallace states that outright: “Why exactly they’re interested in the Illinois State Fair remains unclear to me. I suspect that every so often editors at East Coast magazines slap their foreheads and remember that about 90 percent of the United States lies between the coasts, and figure they’ll engage somebody to do pith-helmeted anthropological reporting on something rural and heartlandish.”

Not every motif needs to be stated this clearly , but in an essay as long as Wallace’s, particularly since the audience for such a piece may feel similarly and forget that such a large portion of the country exists, it’s important to make that point clear.

But Wallace doesn’t just rest on introducing his motif and telling the events exactly as they occurred from there. It’s clear that he selects events that remind us of that idea of East Coast cynicism , such as when he realizes that the Help Me Grow tent is standing on top of fake grass that is killing the real grass beneath, when he realizes the hypocrisy of craving a corn dog when faced with a real, suffering pig, when he’s upset for his friend even though he’s not the one being sexually harassed, and when he witnesses another East Coast person doing something he wouldn’t dare to do.

Wallace is literally telling the audience exactly what happened, complete with dates and timestamps for when each event occurred. But he’s also choosing those events with a purpose—he doesn’t focus on details that don’t serve his motif. That’s why he discusses the experiences of people, how the smells are unappealing to him, and how all the people he meets, in cowboy hats, overalls, or “black spandex that looks like cheesecake leotards,” feel almost alien to him.

All of these details feed back into the throughline of East Coast thinking that Wallace introduces in the first paragraph. He also refers back to it in the essay’s final paragraph, stating:

At last, an overarching theory blooms inside my head: megalopolitan East Coasters’ summer treats and breaks and literally ‘getaways,’ flights-from—from crowds, noise, heat, dirt, the stress of too many sensory choices….The East Coast existential treat is escape from confines and stimuli—quiet, rustic vistas that hold still, turn inward, turn away. Not so in the rural Midwest. Here you’re pretty much away all the time….Something in a Midwesterner sort of actuates , deep down, at a public event….The real spectacle that draws us here is us.

Throughout this journey, Wallace has tried to demonstrate how the East Coast thinks about the Midwest, ultimately concluding that they are captivated by the Midwest’s less stimuli-filled life, but that the real reason they are interested in events like the Illinois State Fair is that they are, in some ways, a means of looking at the East Coast in a new, estranging way.

The reason this works so well is that Wallace has carefully chosen his examples, outlined his motif and themes in the first paragraph, and eventually circled back to the original motif with a clearer understanding of his original point.

When outlining your own narrative essay, try to do the same. Start with a theme, build upon it with examples, and return to it in the end with an even deeper understanding of the original issue. You don’t need this much space to explore a theme, either—as we’ll see in the next example, a strong narrative essay can also be very short.

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Death of a Moth by Virginia Woolf

After a time, tired by his dancing apparently, he settled on the window ledge in the sun, and, the queer spectacle being at an end, I forgot about him. Then, looking up, my eye was caught by him. He was trying to resume his dancing, but seemed either so stiff or so awkward that he could only flutter to the bottom of the window-pane; and when he tried to fly across it he failed. Being intent on other matters I watched these futile attempts for a time without thinking, unconsciously waiting for him to resume his flight, as one waits for a machine, that has stopped momentarily, to start again without considering the reason of its failure. After perhaps a seventh attempt he slipped from the wooden ledge and fell, fluttering his wings, on to his back on the window sill. The helplessness of his attitude roused me. It flashed upon me that he was in difficulties; he could no longer raise himself; his legs struggled vainly. But, as I stretched out a pencil, meaning to help him to right himself, it came over me that the failure and awkwardness were the approach of death. I laid the pencil down again.

In this essay, Virginia Woolf explains her encounter with a dying moth. On surface level, this essay is just a recounting of an afternoon in which she watched a moth die—it’s even established in the title. But there’s more to it than that. Though Woolf does not begin her essay with as clear a motif as Wallace, it’s not hard to pick out the evidence she uses to support her point, which is that the experience of this moth is also the human experience.

In the title, Woolf tells us this essay is about death. But in the first paragraph, she seems to mostly be discussing life—the moth is “content with life,” people are working in the fields, and birds are flying. However, she mentions that it is mid-September and that the fields were being plowed. It’s autumn and it’s time for the harvest; the time of year in which many things die.

In this short essay, she chronicles the experience of watching a moth seemingly embody life, then die. Though this essay is literally about a moth, it’s also about a whole lot more than that. After all, moths aren’t the only things that die—Woolf is also reflecting on her own mortality, as well as the mortality of everything around her.

At its core, the essay discusses the push and pull of life and death, not in a way that’s necessarily sad, but in a way that is accepting of both. Woolf begins by setting up the transitional fall season, often associated with things coming to an end, and raises the ideas of pleasure, vitality, and pity.

At one point, Woolf tries to help the dying moth, but reconsiders, as it would interfere with the natural order of the world. The moth’s death is part of the natural order of the world, just like fall, just like her own eventual death.

All these themes are set up in the beginning and explored throughout the essay’s narrative. Though Woolf doesn’t directly state her theme, she reinforces it by choosing a small, isolated event—watching a moth die—and illustrating her point through details.

With this essay, we can see that you don’t need a big, weird, exciting event to discuss an important meaning. Woolf is able to explore complicated ideas in a short essay by being deliberate about what details she includes, just as you can be in your own essays.

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Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

On the twenty-ninth of July, in 1943, my father died. On the same day, a few hours later, his last child was born. Over a month before this, while all our energies were concentrated in waiting for these events, there had been, in Detroit, one of the bloodiest race riots of the century. A few hours after my father’s funeral, while he lay in state in the undertaker’s chapel, a race riot broke out in Harlem. On the morning of the third of August, we drove my father to the graveyard through a wilderness of smashed plate glass.

Like Woolf, Baldwin does not lay out his themes in concrete terms—unlike Wallace, there’s no clear sentence that explains what he’ll be talking about. However, you can see the motifs quite clearly: death, fatherhood, struggle, and race.

Throughout the narrative essay, Baldwin discusses the circumstances of his father’s death, including his complicated relationship with his father. By introducing those motifs in the first paragraph, the reader understands that everything discussed in the essay will come back to those core ideas. When Baldwin talks about his experience with a white teacher taking an interest in him and his father’s resistance to that, he is also talking about race and his father’s death. When he talks about his father’s death, he is also talking about his views on race. When he talks about his encounters with segregation and racism, he is talking, in part, about his father.

Because his father was a hard, uncompromising man, Baldwin struggles to reconcile the knowledge that his father was right about many things with his desire to not let that hardness consume him, as well.

Baldwin doesn’t explicitly state any of this, but his writing so often touches on the same motifs that it becomes clear he wants us to think about all these ideas in conversation with one another.

At the end of the essay, Baldwin makes it more clear:

This fight begins, however, in the heart and it had now been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair. This intimation made my heart heavy and, now that my father was irrecoverable, I wished that he had been beside me so that I could have searched his face for the answers which only the future would give me now.

Here, Baldwin ties together the themes and motifs into one clear statement: that he must continue to fight and recognize injustice, especially racial injustice, just as his father did. But unlike his father, he must do it beginning with himself—he must not let himself be closed off to the world as his father was. And yet, he still wishes he had his father for guidance, even as he establishes that he hopes to be a different man than his father.

In this essay, Baldwin loads the front of the essay with his motifs, and, through his narrative, weaves them together into a theme. In the end, he comes to a conclusion that connects all of those things together and leaves the reader with a lasting impression of completion—though the elements may have been initially disparate, in the end everything makes sense.

You can replicate this tactic of introducing seemingly unattached ideas and weaving them together in your own essays. By introducing those motifs, developing them throughout, and bringing them together in the end, you can demonstrate to your reader how all of them are related. However, it’s especially important to be sure that your motifs and clear and consistent throughout your essay so that the conclusion feels earned and consistent—if not, readers may feel mislead.

5 Key Tips for Writing Narrative Essays

Narrative essays can be a lot of fun to write since they’re so heavily based on creativity. But that can also feel intimidating—sometimes it’s easier to have strict guidelines than to have to make it all up yourself. Here are a few tips to keep your narrative essay feeling strong and fresh.

Develop Strong Motifs

Motifs are the foundation of a narrative essay . What are you trying to say? How can you say that using specific symbols or events? Those are your motifs.

In the same way that an argumentative essay’s body should support its thesis, the body of your narrative essay should include motifs that support your theme.

Try to avoid cliches, as these will feel tired to your readers. Instead of roses to symbolize love, try succulents. Instead of the ocean representing some vast, unknowable truth, try the depths of your brother’s bedroom. Keep your language and motifs fresh and your essay will be even stronger!

Use First-Person Perspective

In many essays, you’re expected to remove yourself so that your points stand on their own. Not so in a narrative essay—in this case, you want to make use of your own perspective.

Sometimes a different perspective can make your point even stronger. If you want someone to identify with your point of view, it may be tempting to choose a second-person perspective. However, be sure you really understand the function of second-person; it’s very easy to put a reader off if the narration isn’t expertly deployed.

If you want a little bit of distance, third-person perspective may be okay. But be careful—too much distance and your reader may feel like the narrative lacks truth.

That’s why first-person perspective is the standard. It keeps you, the writer, close to the narrative, reminding the reader that it really happened. And because you really know what happened and how, you’re free to inject your own opinion into the story without it detracting from your point, as it would in a different type of essay.

Stick to the Truth

Your essay should be true. However, this is a creative essay, and it’s okay to embellish a little. Rarely in life do we experience anything with a clear, concrete meaning the way somebody in a book might. If you flub the details a little, it’s okay—just don’t make them up entirely.

Also, nobody expects you to perfectly recall details that may have happened years ago. You may have to reconstruct dialog from your memory and your imagination. That’s okay, again, as long as you aren’t making it up entirely and assigning made-up statements to somebody.

Dialog is a powerful tool. A good conversation can add flavor and interest to a story, as we saw demonstrated in David Foster Wallace’s essay. As previously mentioned, it’s okay to flub it a little, especially because you’re likely writing about an experience you had without knowing that you’d be writing about it later.

However, don’t rely too much on it. Your narrative essay shouldn’t be told through people explaining things to one another; the motif comes through in the details. Dialog can be one of those details, but it shouldn’t be the only one.

Use Sensory Descriptions

Because a narrative essay is a story, you can use sensory details to make your writing more interesting. If you’re describing a particular experience, you can go into detail about things like taste, smell, and hearing in a way that you probably wouldn’t do in any other essay style.

These details can tie into your overall motifs and further your point. Woolf describes in great detail what she sees while watching the moth, giving us the sense that we, too, are watching the moth. In Wallace’s essay, he discusses the sights, sounds, and smells of the Illinois State Fair to help emphasize his point about its strangeness. And in Baldwin’s essay, he describes shattered glass as a “wilderness,” and uses the feelings of his body to describe his mental state.

All these descriptions anchor us not only in the story, but in the motifs and themes as well. One of the tools of a writer is making the reader feel as you felt, and sensory details help you achieve that.

What’s Next?

Looking to brush up on your essay-writing capabilities before the ACT? This guide to ACT English will walk you through some of the best strategies and practice questions to get you prepared!

Part of practicing for the ACT is ensuring your word choice and diction are on point. Check out this guide to some of the most common errors on the ACT English section to be sure that you're not making these common mistakes!

A solid understanding of English principles will help you make an effective point in a narrative essay, and you can get that understanding through taking a rigorous assortment of high school English classes !

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Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

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Student Opinion

650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing

ideas to write a personal narrative on

By Michael Gonchar

  • Oct. 20, 2016

Update, Sept. 4, 2019: Check out our newest evergreen collection of “ 550 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing ” that includes dozens of new prompts.

Update, Feb. 15, 2019: Learn more about how to use our 1000s of writing prompts by watching our free on-demand webinar: “ Give Them Something to Write About: Teach Across the Curriculum With New York Times-Inspired Daily Prompts. ”

Every school day since 2009 we’ve asked students a question based on an article in The New York Times.

Now, seven years later, and in honor of the Oct. 20 National Day on Writing , we’ve collected 650 of them that invite narrative and personal writing and listed them by category below. Consider it an update of a previous post, and a companion to the list of 301 argumentative writing prompts we published in 2015.

Here is a PDF of all 650 prompts , and we also have a related lesson plan, From ‘Lives’ to ‘Modern Love’: Writing Personal Essays With Help From The New York Times .

Below, a list that touches on everything from sports to travel, education, gender roles, video games, fashion, family, pop culture, social media and more. Like all our Student Opinion questions , each links to a related Times article and includes a series of follow-up questions. All questions published since May 2015 are still open to comment by any student 13 or older.

So dive into this admittedly overwhelming list and pick the questions that most inspire you to tell an interesting story, describe a memorable event, observe the details in your world, imagine a possibility, or reflect on who you are and what you believe.

Overcoming Adversity

1. What Challenges Have You Overcome? 2. What Are Your Secret Survival Strategies? 3. What Do You Do When You Encounter Obstacles to Success? 4. When Have You Failed? What Did You Learn From It? 5. When Have You Ever Succeeded When You Thought You Might Fail? 6. What Life Lessons Has Adversity Taught You? 7. What Work Went Into Reaching Your Most Difficult Goals? 8. How Often Do You Leave Your ‘Comfort Zone’? 9. When Was the Last Time You Did Something That Scared or Challenged You? 10. What Are You Afraid Of? 11. What Are Your Fears and Phobias? 12. What Are Your Personal Superstitions? 13. Do You Like Being Alone? 14. How Often Do You Cry? 15. Do You Ever Feel Overlooked and Underappreciated? 16. How Have You Handled Being the ‘New Kid’? 17. How Do You Deal With Haters? 18. How Do You React When Provoked? 19. What Role Does Stress Play in Your Life? 20. Does Stress Affect Your Ability to Make Good Decisions? 21. How Do You Relieve Stress? 22. How Do You Find Peace in Your Life? 23. Does Your Life Leave You Enough Time to Relax? 24. Do You Set Rules for Yourself About How You Use Your Time? 25. Is ‘Doing Nothing’ a Good Use of Your Time? 26. What Did You Once Hate but Now Like? 27. What Kind of Feedback Helps You Improve? 28. Is Trying Too Hard to Be Happy Making You Sad? 29. Do Adults Who Are ‘Only Trying to Help’ Sometimes Make Things Worse?

Your Personality

30. What Is Your Personal Credo? 31. What Motivates You? 32. What Makes You Happy? 33. What Are You Good At? 34. When in Your Life Have You Been a Leader? 35. How Well Do You Perform Under Pressure? 36. How Well Do You Take Criticism? 37. Are You Hard or Easy on Yourself? 38. How Full Is Your Glass? 39. Do You Have a Hard Time Making Decisions? 40. How Much Self-Control Do You Have? 41. How Good Are You at Waiting for What You Really Want? 42. What Role Does Procrastination Play in Your Life? 43. How Good Are You at Time Management? 44. How Productive and Organized Are You? 45. Under What Conditions Do You Do Your Best Work? 46. How Do You Express Yourself Creatively? 47. Are You a Good Listener? 48. How Competitive Are You? 49. Do You Perform Better When You’re Competing or When You’re Collaborating? 50. How Emotionally Intelligent Are You? 51. Do You Take More Risks When You Are Around Your Friends? 52. Do You Unknowingly Submit to Peer Pressure? 53. Do You Think You’re Brave? 54. How Much of a Daredevil Are You? 55. What Pranks, Jokes, Hoaxes or Tricks Have You Ever Fallen For or Perpetrated? 56. How Impulsive Are You? 57. Are You a Novelty-Seeker? 58. How Do You Deal With Boredom? 59. What Annoys You? 60. Do You Apologize Too Much? 61. Do You Have Good Manners? 62. How Materialistic Are You? 63. Are You a Saver or a Tosser? 64. Are You a Hoarder or a Minimalist? 65. Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert? 66. Are You Popular, Quirky or Conformist? 67. Are You a Nerd or a Geek? 68. What Would Your Personal Mascot Be? 69. What Assumptions Do People Make About You? 70. How Good Are You at Saying Goodbye?

Role Models

71. Who Is Your Role Model? 72. Who Inspires You? 73. Who Are the People – Famous or Not – You Admire Most? 74. Who Are Your Heroes? 75. What Heroic Acts Have You Performed or Witnessed? 76. What’s the Best Advice You’ve Gotten? 77. What Are Some ‘Words of Wisdom’ That Guide Your Life? 78. Who Outside Your Family Has Made a Difference in Your Life? 79. If You Had Your Own Talk Show, Whom Would You Want to Interview? 80. To Whom, or What, Would You Like to Write a Thank-You Note? 81. What Leader Would You Invite to Speak at Your School? 82. What Six People, Living or Dead, Would You Invite to Dinner? 83. Who’s Your ‘Outsider Role Model’?

84. Who Is Your Family? 85. How Do You Define ‘Family’? 86. What Have You and Your Family Accomplished Together? 87. What Events Have Brought You Closer to Your Family? 88. What’s Your Role in Your Family? 89. Have You Ever Changed a Family Member’s Mind? 90. How Well Do You Get Along With Your Siblings? 91. What Are Your Family Stories of Sacrifice? 92. What Possessions Does Your Family Treasure? 93. What Hobbies Have Been Passed Down in Your Family? 94. What’s the Story Behind Your Name? 95. What Are Your Favorite Names? 96. How Have You Paid Tribute to Loved Ones? 97. What Do You Know About Your Family’s History? 98. Did Your Parents Have a Life Before They Had Kids? 99. What Family Traditions Do You Want to Carry On When You Get Older?

Parents & Parenting

100. How Close Are You to Your Parents? 101. How Are You and Your Parents Alike and Different? 102. How Much Freedom Have Your Parents Given You? 103. How Permissive Are Your Parents? 104. Do You Have Helicopter Parents? 105. How Do Your Parents Teach You to Behave? 106. How Do You Make Parenting Difficult for Your Parents? 107. How Often Do You Fight With Your Parents? 108. What Advice Would You Give to Your Mom, Dad or Guardian on How to Be a Better Parent? 109. Is Your Family Stressed, Tired and Rushed? 110. Do Your Parents Try Too Hard to Be Cool? 111. Do You Ever Feel Embarrassed by Your Parents? 112. Do Your Parents Support Your Learning? 113. Do You Talk About Report Cards With Your Parents? 114. Do You Want Your Parents to Stop Asking You ‘How Was School?’ 115. How Much Do Your Parents Help With Your Homework? 116. How Has Your Family Helped or Hindered Your Transition to a New School? 117. Have Your Parents and Teachers Given You Room to Create?

Your Neighborhood

118. How Much Does Your Neighborhood Define Who You Are? 119. What’s Special About Your Hometown? 120. What Marketing Slogan Would You Use for Your Town or City? 121. What Would You Name Your Neighborhood? 122. Who Are the ‘Characters’ That Make Your Town Interesting? 123. Who Is the ‘Mayor’ of Your School or Neighborhood? 124. What Would a TV Show About Your Town Spoof? 125. What ‘Urban Legends’ Are There About Places in Your Area? 126. Do You Know Your Way Around Your City or Town? 127. How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors? 128. What Is Your Favorite Place? 129. What’s Your Favorite Neighborhood Joint? 130. What Is Your Favorite Street? 131. Do You Hang Out in the Park? 132. How Much Time Do You Spend in Nature? 133. What Small Things Have You Seen and Taken Note Of Today? 134. What Buildings Do You Love? What Buildings Do You Hate? 135. What Are the Sounds That Make Up the Background Noise in Your Life? 136. What Sounds Annoy You? 137. What Public Behavior Annoys You Most? 138. Have You Ever Interacted With the Police? 139. What Local Problems Do You Think Your Mayor Should Try to Solve? 140. What Ideas Do You Have for Enhancing Your Community? 141. Where Do You Think You Will Live When You Are an Adult? 142. Would You Most Want to Live in a City, a Suburb or the Country?

143. Is Your Bedroom a Nightmare? 144. What is Your Favorite Place in Your House? 145. How Important Is Keeping a Clean House? 146. Do You Need to De-Clutter Your Life? 147. Do You Plan on Saving Any of Your Belongings for the Future? 148. With Your Home in Danger, What Would You Try to Save? 149. What Would You Grab in a Fire? 150. What Would You Put in Your Emergency ‘Go-Bag’? 151. Who Lived Long Ago Where You Live Now? 152. What Would Your Dream Home Be Like?

Childhood Memories

153. What Was Your Most Precious Childhood Possession? 154. What Objects Tell the Story of Your Life? 155. What Do You Collect? 156. What Were Your Favorite Childhood Shows and Characters? 157. Do You Have Childhood Memories of Being Read Aloud To? 158. What Were Your Favorite Picture Books When You Were Little? 159. What Things Did You Create When You Were a Child? 160. What Places Do You Remember Fondly From Childhood? 161. What Food or Flavor Do You Remember Tasting for the First Time? 162. What Do You Wish You Could See, Hear, Read or Experience for the First Time All Over Again? 163. Have You Ever Felt Embarrassed by Things You Used to Like? 164. Do You Wish You Could Return to Moments From Your Past? 165. Was There a Toy You Wanted as a Child but Never Got? 166. What’s the Best Gift You’ve Ever Given or Received? 167. What’s the Most Memorable Thing You Ever Got in the Mail? 168. Have You Ever Lost (or Found) Something Valuable? 169. What Nicknames Have You Ever Gotten or Given? 170. What Are Your Best Sleepover Memories? 171. What Old, Worn Out Thing Can You Just Not Part With? 172. What Is Your Most Prized Possession?

173. What Have You Learned in Your Teens? 174. What Do You Remember Best About Being 12? 175. What Personal Achievements Make You Proud? 176. What Are Some Recent Moments of Happiness in Your Life? 177. What Rites of Passage Have You Participated In? 178. What Are You Grateful For? 179. What Advice Would You Give Younger Kids About Middle or High School? 180. What Have You Learned From Older People? 181. What Can Older People Learn From Your Generation? 182. What Do Older Generations Misunderstand About Yours? 183. Do You Recognize Yourself in Descriptions of ‘Generation Z’?

184. What Ethical Dilemmas Have You Faced? 185. Have You Ever Had to Make a Sacrifice to Help Someone You Care About? 186. Have You Ever Donated Your Time, Talents, Possessions or Money to Support Anyone in Need? 187. When Is the Last Time You Did Something Nice for a Stranger? 188. Have You Ever ‘Paid It Forward’? 189. How Trustworthy Are You? 190. How Comfortable Are You With Lying? 191. When Do You Lie? 192. Have You Ever Lied to Your Parents or Done Something Behind Their Backs? 193. If You Drink or Use Drugs, Do Your Parents Know? 194. Have You Ever Taken Something You Weren’t Supposed To? 195. Do You Ever Eavesdrop? 196. How Much Do You Gossip?

Religion & Spirituality

197. What Is the Role of Religion or Spirituality in Your Life? 198. How Important Is Your Spiritual Life? 199. Do You Believe That Everything Happens for a Reason? 200. How Much Control Do You Think You Have Over Your Fate? 201. Can You Be Good Without God? 202. Are You Less Religious Than Your Parents? 203. Can You Pass a Basic Religion Test? 204. What Can You Learn From Other Religions?

Gender & Sexuality

205. How Do Male and Female Roles Differ in Your Family? 206. Do Parents Have Different Hopes and Standards for Their Sons Than for Their Daughters? 207. How Do Your Parents Share the Responsibilities of Parenting? 208. Is There Too Much Pressure on Girls to Have ‘Perfect’ Bodies? 209. How Much Pressure Do Boys Face to Have the Perfect Body? 210. How Did You Learn About Sex? 211. What Experiences Have You Had With Gender Bias in School? 212. What Have Been Your Experiences With Catcalling or Other Kinds of Street Harassment? 213. What Does it Mean to Be ‘a Real Man’? 214. Do You Consider Yourself a Feminist? 215. What Does Feminism Mean to You?

Race & Ethnicity

216. What Is Your Racial and Ethnic Identity? 217. Have You Ever Tried to Hide Your Racial or Ethnic Identity? 218. How Often Do You Interact With People of Another Race or Ethnicity? 219. Do You Ever Talk About Issues of Race and Class With Your Friends? 220. Is Your Generation Really ‘Postracial’? 221. What’s the Racial Makeup of Your School? 222. Does Your School Seem Integrated? 223. Have You Experienced Racism or Other Kinds of Discrimination in School?

Money & Social Class

224. What Are Your Attitudes Toward Money? 225. Are You a Saver or a Spender? 226. What Have Your Parents Taught You About Money? 227. Do You Expect Your Parents to Give You Money? 228. How Important a Role Has Money, Work or Social Class Played in Your Life? 229. Do You See Great Disparities of Wealth in Your Community? 230. Can Money Buy You Happiness? 231. What Are the Best Things in Life and Are They Free?

232. Are You Distracted by Technology? 233. Are You Distracted by Your Phone? 234. Are You ‘Addicted’ to Texting? 235. Do You Always Have Your Phone or Tablet at Your Side? 236. Do Screens Get in the Way of the Rest of Your Life? 237. Do You Experience FOMO When You Unplug? 238. Does Your Digital Life Have Side Effects? 239. Do You Spend Too Much Time on Smartphones Playing ‘Stupid Games’? 240. Do Apps Help You or Just Waste Your Time? 241. What Tech Tools Play the Biggest Role in Your Life? 242. What New Technologies or Tech Toys Are You Most Excited About? 243. To What Piece of Technology Would You Write a ‘Love Letter’?

The Internet

244. What’s So Great About YouTube? 245. What Has YouTube Taught You? 246. What Are Your Favorite Viral Videos? 247. What Are Your Favorite Internet Spoofs? 248. What Would You Teach the World in an Online Video? 249. Do You Ever Seek Advice on the Internet? 250. Would You Share an Embarrassing Story Online? 251. How Do You Know if What You Read Online Is True? 252. What Are Your Experiences With Internet-Based Urban Legends? 253. How Much Do You Trust Online Reviews? 254. How Do You Use Wikipedia? 255. How Careful Are You Online? 256. What Story Does Your Personal Data Tell? 257. Do You Worry About the Lack of Anonymity in the Digital Age? 258. Would You Mind if Your Parents Blogged About You? 259. Do You Wish You Had More Privacy Online? 260. Have You Ever Been Scammed? 261. Whom Would You Share Your Passwords With?

Social Media

262. How Do You Use Facebook? 263. What Is Your Facebook Persona? 264. How Real Are You on Social Media? 265. What Memorable Experiences Have You Had on Facebook? 266. Does Facebook Ever Make You Feel Bad? 267. Would You Consider Deleting Your Facebook Account? 268. Do You Have ‘Instagram Envy’? 269. Do You Use Twitter? 270. Why Do You Share Photos? 271. How Do You Archive Your Life? 272. Have You Ever Posted, Emailed or Texted Something You Wish You Could Take Back? 273. Have You Ever Sent an Odd Message Because of Auto-Correct? 274. Would You Want Your Photo or Video to Go Viral? 275. Do You Worry Colleges or Employers Might Read Your Social Media Posts Someday? 276. What Advice Do You Have for Younger Kids About Navigating Social Media?

277. What Are You Listening To? 278. What Songs Are on Your Favorite Playlist? 279. What Musicians or Bands Mean the Most to You? 280. What Music Inspires You? 281. Who in Your Life Introduces You to New Music? 282. How Much Is Your Taste in Music Based on What Your Friends Like? 283. What Role Does Hip-Hop Play in Your Life? 284. Which Pop Music Stars Fascinate You? 285. Who Is Your Favorite Pop Diva? 286. What’s Your Karaoke Song? 287. Which Artists Would You Like to See Team Up? 288. How Closely Do You Listen to Lyrics? 289. What Are Your Earliest Memories of Music?

290. What Are the Best Things You’ve Watched, Read, Heard or Played This Year? 291. What Are Your TV Habits? 292. Do Your Television Viewing Habits Include ‘Binge-Watching’? 293. What Role Does Television Play in Your Life and the Life of Your Family? 294. What Television Shows Have Mattered to You? 295. How Often Do You Watch a Television Show When It Originally Airs? 296. Have You Fallen Into ‘Friends’ or Any Other Older Television Shows? 297. What Old Television Shows Would You Bring Back? 298. Why Do We Like Reality Shows So Much? 299. What Ideas Do You Have for a Reality Show? 300. What Reality TV Show Would You Want to Be a Guest Star On? 301. What Are Your Favorite Cartoons? 302. What Are Your Favorite Commercials? 303. How Much Are You Influenced by Advertising?

Movies & Theater

304. What Are Your Favorite Movies Ever? 305. What Were the Best Movies You Saw in the Past Year? 306. What Movies Do You Watch, or Reference, Over and Over? 307. What Movies, Shows or Books Do You Wish Had Sequels, Spinoffs or New Episodes? 308. Do You Like Horror Movies? 309. What Is Your Favorite Comedy? 310. Who Are Your Favorite Movie Stars? 311. Would You Pay Extra for a 3-D Movie? 312. Where, and How, Do You Watch Movies? 313. What Are the Best Live Theatrical Performances You’ve Ever Seen? 314. Have You Ever Stumbled Upon a Cool Public Performance?

Video Games

315. What Are Your Favorite Video Games? 316. What Have You Learned Playing Video Games? 317. Do You Play Violent Video Games? 318. When Should You Feel Guilty for Killing Zombies? 319. Who Are Your Opponents in Online Gaming? 320. Do You Like Watching Other People Play Video Games? 321. How Excited Are You About the Possibilities of Virtual Reality?

Books & Reading

322. Read Any Good Books Lately? 323. What Are the Best Books You’ve Read This Year? 324. What Are Your Favorite Books and Authors? 325. What Are Your Favorite Young Adult Novels? 326. Do You Read for Pleasure? 327. What Memorable Poetry Have You Ever Read or Heard? 328. What Magazines Do You Read, and How Do You Read Them? 329. Do You Enjoy Reading Tabloid Gossip? 330. When Have You Seen Yourself and Your Life Reflected in a Book or Other Media? 331. Has a Book, Movie, Television Show, Song or Video Game Ever Inspired You to Do Something New? 332. Do You Prefer Your Children’s Book Characters Obedient or Contrary? 333. Do You Read E-Books? 334. Would You Trade Your Paper Books for Digital Versions? 335. To What Writer Would You Award a Prize?

336. Why Do You Write? 337. Are You a Good Storyteller? 338. What’s Your Favorite Joke? 339. Do You Keep a Diary or Journal? 340. Do You Have a Blog? 341. Do You Want to Write a Book? 342. When Do You Write by Hand? 343. Do You Write in Cursive? 344. Do You Write in Your Books? 345. What ‘Mundane Moments’ From Your Life Might Make Great Essay Material? 346. What Is Your Most Memorable Writing Assignment? 347. Do You Ever Write About Challenges You Face in Life?

348. What’s the Coolest Thing You’ve Ever Seen in a Museum? 349. What Are the Most Memorable Works of Visual Art You Have Seen? 350. What Are Your Favorite Works of Art? 351. How Important Is Arts Education? 352. What Has Arts Education Done For You?

Language & Speech

353. What Words Do You Hate? 354. What Words or Phrases Do You Think Are Overused? 355. How Much Slang Do You Use? What Are Your Favorite Words? 356. What Current Slang Words and Expressions Do You Think Will Endure? 357. Why Do So Many People Say ‘Like’ and ‘Totally’ All the Time? 358. Do You Say ‘Kind of, Sort of’ More Than You Realize? 359. How Much Do You Curse? 360. How Good Are You at Coming Up With Witty Comebacks? 361. When Did You Last Have a Great Conversation? 362. How Often Do You Have ‘Deep Discussions’? 363. Do You Wish Your Conversations Were Less Small Talk and More ‘Big Talk’? 364. When Do You Choose Making a Phone Call Over Sending a Text? 365. How Much Information Is ‘Too Much Information’? 366. Do You Sometimes ‘Hide’ Behind Irony? 367. How Good Is Your Grammar? 368. Do You Speak a Second, or Third, Language? 369. When Do You Remember Learning a New Word? 370. What Does Your Body Language Communicate?

371. Do You Like School? 372. Are You Stressed About School? 373. Are High School Students Being Worked Too Hard? 374. What Are You Really Learning at School? 375. What Are You Looking Forward To, or Dreading, This School Year? 376. Would You Want to Be Home-Schooled? 377. Would You Like to Take a Class Online? 378. Would You Rather Attend a Public or a Private High School? 379. How Much Does It Matter to You Which High School You Attend? 380. How Would You Grade Your School? 381. What Can Other Schools Learn — and Copy — From Your School? 382. What Would You Miss if You Left Your School? 383. Is Your School Day Too Short? 384. What Do You Hope to Get Out of High School?

Learning & Studying

385. Do You Have Too Much Homework? 386. Does Your Homework Help You Learn? 387. Do You Participate in Class? 388. What Is Your Best Subject? 389. What’s the Most Challenging Assignment You’ve Ever Had? 390. What Memorable Experiences Have You Had in Learning Science or Math? 391. Are You Afraid of Math? 392. Do We Need a Better Way to Teach Math? 393. What Are the Best Ways to Learn About History? 394. How Would You Do on a Civics Test? 395. Does Your School Offer Enough Opportunities to Learn Computer Programming? 396. Does Your School Value Students’ Digital Skills? 397. Do You Know How to Code? Would You Like to Learn? 398. What Career or Technical Classes Do You Wish Your School Offered? 399. What Was Your Favorite Field Trip? 400. What Are Your Best Tips for Studying? 401. Do You Use Study Guides? 402. Is Everything You’ve Been Taught About Study Habits Wrong? 403. What Would You Like to Have Memorized? 404. How Well Do You Think Standardized Tests Measure Your Abilities? 405. Do Your Test Scores Reflect How Good Your Teachers Are?

406. What Do You Wish Your Teachers Knew About You? 407. When Has a Teacher Inspired You? 408. What Teacher Would You Like to Thank? 409. What Makes a Good Teacher? 410. Have You Ever Been Humiliated by a Teacher? How Did it Affect You? 411. Have Your Teachers or Textbooks Ever Gotten It Wrong? 412. Do Your Teachers Use Technology Well? 413. Do You Have a Tutor?

School Life

414. How Do You Feel About Proms? 415. Do You Want to Be ‘Promposed’ To? 416. Is Prom Worth It? 417. What Role Do School Clubs and Teams Play in Your Life? 418. How Big a Problem Is Bullying or Cyberbullying in Your School or Community? 419. Would You Ever Go Through Hazing to Be Part of a Group? 420. Is Your School a ‘Party School’? 421. Have You Been To Parties That Have Gotten Out of Control? 422. How Common Is Drug Use in Your School? 423. Can Students at Your School Talk Openly About Their Mental Health Issues? 424. How Does Your School Deal With Students Who Misbehave? 425. Do You Know People Who Cheat on High-Stakes Tests? 426. How Much Does Your Life in School Intersect With Your Life Outside School? 427. Do You Ever ‘Mix It Up’ and Socialize With Different People at School? 428. What Fads Are You and Your Friends Into Right Now?

429. Where Do You Want to Go to College? 430. What Are Your Sources for Information About Colleges and Universities? 431. What Role Has Community College Played in Your Life or the Life of Someone You Know? 432. Is College Overrated? 433. How Much Do You Worry About Taking the SAT or ACT? 434. What Personal Essay Topic Would You Assign to College Applicants? 435. What Qualities Would You Look For in a College Roommate? 436. Would You Want to Take a Gap Year After High School? 437. What Makes a Graduation Ceremony Memorable?

Work & Careers

438. What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? 439. Do You Have a Life Calling? 440. What’s Your Dream Job? 441. What Are Your Longtime Interests or Passions? 442. Do You Think You Will Have a Career That You Love? 443. What Do You Want More From a Career: Happiness or Wealth? 444. What Investment Are You Willing to Make to Get Your Dream Job? 445. Would You Consider a Nontraditional Occupation? 446. Would You Rather Work From Home or in an Office? 447. Would You Want to Be a Teacher? 448. What Hidden Talents Might You Have? 449. What ‘Back-to-the-Land’ Skills Do You Have, or Wish You Had? 450. What Skill Could You Teach in Two Minutes? 451. What Have You Made Yourself? 452. Do You Have an Idea for a Business or App? 453. What Would You Create if You Had Funding? 454. How Did You Start Doing Something You Love? 455. Did You Ever Take a Break From Doing Something You Love? 456. What Have You Done to Earn Money? 457. Do You Have a Job? 458. Would You Quit if Your Values Did Not Match Your Employer’s? 459. What Do You Hope to Be Doing the Year After You Graduate From College? 460. Where Do You See Yourself in 10 Years?

461. Do You Have a Best Friend? 462. How Often Do You Spend One-on-One Time With Your Closest Friends? 463. How Do You Feel About Introducing Friends from Different Parts of Your Life? 464. Do You Find It Easier to Make New Friends Online or In Person? 465. How Good a Friend Are You? 466. How Have You Helped a Friend in a Time of Need? 467. Do You Like Your Friends? 468. Is Competitiveness an Obstacle to Making or Keeping Friendships? 469. How Should You Handle the End of a Friendship? 470. Have You Ever Felt Left Out?

471. Have You Ever Been in Love? 472. What Are the Most Meaningful Relationships in Your Life? 473. What Advice Would You Give to Somebody Who Just Started Dating? 474. Are You Allowed to Date? 475. Is Dating a Thing of the Past? 476. Is Hookup Culture Leaving Your Generation Unhappy and Unprepared for Love? 477. What Are the Basic ‘Rules’ for Handling Breakups? 478. What’s the Best Way to Get Over a Breakup? 479. What Are Your Beliefs About Marriage?

Sports & Games

480. What’s the Most Impressive Sports Moment You’ve Seen? 481. Who Are Your Sports Heroes? 482. What Sports Teams Do You Root For? 483. Does Being a Fan Help Define Who You Are? 484. How Far Would You Go to Express Loyalty to Your Favorite Teams? 485. Are You a Fair-Weather Fan? 486. When Has a Sports Team Most Disappointed You? 487. Do You Watch the Super Bowl? 488. What Fan Memorabilia Would You Pay Big Bucks For? 489. What Extreme Sports Interest You Most? 490. Why Do You Play Sports? 491. What Rules Would You Like to See Changed in Your Favorite Sports? 492. Do You Enjoy Playing Games or Solving Puzzles? 493. What Are Your Favorite Board Games? 494. What Are Your Favorite Games? 495. What Game Would You Like to Redesign?

496. Where in the World Would You Most Like to Travel? 497. What Is Your Fantasy Vacation? 498. What Would Your Fantasy Road Trip Be Like? 499. What Crazy Adventure Would You Want to Take? 500. What Local ‘Microadventures’ Would You Like to Go On? 501. What’s Your Perfect Family Vacation? 502. How Has Travel Affected You? 503. What Kind of Tourist Are You? 504. What Are the Best Souvenirs You’ve Ever Collected While Traveling? 505. What Famous Landmarks Have You Visited? 506. What’s the Coolest Thing You’ve Ever Seen in Nature? 507. How Much Do You Know About the Rest of the World? 508. Would You Like to Live in Another Country? 509. Would You Want to Be a Space Tourist? 510. If You Could Time-Travel, Where Would You Go?

Looks & Fashion

511. What Is Your All-Time Favorite Piece of Clothing? 512. Do You Have a Signature Clothing Item? 513. What’s Your Favorite T-Shirt? 514. Do You Care What You Wear? 515. Does What You Wear Say Anything About You as a Person? 516. What Does Your Hairstyle Say About You? 517. What’s on Your Fashion Shopping List? 518. How Far Would You Go for Fashion? 519. What Are the Hot Fashion Trends at Your School Right Now? 520. What Current Trends Annoy You? 521. Would You Ever Consider Getting a Tattoo? 522. What Are Your Opinions on Cosmetic Surgery? 523. Do Photoshopped Images Make You Feel Bad About Your Own Looks? 524. Have You Inherited Your Parents’ Attitudes Toward Their Looks? 525. Has Anyone Ever Said That You Look Like Someone Famous?

Exercise, Health & Sleep

526. Do You Like to Exercise? 527. Do You Get Enough Exercise? 528. How Has Exercise Changed Your Health, Your Body or Your Life? 529. How Much Do You Think About Your Weight? 530. How Often Do You Engage in ‘Fat Talk’? 531. Do You Pay Attention to Calorie Counts for Food? 532. Do You Pay Attention to Nutrition Labels on Food? 533. How Concerned Are You About Where Your Food Comes From? 534. Are Your Eating Habits Healthy? 535. Do You Eat Too Quickly? 536. What Are Your ‘Food Rules’? 537. What Are Your Healthy Habits? 538. What Health Tips Have Worked for You? 539. What Rules Do You Have for Staying Healthy? 540. How Careful Are You in the Sun? 541. What Are Your Sleep Habits? 542. How Much of a Priority Do You Make Sleep? 543. Do You Get Enough Sleep?

Meals & Food

544. What Are the Most Memorable Meals You’ve Ever Had? 545. What’s Your Favorite Holiday Food Memory? 546. What’s Your Comfort Food? 547. What Are Your Favorite Junk Foods? 548. What’s Your Favorite Candy? 549. What’s Your Favorite Sandwich? 550. Do You Prefer Your Tacos ‘Authentic’ or ‘Appropriated’? 551. What Food Would You Like to Judge in a Taste-Off? 552. Do You Cook? 553. What Would You Most Like to Learn to Cook or Bake? 554. What Messages About Food and Eating Have You Learned From Your Family? 555. How Often Does Your Family Eat Together? 556. What Are Your Favorite Restaurants? 557. What Restaurant Would You Most Like to Review? 558. What Do You Eat During the School Day? 559. Do You Eat Cafeteria Food? 560. Is School Lunch Really All That Bad?

Holidays & Seasons

561. How Do You Celebrate Your Birthday? 562. Will You Be Wearing a Halloween Costume This Year? 563. Do You Like Scary Movies and Books? 564. Do You Believe in Ghosts? 565. What Are Your Thanksgiving Traditions? 566. What Do You Look Forward to Most – and Least – During the Holiday Season? 567. What Are Your Tips for Enjoying the Holiday Season? 568. How Will You Spend the Holiday Break? 569. What Does Santa Claus Mean to You? 570. Do You Look Forward to New Year’s Eve? 571. Do You Make New Year’s Resolutions? 572. How Do You Fight the Winter Blues? 573. What Would You Do on a Snow Day? 574. What Are Your Experiences With Severe Weather? 575. How Do You Feel About Valentine’s Day? 576. How Do You Celebrate Spring? 577. What Would Your Fantasy Spring Break Be Like? 578. What Are You Looking Forward to This Summer? 579. What Would Your Ideal Summer Camp Be Like? 580. What Are Your Favorite Summer Hangouts? 581. What’s Your Favorite Summer Food? 582. What Is Your Favorite Summer Movie? 583. What’s on Your Summer Reading List? 584. Do You Have a Summer Job? 585. Do You Choose Summer Activities to Look Good on Applications? 586. What Are the Best Things You Did This Summer? 587. How Do You Prepare to Go Back to School? 588. How Can People Make the Most of Long Holiday Weekends? 589. What’s Your Sunday Routine?

590. What’s Your Favorite Store? 591. To What Company Would You Write a Letter of Complaint or Admiration? 592. To What Business Would You Like to Give Advice? 593. Do You Ever Hang Out at the Mall? 594. How Would You Make Over Your Mall? 595. Do You Shop at Locally Owned Businesses? 596. What Are the Best Things You’ve Acquired Secondhand?

Cars & Driving

597. How Important Is It to Have a Driver’s License? 598. Are You a Good Driver? 599. Do You Have a Dream Car? 600. Would You Like to Ride in a Car That Drives Itself?

Animals & Pets

601. What Are the Animals in Your Life? 602. What’s Your Relationship Like With Your Pet? 603. How Well Do You Know Your Pet? 604. What Are Your Thoughts on Cats? 605. Would You Want to Hang Out at a Cat Cafe? 606. Why Do We Love Watching Animal Videos So Much? 607. What Are Your Most Memorable Stories About Wildlife? 608. How Do You Feel About Zoos?

Environmental Issues

609. How Green Are You? 610. How Do You Try to Reduce Your Impact on the Environment? 611. Do You Ever Feel Guilty About What, or How Much, You Throw Away? 612. How Much Food Does Your Family Waste? 613. What Could You Live Without? 614. How Do You Celebrate Earth Day?

Politics & Beliefs

615. How Would You Like to Help Our World? 616. What Cause Would Get You Into the Streets? 617. Have Your Ever Taken Part in a Protest? 618. What Would You Risk Your Life For? 619. When Have You Spoken Out About Something You Felt Had to Change? 620. What Would You Invent to Make the World a Better Place? 621. Given Unlimited Resources, What Scientific or Medical Problem Would You Investigate? 622. What Organizations Do You Think People Should Give to This Holiday Season? 623. Do You Trust Your Government? 624. When You Are Old Enough to Vote, Will You? 625. Do You Consider Yourself a Republican, Democrat or Independent?

History & Current Events

626. What Event in the Past Do You Wish You Could Have Witnessed? 627. What Are the Most Important Changes, in Your Life and in the World, in the Last Decade? 628. What National or International Events That You Lived Through Do You Remember Best? 629. Why Should We Care About Events in Other Parts of the World? 630. What News Stories Are You Following? 631. How Do You Get Your News? 632. Is Your Online World Just a ‘Filter Bubble’ of People With the Same Opinions? 633. Do Your Friends on Social Media All Have the Same Political Opinions You Do?

634. What Would You Do if You Won the Lottery? 635. What Superpower Do You Wish You Had? 636. What Era Do You Wish You Had Lived In? 637. Would You Want to Be a Tween or Teen Star? 638. Would You Want to Be a Child Prodigy? 639. Would You Want to Grow Up in the Public Eye? 640. What Kind of Robot Would You Want? 641. What Would You Outsource if You Could? 642. What Would You Like to Learn on Your Own? 643. What Would You Be Willing to Wait in a Really Long Line For? 644. If You Were a Super Rich Philanthropist, What Causes Would You Support? 645. What Would You Do if You Were President? 646. What Famous Person Would You Like to Visit Your School? 647. Who Would Be the Ideal Celebrity Neighbor? 648. What Do You Want to Be Doing When You’re 80? 649. Do You Want to Live to 100? 650. What Do You Want Your Obituary to Say?

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BEST NARRATIVE WRITING PROMPTS

Join (probably?) the world's largest writing contest. Flex those creative muscles with weekly writing prompts.

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Write a story from the point of view of a non-human character., begin your story with the sensation of a breeze brushing against a character's skin., make a race an important element of your story., set your story in a place that’s frozen in time — literally or metaphorically., write a story in the form of diary entries, written by someone who has set themselves a month-long challenge..

ideas to write a personal narrative on

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Write a story in the form of a list.

Write a story framed by a single scene: something happens, a flashback or inner monologue intervenes, and then the story ends with the rest of the original scene., start or end your story in a bustling street food market., write a story with an open ending that gives readers just enough details to draw their own conclusions., start your story in a coffee shop without using obvious words to describe it (e.g. barista, coffee cup.), subscribe to our prompts newsletter.

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Write a short story about a teacher or mentor figure who recognizes hidden (or magical!) potential in someone and helps them cultivate it.

Write a story inspired by the phrase “back to square one.”, make japan (or japanese culture) an element of your story., write about your happiest memory, and what about it made you so happy., write about a time that you failed in your objective., what qualities do you look for in a friend why, set a narrative inside of the last dream you had., write about a time that you were lost (metaphorically or literally)., you are given three wishes, but there's a catch: one of them won't come true for the rest of your life, and you don't get to pick which one it is. what do you wish for, write about a time you felt betrayed., win $250 in our short story competition 🏆.

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The best narrative writing prompts

Writing about yourself can be tricky. Where do you start in your personal narrative? How do you express yourself? What should you write about when it's that personal? Enter narrative writing prompts. These prompts can give you some starting ideas for a story, fuel your memory, and bring your experience to life.

The best part is that you can start narrative writing from any angle: in the mood to write about food today? Go for it. What if you have a lot of thoughts about a particular movie or book you just experienced? Please write it down, starting now! Whether you're a teacher in school guiding students through the art of the personal narrative or a writer simply trying to piece together an essay, these narrative writing prompts are for you.

If you're looking to cut to the chase, here's a top ten list of our favorite narrative writing prompts:

  • "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!" You've heard this all your life, and you're starting to hate it.
  • Write a story about a mistake that results in wonderful consequences.
  • Write a story about someone forced out of their home.
  • Write a story about someone returning to their craft after a long hiatus.
  • Write a story about someone who defies social conventions.
  • Write about somebody who knows they’re probably going to fail at something, but does it anyway.
  • Write about someone grappling with a specific insecurity.
  • Write about someone making a seemingly inconsequential decision that turns out to have enormous consequences.
  • Your house is on fire and you're able to save one photograph. What would it be?
  • Tell a story through a shopping list.

If you’re interested in becoming a personal narrative author, check out our free resources on the topic:

How to Write a Memoir (blog post) — Wondering how to turn your narrative short story into a full-blown memoir that you can publish? This comprehensive guide has you covered with a step-by-step article on how outline, research, market, and write a memoir. Take a deep dive into the booming market for memoirs and learn what goes into such a book proposal today!

The Non-Sexy Business of Writing Non-Fiction (free course) — Many people have an idea for a nonfiction book they want to write. But very few of them actually become published authors — simply because it’s much harder to write a book than it sounds. In this ten-day course, publishing coach Azul Terronez will help you become one of those select few writers who finish their nonfiction books by walking you through the common writing mistakes to avoid, what to ask yourself before getting started, and how to get through the writing process.

Ready to start writing? Check out Reedsy’s weekly short story contest for the chance of winning $250! You can also check out our list of writing contests or our directory of literary magazines for more opportunities to submit your story.

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65 Engaging Personal Narrative Ideas for Kids and Teens

Tell a story to engage the reader.

ideas to write a personal narrative on

Personal narrative essays are all about telling stories. Engage your reader with lots of descriptive language, and ensure you have a beginning, middle, and end. ( Get more tips about teaching narrative writing here. ) Try these personal narrative ideas to inspire kids and teens to tell meaningful stories from their own lives, no matter what they’ve experienced.

“Describe a Time When You …” Personal Narrative Ideas

Firsts and bests personal narrative ideas, general personal narrative essay ideas, college essay personal narrative ideas.

These personal narrative ideas urge students to dig into their past experiences and share them with their audience. Be sure to share the details, including what took place and how it made you feel, and anything you learned from the experience.

Describe a time when you:

  • Were scared
  • Overcame a big challenge
  • Learned an important life lesson
  • Had to make a difficult decision

ideas to write a personal narrative on

  • Were proud of a friend or family member
  • Did something you didn’t want to and ended up liking it
  • Met a celebrity or someone you really admire
  • Tried something new
  • Made a mistake and had to apologize and/or fix the mistake
  • Were in danger
  • Helped someone in need
  • Had a dream come true
  • Felt inspired
  • Had a really terrible day

ideas to write a personal narrative on

  • Were a leader
  • Made someone else laugh
  • Did something you later regretted
  • Set a goal and achieved it

These essay topics explore the times you did something for the first time ever, or when you were the best version of yourself.

  • Write about meeting your best friend for the first time and how your relationship developed.

ideas to write a personal narrative on

  • Tell about learning to ride a bike or drive a car.
  • Tell about your proudest moment.
  • What is your happiest memory?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • Explain what it’s like to move to a new town or start a new school.
  • What’s the best (or worst!) vacation you’ve ever taken?
  • Tell the story of the time you got your first pet.
  • Describe your favorite field trip of all time.
  • Tell the story of your first day of kindergarten.
  • What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
  • Describe the best party or celebration you’ve ever attended.
  • Tell about the first time someone ever paid you for work (first job, chores for a neighbor, babysitting, etc.) and how it made you feel.

ideas to write a personal narrative on

  • Describe the first time you spent a night away from home without your family.
  • What’s the best gift you’ve ever been given?

Here are more personal narrative topics to inspire young writers.

  • Describe a performance or sporting event you took part in.
  • Explain the process of cooking and eating your favorite meal.
  • Write about a time when you or someone you know displayed courage.
  • Share the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you.
  • Describe a time when you or someone you know experienced prejudice or oppression.

ideas to write a personal narrative on

  • Explain a family tradition, how it developed, and its importance today.
  • What is your favorite holiday? How does your family celebrate it?
  • Describe your morning routine from the time you wake up until the moment the school bell rings to start the day.
  • Share what you do on a typical non-school day.
  • Tell about a time when you were injured. How did it happen?
  • Describe an argument you and a friend had and how you resolved it.
  • Tell about what you think your life will be like when you’re 25 years old.
  • Explore a time when you felt you were treated unfairly.
  • What makes your family different from everyone else’s family?
  • If you could relive any day in your life, what would it be? Would you want it to be the same or different?

ideas to write a personal narrative on

These personal narrative essay topics all come from real 2022–2023 college applications. ( See more college essay prompts here. )

  • Discuss a time when reflection or introspection led to clarity or understanding of an issue that is important to you.
  • Share an example of how you have used your own critical-thinking skills on a specific subject, project, idea, or interest.

ideas to write a personal narrative on

  • Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you.
  • Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness.
  • When was the last time you questioned something you had thought to be true?
  • Reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
  • Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.
  • Describe a time when you were challenged by a perspective that differed from your own. How did you respond?
  • Elaborate on an activity or experience you have had that made an impact on a community that is important to you.

ideas to write a personal narrative on

  • Describe any meaningful travel experiences you’ve had.
  • Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.
  • What is the greatest compliment you have ever been given? Why was it meaningful to you?
  • What has been your best academic experience in the last two years, and what made it so good?
  • Describe a time when you’ve felt empowered or represented by an educator.
  • Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

What are your favorite personal narrative ideas? Come share on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, check out the big list of essay topics for high school (100+ ideas) ., you might also like.

ideas to write a personal narrative on

15 Inspiring Personal Narrative Examples for Writers

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ideas to write a personal narrative on

Narrative Essay Topics: TOP 200 Choices for Students

ideas to write a personal narrative on

Imagine yourself facing a blank page, ready to fill it with your memories and imagination. What story will you tell today?

As students, you often have to write narratives that capture people's attention. But with so many stories to choose from, where do you start? How do you find the perfect topic that will grab our readers' interest and make them think?

Join our essay service experts as we explore 200 topics for college where stories are waiting to be told, and experiences are ready to be shared. From everyday events to unforgettable moments, each topic is a chance to connect with your readers and make them feel something.

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Ideas for Narrative Essay Topics

After exploring how students write narrative paragraphs, we've put together a list of narrative essay topics designed specifically for college and school students. This list covers a wide range of subjects, so pick one that speaks to you! If you want to see how to develop a topic into a written essay, check out our narrative essay example . 

Literacy Narrative Essay Topics for College Students

How about delving into captivating literacy narrative essay topics designed specifically for college-level writing? Exciting, isn't it?

  • How did a childhood book shape your view of the world?
  • What challenges did you face when learning to read in a second language?
  • How has storytelling within your family influenced your literacy journey?
  • Can you recall a pivotal moment that ignited your love for reading?
  • How did a specific teacher inspire your passion for literature?
  • Have you ever encountered a character in a book who profoundly impacted your perspective on life?
  • What role did writing play in helping you navigate a difficult period in your life?
  • How has your relationship with technology affected your reading habits?
  • What cultural or historical event sparked your interest in a particular genre of literature?
  • How has poetry shaped your understanding of language and emotion?
  • Have you ever experienced a breakthrough moment in your writing process?
  • How has reading aloud impacted your comprehension and enjoyment of literature?
  • Can you recall a time when a book challenged your beliefs or worldview?
  • How has participating in a book club enriched your reading experience?
  • What strategies have you developed to overcome reading difficulties or distractions?

Personal Narrative Essay Topics on Relationships

Take a moment to reflect on your past experiences and craft compelling personal narratives with these essay ideas.

  • How did a specific friendship shape who you are today?
  • Can you recount a moment that strengthened your bond with a family member?
  • What challenges have you faced in maintaining a long-distance relationship?
  • How has a mentor influenced your personal and professional development?
  • Have you experienced a betrayal in a relationship? How did it impact you?
  • Can you describe a memorable conflict resolution process within a relationship?
  • How has your relationship with a pet affected your emotional well-being?
  • What lessons have you learned from navigating a romantic relationship?
  • How has your relationship with a sibling evolved over time?
  • Can you recall a time when you had to set boundaries in a friendship?
  • How has volunteering or community involvement enriched your relationships?
  • What cultural differences have influenced your relationships with others?
  • Can you share a moment when you felt truly understood by someone?
  • How has technology affected the dynamics of your relationships?
  • Have you ever experienced a reconciliation that transformed a strained relationship?

Best Narrative Essay Topics on Education and Learning

Consider the beauty of sharing your personal experiences and emotions in a captivating manner through these ideas for personal narrative essays.

  • What was the most valuable lesson you learned outside of the classroom?
  • Can you recount a moment when a teacher's unconventional method transformed your understanding of a subject?
  • How has a field trip or experiential learning opportunity impacted your education?
  • What challenges have you faced in balancing extracurricular activities with academics?
  • Have you ever had a "Eureka!" moment while studying? Describe it.
  • How has learning a new skill outside of school influenced your academic performance?
  • Can you recall a time when a peer's perspective challenged your own understanding of a topic?
  • How has technology enhanced or hindered your learning experience?
  • What role does creativity play in your approach to learning?
  • Have you ever experienced a setback that ultimately propelled you forward academically?
  • How has your cultural background influenced your learning style?
  • Can you describe a time when you had to advocate for yourself within an educational setting?
  • How has mentorship shaped your educational journey?
  • What strategies have you employed to overcome academic challenges or obstacles?
  • Can you reflect on a time when failure taught you a valuable lesson about learning?

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Personal Narrative Essay Ideas on Reflection on Life

Why not ignite your creativity with a range of narrative essay topics, from extraordinary moments to everyday experiences?

  • How has a moment of failure ultimately led to personal growth and resilience?
  • Can you recount a pivotal decision that significantly altered the course of your life?
  • What lessons have you learned from navigating a crossroads or major life transition?
  • How has your perspective on success evolved over time?
  • Can you reflect on a time when you had to confront and overcome a deeply held fear?
  • What role has gratitude played in shaping your outlook on life?
  • How have your values and beliefs been influenced by significant life experiences?
  • Can you describe a moment when you found clarity and purpose amidst chaos or uncertainty?
  • What impact has traveling to a new place had on your understanding of the world and yourself?
  • How has adversity strengthened your character and determination?
  • Can you recall a time when a random act of kindness profoundly impacted your life?
  • What lessons have you learned from embracing vulnerability and authenticity in relationships?
  • How has practicing mindfulness or self-reflection enhanced your well-being and happiness?
  • Can you reflect on a period of personal transformation or self-discovery?
  • How have you found meaning and fulfillment in pursuing your passions and interests?

Ideas for a Narrative Essay on Culture and Society

Engaging your readers with narrative essays on culture and society is a great way to spark interest, offering captivating ideas for exploration.

  • How has your family's unique culinary heritage influenced your cultural identity?
  • Can you reflect on a specific cultural artifact or heirloom that holds deep significance for your family?
  • What challenges have you faced in preserving traditional customs while adapting to modern societal expectations?
  • How has a local festival or celebration revealed the intricacies of your community's cultural tapestry?
  • Can you recount a moment when you navigated a cultural clash between your upbringing and the dominant culture?
  • How has your experience as a first-generation immigrant shaped your understanding of cultural assimilation?
  • What lessons have you learned from participating in intercultural exchange programs or initiatives?
  • Can you describe a unique cultural practice or tradition within your community that outsiders might find intriguing or misunderstood?
  • How has the revitalization of indigenous languages contributed to the preservation of cultural heritage in your region?
  • Can you reflect on a personal journey of reconnecting with your cultural roots after a period of assimilation or disconnection?
  • What role does storytelling play in passing down cultural wisdom and values within your family or community?
  • How has the portrayal of your culture in mainstream media affected your sense of belonging and self-perception?
  • Can you recount a moment when you challenged cultural stereotypes through creative expression or advocacy?
  • How has the migration of a specific cultural group enriched the social fabric and economic landscape of your community?
  • What initiatives or grassroots movements are currently underway to promote cross-cultural understanding and cooperation in your society?

Since you're working on essays, we think it's suitable to suggest you learn more about the case study format , which is another common college assignment.

Narrative Writing Topics on Hobbies and Interests

Wow your readers by turning your passions and hobbies into compelling narrative essay topics that will get them thinking.

  • How has your passion for urban gardening transformed neglected spaces in your community?
  • Can you recount a thrilling adventure from your hobby of urban exploration?
  • What lessons have you learned from restoring vintage motorcycles in your spare time?
  • How has your fascination with birdwatching deepened your connection to nature and conservation efforts?
  • Can you describe a memorable moment from your hobby of foraging wild edibles in the wilderness?
  • What unique skills have you developed through your hobby of beekeeping, and how have they impacted your daily life?
  • How has your interest in historical reenactment brought the past to life in unexpected ways?
  • Can you reflect on a transformative experience from your hobby of landscape photography?
  • What insights have you gained from practicing the art of bonsai cultivation and nurturing miniature ecosystems?
  • How has your passion for stargazing inspired awe and wonder in the vastness of the universe?
  • Can you recount a challenging project from your hobby of woodworking and the satisfaction it brought upon completion?
  • What cultural connections have you discovered through your hobby of traditional folk dancing?
  • How has your interest in sustainable fashion influenced your consumer habits and environmental awareness?
  • Can you describe a moment of serenity and mindfulness experienced while practicing the art of tea ceremony?
  • How has your hobby of letterpress printing preserved the tactile beauty of handmade craftsmanship in a digital age?

Narrative Essay Titles on Life-Changing Moments

Life is full of unexpected twists that can lead to life-changing moments. Take a look at these narrative essay titles for stories that have had a lasting impact on your life.

  • How did surviving a natural disaster reshape your perspective on life?
  • Can you recall a single conversation that drastically altered the course of your life?
  • What was the pivotal moment that inspired you to pursue your dreams against all odds?
  • How did a chance encounter lead to a life-changing friendship or partnership?
  • Can you reflect on the decision that transformed your career trajectory?
  • What profound lesson did you learn from facing a life-threatening illness or injury?
  • How did traveling to a new country open your eyes to new possibilities and opportunities?
  • Can you recount the moment when you discovered your true passion or calling in life?
  • What was the turning point that allowed you to break free from a toxic relationship or environment?
  • How did experiencing failure or rejection ultimately lead to personal growth and resilience?
  • Can you describe the moment when you found the strength to overcome a deep-seated fear or insecurity?
  • What life-changing realization did you have while experiencing a period of solitude or introspection?
  • How did a profound act of kindness from a stranger restore your faith in humanity?
  • Can you reflect on the moment when you forgave someone who had deeply hurt you, and how it changed your perspective on forgiveness?
  • What pivotal decision did you make that allowed you to reclaim control over your own happiness and destiny?

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Good Narrative Topics on Travel and Adventure

Consider creating intriguing titles for your narrative essay ideas by exploring thrilling travel adventures.

  • Can you recount a memorable encounter with wildlife during your solo hiking adventure?
  • How did a spontaneous decision to explore an unfamiliar city lead to unexpected discoveries?
  • What lessons did you learn from navigating a foreign country with only a map and your instincts?
  • Can you describe the exhilaration of conquering a challenging mountain peak for the first time?
  • How did immersing yourself in a local culture during your travels broaden your perspective on the world?
  • What unexpected obstacles did you encounter while embarking on a backpacking journey through rugged terrain?
  • Can you reflect on the transformative experience of volunteering abroad in a community-driven project?
  • How did getting lost in a labyrinthine city alleyway lead to serendipitous encounters and newfound friendships?
  • What was the most memorable meal you had while sampling street food in a bustling market abroad?
  • Can you recount the adrenaline rush of participating in an extreme sports activity in a foreign land?
  • How did witnessing a breathtaking natural phenomenon during your travels leave a lasting impression on you?
  • What cultural traditions or rituals did you participate in during a homestay experience with a local family?
  • Can you describe the sense of wonder and awe you felt while exploring ancient ruins or historical sites?
  • How did navigating a language barrier challenge and ultimately enrich your travel experience?
  • What valuable life lessons did you learn from the mishaps and misadventures encountered during your journey off the beaten path?

Narrative Essay Topic Ideas on Career and Work Experience

College students can uncover captivating narrative essay ideas by exploring potential career paths or reminiscing about past job experiences.

  • How did a challenging project at work showcase your problem-solving skills and resilience?
  • Can you reflect on a pivotal mentorship experience that guided your career trajectory?
  • What valuable lessons did you learn from a career setback or failure, and how did it shape your future success?
  • How did a workplace conflict lead to personal growth and improved communication skills?
  • Can you recount a moment when taking a professional risk paid off in unexpected ways?
  • What insights did you gain from transitioning to a new industry or career path?
  • How did participating in a cross-functional team project enhance your collaboration and leadership abilities?
  • Can you describe the satisfaction of achieving a long-term career goal after years of hard work and perseverance?
  • What impact did a meaningful recognition or award have on your motivation and sense of accomplishment?
  • How did volunteering or pro bono work contribute to your professional development and sense of purpose?
  • Can you reflect on the decision to leave a stable job in pursuit of passion or fulfillment?
  • What strategies did you employ to navigate a toxic work environment and maintain your well-being?
  • How did a career setback lead to unexpected opportunities for personal and professional growth?
  • Can you describe a moment when mentorship or sponsorship played a crucial role in advancing your career?
  • What lessons did you learn from a challenging client or customer interaction, and how did it shape your approach to customer service and relationship-building?

Interesting Narrative Essay Topics about Challenges and Obstacles

If you're not sure what to write about for your narrative essay, think back to the tough times you've had and how you managed to get through them.

  • How did you conquer a once-paralyzing fear to chase your dreams?
  • What new strengths did you discover while adapting to a physical challenge?
  • Can you recall a creative solution you used during a tough financial period?
  • When did you bravely stand against injustice, despite opposition?
  • How did overcoming a language barrier broaden your horizons?
  • What key lessons did you learn from a major setback in your life?
  • How did you manage overwhelming stress and responsibilities?
  • What inner reserves of resilience did you draw upon after personal loss?
  • Describe a time when you defied societal norms to pursue your goals.
  • Reflect on a moment when failure fueled your determination for success.
  • When did you find the courage to leave your comfort zone behind?
  • How did community support bolster you through a challenging time?
  • Share a time when self-doubt led to newfound confidence.
  • Can you recount a tragedy that spurred your personal growth?
  • What insights did overcoming a monumental obstacle reveal about life?

Best Narrative Essay Topics: How to Choose the One That Resonates 

A narrative essay is a type of writing that tells a personal story, including characters, plot, setting, and the order of events. Its main goal is to connect with readers emotionally and share a specific message or insight through the retelling of a meaningful experience.

Students write narrative essays as part of their studies for several reasons. Firstly, it allows them to express themselves creatively by sharing their unique experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Secondly, it helps them develop important writing skills like organizing ideas and thoughts effectively.

Narrative Essay topics

Choosing good narrative essay ideas involves looking at personal experiences, interests, and the potential for engaging storytelling. Here's a simple guide to help you pick the right topic:

  • Think about significant moments in your life that had a lasting impact, such as personal growth or overcoming challenges.
  • Choose topics related to your hobbies, interests, or areas of expertise to make your story more engaging.
  • Consider what your audience would be interested in and choose topics that resonate with them.
  • Focus on a specific event or detail to make your narrative more focused and impactful.
  • Look for universal themes like love or personal transformation that connect with readers on a deeper level.
  • Brainstorm ideas and write freely to uncover compelling topics.
  • Decide on storytelling techniques like flashbacks or foreshadowing and choose a topic that fits.
  • Get feedback from friends, peers, or instructors to see if your topics are interesting and impactful.
  • Choose topics that evoke strong emotions for a more compelling narrative.
  • Select a topic that you personally connect with to make your story authentic.

Once you've chosen a topic, brainstorm ideas and create an outline for your essay. Follow your professor's instructions carefully and consider seeking help from our narrative essay writing service if needed.

Bring your stories to life with EssayPro. Select from a vast array of narrative essay topics and let our professionals help you weave your tales into captivating essays. Whether it's adventure, reflection, or imagination, we're here to assist.

Final Remarks

As we wrap up, our list of 200 narrative essay topics is here to fuel your creativity for your next writing project! Whether you're sharing a memorable event, reliving a childhood memory, or expressing a profound insight, crafting a narrative essay can be an uplifting experience that resonates deeply with readers.

And if you're gearing up for college admissions, why not check out our admission essay writing service ? We've already assisted countless students in securing their spots at their dream colleges, and we'd love to help you, too!

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ideas to write a personal narrative on

Exploring Jane Austen's timeless writing style

W hen we think of classic literature, one name that invariably comes to our minds is Jane Austen. Born in 1775, this English novelist remains a beloved figure in the world of literature, captivating readers with her insightful portrayals of society, memorable characters, and a writing style that continues to resonate through generations of readers across the world. Here we explore her timeless writing style which has touched many readers' hearts.

The subtlety of social commentary

One of the hallmarks of Jane Austen's writing style is her subtle yet incisive social commentary. Her novels, such as ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Emma,’ are a reflection of the society she lived in, where class and marriage were pivotal. Austen's commentary on these themes is woven seamlessly into her narratives. In ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ Austen introduces us to Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, two characters whose initial judgments of each other form the crux of the plot. Through their witty dialogues and the society that surrounds them, Austen dissects the complexities of class, marriage, and personal prejudices. Her writing style allows readers to perceive the underlying critiques without overtly stating them.

Character depth and development

Austen's characters are richly developed, and her writing style allows us to delve deep into their thoughts and emotions. Take ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ for instance, where she explores the contrasting personalities of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. Austen's prose gives life to their distinct characters, enabling readers to empathize with their joys and sorrows. In ‘Emma,’ the eponymous heroine undergoes significant personal growth. Austen's writing style allows us to witness Emma's transformation from a well-meaning but misguided matchmaker to a more self-aware and empathetic individual. The use of free indirect discourse, a technique where the narrator's voice blends with the character's thoughts, helps us understand Emma's inner world intimately.

Narrative wit and irony

Austen's writing is infused with wit and irony, which adds depth and humor to her works. In ‘Northanger Abbey,’ she playfully satirizes the Gothic novel genre, as her heroine, Catherine Morland, allows her imagination to run wild. Austen's use of irony is evident as she gently mocks the sensationalism of these novels, using them as a backdrop to comment on the dangers of excessive romanticism. Moreover, in ‘Persuasion,’ Austen employs irony to emphasize the theme of second chances in love. Anne Elliot's enduring love for Captain Wentworth, despite societal expectations and misunderstandings, is a testament to Austen's ability to craft a story filled with subtle emotional resonance.

Dialogue as a narrative device

Jane Austen's dialogues are masterfully crafted and serve as a pivotal narrative device. Her characters engage in clever exchanges that reveal their personalities and motivations. In ‘Mansfield Park,’ the dialogue between Fanny Price and Henry Crawford highlights the tension between virtue and moral compromise. Austen uses dialogue to underline the characters' conflicting values, enriching the reader's understanding of their inner conflicts. In ‘Persuasion,’ Captain Wentworth's letter to Anne Elliot stands as one of the most poignant moments in Austen's novels. This letter is a testament to Austen's ability to convey deep emotions through the written word. It is a moving declaration of love, where the restrained passion in Wentworth's words resonates with readers, highlighting Austen's mastery of emotional expression.

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Exploring Jane Austen's timeless writing style

More From Forbes

What to do when your boss gets distracted by a shiny new idea.

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You’ve spent hours in meetings hammering out the strategy, having tough conversations about resources and capacity, and making decisions about priorities. Finally, everyone is aligned and you have a roadmap to move forward that involves focusing on certain products, devoting limited resources to high-priority projects, putting lower-priority efforts on the back burner, and making a few key hires. You communicate the plan to your team and begin to execute.

And then, just days later, your boss does one or more of the following:

  • calls a meeting to discuss a cool new technology that is nowhere in your priorities
  • proposes a partnership deal in an area that you just decided to “back-burner”
  • asks you to interview someone they just met for a potential role that’s not on the hiring plan

Your first (internal) reaction is, “What the…??!” You are confused and alarmed about what this means for company strategy and for your team. What about the priorities that you all just agreed to? The whole point of the strategy was to align on a narrow set of priorities crucial for success. You’re worried about mission creep and that your team will wind up (again) spread too thin and unable to deliver well on anything. Your worry quickly turns to fury.

Very likely, this is not the first time you are having this experience with this leader—it’s a pattern that has played out multiple times. In fact, it happens in many organizations where I coach. It is just one expression of the tension between “visionary leaders,” who are excited by new ideas and future possibilities, and operational leaders, who are focused on delivery and are connected to the people and resources on the ground. But every time it happens, you panic as you try to figure out how to respond. If your boss (or other key stakeholder) has a tendency to get excited about a new, exciting idea (sometimes called “ Shiny Object Syndrome ”) you may feel whip-sawed by changing direction. How to cope?

  • Manage your own emotions . Start by noticing your reaction. It can be helpful to name your emotion, which has been shown to shift your brain activity from the amygdala to the prefrontal cortex and allow you to reflect rather than react. Are you alarmed? Annoyed, even furious? What is triggering the feeling? Often, underneath anger is a more vulnerable emotion, like fear . Fear of loss of control, protectiveness of your team. Your instinct may be to slam on the brakes. Instead, take a breath and engage constructively.
  • Ask questions . Curiosity is a great antidote to fear, and it helps to slow things down. Ask your boss what is behind their idea and what they hope to achieve. Cultivate and demonstrate openness to discussion and understanding, even if you remain skeptical. Use this inquiry as an opportunity to learn—about the idea itself, and about your boss’s hopes and fears. Frequently, you will find that what you feared was a mandate is actually just an exploration.
  • Find common ground . Instead of listening to prove your boss wrong, listen for places of agreement and validate their idea where you can. Maybe the whiz-bang technology has potential in the future; perhaps the interviewee is very talented and might serve as a consultant on a project; maybe the partnership deal is not a good fit, but there is another partnership that would be worth pursuing. This strategy will help you connect and get into a joint solving mindset rather than antagonism.
  • Appeal to shared principles and values . Refocus your boss on higher level goals and inquire how the proposed idea relates to the company’s North Star. Identify key priorities and name the trade-offs that would be required if the company pursued the idea in the near-term. Help them understand the real stakes at play.
  • Embrace the positive . Take a step back and consider how you benefit from your boss’s openness to new ideas. Look for opportunities to loosen your grip and lean into the creative tension between your “practical shoes” and your boss’s “head in the clouds” and embrace the opportunity to stretch, grow and innovate.
  • Talk to your boss . Have you had a similar experience before? If so, it can be helpful to discuss the dynamic with your boss after the situation has been resolved. Use neutral, factual language to describe your observations (no blaming) and share what the subjective experience is like for you (here it can be helpful to describe the emotional impact). Does your boss see the pattern as well? Help them understand that being “disruptive”—highly prized as an entrepreneur— can have serious costs for their own teams. Consider whether there other instances when you fall into roles, and how do those roles serve or hinder performance? Together, you can work to develop some tools for how to handle it next time. And yes, there will be a next time…

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Work relationships are like marriages and other intimate relationships.They tend to fall into behavior patterns: one spouse is spontaneous and up for anything, while the other prefers to have a plan and stick to it; one frets about money, while the other likes to splurge. These preferences predictably come into conflict. According to renowned psychologist and relationship expert Dr. John Gottman , 69% of marital conflicts are “unsolvable” —they are based on personality traits or deep-seated issues and will continually crop up throughout the relationship. In functional, stable marriages, the partners learn how to manage these conflicts and generate enough positive energy in the partnership to thrive. When they are dysfunctional, the partners trigger each other’s fears and anger and bring out each other’s worst— defensiveness, criticism, stonewalling and contempt . Many such marriages, especially those were contempt is present, end in divorce.

Very likely, in any relationship with a boss, there are unsolvable conflicts, like the one described above. The key to making the relationship work is recognizing the conflicts or points of tensions and finding constructive ways to navigate and work together.

Hanna Hart

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IMAGES

  1. Personal narrative essay

    ideas to write a personal narrative on

  2. 💌 What is a personal narrative mostly about. How and Why to write a

    ideas to write a personal narrative on

  3. 65 Engaging Personal Narrative Ideas for Kids and Teens

    ideas to write a personal narrative on

  4. Best Personal Narrative Writing Tips 2023

    ideas to write a personal narrative on

  5. Writing a Personal Narrative: Brainstorming a Story for Kids

    ideas to write a personal narrative on

  6. Explore Free Narrative Essay Examples: Topics, Outlines, Samples

    ideas to write a personal narrative on

VIDEO

  1. How to Write a Perfect Narrative Essay? #shorts

  2. CNF

  3. Two ways to make an everyday story interesting!

  4. Narrative essay writing grade 5| How to write personal narrative| How to write essay outline

  5. Teaching Personal Narratives: Adding Details to Student Writing!

  6. How to write your personal story to attract, lead and inspire

COMMENTS

  1. 89+ Personal Narrative Ideas To Spark Your Creativity

    A long list of personal narrative ideas. 1. The journey of rediscovering my passion for painting after years of neglect sparked by an unexpected encounter with a street artist. 2. How a single conversation with my grandmother over her old photo album reshaped my understanding of family history and legacy. 3.

  2. 295 Personal Narrative Ideas

    295 Personal Narrative Ideas: Diverse Topics For Your Essay. January 6, 2022. Personal narrative writing involves writing about a real-life experience. It's like non-fiction. You're writing a story about yourself because it happened to you. At some point, your stories are the perfect personal narrative writing ideas because they are yours.

  3. 101 Narrative Ideas To Beat Your Writer's Block

    16. Space Exploration: Write about a time you imagined traveling through space. 17. Student Leadership: Narrative writing ideas for leading a school project. 18. Favorite Teacher's Impact: A personal narrative about your favorite teacher. 19. A Pet's Life: Tell a story from the perspective of your first pet. 20.

  4. 10 Personal Narrative Examples to Inspire Your Writing

    2. "Why I Hate Mother's Day" by Anne Lamott. The author of the classic writing text Bird by Bird digs into her views on motherhood in this piece from Salon. At once a personal narrative and a cultural commentary, Lamott explores the harmful effects that Mother's Day may have on society—how its blind reverence to the concept of motherhood erases women's agency and freedom to be flawed ...

  5. How to Write a Personal Narrative: Steps and Examples

    However, like any other type of writing, it comes with guidelines. 1. Write Your Personal Narrative as a Story. As a story, it must include an introduction, characters, plot, setting, climax, anti-climax (if any), and conclusion. Another way to approach it is by structuring it with an introduction, body, and conclusion.

  6. How to Write a Personal Narrative [in 10 Easy Steps]

    6. Write in first person. When writing a personal narrative, it's important to write in first person. This means using "I" statements, such as "I walked down the street.". Writing in first person gives your story a more personal feel and allows your readers to connect with you more easily. 7.

  7. Daily Inspiration: 365 Writing Prompts for Personal Narratives

    Here are 365 writing prompts to inspire personal narratives: Write about a vivid childhood memory. Describe your first day of school. Write about a time you got lost. Describe a family tradition or holiday celebration. Write about an embarrassing moment. Describe a time you overcame a fear.

  8. How To Write a Personal Narrative (With Examples)

    1. Choose your topic. Before you start writing, you can choose a topic that will guide your writing. Because a personal narrative is based on your experiences, try to choose a topic you're comfortable with and willing to discuss. It also can help to consider the purpose of your narrative when choosing a topic.

  9. How to Write a Personal Narrative (And Why It's So Important)

    Step #2: Write in First Person. Use "I" when writing your personal narrative. However, don't overuse that word. Make sure to use variations to make your style unique. Step #3: Bring Your Story to Life. Your story should be well-detailed and it must bring all the different characters to life.

  10. 550 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing

    Update, Sept. 9, 2022: We published a new collection of 445 narrative and personal writing prompts. We've been posting fresh writing prompts every school day for over a decade now, and every so ...

  11. Personal Narrative Writing Guide

    A personal narrative is a means for the writer to explore the meaning of the events in their life. It is, at its core, an introspective and creative endeavor that focuses as much on the interior life of the writer as it does on external events. While the conclusion of a traditional recount usually provides some of the writer's insights, in a ...

  12. Personal Narrative

    A life-changing event or decision, such as moving to a new place, changing your career, or getting married. A relationship or encounter with someone who influenced you, such as a friend, a teacher, a mentor, or a stranger. A reflection on a personal value or belief, such as your faith, your philosophy, or your political views.

  13. 525 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing

    Updated with 80 new prompts from the 2022-23 school year! We've been posting fresh writing prompts every school day for over a decade now, and every so often we create a themed collection like ...

  14. How to Write a Personal Narrative: A Step-By-Step Guide

    Show the narrative to others. Ask a friend, peer, classmate, or family member to read the narrative. Pose questions to them about the style, tone, and flow of the narrative. Ask them if the narrative feels personal, detailed, and engaging. [10] Be willing to accept feedback from others.

  15. Writing a Compelling Personal Narrative Essay: Tips and Examples

    A personal narrative essay can be best described as creative nonfiction about your experiences. We can help you learn how to approach this personal piece.

  16. How to Master Writing a Compelling Personal Narrative

    There are 2 ways to develop your personal narrative: 1) plan your story or 2) write your story by the "seat of your pants.". Planning is where you figure out the things you want to include in your essay, and where you will include these things before writing. Pantsing or "writing by the seat of your pants" is where you take a personal ...

  17. 3 Great Narrative Essay Examples + Tips for Writing

    Check out our analysis of 3 great personal narrative essay examples, plus tips for writing. Call Direct: 1 (866) 811-5546 ... your narrative essay must have a clear and concrete motif—a recurring theme or idea that you'll explore throughout. Narrative essays are less rigid, more creative in expression, and therefore pretty different from ...

  18. 650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing

    Here is a PDF of all 650 prompts, and we also have a related lesson plan, From 'Lives' to 'Modern Love': Writing Personal Essays With Help From The New York Times.. Below, a list that ...

  19. How to Write a Narrative Essay

    Interactive example of a narrative essay. An example of a short narrative essay, responding to the prompt "Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself," is shown below. Hover over different parts of the text to see how the structure works. Narrative essay example.

  20. 15 Inspiring Personal Narrative Examples for Writers

    Engaging Personal Narrative Ideas for Kids and Teens; Best Mentor Texts for Narrative Writing in Elementary School; Elementary School Personal Narrative Examples. In elementary school, personal narratives might be quite short, just a paragraph or two. The key is to encourage kids to embrace a personal style of writing, one that speaks in their ...

  21. Best Narrative Writing Prompts of 2023

    Please write it down, starting now! Whether you're a teacher in school guiding students through the art of the personal narrative or a writer simply trying to piece together an essay, these narrative writing prompts are for you. If you're looking to cut to the chase, here's a top ten list of our favorite narrative writing prompts:

  22. 7 steps to crafting a personal narrative that truly reflects ...

    4) Crafting your narrative. Having introspected, connected the dots of your experiences, and embraced vulnerability, it's now time to actually craft your narrative. This is where you weave together all the threads you've identified into a coherent and engaging story. Start with the key defining moments in your life.

  23. 65 Engaging Personal Narrative Ideas for Kids and Teens

    65 Engaging Personal Narrative Ideas for Kids and Teens. Tell a story to engage the reader. Personal narrative essays are all about telling stories. Engage your reader with lots of descriptive language, and ensure you have a beginning, middle, and end. ( Get more tips about teaching narrative writing here.) Try these personal narrative ideas to ...

  24. 200 Best Topic Ideas for Narrative Essay

    Focus on a specific event or detail to make your narrative more focused and impactful. Look for universal themes like love or personal transformation that connect with readers on a deeper level. Brainstorm ideas and write freely to uncover compelling topics. Decide on storytelling techniques like flashbacks or foreshadowing and choose a topic ...

  25. personal narrative essay: Choice (TW ED's) : r/writing

    Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder defined by regular episodes of binge eating, during which a person feels a loss of control over their eating. The person then "purges" the food through self-induced vomiting, laxatives, fasting, or excessive exercise to avoid weight gain.

  26. Exploring Jane Austen's timeless writing style

    103721602. Narrative wit and irony. Austen's writing is infused with wit and irony, which adds depth and humor to her works. In 'Northanger Abbey,' she playfully satirizes the Gothic novel ...

  27. What To Do When Your Boss Gets Distracted By A Shiny New Idea

    Appeal to shared principles and values. Refocus your boss on higher level goals and inquire how the proposed idea relates to the company's North Star. Identify key priorities and name the trade ...