How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline: Template & Examples

Narrative essays are unlike anything you wrote throughout your academic career. Instead of writing a formal paper, you need to tell a story. Familiar elements such as evidence and arguments are replaced with exposition and character development.

The picture shows the characteristics of a narrative essay.

The importance of writing an outline for an essay like this is hard to overestimate. This article by Custom-Writing.org will give you a helping hand with that. Here, you will find: 

  • The definition of a narrative essay.
  • Helpful tips for creating a narrative essay outline.
  • A printable example template in PDF format.

📚 What Is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative-style essay is a text written in the form of a story. It has the same goal as any other essay: to prove a certain point. But it is very different from a regular paper. The main differences are the following:

  • A narrative essay doesn’t contain any arguments in the usual sense. Instead, you use the whole story to explain your point of view.
  • It has many unique elements. Aside from the usual parts such as the introduction and thesis, your story also needs characters, dialogs, a climax, and more.
  • It’s creative in style. Typically, you need to keep things formal and grounded in your essays. A narrative-style essay is an exception. While writing it, your inner artist is free to run wild. You are free to use vivid imagery and descriptive language.

Keep in mind that you are not necessarily bound to a single story. You can tell several stories in one essay and connect them to the same thesis.

Now that you know what kind of assignment you’re dealing with, you can start writing your outline.

✍️ How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline

First, you want to understand what sort of story you want to create. There are 2 options you can choose from:

  • Personal experience. This is easier to write about since you don’t have to come up with anything new. You only need to describe a story about yourself or about someone else that actually happened.
  • A piece of fiction. This option is a bit more complicated in comparison. It requires you to think up a whole story. However, the results might be much more satisfying.

Once you’ve decided on the type of narrative, you need to think about what sort of outline you want. It can be simple and basic with the essential elements only. Or, it can be as detailed as you wish. It’s helpful to keep in mind that a narrative essay is usually 5 paragraphs long: make sure not to go overboard or make it too dull.

Now, let’s talk about the structure of individual parts of a narrative essay.

The picture shows the structure of a narrative essay.

Narrative Essay Introduction

Your introduction won’t be that different from that of a regular essay. You need 3 things here:

  • A hook to capture the readers’ attention;
  • Some background information related to your story;
  • A thesis statement introducing your essay’s main point.

How to Start a Narrative Essay

First and foremost, your essay needs a catchy hook. It’s a captivating sentence that aims to grab the reader’s attention. While a piece of statistics or an interesting fact can serve as a good hook for an average paper, it’s too plain for a narrative essay. So, we need to go a bit more creative.

Say you are writing an essay about the influence of music on a person’s views. The core of your essay is a story of you visiting your first classical concert. One option is to start with a question. Asking something immediately evokes the need to answer. It also stimulates interest along the way.

Furthermore, questions make the transition into the background info easy and smooth. Just answer the hook question:

Example:

Hook: Do you remember going to your first concert?

Background: I sure do. It was a magnificent evening on the first weekend of spring. The only thing I was skeptical about was the concert itself. I was not the greatest fan of classical music; rather, I was not too fond of those who enjoy it. I thought of them as arrogant and selfish.

Make sure not to start telling about the events of your story in the introduction. Instead, you can tell what preceded it or just set the mood. If you’re looking for more ideas on how to start an essay, be sure to check out our article on hooks in writing.

Narrative Essay Thesis Statement

The thesis statement of a narrative essay answers the question, “What am I trying to say with this story?” It conveys the main idea and can be formulated in various ways. It can be your regular thesis with the main point and arguments. But don’t forget that you are writing a story. This means you can make your thesis a part of the narrative; build it as a starting point of your account or showcase the lesson you’re about to learn.

Have a look at these narrative essay thesis examples to get a better idea:

Example:

If only I knew the power music holds and how it can dramatically change one’s perception of things.

Example:

I didn’t know yet that this event would change how I saw classical music and its fans.

You might want to formulate the thesis and put it into your outline before everything else. This way, it will be easier to write your story around it.

Narrative Essay Body Paragraphs

After you’re done with the thesis, you can continue your story and prove the main argument. There are 2 ways to go about your essay’s body paragraphs:

Structure type ✔️ Pros ❌ Cons
Make each paragraph into an individual story. This structure allows you to use several arguments related to different storylines. In this case, you’ll need to structure your essay’s body densely in order not to make it too long.
Use the whole essay’s body to tell a single story. This way, it’s easier to structure the body of your essay. Since you are limited by a single story, your argumentation becomes weaker.

Whichever way you choose, you need to remember the general storytelling rules:

  • Describe things in chronological order. Make sure that the events of your story follow each other coherently.
  • Don’t break the general “introduction-development-conclusion” structure. As long as your narrative has these 3 elements, you will have a decent story.

Here’s what you can write about in your narrative essay’s body paragraphs:

  1. It’s always a good idea to start with a description of things. It creates necessary immersion and makes the reader more involved with the story.
  2. You can also dedicate the first paragraph to setting up the characters of your story (if there are any.)
  3. The following two paragraphs are about developing, culminating, and ending your story.

In the case of a classical concert, an average body outline sample can look like this:

Paragraph 1 Here you begin your story and describe the concert hall and the people inside it.
Paragraph 2 Now we develop our story. For example, mention your friend whom you didn’t expect to see at such an event.
Paragraph 3 In this paragraph, you can culminate your story with an insight that demonstrates a more profound realization of the idea in your thesis. For instance, your friend is very humble and grounded. However, he is a big fan of classical music. You realize that your prejudice towards classical music fans is wrong.

Narrative Essay Conclusion

The conclusion of your story summarizes the body of your essay. It also restates your thesis in a paraphrased form. Make sure not to add any new info to your outline at this stage. The conclusion is only there to sum things up and draw attention to the most important points.

In a narrative essay conclusion, it’s a good idea to mention the insight and demonstrate its connection to the thesis. In the case of our classical music essay, it could look like this:

Example:

This is the story of my epiphany on the connection between music and personality. Judging people by their music taste turned out to be a gigantic mistake. But I am happy to have made this misstep since it helped me learn an important lesson.

📝 Narrative Essay Outline Template

Now, let’s see what we have in the end. Have a look at the following narrative essay outline example:

  1. Introduction
    • Hook. It’s a catchy and intriguing sentence. An interesting question or a surprising fact will do.
    • Background information. This means everything the reader needs to know before diving into the main part.
    • Thesis statement. It can be a generic thesis or a poetic sentence that demonstrates your point.
  2. Body paragraphs
    • Description paragraph. It’s a paragraph that helps the reader visualize your story. You can also introduce the characters here.
    • Story development paragraph. This is the part where you develop the established characters and storyline.
    • Story climax and end paragraph. It’s a part that contains the highest point of your narrative and its logical end.
  3. Conclusion
    • Summary. Briefly conclude the events described in your body paragraphs.
    • Restated thesis. Paraphrase your main claim and provide a deeper understanding of the insight.

You can download a 5-paragraph narrative essay template in PDF format using the link below. It can be very helpful for outlining your essay: simply print it out and fill in the blanks.

Example:

  • Your essay’s title.
  • Start with a catchy and intriguing sentence.
  • Provide some background information about the topic.
  • Write a strong thesis statement that demonstrates your point.
Narrative Essay Outline Template
Download the free sample

We’ve also gathered some narrative essay examples for you to gain inspiration. Check them out below!

Literacy Narrative Outline Template

A literacy narrative is a story that tells your experience of developing a particular skill. Usually, it refers to learning to read and write. The idea is to underline the importance of the described process.

  1. Introduction
    • Hook sentence. It’s an attention-getter. It can be an interesting fact about you.
    • Background information. It can be a brief description of the skill’s role in your life.
    • Thesis statement. It should stress the importance of the skill you acquired. Use the thesis to show how your life has changed after learning it.
  2. Body paragraphs
    • Description paragraph. Describe your life before learning the skill you are writing about.
    • Story development paragraph. The second body paragraph can be dedicated to the learning process itself.
    • Story climax and end paragraph. Now you can finish the story with your success. You can also compare “before” and “after.”
  3. Conclusion
    • Summary. Briefly retell the story of learning the skill.
    • Restated thesis. Remind the reader why the skill in question is important for you personally.

Feel free to download this template in PDF format using the link below.

Example:

  • Your essay’s title.
  • Start with a catchy and intriguing sentence.
  • Provide some background information about the skill you’ve learned.
  • Write a thesis statement that demonstrates the importance of the skill you’ve learned.
Literacy Narrative Outline Template
Download the free sample

In conclusion, we would like to wish you good luck with your assignment! Make sure to comment on the things you’ve found the most useful.

Further reading:

❓ Narrative Essay Outline FAQs

How do you write a narrative essay step by step?

1. Choose a topic for your essay.
2. Decide on the type of your story (either personal or fictional.)
3. Write an outline. Make sure to come up with the thesis first.
4. Write your essay.

How do you end a narrative essay?

You usually end your narrative essay with a conclusion. It summarizes your body paragraphs and restates your thesis. Instead of simply repeating the statement, you can demonstrate a deeper understanding of it.

What is the purpose of dialogue in a narrative essay?

The purpose of any dialog is to demonstrate a conversation between people. Showing your characters having a conversation can help you develop them. You can also use dialogues to advance your story.

What are the three parts of a narrative essay?

1. Introduction. It includes a hook sentence, background, and thesis.
2. Body paragraphs. It’s the central part of your essay, and it contains your story’s beginning, development, and end.
3. Conclusion. The final part of your essay sums the body up and restates the thesis.

What are the 4 ways you can start a narrative essay?

Some possible starters for your essay are:

1. Asking the reader a question.
2. Opening up with a joke.
3. Revealing shocking information about the events described further.
4. Telling your readers an interesting fact about the topic of your essay.

🔍 References

This article was developed by the editorial team of Custom-Writing.org, a professional writing service with 3-hour delivery.
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