Since you’re essentially telling a story, it allows more freedom than most essays and can be an opportunity for introspection, amusement, creativity, and fun. They can be personal, anecdotal, or experiential, but remember that the goal isn’t just to tell a story, it’s also to make a point.
What is a narrative essay?
A narrative essay is a less formal form of academic writing where the goal is to see whether you can tell a story clearly in an engaging manner. It follows the typical format of an essay with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion but also incorporates classic story writing elements like plot, setting, character, climax, and ending.
This kind of essay is written from a defined point of view, usually yours, so writing in the first person is recommended unlike most other forms of academic writing. You still need to make a point though, so include a thesis statement in your first paragraph and refer to it again in the conclusion.
Many college application essay prompts are narrative writing, for example - describe the most significant achievement of your life. Learning how to write a good narrative paper has use beyond just college essays though, a majority of online content now is based on telling engaging stories. Read on to know more about narrative papers and find a list of 150 fascinating topics for narrative essays.
How to choose a topic for a narrative essay
Choosing good narrative essay topics are crucial for a few reasons. The story you tell will most often draw from your own experiences and thoughts, so choose a topic that you know well or are well-informed about. Additionally, since the story has to have a purpose, select a topic that has broad potential and narrow it down to tell your unique story. Remember the following things when choosing a topic for a narrative essay.
The key thing to remember is that you’re telling a story
Because a narrative essay is so unlike most academic writing assignments, a common mistake is writing sections like a dry academic assignment. It’s for school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t deliver an experience. It’s about crafting an engaging piece of storytelling while revealing something impactful through the story.
Choose an interesting or meaningful idea to explore
This is a great time to write about something that is particularly important in your life or something you are passionate about. Topics can range from your thoughts and ideas about a concept to an obscure activity that you enjoy.
The pre-writing stage is critically important
A good story flows well and includes details that draw the reader in, but it also has to deliver some idea or message. Collecting information and planning ahead to create an outline for your essay will smoothen your writing process.
Don’t forget to have fun with it!
The story you tell should be engaging, which means you have the freedom to experiment! Drawing from several different but interconnected life experiences, or telling the story from the perspective of an inanimate object are some interesting ways to make your essay stand out.
But remember that it’s still an essay
Even though it’s storytelling, you’re still writing an essay, which means it needs to follow the classic essay structure. Based on the word count, plan how many body paragraphs you need (minimum 3 ALWAYS). Your first sentence should still have a hook, and your first paragraph still needs to have a thesis statement. The story that unfolds in the body paragraphs shouldn’t drift from your thesis statement, and your conclusion needs to end the story as well as reiterate your thesis.
150 unique topics for narrative essay
It can be quite tough to think of something meaningful to write your essay about, but almost any experience you have can be an interesting topic. For one person, the first time they played a sport could be a traumatic experience, for another it could be life-changing. Only you know your experiences and thoughts. Here’s a list of narrative essay topics that you can use to start the brainstorming process and spark your imagination.
College narrative essay topics
College is a time of new experiences. So much happens that it shouldn’t be difficult to choose something to write about. The essay you write can be more descriptive, focussing on your sensory observations of an experience, or more contemplative, focusing on new thoughts and feelings. Take a look at these narrative essay topics for college students.
What was it like getting your first acceptance letter?
How you chose which college to go to
Your first day leaving home and coming to campus
Meeting your roommate and whether it went well or not
Your first college party
Your favorite class
Losing touch or staying in touch with friends from high school
The best day in college so far
The difference between sports in high school and college
How you realized college was easier or tougher than you thought it would be
What it was like being in a class with 200 students
Your experience with an extracurricular you had never tried before
Going home for the first time after attending college
Finding a subject you never thought you would like
How did you start feeling truly comfortable in college?
Narrative essay topics for high school students
High school years are chaotic. The changes in students and their social expectations can be frustrating, challenging, and exhilarating. Essays about many important firsts can be drawn from high school. Here are a few examples of narrative essay topics related to high school.
The best day of freshman year
A time you were bullied and stood up for yourself
A time when you were bullied and felt helpless
Your most significant social accomplishment
What was a meaningful volunteering experience you had?
Your proudest moment in a sporting event
Losing a valued friend
Your first highschool dance
Why your favorite teacher became your favorite teacher
When you realized what you want to pursue as a career
The best video game moment you had
An embarrassing moment in school and how you overcame it
Your best social media moment
The buildup to graduation day
An experience helping another student
Personal narrative essay topics
Since narrative essays are often written in the first person and rely on the experiences and thoughts of the author, they can all be considered personal, but a personal essay asks you to specifically tell a story about a time that changed you in a meaningful way. Here are some topics for writing a narrative essay about personal moments and revelations.
A summer vacation adventure that involved heroics
Describe an experience you had in a foreign country that made you feel lucky to be from your country
Your first time following a YouTube tutorial
Your excitement at watching the newest star wars/lord of the rings/Marvel Cinematic Universe etc. movie
Bonding with a new pet
The moment you realized that you admire some traits in a person and want to be like them
A situation that changed your relationship with your parents
A situation when you had to deal with the police
Witnessing an event that needed you to call the police
Your best leadership moment
Your experience attending a large event (politics, religion, sports, etc)
The most meaningful time in church or any religious moment of significance
An experience that humbled you
A situation where you made a serious mistake
A time you had to learn from adversity
Narrative argument essay topics
Like any narrative essay - the goal is to tell a story, but like any argument essay - the goal is to convince or persuade the reader to agree with your viewpoint. Writing an effective narrative argument essay incorporates convincing arguments into the story itself. The trick is finding a balance between getting lost in telling the story and forgetting about storytelling and convincing the reader. Here are a few examples to help you find a topic for a narrative essay.
A time when you convinced somebody against a conspiracy theory
A moment that made you more religious or spiritual
A moment that made you less religious or spiritual
Your favorite trip and why the place you went to is fantastic
How you discovered your favorite art style
The first time you played a new genre of game and why it’s the best
Your experience attending a conference or event about climate change
Watching a movie, tv-show, youtube video, or any media that changed your mind
A situation where you had to verbally defend yourself or a friend
An observation about income disparity gained by working in a soup kitchen/homeless shelter etc.
An experience you’ve had talking to somebody with different political beliefs
A conversation about gender identity with an older person
Seeing the police behave appropriately or inappropriately
Your experience with love and how you developed your definition of it
A time you had to swallow your pride and hold your tongue
Easy narrative essay topics
Here’s a list of some good topics for a narrative essay that most people have experience with and can write about but are still interesting enough to create an engaging story for the reader. Below are some easy but interesting narrative essay topics.
A hike, picnic, or walk that made you appreciate nature
Visiting a particularly awesome amusement park
An especially romantic date
Your first trip to a big city
Your first trip to a foreign country
Discovering a new movie genre
The thrill of watching horror movies
A regular day in your life
A moment when you gained respect for your parents, teachers, or friends
The time you saved an animal
How you broke a bad habit
How you developed a new skill
Your experience at a zoo
The first time you went bowling (tried any new game)
Your happiest day
Cultural narrative essay topics
Some of the most mind-expanding experiences happen when looking at and understanding a different culture or by analyzing your own culture from an outsider’s perspective. Cultural narrative essay topics are particularly useful when applying to colleges or applying for grants or scholarships for exchange programs.
What you learned from a trip abroad
How the lives of people in various socio-economic brackets are different
Observations on which basic things are different in different countries
How your cultural identity has changed over time
Sleeping over at a friends house from a different cultural background
Describe some unique personal family traditions
An experience where your culture/race/religion affected the situation around you
How you learned to fit in with a different culture
You first experience living in a foreign country
Discovering new subcultures like anime, gaming, k-pop, etc
Your favorite traditions from foreign cultures
How you understood your cultural heritage better
A time when you realized the impact of media on the perspective of other cultures
Getting over stereotypes because someone behaved differently than what you expected
Celebrating a different festival for the first time
Autobiographical narrative essay topics
Autobiographical narrative essays as you to specifically describe and talk about things in your life that impacted you. Take a look at the narrative essay topics below for inspiration.
Your first memory
Your first meaningful memory
Your first day of school
Your relationship with your grandparents
Finding out a shocking family secret
Your proudest achievement as a child
Your favorite childhood hobby
The best day of middle school
A time when you lost something important
How you dealt with losing someone close to you
Discovering your favorite musician
Your first kiss, date, or relationship
The worst day of your life
Why certain things are so meaningful to you
Which people have influenced your life significantly?
Fictional narrative essay topics
Fictional narrative essay topics are an opportunity to flex your creativity. Put yourself in the shoes of someone else, or in a fantastic situation and write a story! These are some narrative essay topics to choose from down below.
What it would be like traveling to Mars
What you would do with a million dollars
Describe a particularly vivid dream
A day in your life if you woke up as the opposite sex
What it would be like to be a professional gamer
What it would be like to have 100,000 Instagram followers
A day at the zoo from the perspective of an animal
A day in the life of a child from a very wealthy family
A day in the life of a child from a war-torn country
What it would be like to have your own talk show
What would you do if you were president?
What would you do if you were a dictator?
What it would be like to be a superhero
Tell a story based on your favorite work of art
A hypothetical dinner with your favorite celebrity
Best narrative essay topics - our choice
The best narrative essay topic ideas are going to be different for every individual. This section is going to choose some topics that offer the most space for creativity, are interesting to write about, or offer a broad chance for self-reflection.
Your earliest sad memory
How you realized someone had become a role model
A day in the life of your favorite fictional character
The thrill of winning
The heartbreak of loss
Understanding gender identity
A clash of culture
A new discovery
Finding your favorite hobby
Performing beyond expectation
Overcoming personal trauma
Helping someone in need
A life-changing trip
Questioning the status quo
More interesting narrative essay topics
Think about these situations and ask yourself if any of these or something similar happened to you and makes for a good story. Enjoy these interesting narrative essay topics!
The best way to win at a particular video game
The process of creating a good TikTok
Why binging a show is the best way to consume media
What it’s like being lost in a virtual world
A time you were convinced to try something new
Discovering a new favorite food
What dancing means to you
The saddest scene in media
The funniest babysitting moment
Your first day at a job
A time you asked for help
What it feels like to end a good book
A time where you panicked
A time you were kind to someone
A narrative writing is unlike most other forms of academic writing. This can make it challenging for students, but as long as you think about it as writing a story and choose the right topic for a narrative essay, they are actually a joy to write! Here are a few key things to remember as you write your essay.
A narrative essay uses the story structure - beginning, middle, and end, as well as plot, climax, setting, and characters
Spend time on the prewriting phase to gather your thoughts and plan an outline
Don’t lose track of the main purpose of the story
Generally, write in the first person, but the third person can be used as well
Use vivid words and explain sensory details
Above all, have fun and engage the reader as much as you can
Take this opportunity to flex your creative writing talents. Learning how to write an engaging story is a skill that will benefit you throughout your life. Reach out to the experts at Studyfy for help learning how to master writing narrative essays.