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❶Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since A narrative essay tells an interesting story and often includes lively quotes.

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How to Start an Essay: Easy Tips to Help You Get Started
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The introduction to a narrative essay sets the stage for the story you're about to tell, creating context through details, setting and other relevant background facts. A thesis that introduces the point of your narrative is also a key component of the intro.

The introductory paragraph narrows the focus of your narrative essay. Since this essay style tells a story, narrowing your focus means choosing a specific event to describe.

Decide what you want readers to learn from the essay; this takeaway message becomes part of your introduction to prepare readers for what they will read. With that story and purpose in mind, outline the key pieces of information -- the who, what, why, when and where of the anecdote. This framework helps you create an engaging intro that relates directly to the essay content.

Start with a quote, anecdote or fact to engage readers from the first sentence of your essay. If your essay shares your story of being injured and missing out on an important sports event, for example, you might use a quote about overcoming adversity or a description of the injury. Avoid boring or wordy introductory sentences, such as, "I'm going to tell you the story of a time when I had to overcome a difficult period in my life.

Does it start when you spill spaghetti sauce all down your dress before the dance? While that might seem like the climax of a story you want to tell, it might make a better starting place. Go straight to the drama. You don't need to write up a formal outline for a narrative essay unless it's part of the assignment or it really helps you write.

Listing the major scenes that need to be a part of the story will help you get organized and find a good place to start. Use a consistent point of view. Generally, narrative essays will be written in first person, making use of "I" statements, which is a little unusual compared to other assignments you'll be given in school.

Whether you're giving us scenes with dialog, or discussing what happened in past-tense, it's perfectly fine to use first person in a narrative essay. This is a difficult and advanced technique to try to pull off, and it usually has the effect of being too complicated. There should only be one "I" in the story.

In general, narrative essays and short stories for that matter should also be told in past tense. So, you would write "Johnny and I walked to the store every Thursday" not "Johnny and I are walking to the store, like we do every Thursday. If so, be consistent with your pronouns throughout the story. Describe the important characters. Who else is important to the story, other than yourself? Who else was present when the story took place.

Who affected the outcome of the story? What specific, particular details can you remember about the people in the story? Use these to help build the characters into real people. Particular details are specific and only particular to the character being described. While it may be specific to say that your friend has brown hair, green eyes, is 5 feet tall with an athletic build, these things don't tell us much about the character.

The fact that he only wears silk dragon shirts? Now that gives us something interesting. Try writing up a brief sketch of each principal character in your narrative essay, along with the specific details you remember about them. Pick a few essentials. Find the antagonist and conflict. Good narratives often have a protagonist and an antagonist, which is what creates the conflict. The protagonist is usually the main character in most narrative essays, that'll be you who is struggling with something.

It might be a situation, a condition, or a force, but whatever the case, a protagonist wants something and the reader roots for them.

The antagonist is the thing or person who keeps the protagonist from getting what they want. Who or what is the antagonist in your story? To answer this question, you also need to find out what the protagonist wants.

What is the goal? What's the best case scenario for the protagonist? What stands in the protagonist's way? The antagonist isn't "the bad guy" of the story, necessarily, and not every story has a clear antagonist. Also keep in mind that for some good personal narratives, you might be the antagonist yourself.

Just as important to a good story as the characters and the plot is the setting. Where does the story take place? In the city or the country? Describe the location that the story takes place and let the setting become part of your story.

Do a freewrite about the location that your story takes place. What do you know about the place? What can you remember? What can you find out? If you do any research for your narrative essay, it will probably be here.

Try to find out extra details about the setting of your story, or double-check your memory to make sure it's right. Good writing is in the details. Even the most boring office environment or the dullest town can be made compelling with the right kinds of details in the writing. Remember to use particulars—unique details that don't describe anything else but the specific thing you're writing about, and let these vivid details drive the story.

You might tell us something like, "My dad was always sad that year," but if you wrote "Dad never spoke when he got home from work. We heard his truck, then heard as he laid his battered hardhat on the kitchen table. Then we heard him sigh deeply and take off his work clothes, which were stained with grease. Make sure your theme is clearly illustrated in the story. After you've written your rough draft, read back over it with an eye for your theme.

Whatever the purpose of your telling us the story that you're telling us needs to be made very clear. The last thing you want is for the reader to get to the end and say, "Good story, but who cares?

Get the theme into the very beginning of the essay. Just as a researched argument essay needs to have a thesis statement somewhere in the first few paragraphs of the essay, a narrative essay needs a topic statement or a thesis statement to explain the main idea of the story.

This isn't "ruining the surprise" of the story, this is foreshadowing the important themes and details to notice over the course of the story as you tell it. A good writer doesn't need suspense in a narrative essay. The ending should seem inevitable.

Use scenes and analyses. All narratives are made of two kinds of writing: Scenes happen when you need to slow down and tell specific details about an important moment of the story.

Scenes are small moments that take a while to read. An analysis is used to narrate the time between scenes. They are longer moments that you read over more quickly. I didn't know what to tell him. I fidgeted, kicked an empty paint bucket that was rusted over at the edge of the lot. We got a turkey, cornbread, cranberries. The store was crazy-packed with happy holiday shoppers, but we walked through them all, not saying a word to each other.

It took forever to lug it all home. Use and format dialogue correctly. When you're writing a narrative essay, it's typically somewhere between a short story and a regular essay that you might write for school. You'll have to be familiar with the conventions of formatting both types of writing, and since most narrative essays will involve some dialogue, you should make formatting that dialogue correctly a part of your revision process.

Anything spoken by a character out loud needs to be included in quotation marks and attributed to the character speaking it: Each time a new character speaks, you need to make a new paragraph. If the same character speaks, multiple instances of dialog can exist in the same paragraph. Revision is the most important part of writing. Nobody, even the most experienced writers, get it right on the very first run through.

Get a draft finished ahead of time and give yourself the chance to go back through your story carefully and see it again. How could it be improved?

Revise for clarity first. Are your main points clear? If not, make them clear by including more details or narration in the writing. Hammer home your points. Was the decision you made about the starting place of the story correct? Or, now that you've written, might it be better to start the story later? Ask the tough questions. Proofreading is one part of revision, but it's a very minor part and it should be done last. From your middle sentences you can go right into your thesis.

All great narrative essays have great detail. It might be a good idea to write more detail than necessary in your first draft, then edit to use only the most vivid and most relevant ones in your final draft. Your main character is likely yourself or someone you know personally. Dialogue, quote, or anecdote: You may decide to use a piece of dialogue, quote, or anecdote to introduce your story. Get right into the story: When you write your first draft you should play around with removing and editing your sentences so that the story moves more quickly.

Key Rules on How to Start an Essay

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Unlike other essays in which you may need to argue or prove something, a narrative essay is about telling a story. Quite often, of course, this will be .

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However, you can open a narrative essay with a question as long as the question fulfills the other obligations of a strong introduction. Get Back to Basics A strong introduction accomplishes two basic tasks: it grabs the reader’s attention, luring the reader into the story, and it presents the topic that will be explored within the essay.

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Starting an essay with a quote, you need to find a way to make your writing impressive. Follow a guide to take your readers attention with a great topic, strong thesis containing the main point and idea, and valuable information. In this case, quotation marks are used. Indirect dialogue is a second-hand report of something that was said or written but NOT the exact words in their original form. When writing a narrative essay, you are telling a story. That story can become confusing for the reader, though, when dialogue is added, unless it’s very clear who is doing the talking.

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Any quotation must clearly relate to your topic, including a quote used as an introductory hook. A quote seemingly unrelated to your point distracts your readers rather than drawing them in. Choose a quote that fits the tone and focus of the essay. For instance, a humorous quote does not set up a paper on slavery well. Dialogue in Narrative Essays. In addition, the Kibin personal narrative essay examples can show you what dialogue looks like incorporated into a complete essay. If you don’t think you quite have the hang of it when you’re done writing, you can send your essay to the Kibin editors for advice on how to fix it.