The Key to an Interesting Personal Narrative Essay

One defining characteristic that sets humans apart from animals is our ability to learn vicariously. A personal narrative essay fulfills this function through words.

Our experiences form a significant part of our behavior and influence how we respond to certain scenarios. Our experiences can serve as an inspiration or warning to others who read about them. 

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

If you want to learn how to write a compelling personal narrative essay, you’ve come to the right article. It will explain a personal narrative essay and why it’s crucial.

This article also includes some tips for writing an essay that demands attention. Read on to learn.

What is a Personal Narrative Essay?

A personal narrative is a type of essay that describes a personal experience. This can include anything from a simple moment in time to a more dramatic or existential event. Personal narratives come from a first-person perspective, containing your account of an experience.

The writer of the essay often shares their thoughts, feelings, and opinions related to their experience. This is narrative-driven writing with a single focus and a single topic. Unlike a typical essay, writers can focus on a broader range of topics.

The Importance of Personal Narratives

Personal narratives are important because they help readers understand an experience from the writer’s perspective. They often include strong stories that contain lessons and wisdom.

Teachers at high school and college often give personal narratives as student assignments to develop a student’s writing skills. This helps students think and write more clearly, improving their creative ability. 

How to Write a Compelling Personal Narrative Essay

Writing a personal narrative requires a lot of work and effort. While it’s possible to write a narrative essay based purely on your memory, it’s vital to follow a structure.

1. Choose the Right Topic

Your topic will define the overall tone and focus of your essay. It must be interesting, and it should represent a pivotal experience. A good topic won’t just make your essay fun to read; it will also ease the writing process.

Remember to choose a topic that matches the intended audience. They determine whether your essay meets success. A topic sets the tone for your character, theme, and goal.

2. Begin With a Good Hook

A hook is a phrase or sentence that captures an audience’s attention. A hook statement can mean the difference between an engaged audience or one that’s only half attentive.

Hooks can come in the form of a compelling question, a bold statement, or a relevant example. 

For example:

Young children know more about life than we recognize. Babies understand love long before they learn the word’s meaning.

Imagine if you had a time machine. What’s the first time and place you’d want to travel to?

3. Follow an Outline

An essay outline is essential because it provides structure to your essay. It helps you present facts and information in a logical and readable order. 

An outline can also help you organize your thoughts before you start writing. Use it to stay on-topic and to guide the flow of your words and topics. On that note, make sure to use transitional sentences to improve readability and to indicate a shift in tone or idea.

4. Use a Vivid Description

Remember that you’re telling your audience about a life experience. An experience has many components and facets. Your personal narrative needs to read as though the readers were experiencing the event themselves. 

Take the time to express what you think, feel, and learn from your experiences. Use descriptive words to create a scene in the minds of your readers. Don’t be afraid to describe your emotions.

For example, Ivan wrote about his experience in the gym.

I think the fear of going to the gym mainly revolves around the fear of being judged. The first time I walked through those doors, I felt as though people were sizing me up and finding me small. Harmless.

I learned to set those fears aside by focusing on one fact. Everyone in the gym, regardless of body proportions, weight, and athletic ability, had the same thing in mind. They all wanted to become better versions of themselves.

5. Prove the Importance of the Experience

The point of writing a personal narrative is to teach readers a lesson and to help them realize something. Given that you’re writing a personal narrative, there’s no need to provide evidence to prove your case.

Instead, simply share why the experience is something meaningful to you, and point out the life lessons it offers. Be specific with the change an experience inspired in you.

Dedicate the last section of your essay to justifying the purpose and necessity of both your essay and experience. Always end your essay with a memorable conclusion that shares what the experience taught you.

For example, Ivan and going to the gym.

Learning to love my body allowed me to appreciate the value of hard work and dogged dedication. The harder I worked, the more I loved myself. Not because of the fantastic results I got, but more so because the journey wasn’t easy.

Sometimes, the decision to rise above the temptation to remain mediocre is a reward of its own.

6. Proofread your Work

Once you’ve finished writing your essay, it’s time to ensure that your work is error-free and readable. Put a little extra effort into reading your essay more than once to look for spelling, grammatical, and contextual errors.

You can also use a spell-checker to check your work quickly and efficiently.


A personal narrative is a personal account of a specific experience. It’s a great way to develop writing skills and critical thinking. It often uses a first person participle. 

The point of a personal narrative is to share a writer’s experience with an audience and to tell them an important message. Remember our simple tips. While they are common to all essay types, they are some of the best ways to improve your writing.

You can also consider looking at different examples of popular personal narratives for inspiration. We hope your paper leaves readers wanting more of your content. Good luck!

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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