A personal narrative essay is a type of essay in which a person writes about his or her own experiences, typically as a narrative story. While someone can write about his or her opinions or personality in such an essay, the “narrative” aspect of the essay typically comes from a story. This type of essay is usually nonfiction and often related to actual events that happened to the writer or someone close to the writer. A personal narrative essay is often utilized in applications for colleges or to join prestigious groups, as such essays gauge the abilities of a writer and allow someone to reveal interesting personal information.
There is no single topic that must be used in writing a personal narrative essay, as most writers choose a topic that has particular meaning for them. Someone might write about the death of a loved one, for example, to use the essay as a cathartic experience or to help others find someone else who understands what they are experiencing. A personal narrative essay could just as easily be about something humorous that happened to the writer. Such a wide range of potential topics can lead to such essays being quite interesting, though they can also be difficult for some writers to start.
For people who have difficulty getting started with a piece of writing without a clear sense of direction, a personal narrative essay can be somewhat daunting. It is often best for someone to begin brainstorming about potential subjects. This can be done by a person thinking about things that have happened to him or her that elicited strong emotions such as fear, sadness, happiness, or anger. It is often easiest for someone to write about something he or she has a vested interest in, and emotional connections to a subject can make that subject more meaningful for a writer.
The way in which a personal narrative essay is written, however, often separates such works from other essays. A personal narrative essay should typically have a somewhat looser style than informative or argumentative essays, since the narrative aspects of such essays should resemble prose works of fiction or nonfiction. Writers can use dialogue in such essays, separating them from essays written in a more formal tone, and the writer might choose to narrate the essay or allow the narrative to unfold through a third-person perspective. Ultimately, a personal narrative essay should feel like a structured narrative, with a beginning, middle, and end that tells a definite story or relays a certain experience.