Although narrative essays tell a story, the story should always have a point, and that point is often best communicated in a thesis sentence. The Santa Barbara City College Writing Center advises students to set the scene and provide a "hook" to get the reader's attention. Depending on the type of narrative you will tell, the thesis sentence could offer a lesson learned, identify a theme or simply start the story with the first event.
Let readers know who, what, where and when in your narrative. For example, if you are assigned to write a narrative about a physical challenge, an effective thesis sentence could be, "When I was 8, my father took me to the local YMCA to learn how to swim." Alternatively, you could start a little farther into the story: "I was 8 years old, and all the other kids at the YMCA knew how to swim."
The best "hook" for readers is appropriate to the story you are telling in your narrative. Mountain climber Aron Ralston, who amputated his own arm after a hiking accident in 2003, tells audiences that when he freed himself and walked toward safety, he knew he was "still going to die. [He] just wasn't going to die by that rock." Your life is probably not so dramatic, but an honest "hook" is always effective as a thesis sentence.
If you know the underlying theme of your narrative essay, you can include it in your thesis sentence. For example, if you are writing a narrative about a great one-day trip you took with friends, the thesis could be, "Spending time with close friends gives memories that can last forever, even if the trip is just one day." Condense the main ideas in your narrative into no more than one or two elements to find the theme.
Many narrative essay assignments ask students to write the story of an experience where they learned a valuable lesson. The thesis sentence for these types of narratives should include the lesson or moral of the story. For example, a thesis for an essay about how you responded to peer pressure could be, "I learned that I shouldn't do whatever my friends wanted me to do the night I got caught driving without a license."
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