How to Enhance a Narrative Essay

Include vivid descriptions in your narrative essay to bring your story to life.
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Strong narrative essays capture an experience or lesson in a creative way. Writing creatively isn’t always easy, but it can help to think of your narrative essay as a story. By using storytelling techniques, you can enhance your essay and engage your reader. You can use these techniques as you write your first draft or later on, as you revise.

1 Write a Strong Introduction

Great stories grab the reader’s attention right away. One way to write a creative introduction is to hint at something that you will reveal later in the essay, for example: “I have always wondered what my life would be like if I hadn’t been at the lake that afternoon.” This creates suspense and makes the reader want to read more. Another way is to set the scene with a brief anecdote or story. You might state, “My grandfather lay in the hospital bed, looking thin and pale. But when he saw me, he broke into a smile, just like he always did.” This approach can bring your story to life and draw in the reader.

2 Include Interesting Descriptions

Vivid descriptions can help make your essay more lively and interesting. As you describe people, places and events, try to include sights, scents, sounds, tastes and textures. These sensory details help bring a scene to life, for example, “The sand was warm beneath my bare toes. The air smelled like salt and coconut suntan lotion. The sound of crashing waves was soothing as I walked.” By including detailed descriptions, you can help readers feel as though they are part of the experience.

3 Add Personal Observations

A narrative essay shouldn’t just be about something that happened. It should also be about your thoughts and reflections on that event. Enhance your essay by adding your personal observations and feelings. Instead of simply writing, “The game was tied,” write, “I saw looks of determination on every player’s face. I knew what this game meant to my team. It would be our first win, and it would show how far we had come.” Your thoughts and reflections enhance the essay by making the story more personal for the reader.

4 Use Strong Verbs

Verbs can do more than simply show an action. They can also make your writing more interesting for the reader. Instead of choosing an everyday verb, use a verb that is more specific to the action you’re describing. For example, instead of saying somebody “ran,” try “galloped,” “hurtled,” “dashed,” “bolted” or “rushed.” Strong verbs help the reader see the action more clearly.

Amy Mahoney has been a writer for more than 15 years. Her articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines including “The Boston Globe,” “Reader’s Digest” and the “Miami Herald.” She holds a Master of Fine Arts in fiction.