Writing about a memorable occurrence or a particular place is a form of expository writing designed to inform or explain the topic. If your essay is about an event, you can shape your writing as a narrative essay. If you want to talk only about the place, you can shape your writing as a descriptive essay. Or you can combine the two -- an unforgettable incident at a particular location -- in a narrative essay.
A narrative essay typically tells a story about an event or incident, usually arranged in chronological order, and it ends with a sense of self-discovery or awakening as its thesis. A narrative essay lacking such a take-away message leaves the reader to wonder, “So, what is your point of telling this story?” The tone of your essay should be formal and factual, as opposed to persuasive, as you want to maintain a sense of objectivity in your description of a particular event.
Your introduction should explain why you decided to write about this incident at this place, or why this particular incident was important. Remember a good introduction moves typically from the general to the specific: open your introduction with a time-signaling device, such as “When the bomb went off,” “When I joined the navy,” “Last year,” “When I divorced my wife in 2013” and so on. Next, briefly describe the event: What happened? When? Where? Why? How? By whom? The more background information about the incident you provide, the easier for your reader to understand the context of your story. You then identify your audience by considering who would benefit the most by reading this narrative essay. Near the end of your introduction, state your thesis, a single focal statement that will glue the essay together: “The bomb blast taught me how ephemeral human life was.”
Since you're describing an event, organize your body paragraphs chronically. Use transitional devices, such as first, second or third, or then, next and finally, for example, to give a good sense of flow to the story. To enhance your description, use sensory images based on sound, smell, sight and touch. For example, instead of simply saying, “Then the bomb went off,” you can say, “The bomb blast collapsed three nearby buildings into rubble, and people heard its thunderous blast as far as 20 miles away. Bewildered, people covered with dust started to gather around the site, dazed.” Such use of sensory images will help your reader draw a mental picture of the event you are describing, making your description immediate and real.
Since a narrative essay tells a story, it should include all the elements in storytelling; timeline, plot, characters, exposition, climax and a sense of discovery. To enliven the story, you need to choose your verbs carefully throughout the essay to clarify or explain the story. The description should support the overall thesis of the essay. For this reason, it's all right for you to use the first-person narrator “I” throughout the essay.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images