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K12 LibreTexts

2.1: Introduction

  • Page ID
    6590
  • Learning Objectives

    • Identify the differences in form between descriptive and narrative essays.
    • Know the major differences between autobiographical and biographical narratives.
    • Recognize the structure of autobiographical and biographical narratives.
    • Identify the importance of personal growth in a narrative essay.
    • Stress the importance of personal growth within your own narrative essay.

    Introduction

    Unlike the descriptive essays that strive to explain why a person, a place, an object, or an event is important, a narrative essay demonstrates the development of a person through the chronological retelling of an important event. In addition, a narrative essay should indicate how a person has changed or learned from this experience. The experience should unfold much like the plot of a novel or short story, beginning with the individual facing a problem and ending in the resolution of the problem and subsequent growth of the individual. Thus, the action of the problem should unfold as the telling of the event unfolds, much like the action of a short story builds as the plot progresses.

    However, just as in descriptive essays, you must describe the event that is progressing, effectively drawing your readers into the development of the individual. Think of how invested, or perhaps uninvested, you become in the stories you read. Why do you connect with certain characters and not with others? Often, you connect with characters you feel you can relate to in some way or with events that you can imagine experiencing. Thus, it is essential to clearly and concisely indicate the action of the event being described. Your readers must be able to imagine being at and participating in the event. However, you must keep in mind that you can provide too much information to the reader. Make sure all the details you provide are relevant to the narration. For instance, when narrating an event, you do not need to include details that do not add to the feeling of an event. Otherwise, the readers will feel unconnected and disinterested in the development of the individual.

    While describing the event is crucial to the reader's understanding and interest, the person's feelings, thoughts, desires, or insights are integral to creating the sense of personal growth. Without these components, the reader will be unable to track the person's development and change. Essentially, in order for the reader to see that the individual has transformed, you must present the inner thoughts, desires, and feelings of the person before and after the alleged transformation. This way the reader can compare the thoughts and feelings from before the change with those after and ultimately evaluate the personal growth of the individual on their own.

    Since the personal growth in the narrative is the most essential component, choosing the individual and experiences is an important decision. As a writer hoping to engage the reader, you must carefully consider both the events and the individual that you choose. Not only must you choose events that share a common theme, or that point toward the same idea, eventual personal growth, but you must also choose an individual who is compelling. Generally, a narrative essay can either be autobiographical or biographical in nature. That is, the narrative can be written by you and about you or the narrative can be written by you and about someone else. Moreover, in choosing to write about yourself or about someone else, you decide the organization of your paper.