EDUCATION

Personal Narrative Examples, Tips and Ideas

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Personal narrative examples offer light on how you can create your own masterpiece. This is especially important as you may have to write one for your college application or for an assignment in class. Either way, it’s always a good idea to focus on an event that played a pivotal role in your life.

In this guide, we’ll be discussing some important personal narrative examples, tips and ideas.

What is a personal narrative?

A personal narrative essay is a piece of writing that’s written in first person. To write a strong narrative, it’s crucial you start off with an interesting or engaging idea that’ll get your readers hooked. You don’t necessarily have to focus on a major life event as long as you’re able to convince the readers why the event was important and how it changed your life.

For instance, you can write about being reunited with your childhood buddy or your life as an immigrant in a foreign country. Choose a topic that you’re really passionate about and hopefully, that’ll give you a boost to write something magnificent.

Personal Narrative Examples

You’ll find plenty of amazing personal narrative examples online. You can either search for the best ones online or look for a personal narrative that follows the same theme as your own. Some strong personal narrative examples include:

  • Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
  • The Lives section of The New York Times
  • Ticket to the Fair” by David Foster Wallace
  • Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Goodbye To All That by Joan Didion
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  • The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard

Tips for writing your personal narrative

Follow these tips to a write an interesting personal narrative:

Start with a hook

The first few sentences of your personal narrative is what’s really going to reel your readers in. You can write vivid descriptions to paint the scene for your readers or start off with something that’s thought-provoking. Here’s an example

“I woke up to find all my belonging thrashed on the floor. At first, it all seemed like a dream until I saw shreds of my wallet lying on my desk. I stood still, unable to move. There were pages strewn all over the floor along with pictures that I could no longer identify. I collapsed on my bed, hoping that the next time I would open my eyes, everything would be back to normal. I was getting late for class. Not knowing where to start, I began collecting whatever remained of my belongings. That’s when I found it. It was a note addressed to me.”

See how the above example starts off with an interesting narrative? The author is talking about a personal experience that perhaps ended up changing their life. This would compel the reader to move forward with the essay.  So try your best to create suspense or choose an interesting angle.

Discuss the events in chronological order

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and jump from one moment to the other without paying attention to flow. Consider listing down all the events on a piece of paper first before beginning your draft. This’ll ensure your essay moves in chronological order, gradually unveiling moment to moment.


Following this method will improve readability and make it easier for the reader to follow the narrative in one go. Otherwise, you might end up skipping important events in between.

Include sensory detail

Don’t sound robotic. Include sensory details, focusing on how everything tasted, looked or felt in the story. Being descriptive will captivate your reader, drawing them into your personal narrative. For example, you can describe eating a meal as “I twirled the spaghetti on my fork, blissfully unaware that my lunch was now cold. As I chewed, the spaghetti strands tasted bland and almost rubber-like.”

See how the above example describes the speaker’s perspective.

Read your work out loud

Once you have completed your first draft, read your personal narrative out loud. This’ll help identify unclear sentences and awkward pauses. Take notes and underline the sentences so that you can revise them later.

Better yet, you can request someone else to read the narrative to hear what it sounds like. Take the opportunity to take mental notes for clarity. You can also jot down points in your notebook or ask the speaker to provide constructive criticism.

Ideas for Personal Narrative

For ideas, browse through personal narrative examples. We also suggest you take a trip down memory lane or look at a few old photographs for inspiration. Remember, no two personal narratives are ever really the same so find a way to add a hint of your unique personality.

Do you have any tips and tricks in mind for writing personal narratives? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

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