Narrative Essays: Examples And Topic Ideas For Students

Writing a narrative essay is a great way to share your life with others. Here, we’ll explore topics that will set you up to write a great narrative essay.

If you’re searching for a list of personal narrative essay topics, you’re likely writing a middle school, high school, or college essay. A personal narrative describes your life experience, usually from the first-person point of view.

There are many different approaches to take to writing a narrative essay. Good narrative essay topics are engaging and can be either serious or silly. A personal narrative is not an argument essay or a persuasive essay; rather, it tells a story from your point of view.

Narrative essay writers are constantly on the lookout for things that happen in their lives that teach a lesson, make a point, or tell a funny story. When brainstorming for the best topic for your narrative essay, think about something that happened in your life that you love sharing with others, and work to translate your story into written prose that will hook your readers.

Here, we’ll explore some of the best narrative essay topic examples and ideas, helping you get your writing started right.

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Narrative Essay Examples

1. The Power Of Potstickers By Lauren Brown

Although I find the exact measurements of recipes comforting, I do my best to add a pinch of this and a dash of that in my meals every so often. It’s how I get to go outside my comfort zone every day. And I see in myself a newfound wisdom: it’s ok to go off the beaten path, you can experiment, compromise can lead to something new and beautiful. My mother’s cooking taught me that and I expect to bring that with me wherever I may go.

In this food-based tribute to her mother’s ingenuity, Brown discusses important family memories while sharing lessons from her mother that she now carries through everyday life. The combination of rich descriptive language with an explanation of how the experience of cooking with her mother shaped her life draws the reader in, helping them to feel like they’re in the kitchen with Brown and her mother.

2. Everyone Should Have A Best Friend 30 Years Older Than Them By Lucy Holden

In short, we adopted each other as confidants and met regularly to discuss life in general. He was more supportive than anyone else I met during the whole three years and stepped out of his remit to give me tailored advice that definitely helped me to get a job in journalism. It was clear from the start that he cared more about what was right for me than what was right for the university league tables, perhaps because he actually knew me. When I told him I was worried that the long days I was doing in the student newspaper office would take a toll on my degree, he told me I could get a first if I wanted one, but thought the student paper stuff would help my career much more. 

It can be hard to find a friend who knows you better than yourself, and Holden discusses that phenomenon in their essay on friendship. She discusses how her friend affected her life during their time together and how he affected her after being separated by distance. In this narrative essay, the author works to describe the feelings she experienced through the ups and downs of their friendship, writing about universal truths that all humans experience in relationships. 

3. All It Takes Is A Small Act Of Kindness By Maddie Huiras

Throughout his life, he had gotten used to dealing with Dyskeratosis congenita, and as life went on, he eventually developed cancer; but even while battling cancer, my dad showed kindness. In fact, on the night before he passed away, even though he knew he wouldn’t be with us for much longer, he tried his best to focus on the positive stuff. 

In this essay, Huiras reflects on the life and death of her father and celebrates his commitment to kindness to others throughout his life. While Huiras narrates the events that led to her father’s death, she also describes how his actions and character significantly affect her life, helping her grow into the woman she wants to be.

4. A Reflection On Working In Labor & Delivery By Dr. Amos Grunebaum, MD

Labor & Delivery is getting tears in your eyes when you watch a couple you’ve connected with welcome their baby into the world. Even though you’ve just met and will likely never see each other again, there’s something special about sharing that experience that makes you feel like you’ve known each other forever. Labor & Delivery is a place full of opposites. A woman grieving a devastating loss can be in the room next door to a family celebrating a new addition and 14-year-old mother can be in the room next door to a 45-year-old mother. Regardless of the circumstances, each family that walks through the L&D doors will be forever changed.

In this essay on life behind the doors of the delivery room, Dr. Grunebaum shares what it’s like to both celebrate and grieve with families and how difficult it can be to manage both the chaos and joy that comes with the birth process. If you choose to write an essay about a process so personal as birth, leave out any details that could identify the people involved, as Grunebaum does in this essay. 

5. Pressures Of Being A First Generation American-Born Citizen By Helen Bezikyan

The struggles that come with having immigrant parents may include constant seeking of approval, always having to be responsible, as well as immigrant parents discussing the future that they may have already planned for their child. More often than not, immigrant parents constantly remind their child, or children that they expect big and great things from them in the future, which is part of why they came to this country.

In this essay, Bezikyan discusses the unique pressures of being a first-generation American-born citizen. In addition to offering her perspective, she also offers the opinions of others in similar circumstances. This helps to support her opinion and help others see the shared experience of people born to immigrant parents.

Narrative Essay Topic Ideas

1. Your First Day Of High School

Narrative Essay Topics: Your first day of high school
Explain how you felt as you walked toward the door, how you felt when you struggled to find your classes, and what it was like opening your new locker for the first time

Whether you’re a college or high school student, you likely remember your first day of high school—stepping away from middle school and becoming a young adult. The first day of high school is rife with emotion, and describing your experience can provide your reader with an interesting perspective on how you deal with transition and change.

When describing the big day, use details. Explain how you felt as you walked toward the door, how you felt when you struggled to find your classes, and what it was like opening your new locker for the first time. As you write, you may find it helpful to avoid technical details (like the minute-to-minute scheduling of your classes) and instead focus on unique or tough moments or how accomplished you felt by the end of the day.

2. How You Met Your Best Friend

Your best friend has been there for you through thick and thin, and writing about how the two of you met can be a fun narrative essay topic, no matter your age or writing level.

As you tell the story of how you met your best friend, describe how your connection grew over time. Perhaps you were thick as thieves right away, or you needed some time to realize that you’d met a lifelong friend. For some inspiration, reach out to your best friend and ask them what they remember from the day you met—it can be fun and fresh to get their perspective on how your first meeting went.

3. Your Best Birthday Party

Birthdays are a time to celebrate, and writing about a particularly excellent birthday can be a great topic for your narrative essay. When discussing your best birthday party, include all details, including who you invited, what you ate, and how you celebrated with family and friends.

You may also want to talk about why that particular birthday was so meaningful to you. If it was a landmark birthday (like your sweet 16) or a special event (like your last birthday party at home before you left for college), be sure to mention this, so your reader understands why this event was so significant in your life.

4. Your Favorite (Or Most Difficult) Childhood Memory

There’s no way around it: traumatic things happen in childhood, and wonderful things happen. Writing about childhood memories can be relatable and provide an instant connection with your readers.

When choosing a favorite childhood memory to write about, think back to memorable times in your life because they’re connected with strong emotions. Perhaps you want to write about when your baby sibling came home from the hospital or your first baseball game.

If you choose to write about a difficult childhood memory, the process for choosing a topic is still the same. Think back to a childhood memory that evokes strong emotion. While writing about a negative childhood memory can be an excellent way to write a compelling personal essay, it can also bring up challenging thoughts and may feel traumatic.

5. Your Most Embarrassing Moment

Have a particular time that made you red in the face? Writing about an embarrassing moment is relatable and can provide a humorous topic for your narrative essay.

When writing about your embarrassing moment, it can be helpful if you’re willing to laugh at yourself and find the humor in the situation you went through. Be sure to describe what happened from start to finish, painting a clear picture of the moment for your readers. Describe your emotions as the embarrassing moment occurred, and talk about what happened after the moment was over.

6. How You Made A Difficult Decision

Wrestling with a difficult decision can feel impossible at the moment, and reflecting on the experience of making a difficult decision to your readers can make for an excellent narrative essay topic.

When you’re talking about a difficult decision in your narrative essay, give plenty of background information so that the reader fully understands why you’re wrestling with a tough choice. Don’t give away your decision at the start of the essay; rather, take the reader through your thought process as you had to decide what to do.

7. An Act Of Kindness

Sharing an act of kindness you did with someone else—or a random act of kindness that someone did for you—can provide a warm, fuzzy topic for your narrative essay. When writing about an act of kindness, focus on how the act made you feel, whether you were the giver or the receiver of the act.

Much like writing about meeting your best friend for the first time, it can be helpful to talk about your state of mind before and after the act of kindness occurred. Perhaps you were going through a tough time, and the act of kindness helped to boost your mood. Explaining the emotions that came with the act of kindness and the facts of the situation can help your reader feel connected to your story.

8. A Tribute To Your First Pet

Narrative Essay Topics: A Tribute To Your First Pet
Focus both on the descriptive qualities of your pet that allow your reader to imagine what they looked like

Whether you have a dog, a cat, or something more exotic, many readers will be able to connect with the love that a kid has for their first pet. When writing a narrative essay about your first pet, please explain how you felt the first time you laid eyes on them. This may mean describing when they were first presented to you as a kitten or a puppy or the first time you saw your older rescue pet.

Talk about the qualities you loved most about your pet, whether that was their ability to comfort you after a bad day or how they were never too old or tired to go outside and play frisbee. Focus both on the descriptive qualities of your pet that allow your reader to imagine what they looked like and the emotional qualities that keep your first pet near and dear to your heart to this day.

If you have a pet currently, you can mention them in your narrative essay about your first pet, talking about their qualities that remind you of your first pet. While it can tug at your heartstrings to describe the memory of your first pet, writing about the love you have for an animal is nearly universally relatable, and your readers will love hearing about your fond memories of your furry friend.

Tip: If writing an essay sounds like a lot of work, simplify it. Write a simple 5 paragraph essay instead.

If you’re still stuck, check out our available resources for essay writing topics.

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