What is a Narrative Essay and How Does It Work?

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A type of creative nonfiction, the narrative essay is a sub-division of creative nonfiction. This genre is also known as the personal essay. It allows writers to tell honest stories about their lives and help them make important life decisions.
Personal narrative essays can be thought of as short nonfiction stories. Although the writing methods used in the essay and short stories are different, they both produce similar results: powerful stories with a theme or moral that readers can understand. Also you need to choose a narrative essay topic before writing.
If you've never written a narrative essay before you might be tempted to associate "essay" with high-school English class. Do you remember those 5-paragraph essays that we had to write on the subject of a book we didn't read and about a topic that didn’t interest us?
But don't be alarmed, this is not the type of essay we are talking about. The French essayer is the root of the word essay. It means "to try." Writing a narrative essay is a way to organize the world into language.
Narrative Essay Example
Mary Oliver's piece "Flow", a great example of a narrative essay, is available for free in Google Books.
Mary Oliver describes the essay as a reflection on the fact that we live in paradise. Oliver also explores our place within the infinite beauty of the world.
Oliver weaves her thoughts about the world throughout the essay. She asks questions such as "What kind of life should I live?" and "What kind of life would that be?" These thoughts are based on anecdotes, observations, and the migration of whales. She also mentions the string of fish at high tide, how a fish can be rescued from the shoreline, and the clever rescue of a spiny fish.
The most important thing about this essay and perhaps the most entertaining is Oliver's questions about living life. Yet, her stories show us how to live life with love, admiration, and tenderness for all life's amazing, mysterious, and seemingly random beauty.
This is the power and potential of the narrative essay. We can draw great conclusions by looking at the random facts in our lives.
What are the commonalities of most essays? Before we get into the narrative essays, let's first look at the basics of an essay.

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