Nail Your Narrative Essay Outline With Expert Help

How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline

A narrative essay tells a story, allowing readers to delve deep into an author’s personal experiences, imaginary worlds, or significant memories. An outline serves as a roadmap for the essay, helping to organize thoughts and ideas and ensuring the narrative flows smoothly. 

This article will take you through a step-by-step guide on how to craft an effective narrative essay outline.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is a type of writing that tells a whole story from the writer’s perspective. It often includes personal statements or experiences, anecdotes, or fictional stories to entertain, inform, or inspire readers. The purpose of a narrative essay is to engage the reader and create a connection by sharing a relatable experience or story.

How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline

Before diving into the writing process, creating a well-thought-out outline can be instrumental in organizing your ideas and ensuring a logical progression of events in your type of narrative essay. A narrative essay begins with a foundational decision: determining the story you wish to share. 

This initial choice will guide your essay’s direction, tone, and structure. Your narrative can stem from a personal experience or be an entire storytelling fictional creation. 

  • Personal Experience: This is about sharing a real event from your life. Maybe it’s a memory from childhood, an adventure you had while traveling, or a challenge you faced. In this type of essay, you’ll describe what happened, the people involved, your feelings, and perhaps what you learned or how you changed because of this experience.
  • A Piece of Fiction: If you choose fiction, you create a story from your imagination. You’ll make up the characters, the setting, and the plot. Even though it’s not a true story, it should still have relatable feelings and lessons. It’s your chance to take the reader to a world you’ve created.

In both choices, the goal is to engage the reader. Whether sharing a personal memory, a literacy narrative, or crafting a fictional tale, the story should be interesting and make the reader think or feel something.

Narrative Essay Structure

Just as every good story has a beginning, middle, and end, a narrative essay prompt follows a similar structure to ensure it’s clear and enjoyable for the reader. The essay structure helps organize your thoughts, makes your writing flow smoothly, and ensures your story has a clear purpose. Here are the main parts of the narrative essay structure:

Narrative Essay Introduction

The introduction of a narrative essay plays a crucial role in setting the tone for the entire piece. It’s the reader’s first impression, a doorway into the story you’re about to unfold. In essence, the narrative essay introduction provides a glimpse into the theme and purpose of your story, preparing the reader for the journey ahead.

How to Start a Narrative Essay

Starting a narrative essay effectively is crucial for capturing your reader’s attention and setting the tone for your story. A strong beginning ensures the reader is invested in your tale from the outset. Here are the strategies and elements that can help you create an outline with a compelling start to your narrative essay:

1. Use a Captivating Hook

Begin your essay with a hook, a sentence or short paragraph, that immediately draws the reader in. This could be:

  • A surprising fact or statement.
  • A rhetorical question.
  • A vivid description of a scene or moment.
  • A brief dialogue or quote that’s relevant to the story.
2. Set the Scene

Provide some context for your narrative. This might include:

  • Describing the setting. giving the reader a sense of place and time.
  • Introducing the main characters, especially if it’s a personal narrative, so the reader knows who’s involved.
  • Establishing the mood or atmosphere, be it tense, joyful, or mysterious.
3. Introduce the Conflict or Main Event

Every good narrative essay has a central event, challenge, or conflict. Without giving away the entire point of the story, hint at the main event or challenge. This sets the stage and gives readers a reason to continue.

4. Establish a Personal Connection

If you’re writing about a personal experience, it’s always a good idea to briefly share why this story is significant to you. This helps readers better understand the personal or emotional stakes, making them more invested in the outcome.

5. Keep it Concise

While it’s essential to provide context, remember that this is just the beginning of your essay. Be concise and avoid excessive detail. Leave some essential elements of mystery so that readers are encouraged to read on and discover more.

Narrative Essay Thesis Statement

The thesis statement in a narrative essay, unlike argumentative essays or expository essays, doesn’t necessarily present an argument or a point that you’ll be arguing for or against. Instead, it sets the tone and provides a focal point for your story. It gives readers a clear idea of the narrative and why it matters.

In narrative essay examples, the thesis can be an explicit statement of the lesson learned or a hint at the story’s central theme. It typically appears near the end of the introduction, providing a transition into the body of the essay. The thesis statement sets expectations for the reader and acts as a guidepost for the narrative’s progression.

The thesis statement needs to be clear and specific to give the reader a sense of direction. However, it shouldn’t give away every detail; there should still be elements of discovery as the reader progresses through the essay.

Narrative Essay Body Paragraphs

The body of your essay is where the meat of the story lies. In these paragraphs, you narrate the events, describe the characters, and paint the scenes that comprise your story. While the introduction sets the stage and the conclusion wraps things up, the body is where the action happens, and the story unfolds. 

Structure and Flow

Each paragraph in the body should focus on a specific event or aspect of the story, ensuring a logical progression from one idea to the next. This sequential approach ensures the reader can follow the narrative’s flow without getting lost or confused.

Descriptive Detail

Since narrative essays aim to immerse readers in the story, providing rich, sensory details is essential. Describe sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations in a way that makes readers feel as if they’re experiencing the events alongside you. This vivid description can bring scenes to life, making your narrative more engaging and relatable.

Characters and Dialogue

If there are characters in your narrative, the body paragraphs are where they’ll come to life. Develop your characters by describing their physical appearance, personalities, and actions. Incorporate dialogues to showcase characters’ interactions and convey emotions, attitudes, or pivotal moments in the story.

Conflict and Resolution

Most compelling stories revolve around a conflict or challenge. The body paragraphs should introduce and develop this central conflict, highlighting the struggles faced and the decisions made. As the essay progresses, the resolution or outcome of this conflict should become evident, leading towards the conclusion and the lessons learned.

Reflection and Insight

While the bulk of the body paragraphs will revolve around events and actions, providing moments of introspection is crucial. Share your thoughts, feelings, and reactions as the events unfold. These personal reflections offer depth to the narrative, allowing readers to understand the significance of the events and connect with the story on an emotional level.

Narrative Essay Conclusion

The conclusion of your essay is the climax, final touch, and the closing chapter that brings your story to a satisfying or thought-provoking end. It’s not just about summarizing the events but more about reflecting on their significance, tying up loose ends, and leaving the reader with some closure. 

Revisiting the Thesis

Begin by circling back to the central idea or restate the thesis introduced in the beginning. This creates a full-circle moment and reminds the reader of your narrative’s primary focus or theme. It’s a way of reinforcing the message or lesson of your story.

Reflecting on the Journey

The conclusion is ideal for offering deeper insights or reflections about the events you’ve narrated. Discuss what you learned, how you felt, and how the experience changed or affected you. This introspection provides depth and makes your narrative more relatable, allowing readers to connect with your story personally.

Tying Up Loose Ends

If questions were raised or conflicts were introduced in the body of your essay, the conclusion is where you should address or resolve them. Ensure that all significant events or turning points have a sense of closure so the reader isn’t left hanging or wondering.

Ending on a Strong Note

The last few sentences are crucial as they will linger in the reader’s mind. You can end with a memorable quote, a provocative question, or a forward-looking statement. The aim is to leave an impression that makes the reader pause and reflect or view things in a new light.

Avoid Introducing New Information

It’s essential to avoid introducing entirely new events, characters, or themes in the conclusion. This can confuse the reader and disrupt the flow of your narrative. The focus should be on wrapping up with a call to action and reflecting on the story you’ve already told.

Narrative Essay Outline Sample

When writing a narrative essay related to nursing, you often share a personal experience or recount a significant event in a healthcare setting. Such essays can be powerful tools to convey the challenges and rewards of the nursing profession. Here’s a sample outline for a nursing narrative essay:

Title: Echoes of Compassion: A Night to Remember in Nursing


Hook: A brief description or statement to grab the reader's attention. For instance, "The hospital corridor was unusually silent that night, but little did I know, it would be one of the most challenging shifts of my nursing career."

Background Information: Introduce the setting, time, and relevant context.

Thesis Statement: The main idea or lesson learned, e.g., "That night taught me the true nursing,  it's not just about medical procedures but about providing comfort during the toughest moments."

Body Paragraph 1: Setting the Scene

Describe the beginning of your shift or the situation.

Introduce key characters: patients, colleagues, or anyone significant to the story.

Set the emotional tone: Were there premonitions? Was it a routine shift that took an unexpected turn?

Body Paragraph 2: The Main Event

Detail the significant event or challenge of the narrative. Was there a medical emergency? A personal interaction with a patient that changed your perspective?

Describe your actions, feelings, and decisions made during the event.

Include dialogues or interactions that add depth to the story.

Body Paragraph 3: Reflections and Insights

Delve into your personal thoughts and feelings about the event. How did it affect your view of nursing? Did it reaffirm your commitment or make you question certain practices?

Discuss any moral or ethical dilemmas you faced.

Share insights on teamwork, the patient-nurse relationship, or the broader implications for the healthcare system.


Reiterate the Thesis: Revisit the primary lesson or theme of your narrative.

Reflect on the Impact: How did the event influence your subsequent days or approach to nursing? Did it lead to any long-term changes in your professional life?

Closing Thoughts: End with a statement that encapsulates your feelings about the profession, the resilience it requires, and the rewards it offers, e.g., "In the silent battles fought within hospital walls, I learned that nursing goes beyond skill; it's a heart's calling."

This sample outline provides a structured way to organize and convey your nursing experiences, emphasizing the profession’s technical and emotional facets. 

Personal Narrative Essay Outline  

A personal narrative essay delves into one’s personal experiences, offering readers insight into significant events, lessons learned, and personal growth. Crafting an outline for a narrative essay can help ensure a coherent and compelling narrative. Here’s a sample outline for a personal narrative essay:

Title: Healing Beyond Medicine: A Night That Shifted My Perspective


Hook: An engaging statement to capture attention, e.g., “In the dimly lit ICU at midnight, I was reminded that healing goes beyond prescriptions and procedures.”

Setting: Introduce where and when the story is taking place, perhaps detailing the hospital environment, the quietness of the late hours, etc.

Thesis Statement: The primary message or lesson of the essay, such as, “While my training prepared me medically, it was Mrs. Thompson who taught me the true meaning of compassionate care.”

Body Paragraph 1: The Beginning

Setting the Stage: Describe the start of your shift, the routine checks, and any anticipations for the night.

Introducing Characters: Mention colleagues and patients, particularly Mrs. Thompson – a frail elderly woman with no family visits, to whom you were assigned.

Initial Interactions: Your first conversations or observations of Mrs. Thompson.

Body Paragraph 2: The Revelation

A Particular Incident: Perhaps Mrs. Thompson faced breathing difficulties or other medical issues.

Your Role: Detail your immediate medical responses, ensuring her stability.

Beyond the Medical: After stabilizing her, you might have noticed her tears or sensed her fear. You decided to stay beside her, hold her hand, or converse comfortably.

Body Paragraph 3: Deepening Connection and Insights

Conversations: Delve into the deeper conversations you had with Mrs. Thompson, where she might share stories of her life, regrets, and joys.

Personal Reflection: Describe your feelings and thoughts during these interactions. How did it make you see nursing in a different light?

The Broader Picture: Reflect on the importance of emotional support in healing and how many patients, like Mrs. Thompson, might be battling more than just physical ailments.


Reiteration of the Thesis: Emphasize the lesson about the value of compassionate care.

The Impact: Describe how this experience with Mrs. Thompson changed your approach to nursing, emphasizing the balance between medical care and emotional support.

Closing Thought: End with a resonating statement, such as, “Medicine can treat ailments, but genuine care and compassion heal the soul.”

Here is a PDF sample to guide you:


Narrative Essay Outline Template

A narrative essay allows writers to share an experience or story with their readers. Organizing your thoughts through an outline can help structure the narrative and ensure a clear and effective delivery. Here’s a detailed 5 paragraph essay template to guide the creation of an engaging narrative essay:

Narrative Essay Topics

Narrative essays are an invitation to share stories from our lives. These stories can be entertaining, insightful, or both, allowing writers to connect with readers personally. However, one of the challenges many writers face, especially beginners, is selecting the right topic. Just what narrative story is worth telling? How personal should it get? And in what context would it resonate most with readers?

Choosing a narrative essay topic is about more than just picking an event from your life; it’s about finding the transformative moments, large or small, that have shaped you. Whether it’s the first time you faced a significant challenge, a memorable family vacation, or even an ordinary day with an extraordinary twist, the potential topics for narrative essays are endless.

When selecting a topic, it’s important to consider the story’s purpose. Is it to inspire? To entertain? To educate? Knowing your intended impact can guide you toward the right narrative. Here are some topics that can serve as a starting point:

  • The First Encounter: Describe your first day in a clinical setting. What were your expectations, and how did reality match up?
  • Moments of Triumph: Was there a time when your quick thinking or skills saved a patient’s life or significantly improved their health outcome?
  • The Emotional Tug: Share a story about a patient who left a lasting impact on you. What was it about their story or your interactions that touched you deeply?
  • Overcoming Challenges:Narrate an instance when you faced a particularly challenging situation, be it a medical emergency, a dilemma, or a personal bias, and how you overcame it.
  • Life Beyond the Scrubs:How do you balance the demands of nursing with your personal life? Are there stories where these two worlds intersected in memorable ways?
  • Tales of Teamwork:Share an experience where collaboration with colleagues – doctors, other nurses, or support staff – led to a successful patient outcome.
  • Facing the Inevitable: Narrate an encounter with a patient nearing the end of their life. How did you offer support, and what did the experience teach you about life, death, and care?
  • Learning Curves:Were there moments of mistakes or misunderstandings in your nursing journey? How did you learn and grow from them?
  • Inspirations in the Field: Tell the story of a mentor or colleague who inspired you in your nursing journey. What lessons did they impart?
  • Beyond Borders: If you’ve practiced nursing in different countries or cultural settings, share the contrasts, challenges, and unique experiences that came with it.

Tips on How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline

Here are some tips to help you write a successful narrative essay outline:

  • Choose a compelling story: Select a story that is interesting, unique, and has a clear beginning, middle, and end. This will make it easier to structure your outline and keep the reader engaged.
  • Use descriptive language: To make your narrative essay more engaging, use vivid details and descriptive language to bring the story to life. This will help the reader visualize the events and connect deeply with the story.
  • Create a strong thesis statement: Your thesis statement should clearly state the main points of your essay and provide a roadmap for the reader. It should be concise and specific, giving the reader a clear idea of what to expect from the essay.
  • Organize your events chronologically:To ensure that your narrative flows smoothly, organize your events in a logical and chronological order. This will help the reader follow along and understand the story’s progression.
  • Include reflection or lessons learned: In your conclusion, take the opportunity to reflect on the events of the story and share any lessons learned or insights gained. This will add depth and meaning to your essay and leave a lasting impression on the reader.

Conclusion on How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline

A well-structured outline is essential for writing a successful narrative essay. It helps organize thoughts and ideas, ensures the narrative flows smoothly, and keeps the reader engaged. Following the tips and examples in this post, you can create your narrative essay outline and start writing your essay confidently.

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