What Are the Requirements of Narrative Writing?

Narrative essays provide an outlet for people to write about themselves and share their experiences and lessons with the readers. In a narrative essay, the writer can reflect on a personal experience and analyze the impact of the experience on her life, while sharing any revelations she might have gained from the experience. Though a narrative essay can be thought of as a story, there are specific requirements that must be followed to write a successful narrative.

Point of View

Narrative essays are often written in the first person. However, just because the author can choose to use the pronoun "I" when sharing his experiences, it does not mean that this is the only option. Narratives can also be creatively written using second or third person point of view. However, consistency must be maintained throughout the piece, and the point of view chosen much enhance the clarity of the story.


Narratives are mostly written as stories, and they must include all the basic story elements. They must have characters, conflicts and plot events. The story arc needs to follow an introduction, a climax and a resolution. The plot needs to be presented in an organized manner to avoid confusion. There should be a clear beginning, middle and end. Sometimes narratives are not presented in story form. Instead, these read more like informational narratives, and the writer focuses on presenting the reader with the information in an organized form. These essays must also clearly show an introduction, a body with supporting evidence and a conclusion.


Specific details appealing to the five senses are crucial when writing a narrative. Readers become more engaged when they can imagine themselves in the story, and this is what sensory details allow the readers to do. Re-creating what things looked like, felt like, smelled like, tasted like or sounded like invite the readers to live the experience. Dialogue should be authentic and not feel stilted and awkward. With strong, vibrant details, the writer of a narrative can make a stronger point.


A narrative must have a purpose. It is not simply telling a story. A narrative revolves around a main idea that is presented in the introduction and supported in the body or details of the narrative. This main idea should convey a lesson, a reflection or a moment of enlightenment that the writer has experienced and wants the readers to feel. This main idea should also appeal to a wide audience, so the writer must find a point in the story that relates to a general group. While it does not have to impact or reach everyone, a narrative cannot be so limited as to only be of value to the writer.

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