Lesson 10: Narrative Essay Writing and Voice

Getting Started

Sophie shares Bompie's stories with the crew of The Wanderer. She knows Bompie's stories because he shared them with her in the letters he sent to her. When you write about an experience you have had, it is called a personal narrative. In personal narratives, it is important for your writing to have a distinctive voice and for the experience you share to be understood by others.

Here are a some pointers for using voice in a personal narrative:
  • Make it personal and unique — express your personality.
  • Don’t just describe what happened; show (don’t tell) your feelings about the events and people.
  • Try to create a feeling or tone to your narrative — suspenseful, sad, funny
The following tips will help you make your personal narrative more effective:
  • Put your reader in the action of your story and appeal to the reader's senses.
  • Use dialogue in your narrative.
  • Add interesting and important details.
  • It's okay to add some embellishments. The experience you select is based on something that really did happen, but the details don't have to be entirely accurate. While you can add embellishment, try not to veer too far from the actual events.
  • Describe what you learned from the experience or how it changed you.

Ideas to Think About

  • How do events in our lives change us?
  • How do the events of our lives affect our emotions?

Things to Know

  • Narrative writing tells a story. A personal narrative tells about an event that happened to the writer.


  • Explain relationships that are causal. (LA)
  • Produce final drafts that demonstrate accurate spelling and the correct use of punctuation and capitalization. (LA)
  • Narrate an expressive account (e.g., fictional or autobiographical) that uses a coherent organizing structure appropriate to purpose, audience, and context; tells a story or establishes the significance of an event or events; and uses remembered feelings and specific details. (LA)
  • Uses a range of appropriate strategies (e.g., dialogue, suspense, movement, gestures, expressions). (LA)

Introducing the Lesson

Discuss that a narrative essay is one where the writer tells a personal story. In a narrative essay, the writer does not just list the events of the event in order, but includes his emotions and creates a tone for the essay. The tone of the essay may be humorous, suspenseful, sad, etc. In a narrative, the writer reveals how the event changed him or what he learned from the event. The narrator creates a distinctive voice for the piece and attempts to put the reader in the action of the story.