How to Start a Narrative Essay
The opening line for your narrative defines how many readers you will retain all the way to the conclusion . A good hook will ensure that your readers are absorbed right at the start. Your readers will appreciate your narrative if they start enjoying it from the beginning. They will want to read on throughout the rest of the essay to keep the high.
Most readers have short attention spans which means that when they read, their concentration will reduce and disappear very rapidly. We can fully concentrate when reading only for a few minutes before we start scheming through the essay. We get easily distracted and wander off from the essay into our thoughts or elsewhere.
What a Narrative Essay Contains
This is an essay that is experiential, anecdotal, and personal in nature. It adopts a story telling theme where writers have the freedom to express themselves and bring out intimate details about the subject matter. Narrative essays have guidelines that must be observed by writers right from the beginning of the essay to the conclusion, which include the following:
If Writing a Story, Include All Parts of a Story
The following parts of a story essay are mandatory:
Give your essay a purpose, let’s say, it is the thesis for your story – there won’t be any sense in reading a baseless narration headed nowhere.
Your essay should have a precise point of view, most commonly, narrative essays are written in the author’s perspective. Other perspectives can be applied in narrative essays with no restriction on any preferences.
Your essay should be written in a lively and concise language. Carefully choose artful vocabulary for your narrative to be effective. Use specific words that aim to arouse specific emotions in reader’s as well as their senses.
Your narrative should be clearly structured with a clear introduction that has a strong initiation for your story to have a good impact on the readers. The purpose of your narrative should immediately come out clearly from the start of the essay. This is your essay and you can commandeer it in any direction, just be sure that you’re creative enough for the readers to effortlessly follow your lead.
First-person pronoun ‘I’
Not all instances allow the use of the first-person pronoun in essays. Though allowable in narrative essays, you should limit its use to avoid lack of diction. Minimize its use as much as possible because it offers a narrow and limited perspective whereby there might be a chance for a lot of information to escape.
How to Start a Narrative Essay
You have understood what a narrative essay is and the guidelines for writing one. The next stage for you to master is how to start your essay. In order for your essay to be impactful, you must pay close attention to how you do this.
Even though this type of essay doesn’t have stringent guidelines and structures to adhere to, they are not that easy to work around. Neither is there a requirement for real research for outside sources nor a thesis statement that needs to be supported yet students struggle with how to start.
The hook, basically the opening statement, is the first line of any essay you write it is the instrument of attack in your essay. For narrative essays, the hook is twice as important as it is to other types of essays. When you are sharing a personal experience, it should start off in a stimulating and engaging tone that will stir up the readers’ attention for them to want to go on listening.
For your readers to connect to your passion, you must bring them on board at the start of the story and the rest of the narrative should follow the tone to retain them. A good hook is the one that firmly grabs the attention of the reader and won’t let go.
There are several ways in which you can present your hook sentence. Writing is a wide field with no specific structure for how to structure your hook. Each writer should creatively present their writing boldly even though it might be a bit off and doesn’t match to any specific category.
The following are ways of ensuring your hook is up to the task:
Using a relevant quote – If you are stuck on coining your hook, a way out is to use a relevant quote from a notable person or any source of inspiration sentimental to you.
Related: How to write a Narrative Essay
Using statistics – providing some relevant statistics on the topic at hand is a good way of stirring up the reader’s attention
Telling an anecdote – giving a brief overview of your narrative in one short line can act as a good hook.
Asking an intriguing question – asking an insightful question can make readers curious about the answer and read on to answer it.
Stating a fact – stating facts is a very effective way of evoking emotions especially if it’s a new fact to the reader that can aid them to understand how your experience is relevant to the real world.
Providing a definition of a word – it will play a key role in the story’s plot and will definitely work in your favor as you will be proving an insight into the essay at the same time delivering your hook.
Why You Should Write a Good Narrative Essay
A good narrative essay is the most impactful essay and the one that’s able to captivate the reader all throughout the reading. Even though you’re not writing a technical paper full of statistics and detailed info, stating an informative fact and statistic once in a while is a good way of ensuring that your essay is of good quality.
When coaching on writing essays, most tutors don’t lay sufficient emphasis on the importance of having a captivating hook for your essay. You should always bear in mind that you could lose readers even before they reach your second paragraph if the hook is weak.
The following are properties of a good hook:
Building momentum. A good opening line is like a stone thrown off the side of a cliff. Depending on the initial launch, the stone will roll downhill on a predetermined path. The initial launch is considered our hook. Once you toss the stone, it will head downwards towards a determined target. The stone might get tossed and knocked about as it goes down gaining momentum with every inch it goes down.
Not starting the story early. A good opening statement is essential in timing how you get into your story. You should avoid jumping over details that are paramount in the build up towards your story. Bear in mind the expectation of the reader and match your storytelling with them. The expected chronological order of your story elements should be preserved in order to sell your story.
Broad-narrow perspective. Most readers prefer to be grounded in the general context before introducing narrow details concerning a particular context. Having a general perspective on the subject matter beforehand is a position anybody is comfortable with. Your readers will appreciate this factor in your essay.
Don’t overtake the reader. As the author of the essay, it’s easy to get readers confused especially with a hard to comprehend hook. This can be linked to the fact that not all information can be contained in the hook and readers will have to read on to get more and understand what you meant. The shortfall here is that if the readers get confused, they might not continue reading your essay. A good hook should be clearly understood with or without reading the rest of the essay.
Begin with smaller mysteries. Puzzles are a good way to get the readers’ attention. Presenting a puzzle in the hook can play a great deal in your favor especially if the readers get the notion that they share with the narrator in the mystery. This would have forged a partnership bond where the narrator pulls the readers into the story. Starting with smaller mysteries that are solved in the first few instances of the essay makes the readers feel satisfied with your narrative and wait for the main course.
Minimal conversations. Narrative essays have the freedom of including dialogue between characters. Should you use dialogue in the introduction, be sure to draw back and offer more information about the context before you proceed. Extensive dialogues at the beginning of an essay tend to be difficult to catch on and follow. Bear in mind that the reader should get familiarized with the characters before they start indulging in their conversations.
Reference sources. This is the part where your participation is called for long before you can produce the best hooks. Get hold of magazines and newspaper articles, as many as you can, and take a look at each opening statement. Practice by reproducing them in different wordings.
The start of your narrative plays an important role in the impact it creates in the readers. As the common analogy in the business world supports, “first impression matters a lot”. Ensuring your hook is captivating as much as possible is of significance to the quality of your essay. Although you might have a good hook, you should be aware that the hook will require support from the rest of your essay. The body and conclusion should complement your hook by being of recommendable quality.
This guideline is sure to help you learn how to start a narrative essay.
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Writing a narrative essay is an essential talent for field research. Rather than summing things up for your reader, it presents your experience and allows them to draw their own conclusions. The narrative essay makes it point by subtly guiding the reader, rather than battering them the way a rhetorical essay would.
By observing these basic ideas, you can improve your narrative essay.
Complex words and syntax are a hindrance to clarity and should be avoided. Ideas should be clearly distributed between sentences and paragraphs.
Example: Although I have never been to the races before, I was very excited to behold them, yet also somewhat nervous, because of the type of people who go there.
Improved: I’d never been to a horse race. I was excited to go, but also a little nervous, since I wasn’t sure about the people at the track.
2. Don’t describe each and every one of your own movements
Example: As I went in the door, I turned and saw a TV. I looked around and saw posters on the wall. As I went further in I noticed everyone was watching M*A*S*H.
Improved: I immediately noticed the posters on the wall, though everyone else’s eyes were focused on a TV playing M*A*S*H.
3. Avoid the second-person narrative
An important part of the narrative essay is the fact that the writer experienced the events described.
Example: As you go in the door, you will turn and see a TV. You look around and see posters on the wall. As you go further in you notice everyone is watching M*A*S*H.
Writing in the present tense is okay, however.
4. To interest the reader, dynamic word choice is key
Avoid sounding too clinical. Use the same slang, idiom, and turns of phrase you would use in speech. Avoid passive constructions.
Example: I am presented an array of unpleasant photos in which many casualties are shown after automobile accidents.
Improved: They showed me a book stuffed with gruesome pictures of people who’d been in car wrecks.
5. Limit references
MLA format recommends including citations in the text, but in a narrative essay this is disruptive. If a work was helpful, cite it in a ‘Works Consulted’ list after the essay. Explain yourself as you go along, rather than trying to refer your reader back to a previous statement.
Example: When I first saw the comic book fans jumping up and down, I thought as they would, “Lord, what fools these mortals be” (Gaiman 1989.) I later learned why they do this.
Improved: The fans jump up and down. When I first saw this, I wondered what they were doing and my mind conjured a quote from Shakespeare that Neil Gaiman used in his “Sandman”: “Lord, what fools these mortals be.” However, I watched a bit longer and realized the company spokesmodels were throwing free merchandise. The fans wanted to get the most from their day at the convention.
The narrative essay is a keen rhetorical tool because it allows the readers to draw their own conclusions, but falling into the traps above deprive it of its effectiveness. By avoiding these errors, you can subtly guide your reader in your desired direction.
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