How to Write a Personal Narrative (And Why It's So Important)

How to Write a Personal Narrative (And Why It’s So Important)

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The purpose of a personal narrative is to describe a specific story in your life. No matter who you are, you have a plethora of life experiences, events, and stories that can be crafted into a compelling personal narrative for use in an article, blog post, case study, etc.

But, that’s easier said than done.

Detailing your story with dialogue, settings, main events, descriptions of people, and various other personal observations takes a skill that doesn’t come easy to most.

If you are struggling with creating your prose narrative, this article will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how you can write a descriptive essay with vivid details that engages the audience and reflect your important events, personal growth, reflections, life lessons, and more.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Table of Contents


personal narrative

What Is a Personal Narrative?

According to Classroom.com, “A personal narrative essay is a story with a plot that includes a beginning, middle, and end.”

Pretty simple, isn’t it?

Personal narratives are useful for almost any type of writing in terms of connecting to wider audiences. Neal Taparia, a serial entrepreneur who runs brain training and jigsaw puzzle site I’m a Puzzle explains, “Personal narratives allow you to connect deeply to people. With our businesses, we always explain our personal journey on why we started the business, which creates a strong brand connection.”

What Are the Major Components of a Personal Narrative?

A personal narrative is based on your real-life personal experiences that have significant meaning for you, the writer.

The experience may have resulted in you learning a life lesson or gaining valuable insight. Either way, when narrating the story, you must make sure it has a narrow, clearly defined focus.

Focus on the central idea, theme, or message based on a specific and significant event so you can share why it was important or meaningful to you.

Here are the pieces you need to craft a compelling narrative:

  • Introduction: Your personal narrative needs a strong introduction that will serve as an attention-grabbing hook to pique your readers’ interest and ensure that they go on to read the rest of your personal narrative.
  • Plot: Your story needs a strong plot with interesting and specific details that will add substance to your story and contribute powerfully to your portrayal of the experience. Your plot must not only describe what happened in a way that appeals to the reader’s senses, but it must also have a logical sequence to ensure that it flows perfectly from start to finish.
  • Characters: Your personal narrative must describe all the characters involved in the experience. You can develop the characters through interesting details describing each of their traits, such as their appearance, words, actions, etc.
  • Setting: Your personal narrative must describe the setting in a vivid way. Where and when did the events or experience occur? Use expressive language that makes the setting come alive for readers.
  • Climax: Make sure your personal narrative builds to a climax or satisfying resolution of the problem. Where most personal narratives are concerned, this resolution leads to some sort of personal growth for the author, which you should make clear in your story.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion of your personal narrative needs to be a strong one that will leave your readers with a lasting impression of the insights or deeper understanding that you gained from the experience.

When you begin working on your first personal narrative, just remember that perfect is the enemy of good. This is your narrative, so just be authentic and honest. Figure out an approach that works and do your best. Trust me, when you are honest about yourself, people listen — even if you struggle a little along the way.

How to Write a Personal Narrative

Now that you know the different elements of a good personal narrative, here is a step-by-step guide to help you write a great story of your own.

Step #1: Create a Structure or Outline: Using the tips outlined above for the different elements of a narrative, create a structure that divides your story into those different parts.

Step #2: Write in First Person. Use “I” when writing your personal narrative. However, don’t overuse that word. Make sure to use variations to make your style unique.

Step #3: Bring Your Story to Life. Your story should be well-detailed and it must bring all the different characters to life. You must give it different subplots, and make sure all of it is presented in an interesting way through developments designed to intrigue the reader.

Step #4: Write in a Chronological Order. Chronology is important when writing a personal narrative. You must set the order of your story to properly convey your writing purpose, otherwise, you risk misleading your readers or forgetting important incidents which may take away the whole context of your writing.

Step #5: Edit and Proofread Your Story. After creating your first draft, make sure you revise it thoroughly. If there are any repetitions of arguments or ideas, delete them. Rephrase any sentences that are hard to grasp and check for grammar and spelling mistakes.

Writing a personal narrative can be hard, particularly for anyone with no experience in writing. But, following the guidelines outlined above will make your work a little easier.

To inspire your own writing, listed below are some interesting personal narrative topics you might consider:

Personal Narrative Topics and Ideas

Here are a few examples of personal narrative topics and ideas to help you get started on your own story.

  • Achieving a goal
  • A childhood memory
  • A failure
  • A realization
  • An event that caused a major change in my life
  • My best friend
  • The most embarrassing moment in my life
  • The biggest mistake I ever made
  • The happiest moment of my life

When it comes to personal narratives, anything goes, and you’ll be able to find a wide range of writing prompts from topics such as scary experiences and joyful events to celebratory moments, interesting happenings, or hard times. Use them as writing hacks to fire up your imagination.

To further inspire you, here are some great examples of personal narratives from a few well-known and experienced writers.

article writing template

Where Can I Use Personal Narratives?

If you’re writing a personal narrative, you can always share it on your own blog, submit it to another blog as a guest post, or even try to find a print publication to accept it.

But there are many other ways to use a personal narrative as well.

You can use personal narratives if you’re creating online courses. As a professor, I’ve found that the best way to connect with my students is by sharing a personal narrative. Additionally, if you purchase new PLR courses, adding personal narratives is a great way to make the content seem like it’s your own.

Personal narratives can be used effectively in presentations to build rapport with an audience. For example, if you’re using webinar hosting software to connect with your employees, you can use a personal narrative to discuss your personal experience with whatever it is you’re discussing.

When creating webinars or other videos, personal narratives are only half of the battle. You also need to make sure you’re professional video editing software to give your narrative the light it needs to really shine.

Summing It All Up

Truth be told, knowing how to write a personal narrative opens a world of opportunities. It allows you to create immediate rapport with others and creates avenues for authentically sharing your own self.

Personal narratives open up the door for empathizing with and relating to others. Even if I’m just talking about using a new product offered by a company, I’m talking about myself using the product.

It’s not just about the newest widget. It’s about me relating to you in a personal way.

This is an entirely different dynamic than writing bland copy and hoping someone finds it intriguing enough to buy whatever you’re selling. It doesn’t just build rapport, it opens the door to something much more powerful: true human connection.


As a website entrepreneur and marketing professor, Ron Stefanski strives to help people create and market their own online business with his blog that reaches over 100,000 people each month. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com

You can also connect with him on YouTube or Linkedin.

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3 comments on “How to Write a Personal Narrative (And Why It’s So Important)

  1. Azeez on

    I really like the six steps to consider in getting started as a freelance writer but my concern is audience because writing has a lot to do with audience, this is because am a nigerian from African but most freelance jobs are from European countries and America. So writing is not my problem but adapting to foreign audience is my major challenge.

    Reply
  2. tjisse kampstra on

    I have A biography ready about my 30 years travel over the whole world I had to make this story in two books ,because each book have about 900 pages. The first copy is named , The Irony of Destiny, and the second , I called In the Shadow of Destiny they are ready for printing

    Reply

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