When writing a narrative essay, one might think of it as telling a story. These essays are often anecdotal, experiential, and personal—allowing students to express themselves in a creative and, quite often, moving ways.

Here are some guidelines for writing a narrative essay.

  • If written as a story, the essay should include all the parts of a story.

This means that you must include an introduction, plot, characters, setting, climax, and conclusion.

  • When would a narrative essay not be written as a story?

A good example of this is when an instructor asks a student to write a book report. Obviously, this would not necessarily follow the pattern of a story and would focus on providing an informative narrative for the reader.

  • The essay should have a purpose.

Make a point! Think of this as the thesis of your story. If there is no point to what you are narrating, why narrate it at all?

  • The essay should be written from a clear point of view.

It is quite common for narrative essays to be written from the standpoint of the author; however, this is not the sole perspective to be considered. Creativity in narrative essays often times manifests itself in the form of authorial perspective.

  • Use clear and concise language throughout the essay.

Much like the descriptive essay, narrative essays are effective when the language is carefully, particularly, and artfully chosen. Use specific language to evoke specific emotions and senses in the reader.

  • The use of the first person pronoun ‘I’ is welcomed.

Do not abuse this guideline! Though it is welcomed it is not necessary—nor should it be overused for lack of clearer diction.

  • As always, be organized!

Have a clear introduction that sets the tone for the remainder of the essay. Do not leave the reader guessing about the purpose of your narrative. Remember, you are in control of the essay, so guide it where you desire (just make sure your audience can follow your lead).

(*Taken from OWL)


In education terminology, rubric means “a scoring guide used to evaluate the quality of students’ constructed responses”.[1] Rubrics usually contain evaluative criteria, quality definitions for those criteria at particular levels of achievement, and a scoring strategy.[1]They are often presented in table format and can be used by teachers when marking, and by students when planning their work.[2]

A scoring rubric is an attempt to communicate expectations of quality around a task. In many cases, scoring rubrics are used to delineate consistent criteria for grading. Because the criteria are public, a scoring rubric allows teachers and students alike to evaluate criteria, which can be complex and subjective. A scoring rubric can also provide a basis for self-evaluation, reflection, and peer review. It is aimed at accurate and fair assessment, fostering understanding, and indicating a way to proceed with subsequent learning/teaching. This integration of performance and feedback is called ongoing assessment or formative assessment.

Several common features of scoring rubrics can be distinguished, according to Bernie Dodge and Nancy Pickett:[citation needed]

  • focus on measuring a stated objective (performance, behavior, or quality)
  • use a range to rate performance
  • contain specific performance characteristics arranged in levels indicating either the developmental sophistication of the strategy used or the degree to which a standard has been met.

(*Taken from Wikipedia)



TRAIT:  Narrative Focus


The narrative is clearly focused and maintained throughout:
The first couple sentences grab the reader’s attention and make him/her want to keep reading
Consistent point of view
Narrative is limited in time-frame
The reader is able to make a movie in their mind throughout the story

TRAIT:  Organization


The narrative has an effective plot which gives the story unity and completeness. All the story elements are present:
Exposition: A sense of normal is established
Conflict: Something happens to break the “normal”
Rising Action: Intensity is built up
Climax: The BIG event happens
Falling action: writer brings closure to the conflict
Resolution: The character reflects on what they learned
Appropriate narrative paragraphing
Story is between 1 and 3 pages

TRAIT:  Narrative Features


The narrative provides thorough and effective elaboration using details, dialogue, and description:
Dialogue advances plot or demonstrates characterization
“Showing” not “Telling”
Theme made clear
Tone and mood established through vocabulary and syntax
Effective use of sensory details

TRAIT:  Language and Vocabulary


The narrative clearly and effectively expresses experiences and events:
Simple, compound, and complex sentence structures are used and varied
Sentences flow smoothly and are phrased effectively
Precise nouns: limit pronouns and general terms: “things,” “stuff”
Use of figurative language

TRAIT:  Conventions


The response demonstrates a strong command of conventions:
Spelling, effective punctuation, complete sentences, and capitalization
Dialogue Syntax
MLA formatting

Here is a link to the NARRATIVE RUBRIC grading sheet.

* Each hyperlink imbedded in this grading rubric will link you to applicable information and explanations for your review and further study.

*Educational links taken from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/