There are four main types of essays: narrative, descriptive, expository, and argumentative. Each has a unique purpose. Some tell a story, some are descriptive, and others attempt to alter opinions. One of the best ways to understand each type is to review a batch of essay examples.
Narration means you're telling a story from a certain viewpoint, and there is usually a reason for the telling. All narrative essays have characters, setting, a climax, and most importantly, a plot.
The plot is the focus of the story and is usually revealed chronologically, but there are sometimes flash-forwards and flashbacks. If you're looking to write a personal narrative essay, here are some tips to get you started.
When writing a narrative essay, remember to:
Include sensory and emotional details, so the reader will experience the story, not just read about it.
Allow the story to support the point you're making, and make reference to that point in the first sentence.
Write in the first or third person.
Examples of Narrative Essays
Ready for a little storytelling? Here are four excerpts to light your creative fire.
"Looking back on a childhood filled with events and memories, I find it rather difficult to pick one that leaves me with the fabled "warm and fuzzy feelings." As the daughter of an Air Force major, I had the pleasure of traveling across America in many moving trips. I have visited the monstrous trees of the Sequoia National Forest, stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon and have jumped on the beds at Caesar's Palace in Lake Tahoe."
"The day I picked my dog up from the pound was one of the happiest days of both of our lives. I had gone to the pound just a week earlier with the idea that I would just "look" at a puppy. Of course, you can no more just look at those squiggling little faces so filled with hope and joy than you can stop the sun from setting in the evening. I knew within minutes of walking in the door that I would get a puppy… but it wasn't until I saw him that I knew I had found my puppy."
"Looking for houses was supposed to be a fun and exciting process. Unfortunately, none of the ones that we saw seemed to match the specifications that we had established. They were too small, too impersonal, too close to the neighbors. After days of finding nothing even close, we began to wonder: was there really a perfect house out there for us?"
The following is an example of a famous narrative written by John Updike, Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.
"The afternoon grew so glowering that in the sixth inning the arc lights were turned on--always a wan sight in the daytime, like the burning headlights of a funeral procession. Aided by the gloom, Fisher was slicing through the Sox rookies, and Williams did not come to bat in the seventh. He was second up in the eighth. This was almost certainly his last time to come to the plate in Fenway Park, and instead of merely cheering, as we had at his three previous appearances, we stood, all of us, and applauded."
Descriptive essays describe the traits and characteristics of people, objects, events, and feelings in intricate detail. What's being described will be thoroughly examined. For example, if you were describing roses, you might want to detail:
When you write a descriptive essay, you want to involve the reader's senses and emotions. For example, you could say, "I got sleepy." Or, you could write, "While I waited for Santa, my eyelids grew heavy, the lights on the tree began to blur, and my head began to droop." The second excerpt provides vivid detail, allowing readers to feel like they're there.
Examples of Descriptive Essays
Ready to dive into the details? Here are three excerpts rife with detail.
"Like his twisted feathers, his many scars, the reliable old owl chose the gnarled, weather-beaten, but solid branch often - it being a companion to the wise alone with the night and the last branch to creak in the heaviest wind. He often came to survey the fields and the clouds before his hunt, to listen to the steady sound of the stream passing through reeds under the bridge, while combing his feathers for the unwanteds - whatever they might be."
A student at Roane State Community College managed to spice up a first visit to a diner. Watch how descriptive things get.
"When entering the door at Lou's, two things are immediately noticeable: the place is rarely empty and seems to consist of a maze of rooms. The first room, through the door, is the main part of the restaurant. There is another, rarely used, dining room off to the right. It was added during the oil well boom of the seventies. Through the main dining room is yet another room; it guards the door leading into the kitchen. This room contains the most coveted table in the place. The highest tribute Lou can bestow on anyone is to allow them access to seats at this table. This table is the family table; it is reserved for Lou's, and her daughter Karen's, immediate family and treasured friends."
Like the diner essay above, this sample excerpt from a student at St. Cloud State spruces up something as everyday as a local pawn shop.
"Billy Ray's Pawn Shop and Lawn Mower Repair looked like a burial ground for country auction rejects. The blazing, red, diesel fuel tanks beamed in front of the station, looking like cheap lipstick against the pallid, wrinkled texture of the parking lot sand. The yard, not much larger than the end zone at General G. Patton High School on the north end of town, was framed with a rusted metallic hedge of lawn mowers, banana seat bicycles, and corroded oil drums. It wasn't a calico frame of rusted parts, but rather an orchestra of unwanted machinery that Billy Ray had arranged into sections. The yellow-tanked mowers rested silently at the right of the diesel fuel. Once red, now faded orange, mowers stood at attention to the left. The oil barrels, jaded and pierced with holes, bellared like chimes when the wind was right. The bikes rested sporadically throughout the lot. In the middle of it all was the office, a faded, steel roof supported by cheap two-by-fours and zebra paneling. Billy Ray was at home, usually, five blocks east of town on Kennel Road."
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