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A narrative essay delivers its theme by deliberately weaving the motifs through the events, scenes, and details.
To write a narrative essay, you’ll need to tell a story (usually about something that happened to you) in such a way that the audience learns a lesson or gains insight.
To write a descriptive essay, you’ll need to describe a person, object, or event so vividly that the reader feels like he/she could reach out and touch it.
In other words, we can't look at the painting and immediately say "that's a house" or "that's a bowl of fruit." To the untrained eye, abstract art looks a bit like a child's finger-painting--just brightly colored splotches on a canvas.
Avoid abstract language—it won’t help the reader understand what you're trying to say! Concrete: The sun was shining and a slight breeze blew across my face. Concrete: I liked writing short, rhythmic poems and hated rambling on about my thoughts in those four-page essays.
Though your motif choices may feel at times like you’re making a point the way you would in an argumentative essay, a narrative essay’s goal is to tell a story, not convince the reader of anything.
Your reader should be able to tell what your motif is from reading, but you don’t have to change their mind about anything.
There’s nothing wrong with inventing a person’s words if you can’t remember them exactly, but you shouldn’t say they said something they weren’t even close to saying.
Another big difference between narrative essays and creative fiction—as well as other kinds of essays—is that narrative essays are based on motifs.
But unlike a simple work of creative fiction, your narrative essay must have a clear and concrete motif—a recurring theme or idea that you’ll explore throughout.
Narrative essays are less rigid, more creative in expression, and therefore pretty different from most other essays you’ll be writing.