A narrative essay is the one that tells a story. It talks about a particular event or a series of events and describes the kind of experience that the writer (or protagonist) got from it. In other words, you have to write about what happened to you and how it influenced you. Most essays that you come across in books are narrative ones. Furthermore, most movies and YouTube videos that you watch are also essentially examples of a narrative essay, only realized through the video medium. That’s why writing narrative essay examples for college is arguably the easiest assignment there is.
Still, it is always better to have some sense of direction. Below, we present some narrative essay examples. They are not perfect and would not secure an excellent grade, but they provide a convenient example to analyze the possible flows and pitfalls.
“It was the 4th of July, and the summer heat was as blistering as ever in New Mexico. Lilly-Ann, Daniela, and I – the three best friends – set out to go on a girly picnic as we would every year since we were nine years old. I had done all my chores and packed the picnic basket the night before, so as soon as I brushed my teeth and had a coffee, I was ready to dress up and go have a good time with my besties. I took my beat-up Cherokee and sped down the street to meet up with Daniela; we would pick Lilly-Ann later.
Daniela and I shared the same birthday – February 27th, 1986. Our moms were also best friends from high school. They went to the same college and got married the same year. Everyone always laughed at how it all resembled a generic best-friends-for-life movie or novel. It seemed like Daniela and I were destined to be best friends. Neither of us had siblings, so we became much like sisters to each other. We shared all interests and hobbies without exception. We both joined the school’s female soccer team, and both played in the defense. But, most important of all, we were always there for each other in the toughest of situations, regardless of how preoccupied either of us might have been.
Our traditional spot for Independence Day picnic was on the bank of the Beaver River. Here, half a mile west from the town, it is always as cool as it gets in July in New Mexico. As we were riding the rocky backroad, my bike was screaking in unison with the fireworks that exploded in the clear sky from the early morning.
The meadow on our spot always inspired us to go play a little soccer, as we did this time as well. Then, we felt like we need to fresh up a little, so we went into the river. We even managed to catch a small catfish, but we let it go. The ride, the soccer, and the swim made us hungry, and we sat down to have some lunch. We all always pack a little more food than we need for a picnic, so we always have something of a menu to choose from. We all picked Lilly-Ann’s roasted chicken with pineapple and mashed potatoes. During and after the meal, we chattered and giggled non-stop as besties like us always would. Then suddenly, Daniela seized laughing and stared blankly into the water for a moment or two.
Then she turned her eyes at me and uttered: “Promise me we will always be best friends, just like our moms.” We were light-hearted teenage girls, somewhat airheads even. So, it was a pure shock to hear Daniela speak so earnestly for the first time since I had known her.
Stunned, without the slightest idea of what was going on, all I could mumble was a faint “I promise.”
By this time, it began to get dark, and my dad had already texted me asking about my whereabouts. So, we rushed home. Lilly-Ann’s place was the nearest to the river, then was Daniela’s, and mine was the farthest. As Daniela and I said goodbye and I sat on the bike to be on my way, she was still on the porch waving goodbye and shouted “Remember your promise,” reminding me of something I couldn’t wish to forget anyway.
These words ring through my head to this day. A pitch black mustang rolled from around the corner and headed our way.
“Dani…” I cried out as I leaped off the bike and to the side.
Stunned by the loud skiddle of tires and screams, I passed out. After I came to my sense, the first thing I saw was Daniela’s limp body in her mother’s hands as I heard hysterical weeping. My head suddenly felt heavy, and my legs felt cotton-like. Dazed, I landed on my behind in slow motion. The air felt thick and heavy, and I fainted once more. The next thing I remember is waking up in my bed and seeing my mother sitting next to me, sobbing.
I urged to tell her about my promise, but all I could utter was “Why her?” – and then I burst into tears myself.
Nobody can take their best friend’s death well. I became antisocial. I barely left my room, and whenever someone tried to talk to me about anything, I responded with brief and bitter remarks. I wallowed in myself. Whirlwinds of thoughts circled in my head – Why Daniela? Of all people, why did she have to die? Couldn’t God pick someone more deserving of death? I could not imagine how I was supposed to live on without her. Nobody could replace her in my life, not even all the people in the world.
After one month of grieving, I finally found the strength to talk to my mother. “Does God love us?” I asked, “Why does he hurt us?” “My girl,” she said, “He picks the best of us and takes them before the cruel world can deform them. He turns them into His angels, and Daniela must be your angel now.”
I can’t say that it made me feel any better at the time. But later on, I understood the meaning of my promise. Daniela is always with me, following me in all the choices I make in life. She is my angel.”
We would grade this essay with a C+ at best. It is a narration alright, but what do we find out from this narrative essay example? The author is religious and her best friend died. The immenseness of this experience is only illustrated by a few physiological manifestations that many people have for far less dramatic reasons. The gist of this essay is “My best friend died, so show some sympathy in the name of God and give me an A.” While an appeal to emotion is not forbidden, your task is to describe your experience colorfully enough to put your reader in your shoes. Only then can you consider your task completed and deserve an excellent grade.
“I have always been keen on traveling. Seeing new sights always inspires me, regardless of whether it is nature or urban landscapes. Being a little under 30, I had already been almost everywhere in the US, as well as in Canada, Mexico, and most Caribbean countries, but I was still only dreaming and vaguely planning to cross the Atlantic and visit Europe. I dreamt of seeing London, Paris, Venice, etc., but my first real chance came as a surprise.
A friend with whom we haven’t talked for ages wrote to congratulate me on my birthday. We started taking, and it turned out that he now works as a volunteer for a human rights NGO in Lviv, Ukraine! He invited me over, and I thought to myself, “Let’s do this now! No point delaying your trip to Europe any further!” I immediately went on to book a plane ticket and found out that the best price ticket was in only one week! I saw it as yet another sign telling me that I must travel there as soon as possible. I knew little to nothing about Ukraine and its culture and had no time to research it properly, which added to my excitement.
Needless to say that what I saw in Ukraine turned out to be completely different from any place I had visited so far. Ukraine occupies the territory a little smaller than Texas, which is big by European measures. As my friend explained to me, every region has its significant peculiarities, and West Ukraine (where Lviv is situated) is no exception.
Lviv is a beautiful medieval city full of Gothic churches, not unlike Prague or Budapest. I saw flowerbeds and little statues of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary on every corner. The people are very fond of their roots, and many of them are wearing vyshyvanka – embroidered shirts. All people I met were friendly even when they didn’t speak English. On the whole, Lviv impressed me as a very spiritual city.
My friend and I both thought that it would be great for me to visit some other places in Ukraine. But with the little time I had, we figured that I can’t go too far, so we decided to go hiking in the Carpathian Mountains. Their authentic breathtaking beauty looks like the progress of modern life will never make it to these places. Remote villages with traditional wooden churches and houses, rapid mountain rivers, forests and meadows of brightest green amazed me with their untouched pureness.
By the end of my stay, I was so full of impressions that I couldn’t believe that Ukraine remains so unknown to the rest of the world. It was a real discovery for me, and I am happy that my friend wrote to me on that day and that my acquaintance with Europe began here and not in some more mainstream places. I have a strong drive to come to Ukraine again and see more of it, and I advise it to everyone!”
This is a pleasant read that deserves a firm B+. It starts off strongly with a promising a tale of an exotic destination, and it delivers. So many examples of a narrative essay about traveling fall into the trap of promising something exciting and not delivering. A walk to a secluded part of the beach can be exciting and provide a meaningful experience, but it is not a journey to an exotic destination. A spontaneous flight to Ukraine, on the other hand, is. The author does, however, falls into another trap. There are too little details – no name of a church, a river or a village is mentioned. In good narrative essay examples, a reader gets more concrete information to re-live the author’s experience.