How to Write a Descriptive Narrative Essay?


Complete guide for writing influential Descriptive Narrative Essays with easy to understand instructions and compelling tips. This article includes 10 powerful steps and 4 incredible tips for helping you to write better Descriptive Narrative essays.

Writing a descriptive narrative essay is all about giving the reader enough information to ‘paint their own picture. In this article we will go through the steps that need to be covered in preparing a detailed and creative descriptive narrative essay.


What Is A Descriptive Narrative Essay?

A descriptive narrative essay seeks to provide a vivid description of a situation, person or item such that they too can see it in their mind’s eye as the narrator saw it in person. As this definition implies, a descriptive narrative essay involves the use of a lot of descriptive tools such as similes, adverbs and adjectives. It is as close as taking a picture in words as you can get. This kind of writing is required in most first year courses and in subsequent years for those taking English majors.


This kind of writing is what makes many novels, short stories and essays entertaining as readers are able to feel like they are undertaking the same journey as the narrator did. As much as there is plenty of descriptive language in use throughout such essays, it is important for the writer or narrator to ensure that they do not go overboard. With excessive use of descriptive language there is the danger of confusing the reader and even contradicting oneself.

Instructions (Steps)

1. Pick an interesting topic

When writing a descriptive narrative essay, the subject matter must be interesting. If not at the very least, the writer should be sure they have enough skill to make even the most mundane situation sound interesting and engaging. In reality choosing a thrilling, fun and exciting event gives you far more room to make use of your descriptive language. So be sure to stick to the kind of subject matter that will give you plenty to write about.

2. Create the outline

This is very important. Outlines help the writer of the descriptive narrative essay to keep their facts straight. Noting down a few key points that will act as guidelines will help keep the narrative interesting and realistic. Clearly depict the storyline you want to follow. Detail how the beginning, middle and ending will be followed.

3. Research

As the writer plots the story with the use of an outline, it is important to identify the specific characters and events that will be detailed. Taking this into consideration, they should ensure that they have enough information to do a good job. For instance if detailing a traditional Christmas dinner, learn the specific menu normally used, the decorations and how the day normally plays out for people of that class. Research is important if the writer is to tell a believable story.

4. Identify what is to be described

In every narrative, there are characters, places and situations to be described. Some may however be of more importance to the story than others. Identify what parts of the story you will need to clearly describe before getting into details. For instance, you may want to give little description to the butler of the house than the spinster lady who owns it. Pick out your priorities and the main characters that make the story. Be sure to highlight the different aspects that you want to detail in your outline.

5. Come up with a thesis statement

Every story should have a purpose so the writer should make it clear to both himself and his readers. No story should merely meander without an ultimate goal in mind.

6. Write the essay

Start by integrating the thesis statement into the introduction. This will give the reader a chance to learn what they are reading about. Be sure to keep it interesting so that the reader will be hooked and want to read on. Be sure that the introduction ties in with the title as well.

As you get into the thick of things in the body, ensure that you are following the theme you have laid out in the title and introduction. By diverting at this point you will have misled the reader.

7. Ensure proper chronology

Be sure to stick to the outline here. The story should have a certain flow to it that makes sense. Even if the writer makes use of other tools like flashbacks, the story should still follow a pattern that takes one steadily from introduction to conclusion.

8. Evaluate use of descriptive language

Be sure to use adequate but not excessive descriptive language. The idea is to create a clear picture that the reader will be able to visualize for themselves without getting confused. It is also a good idea to be guided by the outline in this area as well. When the writer pinpoints the specific character aspects they want to elaborate on in the outline, it gives them areas of focus.

9. Write the conclusion

Give the essay a conclusion that sums up and brings to a neat end the entire story. As mentioned earlier, let the theme created at the beginning, run through the story right up to its conclusion.

10. Review

Once the writer has finished with the first draft, it is advisable to first go through the entire essay and identify areas that may need some adjustment. After making the necessary corrections, hand over the essay to another person so that they can give an impression of the writing. A person who is reading the narrative for the first time will be able to tell the writer whether they find certain descriptions believable and where they feel the writer may have gone amiss. This kind of critique is important in creating a final exemplary descriptive narrative essay.


1. Familiar Topics

Ensure the topic you have selected is something you are familiar with. Choosing to go into unfamiliar territory will not allow for convincing storytelling. The more familiar you are with the subject, the easier it will be to tell the story and give persuasive and convincing descriptions. Remember that many readers will probably be familiar with the subject matter and you do not want to be found wanting in your descriptions.

2. Find balance in your descriptions

Give the reader enough detail that they can picture the event, person or item fully, but not so much that they are not sure what they are visualizing. It is not uncommon for a narrator to give so much information that they find themselves contradicting accounts given earlier in the essay.

3. Keep track of your details

Use your outline to ensure you are keeping track of your details and avoid contradictions. At the end of the narrative essay, they storyline should have come to a satisfying conclusion. That means everything ties together. The purpose of the outline of giving the essay a steady flow should have been fulfilled.

4. Get a second opinion

Get a second opinion. As emphasized in the final step, do get a second opinion. Reading the same story repeatedly while being the writer of the same can give one blurry vision. This means that you may read the story as it is in your mind’s eye rather than how you put it down on paper. Give the essay to another person so they can give you an opinion on the writing.

I am feeling excited to read and reply your valuable comments.

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