How To Write A 3 Paragraph Narrative Essay

Writing an engaging personal narrative essay requires you to focus on both the key points of information to be conveyed as well as the many details which make the narrative essay interesting. 

Writing an Impactful Personal Narrative Essay   

A personal narrative essay is about a personal experience, so it is usually written in the first person. To maximize its impact, the essay should:

  • Be written to have an emotional impact on the reader
  • Include a lot of references to sensory perceptions and emotions
  • Use vivid details and imagery

Structure of the Essay

  • The opening of the essay needs to let the reader know the essence of what you will be describing and your point of view.
  • The body of the story needs to give the reader a very clear idea of what happened and how you (the author) feel about that. The story can be told chronologically or the facts may be grouped by importance or type.  
  • The final paragraph needs to wrap up and state the point of the story, whether it is a lesson, an idea, or just a learning experience.  

Writing the Essay

Writing a good narrative essay requires you to include interesting information in an engaging way. Here are some tips:

  • Record yourself telling the story. That will help your organize your story and make the writing flow.
  • Include anecdotes and dialogue in the essay.
  • Use transitory words to connect sentences like: therefore, however, or for example.
  • Vary the structure of your sentences to make the writing more interesting. Try adding some compound, complex, or interrogative sentences. 
  • Make the words lively, descriptive, exciting, active, emotional, and precise.  

Example of Narrative Writing

Here is an example of writing used in a personal narrative essay. Notice the tone and words that set the mood. You can almost feel the heat and humidity.

“It was the middle of springtime and across from my house where the incident took place. There was a lake there in which my brother and I loved to explore from time to time. The humidity and water drops where reminiscent of a fully functional sauna. The onslaught of heat and burning glow of the sun was relentless.”

Types of Essays

An essay is a short piece of writing which is either analytical or speculative. Most essays are written from the author’s point of view.

The word “essay” began to be used in 1588 when Michel de Montaigne published a book called Essais and the word represents a short work written on a particular subject.

There are many kinds of essays, and following is a short explanation of a few of them.

Persuasive or Argumentative Essay

The persuasive or argumentative essay picks a certain viewpoint and offers support of it with data, statistics, and other evidence. Its purpose is to make the reader agree with the proofs and conclusions. In other words, the reader should share the viewpoint of the writer.

Persuasive essays need to have logical and clear reasoning supported by facts and arguments.

Comparison Essay

A comparison essay will compare two things and point out their similarities and differences. The writer needs to find as many similarities and differences as possible so he will need to do some research.

It does not matter in what order the facts are presented, as long as they are easy to understand by the reader.

Descriptive Essay

Descriptive essays answer the questions: how, what, why, when, and where.  They can be written about any subject; a place, person, animal, event, thing, or memory. The writer will share with the reader what he feels and perceives.

The tone should be sensory in nature so the reader can almost see, smell, taste, hear, and feel what the author experienced.

Narrative Essay

A narrative essay tells a story that has a point to be made. The reader may receive an idea or a lesson from the essay. The story is told using sensory details and emotional language.

A narrative essay usually reflects something of a personal nature so many times it becomes a personal narrative essay. 

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Tips for Writing a Personal Narrative Essay

By YourDictionary

Writing an engaging personal narrative essay requires you to focus on both the key points of information to be conveyed as well as the many details which make the narrative essay interesting. 

Sally Baggett holds a master’s in literature. She enjoys inspiring students, cooking with her family, and helping others achieve their dreams.


Just like there is more than one way to skin a cat (or so they say), there is more than one way to write an essay. One is not required to produce a perfectly formatted five-paragraph essay every time one composes a piece of writing. There is another type of essay you can write that may just be simpler than the traditional style: the three-paragraph essay. This type of essay might be beneficial for beginning writers as it offers the organizational structure of a longer essay without requiring the length. It also offers a challenge to more advanced writers to condense their points.

The Parts of the Essay and Its Benefits

As with most essays, the three-paragraph essay has three parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Yet with this type of essay–unlike its five-paragraph counterpart–each one of these sections has only one paragraph. The three-paragraph essay, therefore, might be ideal for young writers or those who are currently mastering the English language.

Another benefit to the three-paragraph essay could be that it requires you to condense your supporting points into just one, which can be a good exercise. If you had to choose only one point to convince a reader to agree with you, what would it be?

After performing some light prewriting, such as brainstorming or writing an outline, students can move right into composing the essay. While this process is similar across the board for writing academic papers, the three-paragraph essay is unique in that the body will take up less space in the finished product.

 

An outline for this essay might look like this:

  1. Introduction Paragraph
    1. Hook
    2. Background Points
    3. Thesis Statement
  2. Body Paragraph
    1. Topic Sentence
      1. Supporting fact 1
      2. Supporting fact 2
    2. Transition Sentence
  3. Conclusion Paragraph
    1. Re-statement of Thesis
    2. Summary of Main Point
    3. Challenge to the Reader

Paragraph One: Introduction

As with most formal essays, the three-paragraph essay begins with an introduction paragraph. Such paragraphs must, obviously, introduce the reader to your idea and, in most cases, convince the reader that this essay is worth reading. To craft a strong introduction, be sure to open with a solid hook. You want to draw in readers so they are compelled to engage with your writing.

A hook can be something compelling such as a question, a powerful quote, or an interesting fact. Introduction paragraphs also usually contain background information that assists the reader in understanding your topic, perhaps defining it or explaining an important part. Finally, you want to include a thesis statement. Even though your essay only has three paragraphs, there still needs to be a purpose to the writing.

 

You could structure your introduction paragraph according to this outline:

  1. Introduction Paragraph
    1. Hook: Is there no solution for dumping waste in the ocean?
    2. Background Points
      1. Explain why trash is dumped in the ocean
      2. Statistics about dumping trash in the ocean
    3. Thesis Statement: Dumping waste in the ocean is a problem because it spells disaster for the ecosystem, leading to problems on land.

This structure is not mandatory, though it might be useful in the long run for organizing your thoughts.

 

Paragraph Two: Body

The second paragraph, as we have discussed, is the one and only body paragraph. This paragraph bears the burden of communicating support for the thesis statement all on its own. As such, it may take more than one rough draft to get this paragraph to communicate everything you want it to.

Your body paragraph needs to underscore the thesis statement. Create a topic sentence for this body paragraph that communicates this and also transitions from the introduction into the body. For example, your body paragraph topic sentence based on the outline above could be:

One of those problems might play itself out as food scarcity where humans live.

This topic sentence reiterates the thesis and moves the reader into a body paragraph that contains a supporting point: that damage to the ocean’s ecosystem could lead to food scarcity. Within the body paragraph, you can quote different sources that support this point.

Again, this paragraph does not have room to contain everything that a full five-paragraph essay might. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fit in some strong evidence to convince your reader to see your perspective, such as is accomplished through quotes and analysis. Don’t forget to end with a strong transition sentence to move the reader seamlessly into the conclusion.

 

Paragraph Three: Conclusion

The final paragraph in an essay is usually the conclusion. The three-paragraph essay is no exception. In this essay, the conclusion can be just as long as the other two paragraphs, and it can drive home the point made in the thesis statement and body paragraph. As with most conclusion paragraphs, this paragraph ought to restate the thesis in different words. It should then summarize what was stated in the body paragraph before challenging the reader in some way, whether in thought or action.

Editing Before Turning It In

One thing to be sure of in this type of essay (as in any other) is to polish it. Make it flow well. In other words, revise it!

Before beginning the revision process, take a break from your writing so that you can look at it with fresh eyes. Once you start revising, hunt not only for grammar and punctuation errors but for ways to make the writing flow better. Take a look at the sentences at the beginning and end of each paragraph. Do these sentences contain transition words? Do these paragraphs link to each other? Transition words or phrases like “Likewise,” “In spite of,” or “In addition to” can ensure that your paragraphs are coherent. There are also other services that will automatically proofread you paper.

If you used any sources (i.e. websites, books, videos, etc.) to help support your points and write your paper, you need to cite them! Most teachers will ask you to create a bibliography in MLA format. Others may have you one in APA format, or create references in Chicago style. Ask your teacher for guidance on what citation style they prefer.

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget that you aren’t limited to using this type of essay for just persuasion. You can also use it to relate a narrative tale, using the three parts as the beginning, middle, and end of a story. You can use this to craft an informative essay. See if other types of essays–such as a process analysis or an evaluation–will fit inside the three-paragraph essay format.

In many ways, the three-paragraph essay is similar to the five-paragraph essay. They both make a solid point using an introduction, body, and conclusion. This simpler essay only requires that you condense your points into one body paragraph, perhaps only one supporting point, before reaching a conclusion. Again, this can make a good exercise for beginning English writers, but can also make a challenge for a more advanced writer to select their strongest supporting points.

 

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