50 Engaging Narrative Essay Topics for High Schoolers
Do you know how to improve your profile for college applications?
See how your profile ranks among thousands of other students using CollegeVine. Calculate your chances at your dream schools and learn what areas you need to improve right now — it only takes 3 minutes and it's 100% free.
- Narrative Essays vs. Analytical Essays
- How to Pick the Right Narrative Essay Topic
- Elements of a Strong Narrative Essay
- Engaging Narrative Essay Topics for High Schoolers
- Where to Get Your Narrative Essay Edited for Free
Narrative essays are an extensive form of writing that gives readers the opportunity to follow along as a person goes through a journey or sets of experiences. Rather than providing analytic insight, narrative essays simply share a story and offer a first-person account. These essays may seem easy to write at first, but it takes a certain finesse to write a narrative essay that is interesting, cohesive, and well-researched. Whether you’re looking for a unique topic to write about, or just want some new inspiration, CollegeVine is here to help! These 50 narrative essay topics are engaging, unique and will have you writing in no time.
Narrative Essays vs. Analytical Essays
A narrative essay is a great way to express your personal experiences and opinions, but it is important to remember that this type of essay is different from an analytical paper. In a narrative essay, you do not need to provide background information or explain your thoughts and feelings; instead, you simply tell a story. It’s important to avoid too much telling in your writing; instead, use creative details and vivid imagery to make readers feel as if they are actually right there with you.
Where You Will Encounter Narrative Essays
This type of essay is typically encountered in high school, where students may be required to write personal statements to prepare for their Common App essay. Narrative essays are also commonly seen in AP Language and Composition. Therefore, it’s important you are aware of the style because you are bound to have a narrative essay assignment.
How to Pick the Right Narrative Essay Topic
Of course, before you start writing, it is important to pick the right essay topic. There are many factors involved in the process of picking the perfect narrative essay topic for your story.
You should always choose a topic that you are passionate about, since writing on something you care about will make the process much easier. Not only will it be more interesting to create your paper around something that truly interests you, but it will also allow you to fully express yourself in your essay. You also want to be sure that the topic has enough material to work with. If your chosen topic is too short, you will not have enough content to write a complete paper. For example, if you are writing about your experience getting lost at the mall, make sure that you have enough information to work with to craft an engaging narrative.
Elements of a Strong Narrative Essay
The best topic for an engaging narrative essay is one that focuses on showing versus telling, has a clear structure, and provides a dialogue. These elements come together to form an engaging narrative essay. Regardless of what subject you pick, any topic may be turned into a fascinating, A+ worthy narrative using the tips below.
Show, Don’t Tell
To write a good narrative essay, it’s important to show, not tell. Instead of simply informing your audience, show them what you mean. For example, instead of saying “I was nervous,” you could say “My heart began to race and my stomach filled with butterflies.” Also make sure to use sensory details, such as sights, sounds and tastes, and include a personal reflection at the end of your narrative.
Begin with a Strong Opening Line
A good narrative essay will begin with an attention-grabbing opening line. But make sure to avoid common clichés, such as “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Instead, come up with something original and specific to you and your situation. For example: “My pre-calc teacher was obsessed with circles. I mean, he even used circular note cards.” Or, “It all started the day my mom brought home a guinea pig.”
Follows a Three-Act Structure
A strong narrative essay follows the same three-act structure as other essays. But in order to make it interesting, you’ll need to come up with a creative way to break things down into sections. For example, using the guinea pig example from above, you could write the following:
- Act 1 – Introduction: The day my mom brought home a guinea pig.
- Act 2 – Conflict: The day I had to say goodbye to my beloved pet.
- Act 3 – Conclusion: Looking back at how much I miss him now that he’s gone.
Conclude with Personal Reflection
To conclude your narrative essay, you’ll want to explain what this specific experience taught you or how you’ve changed. For example, upon realizing that her pre-calc teacher was obsessed with circles, the writer of the previous example begins to notice circular shapes everywhere. Another way to conclude your narrative essay is by touching on how this experience impacted you emotionally. For example, after losing his guinea pig, the writer explains how much he missed it.
Include a conversation in your essay to make it come alive. For example, instead of simply saying that you met a new friend, talk about how you introduced yourselves or what they were wearing when you met them.
Engaging Narrative Essay Topics for High Schoolers
The following list of 50 narrative essay topics is divided into categories. This will make it easier to find a topic that fits your writing style.
1. What is a childhood song that still sticks with you today?
2. Your first day of Kindergarten
3. Talk about a time when you’re siblings looked up to you
4. Describe the best birthday party you’ve ever had
5. Talk about the best day you ever spent with a childhood friend
6. Explain your first childhood hobby
7. Describe your first halloween costume
8. A family vacation gone wrong
9. Your first family reunion
10. Describe a tradition that is unique to your family
11. Describe your family to a person who’s never met them before
12. What frustrates you most about your family
13. If you could only keep one memory of your family, what would it be and why?
14. Describe a time your family embarrassed you in public
15. The most beautiful place in the world
16. Your favorite season and why
17. If you were a part of nature, what element would you be? Why?
18. When you go outside, which of your senses are you most thankful to have?
19. Describe the first time you witnessed a tornado
20. Write a poem about your favorite season
21. Describe yourself as one of the four seasons
22. Describe a time in which you felt connected with nature
23. Describe the first time you played an instrument and how you felt
24. What major event would be much worse if music was removed, and why?
25. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
26. What would a life without music look like?
27. If you could master one instrument, what would it be and why?
28. What if you had never met your best friend?
29. Describe a time when you fixed a broken relationship
30. Talk about a movie that defined a relationship for you
31. Describe your first date
32. Describe the first time you made a friend
33. Describe your relationship with your parents
34. Have you ever fooled someone? If so, describe what happened and how you felt about it
35. What is the worst thing you’ve done to someone else?
36. Write about the difference between how things seem and how they really are.
37. Have you ever been embarrassed in some way? If so, describe the situation and how it affected you as well as those around you
38. Have you ever witnessed something really beautiful? Describe it
39. Is your glass half empty or half full?
40. Have you ever been very afraid of something but tried your hardest to appear fearless? If so, describe that experience
41. When have you ever succeeded when you thought you might fail
42. What are your secret survival strategies?
43. Describe the last time you were stressed and why?
44. Describe a time when you were discriminated against
45. The most memorable class you’ve had and why
46. Your favorite study abroad memory
47. Describe your kindergarten classroom
48. Describe your first teacher
49. The first time you experienced detention
50. Your first field trip
Where to Get Your Narrative Essay Edited for Free
Hopefully these topics will get you thinking about a personal experience that could make for a thoughtful and engaging narrative essay. Remember, a strong narrative essay must contain relatable details and a clear flow that keeps the reader entertained and engaged to read all the way to the end.
If you need some additional guidance on your narrative essay, use CollegeVine’s free peer review essay tool to get feedback for free!