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Writing a Narrative Essay: Developing an Outline

In writing any form of essay, developing an outline first is crucial. It allows you to organize your thoughts and research, have a good idea of how your essay will flow and be put in order, and makes the writing process a whole much simpler. This is a simple step-by-step that explains how to develop an outline before getting to work on the writing process of your narrative essay:

First, choose a topic. This one is a no-brainer.

Research. Read on every available source relevant to your topic: interviews, documents, books, novels, sites, anything. Then start to organize your research into notes, whether it be in a notebook or on a word document. Organize your notes so that you understand what facts and statistics came from what type of source. Start to plan out the argument you will be making about the story you will be telling (yes, even narrative essays have thesis statements, though sometimes it’s not in the first paragraph).

Once you have you research and notes put together, spend some time thinking about how you want this essay to turn out. Overview your research in your notes and plan out how you will be organizing them. You should also have a general idea of the argument you will make about the elements of the story that will be told in your essay.

You can now begin the outline! Grab some paper and a writing utensil, and sit down. Don’t be angry at yourself if you crumple up a used sheet of paper and toss it into the garbage. After a while it will come together. Organize your outline into the following sections: Background, Description, Thesis, and Sequence of Events. Remember, when writing a narrative essay (and the outline), you must think of it as telling a story.

The beginning is where you will be explaining the background to the story or narrative, and the issues that come along with that. You may want to introduce your ideas from your point of view. The essay will be told from your perspective after all; it’s a good idea to introduce that in the beginning. Plus, all the research you did will start to come into play here.

The description is where you will identify the key players of the narrative or story, the setting, and any other critical, descriptive information.

Build the next part of your outline around your thesis. You don’t have to have a word for word thesis statement prepared yet (you can save that for the actual essay), but you have to know what you will be arguing and what your thesis will be about.

Finally, your outline will continue with the sequence of events; essentially, you will present the facts of your narrative in chronological order and your thoughts and arguments with each event.

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