Beginning Your Narrative Essay

One of the many requirements students tackle in school is the narrative essay. In it, the student narrates either a real event or a fictional story. When first assigned, the essay may seem easy enough. Many students claim they readily have a rough idea of what they would like to say in their mind. The problem, however, is how to start. 

Unlike verbal storytelling, where you can get away with a quick introduction and jump right into the main event, writing requires you to capture your audience’s attention at the very start. Thankfully, some easy to use techniques exist to help a student start their narrative essay.

  1. Begin with an anecdote

One popular technique today is to begin the essay with a personal story connected to the topic’s idea. For example, if the main point of the essay is about the importance of being respectful, your anecdote can be about a time when you were NOT respectful and how that incident hurt someone you love. It could also be an unintended situation of disrespecting other people’s ideas or beliefs when you wrongly thought nobody would get hurt.

Many readers like such an opening because it is a true story, not an imaginary one. It helps make the message more impactful.

  1. Start with a popular quote

Using a popular quote is another way to start a paper. If the quote is from a well-respected personality, it may give much weight to what you have to say. If the quote is from a well-known book, TV show, or movie, it may set the mood for your essay as the reader recalls the scene where the quote is from.

When using quotes, make sure you research what was actually written or said. It will be embarrassing on your end if you listed the wrong words. And do choose your quote carefully. If the person is not that popular, your reader will not be able to relate, which defeats the whole purpose of using it.

  1. Include statistics

When used well, the inclusion of figures can make your essay more “believable” and “relevant.” When readers see statistics, it gives the impression that some research has been conducted, meaning not everything is fictional – even if it might be. If the figures are significant or controversial to your audience, they will want to read on to discover more about what you want to say.

Numbers can also break up the monotony of plain text if you display them in a graph. And should you choose to reference them within the essay, such figures can help makes things clearer for your reader.

  1. Use a question

Something many bloggers do is to use a question that elicits curiosity or contention. Most readers naturally want to know more about what you have to say if the question can trigger such a response. The question method is also an easier way to begin your paper as it can take time to think of a related story or search for a connected quote or statistic that supports your topic.


As the section that sets the mood for your reader and draws them into what you have to share, it is important to begin your essay well. Consider the four methods above for your next essay so that you can successfully capture your audience’s attention.

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