Structure guides


Three Basic Types of Essays – Part I – The Narrative

Essay writers encounter three basic types of essays in their assignments. They are the narrative, argumentative, and expository essays. Nearly every kind of essay you read in everyday life fits into one of these three categories. The better you master these in school, the better prepared you will be to write in life after school, regardless of what profession you will find yourself in.

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Narrative Essay

When writing about an event, some experience, or a story, you will need to lean on the narrative form of essay writing. Think of this as writing like a journalist.

Writing a narrative essay requires more focus on creating variation than the other essay forms do. For example, you could say:

He went to college in London. After London, he took a job in Paris as a security guard. Then he met Julie, an American tourist.

This is quite bland, though. Pep it up with more variation:

He attended college in London, after which he secured employment as a security guard in Paris. It was there he met Julie, an American tourist.

The first one suffers from a linear, chopped up cadence. The second one has rhythm. Attended is a more accurate verb than went to. Secured echoes the sound of security, though they have differing meanings and functions in the sentence.

One approach is to link events together. However, you might find it more appropriate to focus on a person, place, or thing. The former is reporting, while the latter is storytelling (fiction or non-fiction). While reporting pivots about the events, storytelling narratives can bring in anything at anytime to serve the story.

Do not be deceived by the simplistic structure of the narrative essay. It requires a fine eye for pattern in order to avoid creating a boring work. Practice with variations on all levels, including but not limited to words, syntax, phonetics, focus from person to place to thing, logic vs. emotion, and actions vs. internal thoughts.

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