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200 Good Narrative Essay Topics for Gripping Stories That Keep Readers on the Edge of a Chair

narrative essay topics

A narrative essay is one of the more creative tasks found in academia or when applying to a training program, scholarship, or job. Most often, it’s a personal narrative aiming to show your unique character, aspirations, values, strengths, and skills. However, sometimes it’s a creative task that tests your storytelling talent and writing prowess.

Whichever the case, brainstorming the topic is often the most challenging part of it. Which is no longer a problem since you’ve found this carefully curated list of original suggestions. Find below the 200 best topics for narrative essay in 10 different categories varying by academic level and type of paper. “Wait, what? Narrative essays have types?” Uh-huh. Personal narrative, literacy narrative, descriptive narrative, argumentative narrative, and a couple of other flavors. Do you feel pumped up already? I knew you would.

To make sure you’ll write the best version of this paper, I advise you to check my earlier post on how to write a narrative essay as a refresher. If you feel you’d benefit from a full-fledged example, you can always order one from our paper writing service. And now for the topics!

Easy Narrative Essay Topics

Let’s start with some more accessible topics for a warm-up. Some of these are personal, and some are more observational. However, they all are something that most of us have experienced and can relate to, so you won’t have a problem writing an essay about any of the following:

  1. Most exciting field trip you ever had
  2. Your best birthday party ever
  3. The time you get lost
  4. The most embarrassing misunderstanding you ever had
  5. Tell how you met your best friend
  6. A funny story about your pet
  7. Tell about your first trip out of town/state
  8. Tell about an adventure you had
  9. Tell a story about learning to ride a bike/skate/play a sports game
  10. Tell a story about learning to swim
  11. The first performance you gave
  12. Tell about a school event you helped to organize
  13. Do you remember learning to cook or bake your favorite treat? Did someone teach you, or did you learn yourself from a recipe card?
  14. Tell about your most triumphant victory in the board game
  15. Tell about the last time you laughed so much it hurt
  16. Tell about the first time you have ever been to a movie theater
  17. Tell about the first time you attended a live performance
  18. Tell about your last summer holidays
  19. Tell how you fell out with a friend and then patched things up
  20. The time weather ruined your plans

Narrative Essay Topics for High School Students

High school is a time full of promise when you have so much to say to the world, but it feels like no one cares to listen. Try speaking your mind with these narrative essay topics high school students might find interesting and relatable.

  1. The day you missed classes but learned a lot
  2. Tell a story about making an unlikely friendship
  3. Tell about your first date
  4. Tell about the time you confronted authority/rebelled
  5. Tell about the time you had to deliver some bad news
  6. Several minutes from a sporting event that were crucial for the outcome
  7. Is there a movie that speaks to you and has parallels with your life?
  8. Tell about a news story/social media post that you’ve found uplifting and inspiring
  9. The time you realize what makes you unique
  10. Tell about expressing your personality and values through fashion
  11. Was there a time when you felt cheated?
  12. The best homecoming ever
  13. Tell about your favorite song. Why do you like it? When did you first hear it?
  14. The time you realized the power of the teamwork
  15. Tell about the time you discovered your unique talent
  16. The most insightful creative assignment you have ever had
  17. A fail that taught you a lesson
  18. A prom dress with a hidden meaning
  19. Your experience with a high-school or community production
  20. Whom did you look up to when you were growing up? Do you still find this person inspiring?

Narrative Essay Topics for College Students

As a college student, you must demonstrate highly-developed writing skills. After all, you must have crafted an outstanding personal essay that impressed the admission committee to get in. That’s why narrative topics for college become a bit more sophisticated.

  1. Achievement of which you are most proud
  2. The time you first realized your purpose in life
  3. The campus tour that decided your first choice
  4. Tell the story of your first week in the dorm. What were the challenges, pleasant surprises, and curious details?
  5. The most fascinating story you have ever heard from a stranger
  6. Your biggest social blunder, and how did you amend/recover
  7. Tell about your experience with a piece of art you thought was overrated but then grew on you
  8. What is the most satisfying thing you have ever crossed off your to-do or bucket list?
  9. Tell about the time you acted spontaneously and how did it work out
  10. Tell about an event that taught you the value of money
  11. Tell about the time you had to assume a leadership role
  12. The time you felt pride for your school
  13. Do you ever feel homesick? What picture comes into your head when you do? What do you miss the most?
  14. Have you ever founded a club or a student organization? Why did you feel it was lacking?
  15. Was there ever a situation that tested your integrity? How did you resolve it?
  16. Tell a story of a peer that you find inspiring and motivating
  17. The time you really felt campus community is your second family
  18. Tell a story of letting go
  19. That time you’ve decided to break the mold
  20. What does it mean to thrive for you?

Personal Narrative Essay Topics

A personal narrative essay combines two formats: a personal essay relating personal experience told in the first-person language and a narrative essay telling a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Unlike college admission essays, this format allows for more thematic diversity. You don’t have to focus on your future career or past achievements and can explore anything in your life instead.

  1. The most difficult decision you have ever made
  2. What was your first word (apart from obvious “mama” or “dada”)? What does this word say about you as the person you have turned out to be?
  3. How did your sense of humor evolve? Do you remember your first favorite joke?
  4. Tell a story about learning how to draw or your experience of drawing as a child
  5. Tell about the time you helped someone
  6. Tell about your dream that came true
  7. Your most inspiring story about social media
  8. Tell about the time you realized that you are someone’s role model
  9. Tell about the time you had to re-evaluate your beliefs
  10. Have you ever been in a situation of emergency? How did you cope?
  11. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from nature?
  12. Have you experienced grief in your life? Tell the story about healing
  13. Was there a time you noticed and recognized your unconscious bias? What did you do?
  14. Tell about the first time you earned money
  15. We often hear advice to “be yourself.” Have you found out what it means? How do you return to yourself among the many social personas we all have (student, daughter/son, friend, employee, etc.)
  16. The strangest dream you ever had
  17. The moment you really felt your parents are supportive and loving
  18. Do you have your personal ritual/tradition that acts as a pick-me-up?
  19. Have you ever realized someone in your life is a toxic influence? How did you manage that?
  20. What does “home” mean to you? Tell how did you realize that

Literacy Narrative Essay Topics

A literacy narrative is a subtype of a biographical essay that focuses on your rhetorical experience (writing, reading, speaking, etc.), reflecting and affirming the importance of literacy in a person’s life. It combines a personal narrative with a reflective essay and requires self-analysis. Think back and tell a story about:

  1. Your earliest memory of writing
  2. How did you learn to read
  3. Your favorite bedtime story read (or told) to you
  4. The first book you have read yourself
  5. Who encouraged you to read? Tell about this person
  6. Who is your role model when it comes to the writing style?
  7. What is your favorite book? What makes it so special for you?
  8. What is the book that you have read several times? Did your perception of it change with each new reading?
  9. Is there a book you read as a pick-me-up when you feel down in the dumps?
  10. Do you keep a journal? Do you write often? How does it help you?
  11. Have you ever taught anyone to read or write? Tell about the most surprising thing about this experience.
  12. Have you experienced interruptions or adverse factors/events that affected your ability to read or write?
  13. How did your reading change over the years? What kinds of reading do you do now, and what kinds of reading you used to do in the past?
  14. What was the book or a poem that made you cry or made sense to you beyond the words?
  15. Was there any particular assignment that significantly influenced how you read or write?
  16. How did a particular teacher/school/institution impact your reading or writing experience?
  17. What about writing or reading do you find especially rewarding?
  18. Was there a particular event in your past that made you the reader/writer that you are today?
  19. Have you ever learned to speak another language? What was the most challenging/uncomfortable part of the experience?
  20. Do you live in a community that speaks another language than your first? What challenges/limitations do you feel?

Examples of Narrative Essay Topics with Elements of Argument

A narrative argument essay proves a point by telling a story that justifies your stance. It introduces topics and concepts that can be alien to the readers in the engaging form of a story – something most humans are naturally drawn to. It also allows demonstrating a human dimension of a topic, making it relatable. With a narrative argument, you can be more creative and compelling. However, it also takes a lot of skill compared to a formal argumentative essay that only operates facts and figures. Here are the claims you can illustrate with your personal stories or other anecdotes to explore this fascinating format.

  1. Teenagers are doing more good for the community than they are given credit for
  2. Our school needs to review and amend its curriculum
  3. Anxiety and depression in students are rising at an alarming rate, and colleges should address that
  4. This country needs sensible gun-control laws in the name of saving lives
  5. Current immigration policies are inadequate and need to be amended
  6. We need to change how we consume sports and talk about athletes
  7. Women should have a right to make decisions about their own bodies
  8. Children need a responsible authority figure in their lives
  9. Presents and indulgence cannot stand in place of quality time with your parents
  10. We need more women in politics and decision-making positions
  11. Meaningful human connection is something lacking in big cities
  12. Recognizing unconscious biases and internalized misconceptions is vital for achieving equity
  13. Beauty ideals have always existed, but marketing is making them toxic
  14. Vaccination should be made mandatory because unvaccinated people risk not only their own health and lives but those of the vulnerable people around them
  15. Art education should take a central place in the K12 curriculum instead of being sidelined
  16. Public single-gender schools should be a more accessible option for students and parents to choose
  17. Internet access is a basic necessity and must be state-subsidized
  18. Religion has no place in the public school
  19. School uniforms promote equity and educational attainment, so they should be adopted in our school
  20. Instead of demonizing particular foods, we should promote culinary curiosity and variety

Viewpoint Narrative Essay Topic Ideas

Viewpoint narrative filters events, sensory details, and feelings through the narrator’s subjective point of view that is different from the author’s in order to express the emotional experiences of various characters. However, it can be used as a way to distance, defamiliarize, and find surprising new ways of seeing mundane things. Are you ready for such a challenge to your creativity? Check these prompts:

  1. Christopher Columbus’s expedition of 1492 from the point of view of a sailor
  2. Reign of Henry the VIII from a perspective of a royal washerwoman
  3. Recount “Pride and Prejudice” from the point of view of a servant in Longbourn
  4. Pick a character from Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Bal du moulin de la Galette and tell about the day pictured in the painting
  5. Titanic catastrophe from the point of view of a fireman (stoker)
  6. A day in the trenches of World War 1 from the perspective of a private
  7. A day on the production set of The Wizard of Oz from a perspective of a movie extra
  8. D-Day landings from the standpoint of a soldier
  9. JFK’s assassination from a perspective of a person in the crowd
  10. Moon landing from the viewpoint of a schoolchild watching TV
  11. Life in a refugee camp from a perspective of a mother
  12. Cinderella told from the viewpoint of a step-sister
  13. A 4th of July celebration from a perspective of a newly immigrated person
  14. A day in a life of a stray dog
  15. A story from the viewpoint of the bench in the park
  16. A story from the perspective of a statue in the public space
  17. A tale of divorce told from both spouses’ perspectives
  18. A swallow’s migration journey
  19. A day in a life of a $20 note
  20. A school day from a teacher’s perspective vs. student’s

Topics for a Narrative Essay with Descriptive Elements

A descriptive narrative, or a narrative with descriptive elements, tells a story but also includes a vividly detailed description of a place, person, animal, or object, conveying an intense impression. In short, it is your usual narrative essay with one or two descriptive paragraphs. Here are the examples of topics that lend themselves well to creating such a text:

  1. A story my grandmother’s hands can tell
  2. The adventures of my grandfather’s watch
  3. One exceptional tea mug
  4. An old tree with a secret
  5. The house of centuries (about a historical building of your choice)
  6. How I confronted my bully
  7. The best present I have ever received
  8. A library book that tells volumes
  9. Have you ever experienced a natural event, such as a flood, earthquake, hurricane, etc.?
  10. Tell a story about attending a wedding, a funeral, or an initiation ritual (christening/first communion/confirmation, bar mitzvah, Akshara abyasam, wiccaning, etc.)
  11. A place with a special significance for you
  12. The lonely hearts’ café
  13. Tell about an object you can find in your local history museum. Describe it and tell its story.
  14. Tell about your first time visiting the seaside/forest/mountains
  15. A special moment caught in a photograph
  16. The traditional dress of your people
  17. The time you realized what real beauty is
  18. The best Christmas tree you ever saw
  19. Your most treasured possession
  20. Family heirloom

Quest Narrative Essay Topics

Starting its noble history with the Odyssey (and probably even before that), a quest narrative is one of the oldest ways of telling a story – and one of the most effective even today. Your quest doesn’t need to be as epic as the search for Holy Grail or the chase for Moby Dick to be an engaging and relatable story! Try exploring one of these themes in your narrative:

  1. Gaining independence
  2. Finding purpose in life
  3. Overcoming obstacles on the way to your goal
  4. Breaking an unhealthy habit
  5. Getting in touch with a hidden side of your personality
  6. Forging a friendship with an important person
  7. Going through a challenging time and finding solace
  8. Your way to forgiveness
  9. Obtaining a coveted item of clothing or other consumer goods
  10. Winning a contest or game
  11. Planning and working towards your most longed-for journey
  12. Gathering will to declare your feelings to someone special
  13. Planning a surprise party for a friend or family member
  14. Solving a mystery
  15. Getting to the end point of your journey
  16. Launching a project or starting a club
  17. Making a small but meaningful change in the community
  18. Learning a particularly difficult skill
  19. Finding your way in an unfamiliar place
  20. Finding something lost or forgotten

Second-Person Narrative Essay Ideas

Finally, for dessert, try one of the little-used narrative techniques that puts the reader in the character’s shoes. It is very immersive but difficult to create because it’s meant to be cooperative and requires a strong suspension of disbelief from the reader. It is a bit like play-pretend, where the narrator tells you what “you” do, see, or feel. If you care to try your pen in second-person narration, start with one of these:

  1. A story about disappointment
  2. A letter to your childhood imaginary friend
  3. A love letter to someone you never met
  4. A ghost story about the haunting
  5. An internet creepypasta legend
  6. A friend’s sacrifice
  7. Amusement park ride gone wrong
  8. Crime of passion
  9. A day from your childhood on a frontier farm
  10. Your day as a Victorian chambermaid
  11. A profession of a future
  12. The encounter with a mythical creature
  13. An act of disobedience/revolt
  14. A big fight with a sibling
  15. A waiter’s hardest shift ever
  16. The hotel manager discovers something disturbing
  17. Street musician undercover
  18. A visit to a retirement home
  19. A story of revenge
  20. Giving birth

Do your fingers itch, ready to write-write-write? I know mine are. While writing this post, I felt a sudden urge to create and self-publish a mystery novel that will become a best-seller, then a long-awaited but underwhelming Netflix production, and finally a cult classic twenty years later. That’s how much creative energy travels through me after all these topics! But don’t worry, bestselling writer or not, I will always be here whenever you need me for writing tips, topics, inspiration, or an awkward joke.

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