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Down and Dirty Tips: Narrative and Descriptive Essays: Narrative Organization

Tips for students on writing a Narrative / Descriptive essay. While this guide is not comprehensive, it does provide enough information for to students to follow and pass the assignment. This guide is especially helpful for those who don't have much time.

Organizing: Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay

Step 3: Organize the Body

Step 3: Organize the Body Paragraphs


Organizing the body paragraphs of a narrative essay is pretty straightforward. Narrative essays use chronological organization. Follow the timeline of events and start a new paragraph when:

  • The story goes in a new direction
  • There's a scene change
  • A dialogue occurs back-and-forth between speakers: make a new paragraph each time someone different speaks.

Dialogue Example:

     With shaking hands, Carlos handed me the destroyed book. He said, “I really don’t mind getting you another one.”
     I said, “That’s not the point. It belonged to my mother.”
     He looked down at his shoes and said, “I am truly sorry. What can I do? I didn’t even know it was in my backpack.”
     I swallowed hard and wiped away a tear, “Nothing.”


Step 4: Fill Up the Essay

Step 4: Fill Up the Essay with Details and Vivid Language


Include the senses:
  • What you saw
  • What you smelled
  • What you tasted
  • What you touched
  • What you heard
Include actions:
  • What you and others said and did

Avoid too much feelings and thoughts:

  • Rather than say, "I was scared," describe your actions instead. For example, "My stomach dropped and I chewed through my fingernails."