Essay Assignment: Narrative Essay—Prewriting and Drafting

For this assignment, you will begin working on a narrative essay. At this stage, you will work through the prewriting and drafting steps of the writing process.

Narrative Essay Prompt

Choose one of the following topics to write your own narrative essay. The topic you decide on should be something you care about, and the narration should be a means of communicating an idea that ties to the essay’s theme. Remember in this essay, the narration is not an end in itself.


  1. Gaining independence
  2. A friend’s sacrifice
  3. A significant trip with your family
  4. A wedding or a funeral
  5. An incident from family legend

The World Around You

  1. A storm, a flood, an earthquake, or another natural event
  2. A school event
  3. The most important minutes of a sporting event

Lessons of Daily Life

  1. A time you confronted authority
  2. A time you had to deliver bad news
  3. Your biggest social blunder


  1. Your first day of school
  2. The first performance you gave
  3. A first date

Getting Started on Your Narrative Essay


STEP 1: To get started writing, first pick at least one prewriting strategy (brainstorming, rewriting, journaling, mapping, questioning, sketching) to develop ideas for your essay. Write down what you do, as you’ll need to submit evidence of your prewrite.

Remember that “story starters” are everywhere. Think about it—status updates on social media websites can be a good place to start—you may have already started a “note” to post on social media, and now is your chance to develop that idea into a full narrative. If you keep a journal or diary, a simple event may unfold into a narrative. Simply said, your stories may be closer than you think!


STEP 2: Next, write an outline for your essay. Organize the essay in a way that:

  • Establishes the situation [introduction];
  • Introduces the complication(s) [body]; and
  • States the lesson you learned [conclusion]

STEP 3: Lastly, write a first draft of your essay. Remember, When drafting your essay:

  1. Develop an enticing title—but don’t let yourself get stuck on the title! A great title might suggest itself after you’ve begun the prewriting and drafting processes.
  2. Use the introduction to establish the situation the essay will address.
  3. Avoid addressing the assignment directly. (For example, don’t write “I am going to write about my most significant experience,” because this takes the fun out of reading the work!)
  4. Think of things said at the moment this experience started for you—perhaps use a quote, or an interesting part of the experience that will grab the reader.
  5. Let the story reflect your own voice. (Is your voice serious? Humorous? Matter-of-fact?)
  6. To avoid just telling what happens, make sure your essay takes time to reflect on why this experience is significant.

Assignment Instructions

  1. Choose a writing prompt as listed above on this page.
  2. Review the grading rubric as listed below this page.
  3. Create a prewrite in the style of your choice for the prompt.
  4. Create an outline for your essay.
  5. Develop a draft essay according to the following formatting guidelines: (Papers submitted that do not meet these formatting requirements will be returned to you ungraded.)
    • Minimum of 3 typed, double-spaced pages (about 600–750 words), Times New Roman, 12 pt font size
    • MLA formatting
  6. Submit your prewriting and draft as a single file upload.


Be sure to:

  • Decide on something you care about so that the narration is a means of communicating an idea.
  • Include characters, conflict, sensory details.
  • Create a sequence of events in a plot.
  • Develop an enticing title.
  • Use the introduction to pull the reader into your singular experience.
  • Avoid addressing the assignment directly. (don’t write “I am going to write about…”—this takes the fun out of reading the work!)
  • Let the essay reflect your own voice (Is your voice serious? Humorous? Matter-of-fact?)
  • Avoid telling just what happens by making sure your essay reflects on why this experience is significant.

If you developed your prewriting by hand on paper, scan or take a picture of your prewriting, load the image onto your computer, and then insert the image on a separate page after your draft.


Grading Rubric: Narrative Essay Prewriting and Draft

Criteria Category Point Total: 50
Presentation Paper is double-spaced throughout using Times New Roman 12 pt. font. Full name, class, Instructor’s name, your location, and time of class, date, and description of assignment are in upper-left-hand corner. The essay should be paginated (show page numbers) as well. Title should not be bolded or underlined. __/2 pts
Title The title is three or more words and hints at the essay’s main point. __/1 pts
Introduction Introduction sets up the problem the author struggles with. This could be internal, external or both. __/10 pts
Essay body The body presents the “complication” that sets the plot in motion. __/10 pts
Transformation Conclusion shows the transformation from the introduction and thus the “moral” of the story. __/10 pts
Audience The “moral” of the story is objective and reflects a universal lesson that all readers can benefit from. __/2 pts
Show, don’t tell Author “shows” the events with vivid and compelling language rather than simply tells the story.  __/5 pts
Prewriting and brainstorming Demonstrates good exploration and effort by including a prewrite and outline.  __/10 pts