Assignment: Narrative Essay—Prewriting and Draft

Length: 3 pages, double-spaced

For this assignment, you will work through the prewriting and drafting stages of your writing process in a narrative essay.

Narrative Essay Prompts

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. A 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

Writing Your Narrative Essay


To get started writing your essay:

  1. Review What is an Essay?
  2. Take time to review possible subjects
  3. Use prewriting to help you narrow your topic to one experience.

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”on Facebook, 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!


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. Organize the essay in a way that
    • Establishes the situation [introduction];
    • Introduces the complication(s) [body]; and
    • States the lesson you learned [conclusion]
  7. To avoid just telling what happens, make sure your essay takes time to reflect on why this experience is significant.

Assignment Instructions

  1. Review the grading rubric as listed on this page.
  2. Choose a writing prompt as listed above on this page.
  3. Create a prewriting in the style of your choice for the prompt. Review the prewriting videos on the My Writing Process: Prewriting and Draft page if needed.
  4. 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 (see the MLA Format page as needed)
    • Submitted as either a .Microsoft Word doc, .or rtf file
  5. 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 Ratings Point Total: 50
Presentation 2 pts: 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.

0 pts: Essay is not consistent with presentation guidelines above.

2 pts
Title 1 pts: The title is three or more words and hints at the essay’s main point.

0 pts: No marks

1 pts
Introduction 10 pts: Introduction sets up the problem the author struggles with. This could be internal, external or both.

0 pts: No marks

10 pts
Essay body 10 pts: The body presents the “complication” that sets the plot in motion.

0 pts: No marks

10 pts
Transformation 10 pts: Conclusion shows the transformation from the introduction and thus the “moral” of the story.

0 pts: No marks

10 pts
Audience 2 pts: The “moral” of the story is objective and reflects a universal lesson that all readers can benefit from.

0 pts: No marks

2 pts
Show, don’t tell 5 pts: Author “shows” the events with vivid and compelling language rather than simply tells the story.

3 pts: Some showing, mostly telling.

0 pts: No marks

5 pts
Prewriting and brainstorming 10 pts: Shows good exploration and effort.

2 pts: Did some brainstorming.

0 pts: No marks

10 pts