Don’t dread writing a narrative essay topic! Narrative essays can be great and fun to write. It can also be an excellent learning experience. This type of essay can be imaginative, but it is also often hugely introspective.
In fact, learning to write a good narrative essay is almost like making an investment in your future. After all, at some point or another, you will need to tell a good story. Be it to keep a crowd entertained or to make a wedding speech memorable, or even an enticing pitch, a story with a strong narrative will keep the attention on you.
Of course, coming up with a good narrative essay topic is the most important moment in your journey as an author. If you don’t already have a good story in mind, we believe we can help you find the best prompt for your essay with our list of 151 best narrative essay topic ideas.
In this article:
- What Is a Narrative Essay?
- How Can You Choose a Narrative Essay Topic?
- 40 Best Personal Narrative Essay Topics
- Narrative Essay Topics About Friends and Relationships
- Narrative Essay Topics About Childhood
- Narrative Essay Topics for Middle school
- Narrative Essay Topics About Family
- Imaginative Narrative Essay Topics (Imagine that…)
- Values and Morality Narrative Essay Topics
- Narrative Essay Topics About Defining Moments
- Narrative Essay Topics About Your Favorite Things
- Interesting Narrative Essay Topics
- Do You Need More Help?
What Is a Narrative Essay?
If you’ve never written a narrative essay before, think about it as an opportunity to tell a personal story about yourself. The narrative essay topic is the perfect vessel for communicating your unique perspective and interpretation of events that happened in your lifetime, especially if there was a lesson that was learned (and there always is).
A narrative essay is specifically ideal for developing the writer’s writing and storytelling skills. That’s why your subject doesn’t really need to be grand or memorable. What matters more than the essay topic itself is whether or not the author can create an attention-grabbing narrative.
Finally, a really good narrative essay relies on a masterful introduction of the setting, a realistic character growth, and an interesting conflict and its resolution. Contrast this with the more formal and rigid structure of the informative essay, where fact reporting and clear logical structure are key.
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How Can You Choose a Narrative Essay Topic?
If you don’t have an evocative story in mind yet, how should you choose your narrative essay topic? Although by definition, the narrative essay is a rather personal piece, there are several universal guidelines you can follow when you’re looking for the best topic for your essay.
Take a Trip Down Memory Lane for Inspiration
As we already mentioned, the topic for a narrative essay will ask you to strongly draw from your personal history. Therefore, the logical first step in your search for the perfect topic is to search your memory for a vivid episode that made a strong impression on you.
This can be anything from a childhood memory to a national disaster, a quiet conversation on a stormy afternoon, or an introspective moment when you felt true clarity. The important thing is to be able to build a good story around it. So, try to find a relevant, engaging, fun, surprising, or unusual moment in your life to discuss, and roll the dice!
Think About Defining Moments in Your Life
Turning points in a life make for a great story and are just as good for a narrative essay topic as they are for an Academy Award-winning movie. Think about situations in which you had an intense emotional response. A great essay topic could ask you to talk about loss, celebration, your successes or failures, lessons you’ve learned, your hobbies, or any big decisions you’ve made.
Most of your writing should be honest and personal. It’s okay if you use your creativity to fill in some gaps or make the story more compelling, but avoid writing about completely imaginary situations. Not only will you be running away from the narrative essay and into creative writing, but it’s also often more challenging to create a fictional world and a narrative entirely from imagination. The narrative essay topic should be you-centric, and the reader will expect a candid glimpse into your inner world.
Try Memory Mixology (Mix and Match Events from Your Life)
If stringing together different moments of your personal history will make your narrative essay stand out, then that’s the way to go! Pick your narrative essay topic in such a way that talking about events that didn’t take place in succession will make the story even stronger.
For example, if your essay topic asked you to talk about Christmas at home, weave together anecdotes from several Christmas holidays, and make a bizarre tale. Take risks and be creative, and the result will be a compelling story that will evoke an intense emotional reaction.
Come Up with a Memorable Title
It’s easier to write your narrative essay topic if you have a snappy title in mind. These usually come in the shape of a statement or a resolution. For example, instead of writing about “What Is Your Experience of Discussing Racial Issues with People of a Different Race?” consider how the tone and depth of your essay will change if you write on a topic phrased like this: “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race”*. It’s a lot more pointed and emotionally charged already, isn’t it?
A superb way to get inspiration for an interesting narrative essay topic is to look at articles, books, podcasts, or blog posts. In general, anything that makes you want to learn more about it is a sign of an excellent title and, hence, a good essay topic for your narrative essay.
*Author’s note: The example essay title we’ve used is referring to an already-existing essay and book of the same title by author and journalist, Reni Eddo-Lodge.
Of course, sometimes, things are easier said than done, and people struggle to find the best narrative essay topic for themselves. This is why we’ve come up with 151 of the best narrative essay topics and ideas for you.
40 Best Personal Narrative Essay Topics
Personal stories make for the best narratives. This is why choosing a personal subject as your narrative essay topic might be the best idea. Although sharing an intimate story might seem daunting at first, remember that you have full control over what ends up in the final draft.
Of course, if you’d like to broaden your idea pool, you could search for inspiration among our list of persuasive essay topics or even argumentative essay topics. Sometimes, ideas come from the most unlikely places.
1. Talk about a time you were punished for bad behavior. Why do you remember that?
2. When did you know what you wanted to do as you grew up/what you wanted to study in college?
3. Discuss a time you experienced a rush of adrenaline. Why was it interesting? Did the experience teach you something?
4. Have you watched live events on TV (e.g., Superbowl, NBA, concerts, plays)? Was there something memorable about this?
5. What is the movie you’ve seen so many times? Why?
6. Talk about something you are really good at.
7. There are some things we need to be alone to do well. Talk about something you like to do best when you are by yourself.
8. Talk about a time you challenged yourself to do something seemingly unimportant or just for fun (e.g., learning how to solve a Rubik’s Cube). Why did you do that?
9. Olfaction (sense of smell) is strongly related to memories and is a powerful memory evoker. What does happiness smell like to you?
10. What are you deeply upset about?
11. What is something you are deeply grateful for?
12. What is the most important memory you have with your mother?
13. Do you have a sibling? How would you wish your relationship with them was?
14. Talk about a situation in which you should have asked for help but didn’t.
15. How does your sense of style relate to your identity?
16. Are you sometimes surprised by who you see in the mirror? Why do you think this happens, and what do you see?
17. Talk about the first time you danced (and had fun) in public.
18. What does your library say about you? Have you read all the books in it? How do you curate it?
19. How does social media affect your close personal relationships?
20. What was the last thing you learned (or taught yourself) how to do?
21. What are you deeply upset about?
22. Talk about a moment in which you experienced true clarity.
23. How does your social media persona compare to you in real life?
24. What soothes you when you are anxious?
25. Would you befriend yourself?
26. Who is someone you would never want to be?
27. What are three things you think about often and are truly important to you (e.g., making your own food, finding a romantic partner, the impression you leave others with)?
28. Talk about when you truly forgave someone.
29. Talk about a quality you’ve worked hard for and are proud of.
30. Talk about a moment you felt extremely humbled.
31. What inspires you (to be funny, to create, to improve)?
32. Talk about a positive change you’ve made in your life.
33. What is the most challenging thing you’ve achieved?
34. Discuss a bad decision you made. How did you justify it at that time? When did you know it was a bad decision?
35. When was the moment when you stopped taking yourself too seriously?
36. What is the story of one of your tattoos?
37. What is the reason you keep a diary?
38. What is something you do as escapism?
39. What is your coming-out story?
40. Talk about a time when you should have ended something but didn’t. Why?
Narrative Essay Topics About Friends and Relationships
1. Think about an event where you showed cynicism instead of compassion. What do you think would have been the outcome and consequences if you’d shown compassion?
2. Have you ever lost a person who was important to you? Talk about what you celebrate about them.
3. Talk about the friends that have drifted away.
4. What qualities do you look for in a new friend?
5. How is an easy or spontaneous friendship different from the ones you need to put effort to? How are they similar?
6. What would you talk about with a stranger?
7. Where do you fit in your social circle(s)?
8. Have you ever greatly misjudged a person? Did you take anything away from the experience?
9. Talk about a situation in which you showed courage. Was it easy?
10. Have you given up something that was important to you to make somebody else happy? How do you feel about that choice?
Narrative Essay Topics About Childhood
1. Remember a game you enjoyed playing as a child. Why do you think it’s important?
2. What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
3. Tell a bizarre story. Who did it happen to, and what made it strange?
4. What are “the good old times” for you?
5. What is the nightmare you remember most vividly? What do you think it means?
Narrative Essay Topics for Middle school
If you’re in middle school and looking for a narrative essay topic, you’re probably not too excited about it… but you’d be wrong. Writing a narrative essay can be good, fun, and very engaging if you choose the right topic and let your silly or creative side loose. So, we’ve tried to compile a list of topics on which teens could write a marvelous and entertaining story.
If you’re looking for more serious essay topic ideas, you’d find some in our list of 172 controversial debate topics (for teens).
1. What is your favorite cultural holiday and why?
2. What was the last act of kindness that you saw?
3. Discuss a stressful situation in which you needed to solve a problem under pressure. What did you do?
4. Studying an experience when being organized was (not) extremely helpful.
5. How did you learn that “experience is the best teacher”?
6. Would you work on something that requires you to frequently travel?
7. Talk about the role sports plays in your life.
8. Remember a time when you decided you would never procrastinate again (even if you did after that).
9. How do you feel about getting lost? Why?
10. Write about a time you quit something (gave up). Was that the right choice?
Narrative Essay Topics About Family
1. Write a letter to your 4-year-old self.
2. Write a letter to your father.
3. What do you hope your relationship with your child would be?
4. Talk about an event when you and your family shared an especially memorable moment together and all of you felt very connected as a family.
5. Talk about something your parents did (for you) which you are grateful for or that made you proud.
Imaginative Narrative Essay Topics (Imagine that…)
1. If you could go back in time and change something about your life, what would it be?
2. Often, we have admiration for a public figure, and then, either through action or inaction, they lose our admiration. Imagine you could become that person for a day. What would you do?
3. If you could learn any language instantly, which one would you choose?
4. What is the most frightening noise you can imagine?
5. If you had three wishes, what would you wish for (standard genie rules apply)?
6. If you were slowly losing your memories, which memories would you want to lose last?
7. If you had to lose one of your senses, which would it be?
8. If you could easily turn into an animal and have a second life as one, what animal would you like to be?
9. If you would enter a long-term committed relationship with another person, what are the lessons from your parent’s marriage you would take with you?
10. If you were the supreme leader of the town/city/country you live in, what would be the most important action you’ll take?
11. If you would look in a magical mirror that showed your deepest desires, what would you see?
12. If you could meet your idols, who would you want to meet and why?
13. If you had an extra 8 hours in your day (and nobody else did), what would you do with that time?
14. Some people imagine their memory and thoughts as organized in file cabinets, while others have mind castles. How do you imagine the inside of your mind is organized?
15. Imagine you had a different skin color. How would your life be different?
16. Imagine you woke up and you had switched sexes with someone of the opposite sex.
17. If you were living in a war zone, what would you be doing with your “free” time?
18. If you were to choose who to be the first people to inhabit a terraformed planet, who would you choose and why?
19. If you could be a historical figure, who would you like to be? Why would you have done something different?
20. If you could program a realistic AI, what qualities would you give it?
21. If you believe(d) in the afterlife, how do you imagine your personal heaven?
22. If you could invent anything (technological), what would it be?
23. If you could shoot an ad that would make people care about an issue you find important, what would the script for it look like?
24. If you could talk to all forms of life on Earth, what would you talk to, and what would you talk about?
25. If you could have a conversation with your favorite philosopher, what would it be about?
Values and Morality Narrative Essay Topics
What else makes us more uniquely ourselves than our moral compass? Our values are continuously tuned by new experiences, and sharing a story about the journey to your morals can make for a deeply personal narrative.
Argumentative essays and research paper topics are another good source of topic ideas about fundamental values and beliefs.
1. What would you hope to be remembered for?
2. Simple conversations can sometimes form core values and stay with us for a long time. Talk about an important conversation you’ve had.
3. What is something you would like to be good at? Why do you want this, and what would it take?
4. Talk about a charity that is important to you.
5. Is lying ever necessary?
6. What do you think is an underappreciated profession, and would you work that?
7. How is your heritage important to you? How do you embody it?
8. Talk about a situation which made you distrust authority.
9. Talk about a moment which made you respect authority.
10. Talk about an experience where you had to make up a story (tell a lie) to prove a point. Would you do that again?
11. Some people have a box in their homes labeled “In case of fire, take me.” What would your box contain if you had one?
12. Recall a situation in which you showed commendable patience and it was rewarded.
13. What do you feel entitled to?
14. What is the importance of being selfish?
15. How would you adjust your behavior if you knew you were being constantly under surveillance?
16. Talk about an event from your life (or one that you witnessed) where justice prevailed.
17. Tell a story that demonstrates one of your core values (e.g., a strong moral compass, entrepreneurial spirit, etc.)
18. When did you decide you wouldn’t eat meat anymore?
19. Do you have a motto you live by? Tell a story that illustrates how your motto has been relevant to you.
20. Is there anything you’re absolutely certain about?
Narrative Essay Topics About Defining Moments
1. Talk about a time when you felt like a fundamental human right was denied to you.
2. Talk about a difficult choice you’ve had to make.
3. When was the first time you realized you were mortal? What does mortality mean to you?
4. What lessons did you learn at your first job?
5. Making a connection.
6. Understanding a person with a disability.
7. Truth is often found in an argument. Talk about a debate in which you changed somebody’s opinion or they changed yours.
8. Although violence is rarely “the answer,” talk about a time when you resorted to aggression. Why was that the right/wrong thing to do in that situation?
9. What was the first social or political issue for which you developed a position and argued over? Has your position changed? Why?
10. Have you ever lost your sense of agency/felt trapped?
11. When was the first time you felt represented in the media?
12. Talk about a situation in which you completely lost control (over your body and movements, your emotion, or your actions).
13. Talk about a moment in your life which has been completely misrepresented by popular culture and movies.
14. What is the most memorable experience you’ve had in nature?
15. Talk about a moment in which you showed vulnerability.
Narrative Essay Topics About Your Favorite Things
1. Talk about your favorite director.
2. Talk about your favorite artist or band.
3. Who is your favorite artist, and why does their work move you?
4. Can you remember a piece of art that moved you? Why did it happen?
5. Do you have a favorite food? What feelings does it evoke in you?
6. Talk about a book or a movie you connected to in different ways during different periods of your life.
7. What collectible would you like to own and why?
8. Talk about a person you admire.
9. Who is your favorite storyteller?
10. Talk about your favorite villain.
Interesting Narrative Essay Topics
1. What did you first use the Internet for?
2. Failure in itself is not meaningful. What holds meaning is what we do with it. Discuss a time when you felt like you failed at something. Why was it important to you?
3. Talk about how moments change when you’re viewing them through a lens (e.g., a camera or binoculars)
4. What would your role be if humanity moved to a terraformed planet?
5. When in time would you like to live and where?
6. How does showing kindness to yourself compare to being kind to others?
7. Can you see yourself through somebody else’s eyes (e.g., your younger sibling)?
8. Recall a moment when you were in a really big crowd. How would you explain it to someone who’s never been in a crowd before (e.g., children born during a global pandemic that lasted 10 years)?
9. Talk about a moment when your life had a movie-like quality.
10. Have you had anything Kafkaesque happen to you?
11. Are results important?
Do You Need More Help?
If you need further guidance about your essay, try to look at what other students have written about and how they approach their topics. There are plenty of forums and sources out there.
Alternatively, you can explore different catalogs of popular essay topic ideas for college or cumulative essay topics lists. If you’re looking for age-specific prompts, try going through our catalogue of essay topic ideas for teens.
Wherever you draw your inspiration from, remember, the narrative essay topic you choose should be fun or interesting for you to explore. That’s why it’s helpful to draw from your personal experiences and introspect. After all, your experiences are relevant to you, and you’re the person who’s best qualified to write about them. That is a great start to finding the perfect narrative essay topic for you!