But unlike a simple work of creative fiction, your narrative essay must have a clear and concrete motif—a recurring theme or idea that you’ll explore throughout.
Narrative essays are less rigid, more creative in expression, and therefore pretty different from most other essays you’ll be writing.
There’s nothing wrong with inventing a person’s words if you can’t remember them exactly, but you shouldn’t say they said something they weren’t even close to saying.
Another big difference between narrative essays and creative fiction—as well as other kinds of essays—is that narrative essays are based on motifs.
A motif is a dominant idea or theme, one that you establish before writing the essay.
As you’re crafting the narrative, it’ll feed back into your motif to create a comprehensive picture of whatever that motif is.
But narrative essays work differently—you’re not trying to draw meaning from an existing text, but rather using an event you’ve experienced to convey meaning.
In an analytical essay, you examine narrative, whereas in a narrative essay you create narrative.
To write a narrative essay, you’ll need to tell a story (usually about something that happened to you) in such a way that the audience learns a lesson or gains insight.
To write a descriptive essay, you’ll need to describe a person, object, or event so vividly that the reader feels like he/she could reach out and touch it.