Narrative writing prompts are the beginnings of stories, an idea to work on, or sometimes even a picture or image to inspire writers. Teachers often use them to inspire personal narrative writing.
Personal narrative writing prompts can be used by students, writers, or anyone at all to write a personal narrative. Personal narratives are personal stories that are usually written in first-person and tell the story of something that has happened to the writer.
They are invaluable tools to help students write a story based on their own lives. These ideas can lead to a passion for writing for many students in a classroom setting.
Personal Narrative Prompts
Writing personal narratives can be difficult because there is so much that occurs within a person’s life, not just in milestones but emotionally and psychologically.
Narrowing down a topic with no prompts can take time and lead to frustration, especially for students in a writing or English class who are just learning the writing process.
Rather than asking them to write a story out of thin air, asking them to describe a memory or experience about a time they cannot forget can inspire a student to really put themselves into the story.
The aspiring writers can connect with it in a way that they otherwise wouldn’t if you simply told them to write about any ideas they had.
Learning to Write from Prompts Early On
Personal narrative stories are often assigned as early as middle school. Students writing their own stories and personal experiences with the aid of a writing prompt can reflect on their own lives and write about it, at the same time, and improve their writing skills.
Personal narratives are used to improve the writing skills of middle school students because when students write more technical or dry papers, such as procedural writing, they often have trouble connecting with the work.
Unless you plan to write user manuals as a writer, you most likely won’t get many creative jobs from writing “how-to” papers that procedural papers demand.
If you’re a teacher and you’d like to teach students or lead students to be able to write fictional short stories, a great place to start is with personal narrative prompts.
Students can write a fictional story based on a writing prompt and have a successful moment as a writer, especially if they already have experience with personal writing prompts.
Using personal narratives as inspiration for a fictional story will invite students to get creative and use descriptive language about something that they are already familiar with.
Students can also fictionalize their own experiences in this way and write about a traumatic event but translating painful memories into short stories, which makes for a healing and therapeutic experience.
Personal Narratives Do More Than Improve Writing Habits
Including narrative writing prompts in your lesson plans as a teacher is an excellent idea if you’d like to help students reflect, deal with the challenging moments in life using creativity as an outlet, and improve the skills of a young writer.
When students write anything creative, they improve not only as writers but as thinkers, and that’s the goal of nearly every middle school grade level teacher.
Personal Narrative Writing Prompts
Giving personal narrative prompts to students and asking them to turn them into short stories is a great assignment to add to lesson plans.
You can assign a wide variety of prompts and topics, from asking students to write about their favorite song, to asking them to make themselves the main character in a story about their favorite memory.
The possibilities are truly endless. Thinking about a time that proved to be significant, can inspire a wonderful narrative writing piece and lead to students reflecting and learning to connect with their writing.
Attaching strong emotion to a story or a character can help to lend a story weight, and when you draw off of your own personal experiences, a story can go from a dull and flat narrative to a thought-provoking and emotional, immersive experience.
Examples of Personal Narrative Writing Prompts
Personal narrative writing can be about anything that the writer has experienced, felt, or been through. It can be about a time that really impacted or changed the person, or it can be about something light and trivial.
Drawing off of your own experiences as a writer often makes the writer care more about the content, which is what makes personal narrative prompts such powerful tools for teachers and students.
The following are some examples of personal narrative writing prompts that can be assigned to anyone.
You don’t have to give them to your students. You don’t have to be a teacher. You don’t really even have to be a writer.
It’s healthy to reflect upon your own life, about a time that meant something to you. Having personal narrative prompts can be a great way to provide yourself with self-care if you choose a prompt each day and journal about it.
Topics for Personal Narrative Writing
Feel free to add to this list or expand upon it. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to topics to write about in narrative writing. Every event, experience, need, dream, desire, fear, and goal, is a story waiting to be written.
- Write about an old house you or a friend have lived in. Was it scary, or was it cozy? What about it made you feel that way?
- Who was your role model growing up? What about that person who you look up to?
- What is/was your favorite subject in school? Do you enjoy school?
- Describe the worst thing that has ever happened to you. How did you react to it?
- What is the scariest thing you’ve ever had to do?
- Who are you closest to in your family?
- What is your favorite book? Why do you like it so much?
- If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
- Write about a time in history that interests you most? Explain why.
- What makes a good friend?
- What is your favorite place to relax by yourself?
Ideas for a Personal Narrative
Personal narratives often evoke a vast array of emotions for both the reader and the writer., whether you are writing about an experience that had a positive outcome or a circumstance that affected you in a negative way.
Personal narratives are often very detailed and told in first-person. Below are some ideas that you may use to jump-start your personal narrative writing:
- Write about how you succeeded in something you thought was impossible.
- Write about a defeat where you expected to win.
- Think of a contest or a club you participated in when you were a student. How did this milestone affect you?
- Reminisce about a moment when your idea led to the establishment of something important.
- Tell a story about a time in your life that you wish would not happen to anyone else. How did you recover from that event?
- Recall a most memorable moment which caused you a lot of fear and whether or not you were able to overcome it.
- Consider a story in your life when a friend or your significant other showed loyalty to you or completely betrayed you.
- Try to remember a happy or sad circumstance in your family that occurred years ago.
- Narrate a time when you had a culture shock from visiting another place.
- Tell a story about a problem you experienced which until now has not been solved.
- Narrate a story where you witnessed something remarkable, peculiar, or creepy.
- Tell a story related to your greatest accomplishment in life and what you had to sacrifice to get there.
Personal Narrative Examples in the Real World
Throughout history, people have been using personal narratives to explain events that occurred. Often with no reader in mind at all, people have documented and told the stories of events that have helped to shape the world that we live in and know now.
Imagine where we’d be if Lewis and Clark had not documented their journey. Think about the history we’d have if Anne Frank hadn’t written down her experiences during the Holocaust.
Explain to students what an impact this sort of writing has and how it has enabled all of society to discover things that we otherwise may not have known.
Sure, the Holocaust happened with or without one Jewish girl’s diary. Still, that diary made it possible for us to be able to create powerful personal images from the memory of one small child. We still have this sort of “diary writing” in use today, just in a different form.
Technology Gives Us an Online Diary
Technology has given us the internet, and with that wonderful tool, we are able to post our own narratives in real-time and give the entire world a chance to read our short stories. Personal narrative writing can help us to describe things to people outside of our own culture and experiences.
Through the use of a blog, website, or social media, we can share our ideas, a moment that meant something to us, a significant event that happened that changed us profoundly, and a look at how family life is evolving and shaping the way we live.
Students can be shown through the use of personal narrative that they have a voice and that when they write a story at school, that narrative does more than help them pass the class.
The Use of Prompts in School
When you ask students in your classroom of any age, whether it’s elementary, middle, high school, or college, to describe personal experiences or write a story that can describe the way an event made them feel, you are opening up the door for a writer to learn that ideas can come from any moment.
There is a story in every small experience, each family is its own story, and each person is its own story.
When you ask your class to write about just one moment, they are forced to put thoughts down in an organized fashion and turn it into a narrative of what happened, rather than the scattered rendition of it that lives inside the writer’s mind.
Using prompts in the classroom allows teachers to point to a writer’s internal story and personal history as inspiration. The use of details to help a reader who did not experience these events will enable a writer to become more skilled and well-rounded.
The point is to write about a time that meant something to the writer and can be conveyed to the audience in a way that makes them feel something.
Many times, a personal narrative takes on a casual tone and helps an audience to better connect with it. This can be a valuable way for young or beginning-level writers to learn how to write in a tone that will invoke feeling from an audience.
It’s more than just the subject matter that makes readers feel something. For example, in a blog, the writer addresses the audience most of the time in the same way you would speak to a friend.
The casual tone of a personal narrative makes the audience feel like you’re all friends.
When a writer is striving for that connection, it’s much easier to explain why their favorite place is a dark closet, a coffee shop, their bed, a shopping mall, a church pew, or some other personal and sometimes vulnerable secret and personal thing.
The more details that you use when you write about a time that affected your life, the more the audience will understand the feelings and thoughts associated with that memory.
Personal narrative writing is truly a multi-faceted learning experience. It teaches reflection skills, tone, narrative elements, and so much more.
Where to Find More Writing Prompts
Many instructors find that beginning the class with a writing prompt is a great way to get creative juices flowing, get a classroom ready for learning, and connect with the students. There are many ways to develop writing prompt ideas, especially personal ones.
Think about your own life and the events and memories that shaped you. Ask yourself if these are common experiences or if they are exclusive to your life.
If they’re fairly common experiences, like the feeling you got when you learned to ride a bike, then ask everyone in the classroom to write about their own experience with this topic.
Participate in Your Own Assignments
Feel encouraged to also take part in the assignment and demonstrate either before the task is given or after the narrative writing process has wrapped up so that your pupils can witness an example written by their instructor.
This will not only teach them the mechanics of narrative writing. It will also help them to connect to you as their teacher and open up new lines of communication and understanding, which can make a student feel safer to share personal experiences in their writing.
Where to Find Narrative Writing Prompts
The internet is a plethora of writing ideas. Writing prompts can be searched for and found easily by performing a simple Google search.
Another fantastic option is to buy a physical copy of a book of writing prompts. These can be found online for purchase and at most bookstores.
If you are a writer or aspire to be a novelist, having a book of writing prompts can help you jump-start your creativity when you begin your writing process each day. The benefits of good writing prompts are endless.
Fictional Narrative Writing
As you enter the world of fictional narrative writing, feel free to use your imagination and completely release all of your creative juices. Here are some prompts you can utilize for fictional narrative writing:
- Write a story about an earphone that tells its owner what will happen the next day.
- Consider a situation where a schoolgirl draws something that could solve a recent crime. The catch is she was never a witness. Keep the plot going.
- Create a plot where teenagers of today go back to the time when there was no Internet.
- Suppose a reunion of friends leads to the discovery of the long-lost treasure.
- Imagine a teacher goes missing on a school day and her diary entries suggest that someone close to her has been sending her death notes. However, the one who has been sending the death notes isn’t the criminal.
- Write about an investigator who is the accomplice of an evil villain.
- Visualize a writer finding an old letter sent to her parents about her being a jinx.
- Imagine an introverted boy who is bothered by his own ability to remember minute details in his surroundings. This skill however, will be what allows him to save his family.
- Write a story where you visited a place and they believed you to be a member of the royal family. The twist is that you are with your biological parents, who do not have any royal blood at all.
- Write about a fictional world where all significant events are considered opposite to how we experience them. For instance, a birthday is not a celebration but instead a day of great gloom.
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”Alan Kay
Fairy Tale Writing Prompts
What could be more enchanting than to write a fairy tale story? A fairy tale lets you create delightful scenarios which appeal to readers of all ages, especially children. Here are some fairy tale writing prompts that may entice you into writing an entire plot:
- Conceptualize a fairy tale where the prince is a coward.
- Suppose, on your way home, you found a shopping bag full of items in front of your door. The next thing you know, they are all magical and begin interacting with you.
- Write about a character you do not wish to be in your life. Make that character the villain of your fairy tale story.
- Create a story about a cursed princess who transforms into different animals every single waking hour, starting from 6:00 a.m each morning.
- Imagine a schoolboy tracing the whereabouts of his parents through magical potions.
- Visualize that you discovered your best friend as an evil princess, trying to take revenge on the school bullies. You are the only person who knows it. What would you do?
- Construct a fairy tale story out of your favorite love song. Consider the song’s message as the theme of your story.
- Browse through online shops, and make their bestsellers the magical items possessed by a king.
- Create a story where the king and queen unwillingly part ways and find their way back together after a decade.
- Imagine a story where all the things being written by the protagonist come true in real-time.
Superhero Writing Prompts
As a child, you may have believed that superheroes can fly, have supernatural powers, or are immortal. As you grow older, you may have discovered that heroes are not how you have once imagined them. However, heroes exist in many different ways, and stories about them are still captivating. Below are some helpful superhero writing prompts:
- Write a story about a superhero who is hot-tempered. Explore how this trait affects the superhero’s way of saving lives.
- Imagine a group of scientists trying to experiment with a superhero’s antibodies.
- Visualize a scenario where a superhero was wrongfully accused killing a victim whom he tried to save from the real villains.
- Consider a scene where the current hero dies, and the world needs another. How would another superhero rise up?
- Write a story about a hero with claustrophobia who has to rescue a significant person from an enclosed space.
- A superhero is in a dilemma whether to save a loved one or save the majority. If the hero saves her loved one, the majority dies and vice versa.
- Suppose a superhero discovers telekinesis one day when he is almost kidnapped. How did he discover it and is he able to use it to save himself?
- Weave a story where the black sheep of a family turns out to be the greatest superhero of this generation.
- Create a story where the villain is the superhero’s first love. The superhero is still in love with her and which makes being a superhero incredibly difficult.
- Put together a narrative writing where the superhero is an alien who assumed a human body to protect the people of Earth.
- Write about how the superhero’s allergies are triggered whenever he goes to different places to save people.
Narrative writing can be challenging especially if you are not inspired. However, we can draw from various events, experiences, even people we connect with in life to glean some personal narrative prompts to a start a basic short story and perhaps progress into a full length novel.
If you find yourself stumped, we hope that the narrative writing prompts shared here can help you improve the writing skills of your students or inspire you to pick up your pen or tap on your keyboard to start writing on what may be your bestselling work.