Descriptive Vs Narrative Essay: Understanding The Difference


Descriptive or narrative essays are the most common assignments for students in composition classes. These two types of academic papers are often considered to be the same, but this is a mistake. Narrative papers tell stories about some events, while descriptive papers create images of places, people, or events. Continue reading this article to learn more about similarities and differences of these papers.

  • A narrative essay.
  • In a narrative paper, an author often tells a story from his or her personal perspective. Stories are usually told in a narrative style, so your paper should also reflect. Topics for this kind of paper are often about your own experience. For example, you may be assigned to write about your first day at a new school, the most interesting holiday in your life, and so on. However, narrative papers aren’t always related to an author’s experience. You may also write a book report where you retell its plot.

  • A descriptive essay.
  • In a descriptive paper, authors often use sensory details like smells, tastes, sounds, and tactile sensations to make a clear description of a person, place, or event. You should create a three-dimensional image of your subject to make your readers see, hear, and feel what you’re describing. Topics for descriptive papers are very different; you may be assigned to write about your room, the strangest animal you’ve ever seen, your best friend, the job of your dream, etc.

  • Similarities of these papers.
  • Both of these academic papers should have a normal essay format that includes an introduction, a few body paragraphs, and a conclusion. A thesis statement should be put at the end of the first paragraph to set the goal for your text. Explain to your readers the reason and importance of your work in your thesis statement. For example, you may write that the topic you’re writing about helped you learn something very significant. In both narrative and descriptive papers, you should follow your thesis statement when supporting your arguments and ideas.

  • Differences of these papers.
  • In a narrative essay, you should tell a story from your own point of view and use such phrases like “I think”, “In my opinion”, and so on. In a descriptive paper, you should be objective in your writing. Also, narrative papers often include actions, while descriptive papers do not. A narrative paper follows a strict chronological order, while a descriptive paper doesn’t contain any time elements and uses other factors to tell about its subject.