30 Narrative Writing Examples to Elevate Your Writing

In this guide, I’ll share 30 examples that have not only influenced my work but have the power to elevate yours, too.

These are snippets of made-up stories, each demonstrating a key aspect of storytelling.

Read through these narrative writing examples to find the ones that speak to you.

Classic Literature

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Colorful collage of symbols representing diverse narrative genres -- narrative writing examples
I made this image — narrative writing examples

As we explore classic literature, let’s consider how historical narrative writing examples have shaped our understanding of effective storytelling.

1. The Whispering Woods

“In the heart of the Whispering Woods, where the leaves spoke secrets to those who would listen, Elizabeth found her courage. It was in the gentle sway of the ancient trees, in the soft murmur of the wind, that her true purpose whispered back to her.”

Why it Works: This example draws on descriptive language and setting to immerse the reader in the story. Classic literature often relies on rich, evocative descriptions to create a vivid mental picture and evoke emotions.

2. The Last Candle

“Thomas stood before the last candle, its flame dancing like the hopes within him. Around him, darkness threatened to consume everything. With a steady hand, he lit the candle, a defiant beacon in the night.”

Why it Works: The symbolism of the candle’s light against darkness reflects the character’s internal struggle. Classic narratives frequently use such symbols to convey deeper meanings and themes.

3. A Duel of Wits

“Under the watchful eyes of the gathered crowd, Eleanor and her adversary circled each other. Words were their weapons, sharp and ready. ‘Your move,’ she taunted, her voice a melody of confidence.”

Why it Works: This example showcases dialogue as a narrative tool. In classic literature, dialogue often serves to reveal character, advance the plot, and create tension.

Contemporary Fiction

Moving into contemporary fiction, it’s fascinating to see how modern narrative writing examples push the boundaries of traditional storytelling.

4. The City that Never Sleeps

“Jamie navigated the neon-lit streets of the city, each step echoing the rhythm of a world that never paused. Here, in the heart of chaos, he found his peace, a paradox as complex as the city itself.”

Why it Works: Contemporary fiction thrives on the contrast and contradictions of modern life. This example uses the setting and the protagonist’s internal reflection to highlight the complexity of urban existence.

5. Echoes of the Past

“Sarah stood at the edge of the abandoned house, the past and present blurring into one. She could hear the echoes of laughter, the remnants of memories long faded but never forgotten.”

Why it Works: Contemporary narratives often explore themes of memory, identity, and the passage of time. This snippet uses sensory details and introspection to delve into these themes.

6. Crossroads

“Mark found himself at a crossroads, literal and metaphorical. To the left, the road to his past. To the right, an uncertain future. With a deep breath, he stepped forward, choosing the path less traveled.”

Why it Works: The use of a crossroads as a motif effectively illustrates the protagonist’s dilemma and moment of decision. Contemporary fiction frequently employs such motifs to represent pivotal moments in the characters’ lives.

Nonfiction Narratives

In this section on nonfiction narratives, we’ll look at how real-life narrative writing examples can be just as compelling as fiction.

7. The Unseen Journey

“Amidst the chaos of war, Dr. Ellis found solace in the small acts of kindness that went unnoticed by the many but meant the world to the few. Her journal entries, a testament to the human spirit, painted a vivid picture of resilience.”

Why it Works: Nonfiction narratives often rely on personal anecdotes to highlight broader themes. This example illustrates how individual stories can reflect universal truths about resilience and humanity.

8. Echoes from the Summit

“Reaching the summit after a grueling climb, Alex looked out over the world below, realizing the mountain was not just a physical challenge but a metaphor for his own personal struggles and triumphs.”

Why it Works: By weaving together personal achievement with introspection, this snippet showcases the reflective quality that makes nonfiction narratives compelling. It highlights the journey, both literal and metaphorical, as a source of insight.

9. The Heart of the City

“In the heart of the city, there was an old bookstore that had witnessed the ebb and flow of generations. Its owner, Mrs. Green, had stories that encapsulated the essence of the city’s soul, tales of love, loss, and rebirth.”

Why it Works: This narrative captures the essence of place and history through the eyes of an individual. Nonfiction narratives excel in bringing to life the stories of places and people, making them relatable and real.

Science Fiction & Fantasy

 futuristic sci-fi city
I made this image – futuristic sci-fi city for narrative writing examples

Our dive into science fiction and fantasy will highlight narrative writing examples that transport readers to entirely new worlds.

10. The Last Starship

“As the last starship prepared to leave Earth, Captain Vega reflected on the journey ahead. Humanity’s hope rested on their shoulders, a new beginning among the stars, where the rules of reality were yet to be written.”

Why it Works: Science fiction narratives like this one expand the imagination to explore what could be. They blend scientific principles with creative speculation, offering a vision of future possibilities and ethical dilemmas.

11. The Forest of Illusions

“In the Forest of Illusions, reality bent and twisted like the ancient trees. Aria, the realm’s guardian, navigated the ever-changing paths, her magic the only light in the darkness, guiding those lost back to truth.”

Why it Works: Fantasy narratives invite readers into worlds where magic is real and moral codes are tested. This example uses the setting and magical elements to create a sense of mystery and adventure.

12. Between Worlds

“Trapped between worlds, Leo discovered a realm where time flowed differently, and every moment was a lifetime. Here, he learned the true value of time, each second a precious gift not to be wasted.”

Why it Works: This snippet explores the theme of time, a common motif in science fiction and fantasy. It challenges readers to think about the nature of time and existence, showcasing the genre’s ability to question reality.

Mystery & Thriller

This mystery and thriller category (one of my personal favorites) will showcase narrative writing examples that masterfully build suspense and intrigue.

13. The Shadow on Elm Street

“As the fog settled on Elm Street, Detective Harper’s instincts told her the quiet was deceptive. The shadow lurking in the mist held secrets, secrets that could unravel the tranquility of this small town.”

Why it Works: Mystery narratives thrive on suspense and the gradual unveiling of secrets. This example sets up an atmosphere of tension and anticipation, essential elements for a gripping mystery.

14. The Forgotten Code

“Inside the dusty library, an ancient code hidden in a forgotten manuscript awaited discovery. Sam, a cryptologist with a penchant for puzzles, found himself entangled in a historical mystery that could change the world.”

Why it Works: The allure of uncovering hidden truths and solving puzzles is at the heart of thriller narratives. This snippet combines history, mystery, and technology, highlighting the genre’s ability to intertwine various elements to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

15. Echoes of Betrayal

“In a world where trust was currency, Lena found the cost of betrayal was higher than she could have imagined. The echoes of her choices reverberated, leading her down a path of suspense and revelation.”

Why it Works: This narrative example showcases the psychological depth and complexity of characters in mystery and thriller stories, emphasizing the consequences of actions and the intricate web of human relationships.

Children’s Stories

For children’s stories, examining narrative writing examples helps us understand how to craft tales that captivate young minds.

16. The Adventures of Wobbly Bob

“Wobbly Bob was a penguin with a sense of adventure larger than himself. Despite his wobbly stance, he dreamed of flying. With the help of his friends, Bob discovered that true courage meant trying, no matter the odds.”

Why it Works: Children’s stories often carry messages of resilience, friendship, and the importance of dreams. This example uses a relatable character and a simple plot to convey life lessons in an engaging and accessible way for young readers.

17. The Magic Paintbrush

“Lily’s paintbrush was no ordinary tool; it was a gateway to worlds born from her imagination. Each stroke was a leap into another adventure, teaching her that creativity was the most powerful magic of all.”

Why it Works: This example emphasizes the power of imagination and creativity, fundamental themes in children’s literature. It encourages young readers to explore their own creativity and the endless possibilities it brings.

18. The Tale of the Timid Turtle

“Timmy, the timid turtle, preferred the safety of his shell. But when his friends needed him, Timmy discovered bravery wasn’t about the absence of fear, but the will to overcome it.”

Why it Works: Through the journey of a relatable character, this story teaches children about bravery and self-confidence. Children’s narratives excel in delivering moral lessons through simple, compelling storytelling.

Young Adult (YA) Fiction

A group of young people in a colorful city
I made this image — Young Adult Narrative Examples

Narrative writing examples in this genre often tackle complex themes relatable to a younger audience.

19. Shadows of Tomorrow

“In a dystopian world, Zoe’s ability to see glimpses of the future branded her an outcast. Yet, this very gift could be the key to saving her people. Amidst chaos, she found her strength and destiny.”

Why it Works: YA fiction often explores themes of identity, belonging, and transformation. This example combines the struggles of growing up with fantastical elements, resonating with the genre’s target audience through an empowering narrative.

20. Echoes of the Heart

“Faced with the turmoil of first love, Alex navigated his feelings for Jamie through a series of letters never meant to be sent. Each word was a step towards understanding his heart’s true echo.”

Why it Works: This narrative captures the intensity and confusion of young love, a central theme in YA fiction. It highlights the genre’s ability to delve into the emotional and psychological development of its characters.

21. The Rebel of Riverdale

“Cassie wasn’t just any student at Riverdale High; she was a voice for the voiceless, a rebel with a cause. Her fight against injustice didn’t just change the school—it changed her.”

Why it Works: This example reflects YA fiction’s engagement with social issues and the journey towards self-discovery and advocacy. It demonstrates how personal growth and societal change can intertwine in compelling narratives.

Horror & Gothic Tales

Our exploration of horror and gothic tales includes narrative writing examples that excel in creating atmosphere and tension.

22. The Whispering Hallways

“In the depths of the night, the hallways of the old mansion whispered with voices of the past. Clara, drawn by curiosity, discovered that some doors, once opened, reveal truths better left hidden.”

Why it Works: Horror narratives excel in creating an atmosphere of suspense and fear, often through the supernatural or the unknown. This example uses setting and mood to build tension, playing on the reader’s fear of what lies beyond the known.

23. The Shadow Beneath the Moon

“Under the full moon’s eerie glow, the shadow moved against the laws of nature, a formless dread that stalked Ethan. The truth of its origin was as horrifying as its intent.”

Why it Works: Gothic tales often blend the horror of the supernatural with psychological depth. This snippet illustrates the genre’s power to evoke terror not just from external threats but from the internal struggle with the unknown.

24. The Curse of the Black Rose

“The Black Rose, once a symbol of unyielding love, became a curse for those who dared to love too deeply. Amelia’s discovery of its legend entwined her fate with a history of darkness and despair.”

Why it Works: Horror and gothic narratives frequently explore themes of curses and doomed love. This example uses a symbolic object to drive the narrative, intertwining the protagonist’s fate with the supernatural.

Romance Novels

Let’s explore narrative writing examples that make our hearts flutter and our minds race with the possibilities of love.

25. Echoes of Love

“In a small town where everyone knew your name, Julia and Michael’s love story unfolded, defying odds and expectations. Their love, echoing through the streets, proved that true connections could break barriers.”

Why it Works: Romance narratives focus on the development of relationships, often overcoming obstacles to love. This example highlights the genre’s emphasis on emotional depth and the power of love to transcend circumstances.

26. The Dance of Hearts

“At the annual masquerade ball, hidden behind masks of pretense, Elizabeth and Alexander’s paths crossed. The dance floor became their world, where unspoken desires and truths danced in the shadows.”

Why it Works: This snippet captures the romantic and mysterious allure of hidden identities and forbidden love, common themes in romance novels that heighten the tension and emotional engagement of the reader.

27. Letters to a Stranger

“Through a series of letters to a stranger, Emma found herself pouring out her heart, finding solace and understanding in an unexpected connection. What started as words on a page blossomed into an unbreakable bond.”

Why it Works: The slow build of a relationship through letters showcases the romance genre’s ability to explore the growth of love and intimacy over time, emphasizing emotional depth and the transformative power of love.

Historical Fiction

We’re about to uncover narrative writing examples that breathe life into the whispers of the past, making history dance vividly in our present imagination.

28. The Painter of the Revolution

“In the turmoil of the revolution, Jeanne’s art became a beacon of hope and defiance. Through her paintings, the story of a nation’s struggle for freedom was etched in colors and shadows, a testament to the indomitable human spirit.”

Why it Works: Historical fiction allows readers to explore past eras through the eyes of its characters. This example illustrates how personal stories can illuminate broader historical events, blending facts with the emotional truths of the human experience.

29. The Whispering Sands

“Amidst the shifting sands of time, Mariam found ancient secrets buried beneath the desert. Her journey into the past revealed the interconnectedness of history and destiny, where each grain of sand held stories of old.”

Why it Works: This narrative uses the setting as a character, exploring the mystery and allure of ancient civilizations. Historical fiction often delves into the discovery of the past and its impact on the present, offering a bridge between eras.

30. The Sea Captain’s Promise

“Bound by a promise made in the heat of battle, Captain Ellis sailed the seven seas, his heart tethered to a land he may never see again. His tale, woven through time, spoke of loyalty, love, and the sacrifices of the sea.”

Why it Works: By focusing on the personal dilemmas of historical figures or characters set in a historical context, this example shows how historical fiction can provide insight into the complexities of human nature and the timeless themes of honor, duty, and love.

This video goes over a few additional examples to really help you:

YouTube Video by Ask About Ideas — Narrative Writing Examples

Tips for Narrative Writing

Here are my top tips, honed from 25 years of writing and storytelling, designed to elevate your narrative writing game.

Each tip is a doorway to a new way of thinking about storytelling.

  • The Emotional Compass: Always anchor your narrative in emotion. Whether it’s joy, fear, sadness, or excitement, the emotional journey of your characters is what truly resonates with readers. Make sure every scene, dialogue, and action adds a layer to this emotional landscape.
  • Dialogue Dynamics: Make your dialogue do double duty. Good dialogue reveals character, advances the plot, and adds to the tension or humor of the situation. Each line should feel essential and reflective of the character’s unique voice.
  • Sensory Immersion: Engage all five senses in your descriptions. The more you can immerse your reader in the world of your story through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste, the more vivid and memorable your narrative will become.
  • The Conflict Crucible: Conflict is the heartbeat of narrative. It’s about more than pitting good versus evil. Rather, it’s about the internal and external struggles that drive your characters to grow and change. Every story needs a crucible—moments that test and refine your characters.
  • Memory Mining: Draw from your own experiences to add authenticity and depth to your narratives. Even if you’re writing fantasy or science fiction, the emotions and truths you’ve lived through can bring your story to life in unique ways.
  • The Plot Twist Plow: Don’t be afraid to surprise your readers. A well-timed plot twist can reinvigorate interest and keep the pages turning. However, ensure it’s earned and fits organically within the story’s framework.
  • Character Kaleidoscope: Create characters as diverse and complex as real people. Avoid stereotypes by giving your characters a mix of strengths, weaknesses, goals, and fears that reflect a wide range of human experiences.
  • Setting as a Character: Treat your setting with the same care as your characters. Whether it’s a bustling city or a quiet village, your setting can influence the mood of the story, reflect themes, and affect the plot and characters in meaningful ways.
  • The Revision Revelation: Embrace the revision process as an opportunity to refine and deepen your narrative. The first draft is just the beginning; it’s in revisiting and revising your work that true storytelling emerges.
  • Reader Resonance: Always keep your reader in mind. Craft your narrative to resonate with them, creating moments of connection that transcend the page. Whether through relatable characters, universal themes, or gripping plots, aim to leave a lasting impact.

Final Thoughts: Narrative Writing Examples

The true journey lies in the stories you have yet to write, the characters you have yet to create, and the worlds you have yet to imagine.

Let these examples be your guide, your inspiration, but always strive to find your own path in the vast universe of storytelling. For in the end, it is not just about the stories we tell but about the stories that tell us, shaping who we are and who we aspire to be.

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