Difference Between Narrative and Descriptive Essay

Narrative vs Descriptive Essay

Narrative and Descriptive essay are two different types of essay writing, where a clear difference between them can be highlighted in terms of the writer’s objective in compiling the essay. A narrative is usually where a person tells his or her experiences to the reader. This highlights that a narrative allows the reader to immerse in a story that is composed of a sequence of events. But a descriptive essay is quite different from a narrative essay, mainly because it does not engage in relating a story but merely on providing a descriptive account of something or someone to the reader. This is the main difference between a narrative and a descriptive essay. Through this article let us examine the differences between these two types of writing.

What is a Narrative?

A narrative or a narrative essay can be defined as an account of an individual experience. This explains a personal experience that had a significant impact on the individual’s life. It can be of a journey, a special day such as the first day in school, one’s marriage, an unforgettable day, etc. This highlights that through a narrative the individual can express and share something special with the reader. A narrative entails a sequence of events that are often related in chronological order. A narrative can be presented in the first person narration that uses words such as I, myself, me, etc. However, a narrative can be in the third person as well when relating stories. This will have various characters and a specific plot surrounding that story will be built.

A narrative allows the reader to comprehend the point of view, attitudes, perspectives and construction of reality of the narrator. It allows the reader not only to be a part of the experience but also understand the personality of the narrator. In Social Sciences, narratives are usually used as empirical evidence for research purposes as they allow the researcher to understand the subjective experiences of people and also their interpretations of events.

Difference Between Narrative and Descriptive

Narrative is an account of individual experience

What is a Descriptive Essay?

Unlike a narrative essay, a descriptive essay is used for explaining or describing a place, a person, or even an emotion. A writer can use sensory information such as the sight, the sound, touch, smell, and taste of a particular object in order to fully describe something. The diction used for these essays is very extensive and highly descriptive. In some cases, descriptive essays fail to present this totality of sensory information and only confine the description to one or two dimensions. A well-written descriptive essay usually has the potential for building a connection with the reader as it allows the reader to immerse in the described ambiance.

 Narrative vs Descriptive Essay

Descriptive essay describes or explains a place, a person or even an emotion

What is the difference between Narrative and Descriptive Essay?

• Definition:

• A narrative can be defined as an account of an individual personal experience.

• A descriptive essay can be defined as an account that provides a detailed description of a place, a person, or even an emotion.

• Content:

• A Narrative usually relates a story.

• A descriptive essay merely describes something or someone. It does not have a story, but only a highly descriptive account.

• Point of View:

• A narrative mostly uses the first person narration.

• A descriptive essay does not mostly use the first person narration. It functions with the objective of presenting an image of something.

• Action:

• A narrative is full of action as it relates a story. It consists of a sequence of event.

• However, this quality cannot be seen in a descriptive essay.

• Order:

• A narrative follows a logical order since it relates an event or story it goes in a chronological order.

• However, in the case of a descriptive essay, the writer can deviate from this pattern.

• Plot and Characters:

• A narrative has a plot, a number of characters who revolve around this plot and take part in the events of the story.

• In a descriptive essay, there is no plot or characters as in a narrative.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Writing Letter via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Carpathian mountains by AnnetteK (CC BY-SA 3.0)