Biographical Narrative Essay Prompts 9th

In a narrative essay you tell a story, often about a personal experience, but you also make a point. So, the purpose is not only to tell an entertaining tale but also show the reason for the story and the importance of the experience.    

Narrative Essays: To Tell a Story

There are four types of essays:

  • Exposition - gives factual information about various topics to the reader. 
  • Description - describes in colorful detail the characteristics and traits of a person, place, or thing. 
  • Argument - convinces the reader by demonstrating the truth or falsity of a topic. 
  • Narrative - tells a vivid story, usually from one person’s viewpoint.

A narrative essay uses all the story elements - a beginning, middle and ending, plot, characters, setting and climax - all coming together to complete the story.

Essential Elements of Narrative Essays

The focus of a narrative essay is the plot, which is told using enough details to build to a climax. Here's how:

  • It is usually told chronologically.
  • It has a purpose, which is usually stated in the opening sentence.
  • It may use dialogue.
  • It is written with sensory details and bright descriptions to involve the reader. All these details relate in some way to the main point the writer is making.

All of these elements need to seamlessly combine. A few examples of narrative essays follow. Narrative essays can be quite long, so here only the beginnings of essays are included:

Learning Can Be Scary

This excerpt about learning new things and new situations is an example of a personal narrative essay that describes learning to swim.

“Learning something new can be a scary experience. One of the hardest things I've ever had to do was learn how to swim. I was always afraid of the water, but I decided that swimming was an important skill that I should learn. I also thought it would be good exercise and help me to become physically stronger. What I didn't realize was that learning to swim would also make me a more confident person.
New situations always make me a bit nervous, and my first swimming lesson was no exception. After I changed into my bathing suit in the locker room, I stood timidly by the side of the pool waiting for the teacher and other students to show up. After a couple of minutes the teacher came over. She smiled and introduced herself, and two more students joined us. Although they were both older than me, they didn't seem to be embarrassed about not knowing how to swim. I began to feel more at ease.”

The Manager. The Leader.

The following excerpt is a narrative essay about a manager who was a great leader. Notice the intriguing first sentence that captures your attention right away.

“Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, 'If I were any better, I would be twins!' He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.”

The Climb

This excerpt from The Climb also captures your attention right away by creating a sense of mystery. The reader announces that he or she has "this fear" and you want to read on to see what that fear is.

“I have this fear. It causes my legs to shake. I break out in a cold sweat. I start jabbering to anyone who is nearby. As thoughts of certain death run through my mind, the world appears a precious, treasured place. I imagine my own funeral, then shrink back at the implications of where my thoughts are taking me. My stomach feels strange. My palms are clammy. I am terrified of heights. Of course, it’s not really a fear of being in a high place. Rather, it is the view of a long way to fall, of rocks far below me and no firm wall between me and the edge. My sense of security is screamingly absent. There are no guardrails, flimsy though I picture them, or other safety devices. I can rely only on my own surefootedness—or lack thereof.”

Disneyland

The following narrative essay involves a parent reflecting on taking his kids to Disneyland for the first time.

“It was a hot, sunny day, when I finally took my kids to the Disneyland. My son Matthew and my daughter Audra endlessly asked me to show them the dreamland of many children, with Mickey Mouse and Snow White walking by and arousing a huge portion of emotions. Somehow these fairy-tale creatures can make children happy without such 'small' presents as $100 Lego or a Barbie house with six rooms and garden furniture. Therefore, I thought that Disneyland was a good invention for loving parents.”

The Sacred Grove of Oshogbo by Jeffrey Tayler

The following essay contains descriptive language that helps to paint a vivid picture for the reader of an interesting encounter.

“As I passed through the gates I heard a squeaky voice. A diminutive middle-aged man came out from behind the trees — the caretaker. He worked a toothbrush-sized stick around in his mouth, digging into the crevices between algae'd stubs of teeth. He was barefoot; he wore a blue batik shirt known as a buba, baggy purple trousers, and an embroidered skullcap. I asked him if he would show me around the shrine. Motioning me to follow, he spat out the results of his stick work and set off down the trail.”

Playground Memory

This excerpt from “Playground Memory” has very good sensory details.

“Looking back on a childhood filled with events and memories, I find it rather difficult to pick on that leaves me with the fabled “warm and fuzzy feelings.” As the daughter of an Air Force Major, I had the pleasure of traveling across America in many moving trips. I have visited the monstrous trees of the Sequoia National Forest, stood on the edge of the Grande Canyon and have jumped on the beds at Caesar’s Palace in Lake Tahoe. However, I have discovered that when reflecting on my childhood, it is not the trips that come to mind, instead there are details from everyday doings; a deck of cards, a silver bank or an ice cream flavor. One memory that comes to mind belongs to a day of no particular importance. It was late in the fall in Merced, California on the playground of my old elementary school; an overcast day with the wind blowing strong. I stood on the blacktop, pulling my hoodie over my ears. The wind was causing miniature tornados; we called them “dirt devils”, to swarm around me.”

Christmas Cookies

This excerpt from “Christmas Cookies” makes good use of descriptive language.

“Although I have grown up to be entirely inept at the art of cooking, as to make even the most wretched chef ridicule my sad baking attempts, my childhood would have indicated otherwise; I was always on the countertop next to my mother’s cooking bowl, adding and mixing ingredients that would doubtlessly create a delicious food. When I was younger, cooking came intrinsically with the holiday season, which made that time of year the prime occasion for me to unite with ounces and ounces of satin dark chocolate, various other messy and gooey ingredients, numerous cooking utensils, and the assistance of my mother to cook what would soon be an edible masterpiece. The most memorable of the holiday works of art were our Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, which my mother and I first made when I was about six and are now made annually.”  

Tips on Writing a Narrative Essay

When writing a narrative essay, remember that you are sharing sensory and emotional details with the reader.

  • Your words need to be vivid and colorful to help the reader feel the same feelings that you felt.
  • Elements of the story need to support the point you are making and you need to remember to make reference to that point in the first sentence.
  • You should make use of conflict and sequence like in any story.
  • You may use flashbacks and flash forwards to help the story build to a climax.
  • It is usually written in the first person, but third person may also be used.

Remember, a well-written narrative essay tells a story and also makes a point.

Do you have a good example to share? Add your example here.

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Narrative Essay Examples

By YourDictionary

In a narrative essay you tell a story, often about a personal experience, but you also make a point. So, the purpose is not only to tell an entertaining tale but also show the reason for the story and the importance of the experience.    

Ninth and Tenth Grade Writing Standards

Writing standards for ninth and tenth grades define the knowledge and skills needed for writing proficiency at these grade levels. By understanding 9th and 10th grade writing standards, parents can be more effective in helping their children meet grade level expectations.

What is 9th and 10th Grade Writing?
In grades nine and ten, students plan, draft, and complete written compositions on a regular basis. Ninth grade and tenth grade students practice all forms of writing and are expected to produce error-free essays that demonstrate their awareness of audience and purpose. Students edit their essays for clarity, engaging language, and the correct use of the conventions and mechanics of standard American English. An emphasis is placed on writing coherent and focused essays that convey a well-defined perspective and tightly reasoned argument.

What Writing Standards Measure
Academic standards are very specific, detailing every aspect of what students are expected to learn in each grade. Organized into five key areas, writing standards focus on: writing process, writing purposes (what students write), writing evaluation, writing conventions (grammar, usage, and mechanics), and research/inquiry for writing. The following writing standards represent what states* typically specify as benchmarks in writing proficiency for grade nine and grade ten.

Grades 9 and 10: Writing Process
Writing standards for all grades focus on the writing process as the primary tool to help students become independent writers. In grades 9 and 10, students are expected to use each phase of the process as follows:

  • Prewriting: 9th and 10th graders use prewriting strategies to generate ideas, develop voice, and plan their writing. Students generate ideas from multiple sources (e.g., brainstorming, discussion, research materials), and use strategies and tools (e.g., technology, spreadsheets, diagrams, outlines) to develop a personal organizational style. Students make a plan for writing that addresses purpose, audience, controlling idea, logical sequence, and a timeframe for completion.
  • Drafting: Typical 9th grade curriculum will expect students to develop drafts, alone and collaboratively, by organizing and reorganizing content. Drafts establish a controlling thesis that conveys a clear and distinctive perspective on the subject and employ a logical organizational pattern with substantial and relevant supporting details. In ninth and tenth grades, students are expected to maintain a consistent tone and focus and use precise language, action verbs, sensory details, appropriate modifiers, and the active rather than the passive voice. Students analyze the language techniques of professional authors, (e.g., figurative language, denotation, connotation), to establish a personal style, demonstrating a command of language with confidence of expression.
  • Revising: In 9th grade and 10th grade, students revise selected drafts by improving the logic and coherence of the organization and controlling perspective, and developing meaningful relationships among ideas. Other revision techniques used by ninth- and tenth-graders include checking the accuracy of supporting details, (e.g., facts, statistics, expert opinions, definitions) and working on the precision of word choice, voice, and tone to suit the occasion, audience, and purpose.
  • Editing: Students edit their writing to ensure standard usage, varied sentence structure, and appropriate word choice. Ninth- and tenth graders also proofread for appropriateness of organization, content, style, and language conventions, using resources and reference materials (e.g., dictionary, thesaurus).
  • Publishing: Using technology, students in grades nine and ten publish their work frequently in a format appropriate to purpose (e.g., for display, multimedia). Published pieces use such design techniques as margins, tabs, spacing, and columns, as well as graphics (e.g., drawings, charts, graphs).

Use of technology: Ninth grade and tenth grade students use advanced publishing software and graphic programs to support aspects of creating, revising, editing, and publishing texts.

Grades 9 and 10: Writing Purposes
In grades nine and ten, students write in a variety of forms for various audiences and purposes (e.g., to explain, inform, analyze, entertain, reflect, persuade). Students exercise the rhetorical strategies of narration, exposition, persuasion, and description to produce essays of at least 1,500 words each. Specifically, writing standards for 9th and 10th grades stipulate that students write in the following forms:

  • Narrative/Creative: Ninth and tenth grade students write in a variety of narrative, expressive, and reflective forms, including biographical and autobiographical narratives and short stories. In narrative essays, students relate a sequence of events and communicate the significance of the events through concrete sensory details (e.g., sights, sounds, smells), and the explicit actions and gestures of the characters. Ninth- and tenth-graders develop the plot or events further by creating dialogue and interior monologues to depict the characters’ feelings and locating scenes and incidents in specific places. Students are expected to use literary devices and make effective use of descriptions of appearance, images, shifting perspectives, and sensory details. In addition, students learn to pace the presentation of actions to accommodate changes in time and mood.
  • Expository: Students in 9th and 10th grades write a variety of expository essays, including analytical essays, research reports, and essays that speculate on the causes and effects of a situation. Students assemble evidence in support of a thesis, including information on all relevant claims and perspectives, and compose introductory, body, and concluding paragraphs. Expository essays in these grades should address readers’ potential misunderstandings, biases, and expectations, and make distinctions between the relative value and significance of specific data, facts, and ideas. In writing expository essays, ninth- and tenth-graders are expected to convey information and technical terms from primary and secondary sources, accurately and coherently, as well as integrate quotations and citations into the text while maintaining the flow of ideas. Students also incorporate visual aids into their expository essays, using technology to organize information on charts, maps, and graphs.
  • Persuasive: Students in ninth and tenth grades learn how to write persuasive essays that structure ideas and arguments in a sustained and logical fashion. Persuasive essays in these grades should use specific rhetorical devices to support assertions (e.g., appeal to logic through reasoning; appeal to emotion or ethical belief; relate a personal anecdote, case study, or analogy). Ninth- and tenth-graders are expected to clarify and defend positions with precise and relevant evidence, including facts, expert opinions, quotations, and expressions of commonly accepted beliefs and logical reasoning. Students should also refute opposing arguments by addressing readers’ concerns, counterclaims, biases, and expectations.
  • Responses to Literature: Ninth and tenth grade students are expected to demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of the significant ideas of literary works. Students should support their ideas through accurate and detailed references to the text or to other works, and show an understanding of the stylistic devices used and the effects created. Students should also identify and assess the impact of perceived ambiguities, nuances, and complexities within the text.
  • Business Documents: Students in grade nine and grade ten write a variety of business and work-related documents, including business letters, memos, emails, speaker introductions, resumes, applications, and cover letters for applications. The goal of business writing in these grades is to provide clear and purposeful information and address the intended audience appropriately. Students strive to highlight central ideas and pay attention to vocabulary, tone, and style by considering the nature of the relationship with, and the knowledge and interests of the recipient. Ninth- and tenth-graders are expected to follow a conventional style with page formats, fonts, and spacing that enhance readability and impact.
  • Technical Documents: 9th and 10th graders write technical documents (e.g., how-to-manuals, procedures, assembly directions, meeting minutes) with the goal of reporting information and conveying ideas logically and correctly. Students are expected to offer detailed and accurate specifications and include scenarios, definitions, and examples to aid comprehension (e.g., a troubleshooting guide). Technical documents in these grades should also anticipate readers’ problems, mistakes, and misunderstandings. Ninth- and tenth-graders may also be asked to write detailed travel directions and design an accompanying graphic using the cardinal and ordinal directions, landmarks, streets and highways, and distances.

Grades 9 and 10: Writing Evaluation
Ninth and tenth grade students evaluate the writing of others, as well as their own writing. Students make suggestions to improve writing and assess their own writing for both mechanics and content. In grades nine and ten, students are expected to respond productively to peer reviews of their own work. Writing standards recommend that each student keep and review a collection of his/her own written work to determine its strengths and weaknesses and to set goals as a writer.

Grades 9 and 10: Written English Language Conventions
Students in ninth and tenth grades are expected to produce legible work that shows a command of standard English conventions, including accurate spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. In particular, writing standards for grades nine and ten specify these key markers of proficiency:

Sentence Structure
—Understand sentence construction, including parallel structure, subordination, and proper placement of modifiers.
—Compose increasingly more involved sentences that contain clauses (e.g., main and subordinate) and phrases (e.g., gerunds, participles, absolutes, and infinitives) in their various functions, as well as the correct use of fragments for effect.

Grammar and Mechanics
—Exhibit proper English usage and control of grammar, paragraph structure and sentence structure, diction, and syntax.
—Demonstrate control over grammatical elements such as subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, consistency of verb tenses, comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs, and possessives.
—Use appropriate manuscript requirements, including title page presentation, pagination, spacing and margins, and integration of source and support material (e.g., in-text citation, use of direct quotations, paraphrasing) with appropriate citations.

Punctuation
—Identify and correctly use the mechanics of punctuation, including commas, colons, semicolons, apostrophes, hyphens, quotation marks, italics or underscoring, and ellipses.

Capitalization
—Ninth- and tenth-graders pay particular attention to capitalization of names of academic courses and proper adjectives.

Spelling
— Use knowledge of spelling rules, orthographic patterns, generalizations, prefixes, suffixes, and roots, including Greek, Latin, and Anglo-Saxon root words.
—Understand foreign words commonly used in English (e.g., laissez faire, croissant).

Penmanship
—Students use fluent and legible handwriting skills.

Grades 9 and 10: Research and Inquiry
In ninth and tenth grades, students use appropriate research methodology and a variety of print and electronic sources to gather information for writing research papers and other compositions. Students use writing as a research and learning tool in the following ways:

  • Use writing to discover, organize, and support what is known and what needs to be learned about a topic.
  • Use clear research questions and suitable research methods (e.g., library, electronic media, personal interview) to elicit and present evidence from primary and secondary sources.
  • Synthesize information from multiple sources and identify complexities and discrepancies in the information and the different perspectives found in each medium (e.g., almanacs, microfiche, news sources, in-depth field studies, speeches, journals, technical documents).
  • Represent information in a variety of ways such as graphics, conceptual maps, and learning logs.
  • Use appropriate conventions for documentation in the text, notes, and bibliographies by adhering to those in style manuals (e.g., Modern Language Association Handbook, The Chicago Manual of Style).
  • Analyze strategies that writers in different fields use to compose.
  • Use writing as a study tool to clarify and remember information.

Ninth and Tenth Grade Writing Tests
In many states, students in grades nine and ten take standardized writing assessments, either with pencil and paper or on a computer. While tests vary, students are typically given questions about grammar and mechanics, as well as timed essay-writing exercises in which they must write an essay in response to a writing prompt. On 9th and 10th grade essay writing tests, students demonstrate their ability to produce an effective composition for a specific purpose, as well as their command of the conventions of spelling, capitalization, punctuation, grammar, usage, and sentence structure.

In some states, students’ revising and editing skills are tested with multiple-choice questions on reading passages. Students are asked to indicate how a particular sentence might be corrected or improved or how the organization or development of a paragraph might be strengthened. Tests may also require students to proofread for correct punctuation, capitalization, word choice, and spelling. Another type of question asks students to write a summary statement in response to a reading passage. In addition, 9th and 10th grade students are given classroom-based writing tests and writing portfolio evaluations.

State writing assessments are correlated to state writing standards. These standards-based tests measure what students know in relation to what they’ve been taught. If students do well on school writing assignments, they should do well on such a test. Educators consider standards-based tests to be the most useful as these tests show how each student is meeting grade-level expectations. These assessments are designed to pinpoint where each student needs improvement and help teachers tailor instruction to fit individual needs. State departments of education usually include information on writing standards and writing assessments on their websites, including testing guidelines and sample questions.

Writing Test Preparation
The best writing test preparation in ninth and tenth grades consists of encouraging your student to write, raising awareness of the written word, and offering guidance on writing homework.  Parents should help students know what to expect in 10th grade assessments by talking about writing and sharing appropriate articles and books with them. Students learn to write effectively when they write more often. Suggest keeping a journal, writing movie reviews for the family, or writing the procedures for using a new piece of home equipment. Any writing is valuable practice. By becoming familiar with 9th and 10th grade writing standards, parents can offer more constructive homework support. Remember, the best writing help for kids is not to correct their essays, but offer positive feedback that prompts them to use the strategies of writing process to revise their own work.

Time4Writing Online Writing Courses Support 9th and 10th Grade Writing Standards
Time4Writing is an excellent complement to ninth and tenth grade writing curriculums. Developed by classroom teachers, Time4Writing targets the fundamentals of writing. Students build writing skills and deepen their understanding of the writing process by working on standard-based, grade-appropriate writing tasks under the individual guidance of a certified teacher.

Writing on a computer inspires many students, even reluctant writers. Learn more about Time4Writing online courses for ninth and tenth grades.

For more information about general learning objectives for high school students including math and English, please visit Time4Learning.com.

*K-12 writing standards are defined by each state. Time4Writing relies on a representative sampling of state writing standards, notably from Florida, Texas, and California, as well as on the standards published by nationally recognized education organizations, such as the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association.


You’ve been exploring the writing standards for ninth and tenth grade. To view the writing standards for other grade levels, use one of the following links:

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