The Difference Between A Narrative And Descriptive Essay: An Academic Manual


There are very many different types of essays all distinct by the way they are written and the content they have in them. The format is usually the same for all of them: the introduction, content and the conclusion in the end. However, the definitive factor is what the message they convey. In this case, narrative ones usually contain the story of how an event or experience unfolded while descriptive ones usually are aimed at creating a vivid picture of a character, place or object.

The differences between the two include the following;

  1. Introduction
  2. Descriptive paper introductions touch directly on what the subject to be discussed in the whole paper. The reader can definitely guess what to expect from treading the rest of the paper. On the other hand, narrative essays are built on suspense and as such don’t really reveal what to expect in the paper. The reader has to go down further to grasp an idea of what the paper is about.

  3. Point of view
  4. Narrative ones are written in the first person. This is obviously because they involve the narration of a personal experience from the writer and as such the writer is inside the story. Descriptive ones are written in the third person as they involve the writer describing another person, place or object. However, in some cases it can take the first person. This is of course when the paper is about describing yourself.

  5. Paragraph structure
  6. Narratives can have two one sentence paragraphs while descriptive papers have relatively longer paragraphs with each containing a unique description of the character. There is also more use of dialogue in narrative papers than descriptive papers.

  7. Conclusion
  8. The concluding part in a narrative can be as short as a sentence and mainly mentions a lesson learnt. On the other hand, descriptive essay conclusions are quite long and most of the time echo the impact of the described person to the writer.

  9. Overall structure and technique
  10. Descriptive essays are presented in a chronological manner so that there is a consistent sensible flow of events. The writer can employ the use of time features such as foreshadow and flashbacks regularly in the writing. This is however not the case in the other as the descriptions need not follow an order as they are factual and need no wide explanation.


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