From the time you learn how to talk, you have stories to tell.
Faced with a classroom writing assignment, though, you can feel the fog rolling in, hiding all your best personal narrative ideas.
To clear that fog, sometimes, all you need are some simple questions to get started, which is why so many of the personal narrative prompts in this post include them.
- What Are Narrative Prompts?
- 111 Narrative Writing Prompts
- Childhood Narrative Prompts
- Growing Pains Narrative Prompts
- Overcoming Adversity Narrative Prompts
- Parents and Family Narrative Prompts
- Dating and Friendship Narrative Prompts
- Food and Drink Narrative Prompts
- School or Education Narrative Prompts
- Jobs and Career Narrative Prompts
- Morality and Religion Writing Prompts
- Personality Narrative Prompts
- How will you use these narrative writing prompts?
What Are Narrative Prompts?
Narrative prompts get you started telling parts of your own story. You won’t tell it all at once, but what you share in each narrative will answer a question or expand on an idea. And your readers will have a better idea of who you are and how you think.
Here are some possible sources for personal narrative questions:
- Dating questions
- Relationship questions
- Job interview questions
- “Never have I ever” questions
- “Would you rather” questions
So, if you’re wondering, “What are good personal narrative topics?” think of the questions you’ve been asked that got you writing so quickly your fingers could barely keep up.
The following list should jog some memories and provide new ideas for a personal narrative you’ll be happy to share.
111 Narrative Writing Prompts
Look through each category of prompts for the personal narrative topics that trigger a stream of thoughts in your mind. Jot down your ideas as they come.
Childhood Narrative Prompts
What’s your favorite memory from childhood? What impression did it make?
What’s an important memory you only know from others who remember it?
What places from your childhood do you remember most fondly?
Did you have an imaginary friend (or friends)? What were they like?
What was the best gift you remember receiving as a child? Why was it the best?
What were your favorite childhood shows, movies, or games?
Did you ever have a moment in the spotlight? What was it, and did you enjoy it?
What people do you remember most fondly, and when did you last see them?
What actor would play you in a movie based on your life, and why?
What objects tell the story of what you were like as a child?
What was your most precious childhood possession, and why?
Growing Pains Narrative Prompts
Have you ever had to deal with a bully? What did you do?
What have you learned from people of different generations or backgrounds?
What do older generations not understand about yours? How is your life different?
What’s your most embarrassing memory from your teenage years?
What’s your proudest memory from your teenage years, and why?
What was the hardest thing about going through puberty?
When was the first time you asked someone out, and how did it go?
When was the first time someone asked you out (or to a dance)? What did you say?
Did you ever try something you wish you hadn’t? What happened?
What did you learn to be grateful for in your teenage years?
What habit/s did you pick up as a teen that helped you along the way?
Overcoming Adversity Narrative Prompts
Have you had to overcome a childhood disease or injury?
Did you lose someone to disease, a tragic accident, or natural causes?
Were you born with a visible, physical challenge that affected your childhood?
Were you born with an invisible health challenge that affected your childhood?
Have you struggled with a mental health challenge that has affected your life?
Have you had to undergo extensive medical treatment for a health problem?
Have you needed special accommodations in school, work, etc.? Describe them.
Have you experienced discrimination because of gender, race, sexual orientation…?
What are your favorite survival or coping strategies for stress, anxiety, poverty…?
Has financial stress affected your educational, career, or relationship prospects?
What challenges have you overcome? How have you responded to them?
Parents and Family Narrative Prompts
Describe your parents or guardians and their parenting styles?
Describe a favorite memory about growing up with your family?
Are you close to your parents and/or siblings? Are any estranged from you?
What is your racial or ethnic identity, and did your family share that with you?
How have you paid tribute to loved ones you’ve lost?
To which family members did you feel closest growing up? Are you still close?
What hobbies did you pick up from your family? Which do you still have?
How did your family celebrate birthdays or holidays when you were growing up?
If you have in-laws, what is your relationship with them? Are you close with any?
Whom do you trust in your family, and whom do you keep at arm’s length?
Do you talk to your parents (or siblings) about politics or religion? Why or why not?
Dating and Friendship Narrative Prompts
How, when, and where did you meet your first love?
How, when, and where did you meet your first BFF and become friends?
Who were your best childhood friends, and what did you do together?
Have you ever wanted a friend to be more than that? Did you tell them?
Have you ever lost a friend who wanted to belong to a popular group?
Have you ever had to put an end to a one-sided friendship?
Have you ever had to break off a relationship with a toxic person?
When have you told a lie of omission, and how did it affect your relationship?
Has anyone ever spread an unkind rumor about you? What did you do about it?
Have you ever been betrayed by a friend or family member?
When was the last date you had that left you thinking, “More, please”?
Food and Drink Narrative Prompts
What were your favorite foods growing up, and how often could you have them?
What did you usually drink at home, and do you still drink them?
What did you like as a child that you don’t like now?
What did you dislike as a child that you like now?
What is a favorite food splurge, and what do you love about it?
How often do you cook for yourself, and what foods do you usually make?
How often do you cook for others, and what’s the best meal you’ve prepared?
Did you have a favorite birthday dinner or celebratory meal growing up?
What place did alcohol have in your family life, and how did that affect you?
What is your favorite baked good, and who makes the best?
When have you changed your food choices based on something you learned?
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School or Education Narrative Prompts
Who were your favorite teachers in elementary school?
When you graduated high school, what did you want to study in college?
Did you go to college, and what do you remember most about your first year?
When and how did you learn to manage your money?
Could students at your high school talk openly about mental health challenges?
How have Health and Phy Ed classes influenced your body image?
How have Health and Phy Ed classes influenced your attitude toward exercise?
What did you like most or least about the high school you attended?
How did your school’s bullying policy affect you or someone you care about?
Have you ever acted on a dare to earn the respect or admiration of classmates?
When did it hit home for you how different life is for poor vs. rich people?
Jobs and Career Narrative Prompts
When you were in grade school, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What was your first job? How did you get it, and how old were you?
Did you get a job in your chosen field right out of college? If so, how and when?
Do you have a life calling? And if so, is your current job part of it?
What do you hope to be doing within a year of graduating college?
What have you made yourself? And does it relate to your chosen career or calling?
What would you do or create if you had all the funding you could possibly need?
Would you rather work from home or in an office?
Would you rather work as a supervisor, a team member, or a connected hermit?
What have you done to earn money? And what is your favorite way to do so?
Do you have (or think you will have) a career or job you love?
Morality and Religion Writing Prompts
What did you believe as a minor that you no longer believe?
What did you not believe as a minor that you do believe now?
What role does religion play in your life (if any)? Has it ever (not) played a role?
How important is it that your life partner share your religious beliefs? Why?
What ethical or moral dilemmas have you faced? How did you respond?
Have you ever given money to a stranger who asked for it?
Have you ever “paid it forward”? Or has anyone helped you to pay it forward?
How comfortable are you with lying? When have you told a lie and not regretted it?
How do your religious or spiritual beliefs differ from your parents/guardians?
Have you ever looked up to a religious leader only to be disappointed by them?
How would you sum up your view of the afterlife — or your life’s purpose?
Personality Narrative Prompts
What do you think are the biggest strengths of your personality?
What do you think are your greatest weaknesses?
When did you learn you’re an introvert or an extravert?
Is your best friend an introvert or an extravert?
What personality traits do you admire in other people?
What personality traits have gotten you into trouble in the past?
What role does procrastination play in your life?
What is your personal credo or mantra? When or how did you choose it?
When faced with a problem, do you rely more on your head or your heart?
How do you respond to criticism? When have you responded badly?
What motivates you? Are you driven, or do you just go with the flow?
How productive or organized are you? How does your workspace look?
How will you use these narrative writing prompts?
Now that you have over a hundred thought-provoking prompts for your personal narrative, which ones stood out for you? Don’t let us stop you from jotting down the ideas that are crowding your head, waiting for you to let them out.
Get those noisy thoughts down, and spend some time fleshing them out. Allow yourself to picture moments in your past and to remember sensory details. Write those down, too.
If the words you write resonate with you, they’ll likely do the same for your readers.