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How to Write a Narrative Poem

Updated on February 23, 2008

Narrative Poetry

A narrative poem is one that tells a story. It can be short or long. It can rhyme with a set pattern or without; it doesn't doesn't have to rhyme, though. It can have a set meter or be a little varied. Narrative poems don't follow too many rules, except that they must tell a story.

Although there are few rules to narrative poetry, most narrative poems to include meter, iambs, and rhymes to help create a more aesthetic picture.

Common narrative poems include epics, ballads, and idylls.

Famous narrative poems include The Divine Comedy by Dante, The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer, and The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Book of Narrative Poems

Tips to Writing a Narrative Poem

  1. Think of your main character, whether it will be a person or an animal- most narratives focus on a living being. And, write a small statement of mini paragraph about the character.
  2. Start with a general outline of the poem. What do you want to happen to the character throughout the poem?
  3. Choose an event to start the poem. You can't just start all willy nilly. The event will help you portray the perfect feel, thought, and image to your poem. If you have a specific idea that you want to say, having the perfect event will help you get across your words.
  4. Once you know where you want to go with your poem, start writing.

Once writing your narrative poem, try to consider the following tips:

  • The one great thing about poetry, is that it comes from the heart, body, and soul, of the poet. No poem is wrong, and no poet is wrong for writing the poem.
  • You can portray just about any emotion or idea in a poem, and as long as you know what you want to say, the words tend to follow shortly after.
  • Try to include fact, fiction, and a little personal reality to your poem. You can include various myths to help your narrative poem along, but try not to surround the story with mysticism.
  • Use vivid words and adjectives to help create the picture. As a poet, you don't want to throw away your words to simplicity, such as "The brown dog chased the orange cat." Yes, the image is created, but what shade of brown, did he have spots? Was it a tabby cat? Were they thin, starving strays, or plump house pets?
  • Go bold. Go big!

Example of a Kid's Narrative Poem

Jimmy Goes to the City by Arthur Read from PBS's "Arthur"

Jimmy was a happy ape

Until some hunters caught him

He liked the jungle better than

The city where they brought him

The city was louder

The city was meaner

Even the dirt in the jungle was cleaner

So Jimmy made a daring escape!

The hunters were suddenly minus one ape!

He climbed the tallest building

Because from there he'd see

How far away the jungle was

From the middle of the city.

Jimmy jumped into a passing plane

But the pilot didn't wait for him to explain

Jimmy flew back to the jungle

And told his ape friends in their lair

"The city's okay for a visit

But you couldn't make me live there."

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    • profile image

      skyler 

      3 years ago

      thanks this was very helpful i had no idea what to do becuase my teachers didnt explain it enough you helped me get an A

    • profile image

      yourmom 

      4 years ago

      thanks! this was so much help to me... and it looks like others too! keep up the amazing work.

    • profile image

      Raven 

      5 years ago

      This totally reminded me of king kong it be cool if that's how king kong really went in the writers mind but they decided to highly exaggerate it haha

    • profile image

      Lucie Grandbouche 

      5 years ago

      Very helpful! I have a homework assignment for 50 points and it's to write a narrative poem. This explained everything!

    • profile image

      Alexis 

      6 years ago

      ugggh i have to write one of these, six haikus, 2 lyric poems, 2 free verses, 2 grammar poems, 2 odes, and 1 elegy for 125 points and its due in 2 days -_____- wish me luck /;

    • profile image

      Alicia 

      6 years ago

      This doesn't seem difficult, now, can you convince my English teacher that there is no 'wrong' way to type a narrative poem?

    • profile image

      julia 

      6 years ago

      these poems helped me a lot

    • profile image

      Day&Pam 

      6 years ago

      awesome this really helped me on my assignment ! : )

    • sweetguide profile image

      sweetguide 

      6 years ago from River side

      Really helpful one thanks, dear Whitney05.

    • profile image

      sadie royer 

      6 years ago

      this is great! Merci luv it

    • profile image

      Lydia 

      6 years ago

      Thanks so much. The example was great I've got homework for narrative poems and this was really useful. YOUR AWESOME!!!!!!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Hi, this Hub is a related one to mine that I just wrote on a Grandmother's Endless Love. I like narrative poetry, but am never sure of myself. This Hub has been very helpful to me. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      krissa 

      7 years ago

      thanks for the tips and i learn how to write a narrative poem and i submit my project to my teacher!!!!!!!!!!

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 

      7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      I enjoyed your explanation of a narrative poem and also your silly example! It is fun to travel with creative minds like yours. Thanks.

    • Daniella Lopez profile image

      Danielle Lopez 

      7 years ago from Spain

      Great and informative hub. Voted up!

    • profile image

      stephanie 

      7 years ago

      this is great information.. i'm stuck on how to write a narrative poem in the anglo saxon style.. maybe you can help me? thank you

    • profile image

      mrs mushi 

      7 years ago

      heeeeyyyyy you look like your the one who can help me figure out on doing a narrative poem.well seeing as this is such a good narrative pem i truly think and believe that you should a poem writer well a narrative one anywho.this is really good keep it up

    • profile image

      Rosalindarosa 

      7 years ago

      Thank you i had a hard time writing a Narrative poem, maybe because i was afraid, thanks for the confidence and the lesson. I appreciate you. Now i really understand it. God bless you !

    • profile image

      yasmin 

      7 years ago

      i need ideas for a narritive poem assignment.. can anyone help

      ?

    • profile image

      marieke and jenna 

      7 years ago

      Jenna- I find this was a VERY CUTE poem, It touched me, But it was a bit plain. :P

      Marieke- It was plain, But cute, And Jimmy is a cute name for an ape and I don't think Jimmy would have jumped in the plane.:P

      xoxo Jenna and Marieke :D

    • Rhonda Waits profile image

      Rhonda Musch 

      7 years ago from The Emerald Coast

      Wow this is truly great. Loved It.

      Sweet wishes Rhonda

    • profile image

      Karyme 

      7 years ago

      thanks now i now what i can use for my homework

    • profile image

      Multiman 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for the article it helped me with a performance poem for a slam I am working on.

    • profile image

      Yumna 

      7 years ago

      I'm in grade 8 and I had to write some narrative poetry thing... this helped a lot! (especially the bit that said it doesn't have to rhyme)=D

      Thanks!

    • profile image

      lulu 

      8 years ago

      i had an assignment and i finally got it done

    • profile image

      mimic 

      8 years ago

      This is a good poem,, but not exactly what im looking for, a narrative poem about afro asia is what i need.. but thanks,, i have an idea about my project.

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 

      8 years ago from Australia

      fantastic hub full of great info for those of starting out or picking up the pen for a second time...

      thankyou

    • profile image

      Leaning to write a poem 

      8 years ago

      great poem i think i'll be able to write a narrative now.

    • profile image

      limegreen 

      8 years ago

      awesome helped a lot

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 

      8 years ago from UK

      Great hub

    • profile image

      Stephanie 

      8 years ago

      I have a narrative poem to write and it's sooo hard

    • profile image

      Gwen 

      8 years ago

      i have to write many poems do for an assignment tommorrow i have a good concrete one right now!

    • profile image

      gogobaybi 

      8 years ago

      OMG i have to write a narritive for my homework assignment so hard to write ! ! ! ! !

    • profile image

      Breannahuckaby 

      8 years ago

      well now i now how to write a narrative poem now because of your help (:LOL:)

    • profile image

      goblinterk517 

      8 years ago

      well now i know how to write a narrative poem now thanks im goin to get so much better grades for this subject thanks to you

    • profile image

      britty 

      8 years ago

      thanks... i have to write a narrative poem for english. so, this helped out!

    • profile image

      Kate 

      8 years ago

      I love you!!!! Now I understand what I have to do for homework!!!

    • profile image

      cj 

      8 years ago

      thanks for posting this now i understand how to write a narrative poem for my homework

    • profile image

      Lipstick 

      8 years ago

      nice topic, very helpful

      thanks for posting this

    • Kid Eternity profile image

      Kid Eternity 

      9 years ago from Alabama

      I enjoyed reading this hub a lot Whitney. I was glad to find it.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      9 years ago from USA

      Hi Whitney - A fine article, and I enjoyed reading the NP you used as an example. Gus

    • profile image

      big dog 

      9 years ago

      thanks for the help

      0

    • pinkhawk profile image

      pinkhawk 

      9 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

      wow this is great! :)...thank you ma'am, i really learned something. I'll try this (most of the time i just write without minding the rules and without knowing the type of poem im writing about..just want to write when word dashes-that's it)...thank you very much again for sharing this! :)

    • profile image

      Oscar R. 

      9 years ago

      I loved your poem. Hoped I could write like you one day

    • profile image

      fe#1 

      9 years ago

      This is so cool. I love the poem about jimmy. The kid who wrote that has talent!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Soccerdemon 

      9 years ago

      im still in junior high so i don't rlly know how to write a lot of poems but you helped me a lot thnx

    • profile image

      Rosie Freestone 

      9 years ago

      I loved the poem

    • profile image

      biggie angel 

      9 years ago

      Neat poem...your tips really helped me write an A+ narrative!Thanx!!

    • profile image

      Angel Face 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for the help im usually pretty good at writing and well now that i have to write a poetry book for and asignment im stuck!!!!

    • profile image

      brad86 

      9 years ago

      i cant write a narative poem for my life!!!!! someone please HEEEEEELP me!

    • profile image

      Nick  

      9 years ago

      Ben i feel ya it's hard writing a narrative poem period!! It would probably take me 5 hours to try to write my own without looking at the pcfor inspiration.

    • profile image

      Jess 

      9 years ago

      I love that poem. I am mmore at ease writing poetry now. I am an author, but feel more comfortable with poetry. THANKYOU!!

    • profile image

      NOUR KHALED 

      10 years ago

      I AM STILL AT SCHOOL . AM LEARNING HOW TO WRITE DIFFERENT KINDS OF PEOMS WHICH I'M REALLY BAD AT. SO TRY TO WRITE MORE GREAT AND NICE POEM LIKE THE ONE ABOUT JIMMY.

    • profile image

      dashboard 

      10 years ago

      um... thanx for the hints!

    • profile image

      lollypopgirl87 

      10 years ago

      this is a awesome poem !

    • profile image

      Ben 

      10 years ago

      I'm a student in a middle school and I can't for the life of me write a one page narrative poem that rymes!!!! HEELP!

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Whitney 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      highwaystar- I have many interests. Poetry is and has been one of them for years.

      Raven- narrative poems are usually thought of in regards to epics, but they don't always have to be. As long as they tell a story.

      Thank you for the typo check! I just corrected it.

    • quotations profile image

      Robert P 

      10 years ago from Canada

      Nice hub. Just thought I'd mention that you have a typo in the title.

    • Raven King profile image

      Raven King 

      10 years ago from Cabin Fever

      Thanks for this positive article on writing poetry. Now it doesn't seem too scary.

    • profile image

      highwaystar 

      10 years ago

      Thanks whitney05...you're a lady of many inspirational talents, what do you just do for fun, cheers!

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