Purpose: The purpose of the paper is to explore the theory and approaches employed by a novice narrative researcher to open, work in, and close the narrative space. The paper reflects on this personal journey and aims to provide insight for other novices to successfully navigate the narrative space. Design/methodology/approach: This paper draws on the experiences and emotions involved in undertaking narrative inquiry as a novice researcher. The paper focuses specifically on the challenges of opening, working in and closing the narrative space. Findings: Through a critical and reflective discussion of approaches to narrative inquiry, the papers points to key theories, and approaches, which guide narrative research. In doing this, the diversity in interpretation and application of narrative research are noted as essential components of both its challenge and beauty. Practical implications: The practical implications of this paper are linked to its utility in helping others reflect on their own practice and also providing insight and support to other novice researchers seeking to navigate the narrative space. Originality/value: The paper provides a subjective interpretation and application of the theory underpinning narrative research and how it was used to guide the authors research into care leavers journeys into and through university.