A narrative essay is one that uses a story, usually presented in chronological order, to make some kind of point. When you are writing a narrative argument, that point is persuasive or argumentative.
You’re likely to see a lot of variation in the structure of narrative arguments. In many cases, your professor may want you to write a traditional introduction with a thesis statement and then use the body of your essay to tell your story. You may also be asked to include a traditional conclusion at the end.
However, you may encounter opportunities to write narrative arguments that save the thesis statement until the end or even use an implied thesis statement.
So, when writing a narrative argument, there may be options.
Narrative Argument Structural Options Text
- Traditional introduction (with thesis at the end)
- Body (story, usually following chronological order)
- Traditional conclusion (summarize main idea and emphasize thesis)
- Narrative story (usually following chronological order)
- Conclusion with a thesis
- Narrative story (usually following a chronological order)
- Thesis is not presented, just implied.
No matter which structure you follow, it’s a good idea to review elements of a good narrative in the Rhetorical Styles area of the Excelsior OWL.
Let’s say you want to make a point about gun control, and you want to argue for stricter gun control laws. In a narrative argument, you may not make this actual claim until the end. Instead, you should focus your essay on telling a story about a child who was killed because someone should not have had access to a gun.
Maybe you want to write an argument about climate change but know your audience is emotional about the topic. Instead of presenting statistics, you tell the story of one geographic location that has experienced some negative effects of climate change. You tell the story of the people who have been impacted.
You’ll want to check with your professor, ask him or her about your options, and review some sample narrative arguments, like the one that follows on the next page.
The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.
Contributors: Jack Baker, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2013-07-30 01:39:00
What is a narrative essay?
When writing a narrative essay, one might think of it as telling a story. These essays are often anecdotal, experiential, and personal—allowing students to express themselves in a creative and, quite often, moving ways.
Here are some guidelines for writing a narrative essay.
- If written as a story, the essay should include all the parts of a story.
This means that you must include an introduction, plot, characters, setting, climax, and conclusion.
- When would a narrative essay not be written as a story?
A good example of this is when an instructor asks a student to write a book report. Obviously, this would not necessarily follow the pattern of a story and would focus on providing an informative narrative for the reader.
- The essay should have a purpose.
Make a point! Think of this as the thesis of your story. If there is no point to what you are narrating, why narrate it at all?
- The essay should be written from a clear point of view.
It is quite common for narrative essays to be written from the standpoint of the author; however, this is not the sole perspective to be considered. Creativity in narrative essays often times manifests itself in the form of authorial perspective.
- Use clear and concise language throughout the essay.
Much like the descriptive essay, narrative essays are effective when the language is carefully, particularly, and artfully chosen. Use specific language to evoke specific emotions and senses in the reader.
- The use of the first person pronoun ‘I’ is welcomed.
Do not abuse this guideline! Though it is welcomed it is not necessary—nor should it be overused for lack of clearer diction.
Have a clear introduction that sets the tone for the remainder of the essay. Do not leave the reader guessing about the purpose of your narrative. Remember, you are in control of the essay, so guide it where you desire (just make sure your audience can follow your lead).