Writing a Narrative Argument

Many times, writers feel very strongly about a controversial issue, but they don't feel that a traditional argument essay or "position paper" is the most effective means to convey their message.  Instead, they feel that they can argue more effectively by telling a story (a narrative) or several, brief related stories (anecdotes or vignettes).

Four essays in our course reader could be considered "narrative arguments," and we will discuss these in class:

We will pay particular attention, when discussing these essays, to the argumentative issue, to the writer's position, and to the narrative itself--to its structure, pacing, and emphasis; to its rendering of people and places; and to it use of details, style, tone, and language which help to make the argument.

For this essay, pick an experience you have had, one that involves some sort of controversy.  Then, craft a narrative essay which tells the story of your experience while at the same time making clear your position on the controversial issue.  (We will spend some time in class discussing what will and will not make a "good" topic for this essay.)

The final draft of your essay should be at least two (2) pages long but no longer than four (4) pages, double-spaced and word-processed, with 1.0-1.25 margins, and a 12-point font (Arial or Times New Roman).  No title page is needed; put your name, the course, my name, and the date in the upper left-hand corner of the first page (see our handbook for MLA style).

We will work on the initial steps of this essay together as a class.  A first draft of this essay is due on ____________________; a revised draft of this essay is due at your individual conference scheduled for ____________________.  The final draft and portfolio are due during the week of ____________________.  Please remember that not having a draft ready at these times will result in a diminished essay grade.

Picking an Experience:



When you hand in the "final" draft of this essay in the portfolio, you will also include all of the work you did in the process of writing this essay: your reading notes, your prewriting, your drafts, and your peer review notes.  Finally, you should include a cover letter in your portfolio.  This letter should "introduce" the writing in your portfolio and reflect on your experiences writing this essay.  You might discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your writing process or your essay; you might also discuss what problems you encountered as you wrote this essay and how you solved them.


Your essay will be evaluated through a consideration of the following questions: