Get Over It

By Ashley Burkholder

Instructor Resources

Writing Assignment #5: Narrative Argument

Draw on your rhetorical skills and your personal experience to write a 4-5 page narrative argument that persuades your audience to accept a truth about which you have a conviction (strong belief). As Faigley and Selzer tell us in Good Reasons with Contemporary Arguments, "In a narrative argument you invite the audience to co-create the claims and links." Here are the guides those authors provide.

Keys to success (experience described invokes the life experiences of the reader):

establishing credibility (truthfulness)

establishing representativeness (usually more effective if you have more than one incident)

Steps to a narrative argument:

Identify an experience that makes an implicit argument (What experience made you realize that something is wrong and needs changing? Your argument doesn't have to lead to a moral, but it should provoke thought.)

List all details you can remember.

Examine the significance of the event (feelings then? now? previous effects? long term effects?)

Analyze your audience (familiarity? resonance?)


Intro – give background first or just "launch in"
Body – proceed chronologically or start with a striking incident and then flashback
Conclusion -- should you offer a reflection or not? avoid moralizing

Revise, edit, proofread

Refer to Jesmyn Ward's "A Cold Current" and Ross Gay's "Some Thoughts on Mercy" as samples.