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Difference Between Narrative & Persuasive Essays


Narrative essays tell a story, while persuasive essays attempt to convince readers to believe a certain point of view or take a particular action. Both essays are structured with an introduction, body and conclusion, but they differ in emphasis, content and style.

Taking the Narrative Approach

The narrative essay is a genre of writing aimed at self-expression through story-telling, often done in creative and moving ways. The first person point of view is typically used because narrative essays are personal, experiential and anecdotal in nature. Nevertheless, the use of the third person is also welcomed. It is not specific with structure as long as the three main essay parts are provided. Some narrative topic examples include: A Journey to Remember A Momentous Failure * The Decision that Changed My Life Forever

Organizing the Narrative Essay

A narrative essay has a point or purpose that is usually found in the first paragraph. The introduction gives an idea of what is to come in the story. Given the topic Life After College, for example, an introduction may be: “The day I got my diploma was one of the most glorious days of my life. Little did I know what challenges awaited me. ”

The body of narrative essays contains the characters, settings, plot and climax of the story, described as vividly as possible through concrete, sensory details. For example, the body may contain details on your first job, your difficulties at work, and the different working realities you faced. The conclusion contains the resolution of the story. The purpose for the narration -- to inspire or teach, shock or provoke, or to simply entertain -- is clearly expressed in its ending.

Writing to Persuade or Argue

Persuasive essays, on the other hand, argue the legitimacy of certain perspectives or actions through the use of logic and reasoning. It utilizes a more formal tone and is typically written in the third person point of view. The basic structure is the five-paragraph essay containing an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Some debatable topics for writing a persuasive essay might include: Human cloning Euthanasia * Legalizing Marijuana

Making the Case and Backing It Up

In a persuasive essay, the introduction provides a background on the problem or situation and establishes the author’s position on it. For example, a persuasive essay against school uniforms may start: “School uniforms are not mere accessories of education, but are literal representations of the culture of conformity perpetuated in schools.”

The body of persuasive essays offers factual, logical, statistical or anecdotal evidence to support the author's argument. For example, the body may include an overview of the contrary opinion, related theories on conformity and its logical implications in student thinking and actions. A persuasive essay’s conclusion provides a synthesis of the evidence given, a restatement of the thesis grounded on the information presented, and a challenge to act on the author’s proposed solution.

About the Author

Melanie Joy Gunio is a graduate of the University of the Philippines where she earned her bachelor’s degree in arts in English Studies. Her passion in education led her to take her master’s degree in education, major in Curriculum Studies in the same university. She works as a lecturer, writer and editor, and is actively involved in developing leadership training programs for a youth organization.