Essay Assignment

Return to Essay

Paper 3 Assignment: Narrative Assignment

Henderson, GWRIT 103
Fall 2008

Draft 1 due online Sunday, November 30, midnight

Draft 2 due in class Wednesday, December 3

A third draft will not be an option.

Minimum length: 5 pages

Percentage of final grade: 25

We love stories. Stories are a human currency; they sustain us and give form to formless experience. Stories, when shaped effectively, can also be powerful arguments. This assignment will depart from our conventional notion of argument by asking you to consider the power of pathos, example, and persuasive storytelling.

Choose an experience—whether from your life or from someone else’s—and use the story of this experience to develop an argument. This might mean using one central story. Or, you may need a series of anecdotes.  It will be your job to clearly describe these experiences through concrete detail and sensory language.  By bringing the audience into your world, you will establish a sense of credibility.

This assignment prizes creativity and risk-taking as well as focus and clarity.  In other words, remember both words in the phrase “narrative argument.”

Research: It is important that you establish a sense of representativeness in your argument.  In order to place your story in the big picture and connect the personal to the public, you must perform adequate research to include at least three secondary sources that support your argument.  (Of course, you will most likely already be using primary research.)  Your sources must be properly incorporated and documented using the MLA system.  Wikipedia and other “info” sites such as are not appropriate sources; you may use other encyclopedias or dictionaries, but they do not count as sources.  

Format: Your paper should be formatted in MLA format according to your handbook.

Grading Criteria

An “A” paper (90–100):

  • advances a clear and insightful claim (even if presented implicitly)
  • utilizes a careful strategy of narrative techniques
  • supports the argument and establishes representativeness with sufficient, compelling, and well-selected evidence
  • uses research critically and ethically and incorporates it appropriately
  • acknowledges other views and responds to them thoroughly
  • is constructed of unified, well-developed paragraphs in logical order with clear transitions
  • demonstrates mastery of documentation, grammar, mechanics, and usage
  • shows sophistication, originality, and creativity with style, diction, and voice


A “B” paper (80–89):

  • advances a clear argumentative purpose, but may lack the insight of an “A” paper
  • utilizes narrative techniques, but strategy may lack decisiveness or self-awareness
  • supports the argument and establishes representativeness, but support may be limited
  • uses research ethically and incorporates it adequately, but analysis may lack insight
  • makes an effort to acknowledge other views, but may overlook obvious counterarguments or may not adequately respond to them
  • progresses logically, for the most part, and shows some attempt at transition
  • exhibits few documentation and grammar errors
  • provides evidence of an evolving, but perhaps underdeveloped, individual voice


A “C” paper (70–79):

  • demonstrates an attempt, though perhaps inconsistent, at an argumentative purpose
  • attempts to utilize narrative techniques, but perhaps indirectly or indecisively
  • provides support, but support may not establish representativenss or may contain generalizations
  • uses research, but research may not be appropriate or incorporated effectively, and analysis may not go beyond the obvious
  • provides no consideration of other views, or consideration is undeveloped
  • orders paragraphs logically and coherently, with perhaps a few lapses
  • exhibits lapses in documentation and patterns of grammatical error, but they do not significantly impede meaning
  • may be simplistic in style or reliant on clichés; may lack sentence variety


A “D” paper (60–69) may lack any of the following:

  • an argumentative purpose
  • strong narrative strategy
  • sufficient and relevant support or a sense of representativeness
  • analysis of evidence
  • acknowledgement of other views
  • logical paragraph order or clearly defined paragraphs
  • understanding of grammar or documentation


An “F” paper fails to meet most requirements and/or the writing exhibits serious deficiency.



Return to Essay