Argumentative Essay vs Narrative Essay | Everything You Need to Know

Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea

Chief of Content At Gradehacker

Updated on April, 2023

Argumentative Essay vs. Narrative Essay is a comparison you need to have clear during college since these can be two of the most required types of essays for your tasks. 

Each follows a completely different format since they are meant to achieve different things, but here we are about to show you how to differentiate them and make the best of them!

At Gradehacker, the non-traditional adult student #1 resource, we have years of experience helping students with their essays and getting the best grades for their academic success!

If you struggle with academic writing, understanding an essay’s purpose and rules can help you improve, so let’s see how you can start boosting your writing skills today!

Argumentative Essay vs Narrative Essay - first photo- men taking note on a book

What is an Argumentative Essay?

These are informative essays where you share an argument with evidence presenting your perspective on a particular issue. In your piece of writing, you’ll need to convince the reader about your arguments, meaning your point of view.

With this type of essay, you’ll have to:

Extensive research for your essay topic is necessary. You have to read all possible existing materials, and some might even require further investigation through observations, surveys, and interviews.

Argument essays are a common assignment that every college student has to face at some point in their academic journey, this is why it is so important to know how to write them well. 

And if you have your doubts about how to do it and want the best tips, here you have our 5-step tutorial for creating outstanding ones!

What is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is a genre of writing that tells a story

The difference with a persuasive essay is that it is usually written from personal opinions and can be based on real-life experiences, fictional stories, or a combination of both.

These types of essays aim to engage with the reader’s emotions, and during the actual writing process, the writer can play with their imagination and tell a story whether they have been through it or not.

It often includes sensory details and vivid descriptions to help the reader visualize the events being described and should leave the reader with a sense of completeness or closure.

The Purpose Behind Each Essay Type

Argumentative Essay

As mentioned earlier, argumentative essay assignments require you to convince the reader to agree with your thesis statement.

That means that you need to have a well-supported argument for your debatable issue, which is why research is so important here.

The more relevant information and fact-based evidence you find, the more convincing your entire essay will be!

Narrative Essay

On the contrary, narrative essays are meant to tell a story

You have to develop a compelling narrative where the reader not only understands the flow of the story but also feels connected to the writing.

Here, citing other academic papers or solid evidence are not necessary. The voice and experience of the writer is the only source of information needed.

The Right Structure For Your Essays

Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essay structure is similar to the traditional style of essay containing and following:.

As we’ve just stated, argumentative assignments have to persuade the reader into caring about your thesis statement. Besides having a strong opinion developed, it’s important to do extensive research first that backs up your argument.

The more relevant information you find, the more convincing your paper will be!

Narrative Essay

On the other hand, narrative essays have a structure related to storytelling, following:

Introduction: Here, the introduction paragraph is about your characters and creating the setting of the story.

Body: The body will continue developing the plot until it evolves into the climax, where the central conflict occurs.

Conclusion: Lastly, the final paragraph must be the conclusion, where the narrative comes to an end.

Still, a narrative essay doesn’t have to be strictly divided into this storytelling structure. You need to have in mind that you should always start by setting up the narrative and finish by expressing the main point of your story.

Both types of essays are essential for college! They are meant to obtain different results, and if what you want is just to master and speed up your writing process, you can check how to use Chat GPT to write an essay in our video!

Finding a Voice: Tone And Language for Your Essays

Argumentative Essay

As argumentative writing is meant to be written for an academic audience, the tone of your essay must be neutral. Although the audience is expected to be well-informed, the language used should not be overly formal or technical.

A great tip when thinking about who your audience is is, to imagine you are addressing peers in the same college level you are studying, who will understand your strong opinions and arguments.

Still, don’t assume everyone knows what you are talking about, so be sure always to explain your points in a clear and straightforward way.

Narrative Essay

Differently, narrative essays might be written for a broader audience. As the purpose of your writing is to evoke emotions, you can play more with the language.

From informal phrases to casual and specific vocabulary, your language style will help you shape a better-developed story. Depending on the setting of your story, your tone should reflect the emotions it aims to transmit.

Finding Precision: The Right Paper And Paragraph Length

Argumentative Essay

First of all, it’s worth mentioning that your paper’s length will always depend on your class and the professor in charge.

However, as argumentative essays are evidence-based papers that want to inform the reader, they typically range from two to four double-spaced pages. Still, depending on your course and assignment type, it can be more.

For example, a course’s final essay where you have to prove a clear understanding of the topics discussed in class might require you to write a paper between six to ten double-spaced pages.

Regarding paragraph length, it’s key that each one has a similar length. This way, you’ll dedicate the same context to each supporting evidence of your thesis. But ideally, each paragraph should have six or seven sentences at minimum.

But If you struggle to come up with arguments or ideas when writing essays, there is an alternative method you can try

We found that Chat GPT can assist you in crafting an argumentative essay. Check our tutorial and tips for achieving success in your writing!

Narrative Essay

Once again, the length of a narrative essay depends on the class and the professor.

But as these are creative exercises, they tend to be shorter assignments. While, on average, they need to be two or three pages long, some can be up to five pages.

Unlike argumentative essays, paragraphs don’t need to be the same length. Since you need to add to the development of your story, you can constantly change from long paragraphs to short sentences.

Remember, a well-developed thesis statement isn’t necessary for a narrative paper, just like you don’t need to be super creative to make a convincing argument in an essay.

Essential Tips For Exceptional Essay Writing

Each type of essay has its own set of requirements, and as a college student trying to improve your writing skills, you need the best tips on how to ace any academic essay.

Now that you understand the basics of how each essay type works let’s see what advice can take with you to improve your writing!

Don't be afraid of using too many sources

Many assignments give you a minimum of academic sources to meet. But don’t get limited by that! Always try to look for any piece of information that adds to your case

Even if it’s only a single sentence or a statistic, each piece of evidence makes a difference.

As long as it provides more persuasive arguments, use as many reliable sources as you need! 

Make sure they are trustworthy, such as academic journals, reputable news outlets, or expert analysis. To ensure that a source is credible, you can investigate the author’s credentials, affiliations, and any potential biases or conflicts of interest.

By incorporating reliable and reputable sources into your writing, you can strengthen your argument and make a solid case for your perspective on the topic.

In case you don’t know what sites you can use, we highly recommend checking out our list of best websites for scholarly sources.

Think of a clear and precise thesis statement

One of the most common problems students face is choosing a solid subject, which can lead to a confusing thesis statement. In this case, vague and simple topics are not enough, as they cover too much ground.

Try thinking of a research topic you like and find a more specific subject where you can develop a persuasive argument. 

For example, a vague topic would be:

“Mental health care needs to be promoted”

Instead, a focused and more interesting thesis would be:

“Minority groups like African Americans and Latinos can’t access proper mental health care; hence the US government needs to promote new and better health policies…”

See the difference? Not only does it make for a better case that calls the reader to action, but it also gives you a more specific subject to investigate.

If you want more ideas like these for all subjects, you can check our list of essay topics or watch our videos!

One idea per paragraph

Don’t fill a paragraph with two or more ideas. The writing becomes more organized and understandable by thoroughly developing each topic separately.

You need to consider how topics are related so that you can transition from one paragraph to the next effectively. This can be achieved by using transitional phrases or sentences that connect the ideas in each paragraph while maintaining the flow of the writing.

By carefully structuring every paragraph only to include one main idea, your argument will be clearer and better communicated to the reader.

Don't introduce new ideas in the conclusion

Another common mistake is adding information to the conclusion that wasn’t explained before. Only readdress previously mentioned arguments.

Ensure that the conclusion effectively wraps up the story. This can include providing closure or resolution to any conflicts or issues in the essay.

The conclusion should also offer some final thought or reflection on the experience, leaving the reader with something to think about after finishing the essay.

Ultimately, the conclusion needs to include the message you want the reader to remember.

You can find more tips like this in our list of secrets to writing better conclusions.

Quick Summary

Argumentative Essay
Narrative Essay

Persuade and inform the reader

Touch the reader's emotions

Traditional essay structure

Traditional storytelling structure

Evidence-based content

Content comes from the experience and creativity of the writer

Limited by neutral tone and language

Isn't limited by a specific tone or language

Peer audience

Broader audience

Paragraphs have similar lengths

Paragraphs can have different lengths

Argumentative Essay vs Narrative Essay: Nail Your Papers!

We know that to make the best essays, you must fulfill all their requirements, which can be hard.

Writing is a skill that you get better with every experience, but in order to successfully nail your academic papers, you need to understand their purpose and structure. By knowing its basics, improving is way easier!

After reading this article, we hope that next time you need to write an argumentative or narrative essay, you know what you need to do to create an outstanding paper!

But if you still feel blocked when writing and would like personal assistance, whether it’s an argumentative or narrative paper, you can always count on Gradehacker to have your back. We have assisted students with all types of essays and even accompanied them throughout their college journey.

If you are looking for more tips on how to improve your writing skills, check out some of our related articles: