I'm trying to write a narrative essay on my experience in family court where I represented myself. Are there any dont's in the first line of a essay? For example opening with a question?
A narrative is basically story told from a certain person's perspective. I recently helped friend write one and I don't see a problem in opening with a question, as long as you answer that question throughout the narrative.
I also wouldn't use the word 'I' too much. Try to think of other ways of representing yourself in the essay.
Yes. You can start with a sentence that is irrelevant to your topic and uninteresting to your readers. That would be the wrong way to start a narrative essay. The right way, unsurprisingly, would involve starting with a strong opening sentence that captures the reader's attention, and, preferably, that also sets up the main theme of your essay. There is no reason, however, why a question could not do both of these things.
Ha ha, that is a great example of a "wrong way" from Sean. Ha ha, what if it was irrelevant and interesting? Then, I guess it would be okay, so long as you segue back to your topic...
All essays are the same, in a certain sense. They should be purposeful and rhythmic. In high school, you are supposed to keep essays purposeful and very focused, but once you attain some mastery you are allowed to digress -- like Thoreau, Montaigne, and all the other great writers.
In high school, it is best for your essay to be very focused, so I would say DON'T fail to state your main theme in a single sentence somewhere near the end of the first paragraph. Even with a narrative essay, you can have a thesis -- an underlying truth or, in this case, a moral to the story. In ALL writing, it is great if you can give the reader a powerful experience, so use energized, detail-oriented, colorful words that make a reader feel strong emotions and see images in their minds.
The only problem with having an interesting but irrelevant hook is that the reader might rapidly lose interest with the segue. Imagine an essay that began "Sex and drugs make life more enjoyable. Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about the time my puppy died." The reader is apt to be confused, and disappointed that the interesting topic that the author promised to talk about is not going to be discussed.
Yeah, that is true! It was just an interesting thought I had when I read your comment. But how about this: a persuasive essay intended to persuade people who like sex and drugs, so it hooks the with that opening line you mentioned and then segues into, I don't know, persuading them to make sure they finish college (perhaps so that they can be proof that sex and drugs do not hold one back from success).
If you are sneaky enough, you can use something irrelevant to hook the interest of someone who would not otherwise be receptive. :)
Yes, if you can make the hook relevant, through spin and some logical leaps, then you can get away with it. As long as the reader doesn't feel that he's been tricked by the end.
Please read my draft and advise accordingly.
In the past, I would do nothing just to avoid the feeling of failure; in my mind, everybody was better than I was. The fear of standing up for me is how I reached the title of self-represented litigant, "Pro Se" according to the law. In the beginning, I hired a 300.00 dollar an hour attorney who was going to save the day. Then, the tables turned, the attorney went from asking to telling. As the time went on during our client relationship, the person I had hired to do a job for me took on a new role of parent-child releationship. I became someone who had no say so, and he became the attorney just going through the motions of the court system. The longer this went on the sicker I felt, I wanted to fire him. I did not have the guts to talk to him about it. I wanted to make it go away, but how could I fire the person who intimidated me.
Nevertheless, I found the courage to confront my attorney on things he had once told me that I did not agree with...I must have misconstrued him, and that he guessed he would have to start writing everything down for me is what I heard. After this, I still could not stand up to the person hired to represent my family and values, not his. $48,000 dollars later and my attorney telling me there was nothing he could do as he drove out of town. I consequently fired him. I Petitioned the court to give me a chance to tell my side of the story.
When the time came we all sat down at the table in the judges chambers, the judge, my soon to be ex, and his attorney. My husbands attorney spoke first. This time I was relived, time was ticking by with every word I heard, to my surprise, so were the feelings of being overwhelmed with emotions of self doubt running through me. The questions of, would the judge believe me or not? Could I describe my point clear enough for the judge to understand what I wanted to say?
Yes, I can. The old ways of siting back and allowing things to happen to me was gone. Instead, the new way of making things happen for me is here to stay. Can I tell you as I responded back to every issue brought up in court on this day, not only with convictions of a confidant woman but the attitude of I am just as important as you are and I deserve half of what you get.
The jury is still out so to speak, the judge has not made his ruling. Therefore, I do not know if the efforts made in court, representing myself will effect the decision of the judge. However, I remember as I stood up from the judges table the feeling of content pouring from my head to my toes with what I had accomplished on this day and ready to take the next challenge.
"In the past, I would do nothing just to avoid the feeling of failure; in my mind, everybody was better than I was." This is a good problem for you to write about. I imagine most people have felt like this at some point in their lives, so your readers will be able to relate.
"The fear of standing up for me is how I reached the title of self-represented litigant, "Pro Se" according to the law. In the beginning, I hired a 300.00 dollar an hour attorney who was going to save the day." This requires back story. Why were you hiring an attorney? The reader can make some guesses as to the general reasons based on later details, but it would help if you supplied some background upfront. If the background is too personal to share in the essay, feel free to alter the details, or even to make up a completely fictional back story. But add something.
"The old ways of siting back and allowing things to happen to me was gone. Instead, the new way of making things happen for me is here to stay." Hooray! The problem, though, is that you are merely telling us this instead of showing it. Narrative essays should be all about showing. Imagine that you are reading this essay as someone else, someone who doesn't know you or your background. When reading it, what reason does the reader have to empathize with you? To want to see you get a favorable verdict from the judge? To understand how powerfully the experience affected you?
LOL. That's for the "Hooray!" You were'nt getting a little bored, frusterated.... were you? Thank god for people like you who take the time to help people like me with essays. God love ya! Thanks for the help. I need all I can get!
The fear of standing up for myself is what caused me to reach the title...
The old way of siting back and allowing things to happen to me was gone.
Hey, that is important advice from Sean. I wonder if you could add one strong, explanatory, interesting sentence to the very beginning. In that first paragraph it would also be great to tell the ain theme, the moral of the story, so that you can refer back to it at the end and the essay will be very meaningful and memorable.
Hmmmm . . . I guess that "Hooray!" does come off as somewhat sarcastic. Sorry 'bout that. My point was that, while your gaining more confidence is a good thing, it would be more effective if you showed us your becoming more confident instead of merely stating that you did so.
I didn't think that sounded sarcastic! I thought it was just that typing-induced giddiness. Sometimes, I get really involved with these essays and I think I say things that could be taken the wrong way...ha ha, I thought the "hooray" was like when someone really gets energized by a song they're listening to. :)
No need to say sorry. :) Your merely said what I was feeling while typing the paper, which is why I am here at this great website! By the way, good point Kevin. :)