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I need help with a personal narrative essay arguing that inaction is the best way to deal with a problem. Can losing my job be an adequate topic?

I was just laid off this past week and I'm thinking of using this as my topic. I've filled out the paperwork for unemployment and I'll be using my inaction as the best way to go. I couldn't have done anything about my position being eliminated? So I grit my teeth and kept quiet as my manager informed me.

Expert Answers

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It is difficult to distinguish between personal narrative and narrative essay except that when tagging "essay" on the back it implies that the piece has direction from beginning to end.  I've done a lot of personal writing.  My best advice is to come up with a time in your life when you had a problem, you did nothing (or very little) and the problem either resolved itself, or the answer became clear because you waited.  I don't know if your recent experience is the one you want to use.  You have not seen the results of the entire thing yet.

As far as writing the piece goes, I'll tell you what I tend to do.  I like to write my first draft of such essays in the form of a letter (sometimes I actually open up my email and really write something to someone).  This helps me find my voice.  I know it is me when I'm just writing a casual letter to a friend.  I used the word "draft" but what this step really is, is brainstorming.  I work best when all of my ideas are out and on paper.  Do this first, then walk away from it for at least a day.

Re-read your first attempt.  First of all, is there a clear movement in the piece?  (This is key.)  Does it have a decided beginning, middle and end?  At the end, do you feel a sense of resolution?  If there is no resolution to the problem, is there at least a resolute lesson that was learned?  The resolution, in this case, is going to end up becoming your implicit thesis.  You are not going to state from the outset what you hope to accomplish by the end, but something will be accomplished through the simple act of telling a story.  Does that make sense?

This is a difficult thing to do (and by no means do I claim to be an expert), and I hope you can find your personal writing groove to accomplish the task, whatever that may be.  Perhaps instead of an initial letter, you write a journal entry.  I tend to do better focusing on events and details (the entertaining "meat" of the story) in letters/emails and am more emotion oriented in journals.  I don't think you want to go the emotional route here.  Focus on the details of events and wrap it up with a point.

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