What Is a Narrative Anecdote?

Children's stories often use anecdotes about imaginary characters to teach life lessons.
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A narrative anecdote is an interesting or emotional story. It can stand on its own or help to demonstrate a broader point or idea. Narrative anecdotes can occur in most genres of writing and are common in political speeches, magazine writing and news features. While a piece of writing may include both anecdotal and logical passages, writers and speakers often choose to begin with a narrative that hooks audiences on a personal level. This helps to present the individual side of a story, which might seem dull or impersonal otherwise.

1 Emotional Appeal

According to “The St. Martin’s Handbook,” narratives are effective because stories of success and struggle are universal and allow readers to identify with a situation the writer seeks to illustrate. In 1980, President Ronald Reagan used the story of Andrea Baden in a speech about inflation. Baden, a grade-schooler from Indiana, could not afford a pair of roller stakes no matter how much she worked and saved because the price of the skates kept going up. Baden's story not only illustrated the impact of inflation but also touched voters, many of whom were dealing with price increases themselves.

Stephen Skok is an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University in Chicago, where he teaches courses in rhetoric and research writing. As a scholar, he specializes in the study of rhetoric and political communication. Upon entering the faculty offices during his first teaching assignment, he was routinely asked which professor he was there to see.