Writing an exciting story that is based on personal experiences may seem easy. One might assume that the writer knows what he or she has felt and done and thus can probably describe everything that has happened in great detail. However, such writing should not only express the author’s feelings but also engage its audience and make people read the story until the end. Moreover, a well-written story should also make readers feel as though they have learned something as a result. The article by Patchett (2017) offers an example of a personal story that describes an experiment to its readers. The author uses imagery that helps readers to understand her ideas and uses an informative tone breaking down a barrier between her and her audience. However, her arguments lack persuasiveness and lose direction, which makes the conclusion and her reasoning less convincing.
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In her article, Patchett (2017) writes about her experience of giving up shopping for a year. She starts the story by recalling her friend, who presented her with this idea a few years ago. The author sets the rules and creates her boundaries, making the experiment’s guidelines clear to her audience. Then, she describes her feelings about shopping and products that she needed and did not need during the year. Moreover, she talks about cravings and desires that often persuade people to buy more than they need. Patchett remembers situations from her childhood and the past year to make comparisons between different people in her life. In the end, the author talks about “a vast difference between not buying things and not being able to buy things” and concludes by debating the need to stop the experiment (Patchett, 2017, para. 22). Patchett decides to continue following her pledge in the end.
The article presents its arguments in a way that is easy for the audience to understand. Patchett offers many examples from her life to show that her arguments are not based on assumptions but real situations. For example, her desire to buy new clothes and cosmetics is not general – she states that she wants a Fitbit or a new lip balm but then finds that purchasing them is unnecessary for different reasons. Moreover, the author continuously describes situations that have happened to her before the experiment to make a clear comparison between her feelings before and after taking the pledge. Therefore, readers can understand her motivations between purchases and see why the author states that she does or does not need them. Patchett’s description of Lent also offers a great example of what people can give up, providing another contrast between her desires and needs. This tactic can be useful for influencing the audience and making the story believable, as readers can empathize with her experience.
Patchett makes the story very personal by using an informal tone and adding details from her childhood. In the beginning, her use of dialogues sets the mood of an interaction with a friend rather than a monologue from an expert. The author often admits that she does not fully understand what she is doing. Furthermore, she realizes that her plan was flawed and could be improved: “I could have used the library… but I didn’t” (Patchett, 2017, para. 9). These types of information provided by the author make her an engaging narrator who states her opinion and gives a realistic description of the situation. She does not try to sound overly confident or bold, sharing her insecurities with the audience instead. The article does not promote the experiment but presents one person’s case. The audience may be more open to treating this article as helpful and engaging because the author approaches them as friends who are simply listening to a story.
However, the article’s effectiveness is undermined by the fact that the author does not present a clear connection between her arguments and statements. According to the QDT Editor (2015), the lack of logical reasoning may discourage the audience from believing the writer’s words. The middle of the article presents some thoughts that appear disconnected from each other. For instance, the author talks about her personal experiences and her life without shopping, giving many examples from the past year. Then, Patchett expands her idea and mentions her religious past. Here, her arguments are mostly based on her attachment to physical things and the loss of meaning of shopping as a leisure activity. However, then the author starts talking about financial benefits and her relationship with saving money. While this part of the experiment might have been interesting for the author to explore, she does not mention it in any other parts of the article, which adversely affects the logic of her arguments.
Patchett’s article offers an interesting idea that may appeal to many readers. Its simple description of real events and the informal tone of narration can make the audience more empathetic to the author’s feelings and thoughts. Although Patchett’s logic has some faults as it does not provide all statements with viable reasoning, the article remains an example of an inspiring individual experience. The author creates an engaging story with a personal touch and an implicitly persuasive tone.
Patchett, A. (2017). My year of no shopping. The New York Times. Web.
QDT Editor. (2015). Avoid these 4 common persuasive writing mistakes. Web.