Sunday, July 12, 2015

10 Tips for Writing a Better Personal Essay

Writing a personal essay involves including elements of narration and description. Here are 10 tips to make your essay a smashing success.

1. Make a point in your narration with a thesis statement in the introduction. For example, when I was about 10 years old, I hid some Halloween candy from my brothers, only to have my black poodle find and eat it. My thesis for this narrative could be:

The lure of candy to a child can cause him or her to ensure its security by putting it in a safe place away from parents and siblings who are likely to eat it; however, the child can still lose if he/she doesn't consider every family member. I

Within an hour, my vast collection of Snickers bars, Hershey's kisses, sour hard candy, bubble gum, and Tootsie Rolls among other sweets transformed into a sticky mess of wrapper pieces and big dark wads of chocolate when I forgot an important member of my family would find it.

The trick-or-treating began innocently enough...


2. Add creative tension. For instance, in the above anecdote I don't let readers know who took and ate the candy.
3. Add or change vague language to concrete language--words like book, child, ice, candy.
4. Add dialog.
5. Add a setting--a description of the place where the story took place. Detail each scene so your audience can picture the place where it occurred.
6. Add a conclusion with a moral, or message. For example in the above anecdote, the moral is to consider everyone in the family--including pets--when you want to keep any food items for yourself.
7. Change vague descriptions to sensory ones. Note in the above anecdote I name the type of candy, use the sensory word, sticky, relating to the sense of touch.
8. Change dull, mundane words into descriptive ones using the Table 6.2 in Chapter 6.4.
9. Use figures of speech such as personification, metaphor and simile in order to compare the unfamiliar with the familiar. For example, the candy turned into "pet bait."
10. Change words like "thing(s)" to concrete or descriptive objects or thoughts. For example, I had been thinking about things, and realized that the candy wasn't stored in a pet-proof container. A paper bag just didn't do. In the preceding sentence what could you change the word "things" to?