As you write the essay, you will need to decide if you want to talk about the experience as you see it now, or as you saw it then. Often, you may do both of those things, or use your perspective now as the conclusion. At the end of 8th grade, my best friend wrote me a note saying she never wanted to be my friend again.
I was devastated, and terribly depressed all summer, terrified to start High School alone. Forty years later, I realize that that experience was probably what made me finally reach out to develop new friends. Those friends encouraged me to develop my life-long interest in speech, theater, and writing. More importantly, that experience of rejection gave me a lifelong compassion for others. Any event from your past can be a good topic if it was important to you. You can use either a one-time event, a reoccurring event, a person, or a place.
Brainstorm ideas by thinking about the following:. To make sure you have a good topic, you need to determine what the meaning of that event or person was for you. To help you get ideas about the meaning and to decide whether this topic is a good choice, jot down some notes answering the following 5 questions:.
Why re-invent the wheel? Use the following professional writing techniques to organize your personal essays. These strategies aren't secret and they aren't hard. They are what you've seen over and over in books and movies.
Personal Essay Examples to Get You Started
Now you need to use them yourself. This is the most obvious way to tell the story. You just tell it in the way it happened in the order it happened. Most of the other organizing techniques use this way to tell the main part of the story. Want an easy way to organize your essay? Try the "Expectations Unfulfilled" technique. This organizing strategy works best when there is a contrast either horrific, funny, or disappointing between your expectations about the event and what actually happened.
Some Suggestions for Writing a Personal Experience Essay
You can also do "Expectations Fulfilled," but that is generally a weaker paper idea unless you have a situation where the reality clearly superseded all of your expectations. Using a frame story for the introduction and conclusion should be familiar to you from lots of movies. One good example of a story frame is UP.
In this case, the movie opens with the frame of Carl looking at the scrapbook Ellie has made for him about their life and dreams, before flashing to the present story of Carl and Russell and their adventures. The movie returns to the frame at the end of the movie as Carl looks at the last page of the photobook Ellie has made for him.
Tips for Writing a Personal Narrative Essay
He learns that it was the journey of the relationship which was the real adventure. Another kind of frame can be a flashback. In this technique, you start in the middle of the action or after it is over and then flashback to an earlier memory. The Notebook uses the story of a man spending time with his wife with Alzheimer's as the frame for his re-telling the story of their romance. The advantage of using a frame is that it makes it easier for you to talk about the meaning of the story, especially if you use the present day to flashback to the past. Be sure the frame is not just random.
Write an essay about your life experience
There should be an event, object, conversation, or situation which causes you to flash back in memory. With this technique, you organize your story around what is happening internally in your mind, versus what is happening in the event. Of course, like "Expectations Unfulfilled" this works best if there is a conflict between what is happening in your thoughts and what is happening in the situation.
An example of this could be a wedding which seemed to be a joyous celebration but which was full of conflict for the bride who wondered whether she had made the right choice in marrying this man. Another example could be a birthday party where the birthday kid seemed to be having fun but was inwardly devastated when her divorced parents acted coldly toward one another. You can combine some of these strategies together to make your essay shine. A good example of this is the student essay by Jean Brandt, "Calling Home.
Brandt also uses internal and external conflicts in her organization. Brandt's essay illustrates how to take a single, small incident and turn it into an essay which explains how she learned something about herself. It is a coming of age essay. When thinking about your own essay topic, try to think about moments in your life which were important turning points. The event can be something small and doesn't have to be dramatic. What is important is the significance of that event in your life. See the chart below for some ideas.
Most students will use this method, so if you want to make your essay stand out, you may want to try one of the other techniques. When you do use this method remember:. Say, "Maura was a sleek, 5 foot 10, long-haired, blonde who never tired of talking about her exotic vacations or newest boyfriend. Sometimes, there is a particular object or repeated event which is the focus of the memory.
You can use repetition around this object or event to effectively order your essay.
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Generally, it helps to keep the essay focused on one to three important memories about that person. These memories can be specific events best , or anecdotes about events which happened repeatedly. Characteristics of this sort of essay:. Choose 1 or 2 main points to make: Trying to explain everything that person means to you is too much to do in a short essay. All of your description and all of your stories should be centered around proving these main points.
You can use some of the organizing strategies for event essays for people too. Here are some suggestions:.
Notice that both views are found in each paragraph or section. This paper is ordered thematically. Another possibility is to talk about all the views of another person first, then talk about your views. One really good way is to just start writing down everything you can think of that has to do with that personal experience: sights, sounds, memories, smells, and feelings. When you do this sort of brainstorming, you don't have to worry about grammar or even writing complete sentences. Just write a list of everything you can remember.
Sometimes people make this using a web, with the main idea in the middle and lines going out to show the connecting ideas. Whichever way you write it, this brainstorm list gives you a start for your ideas. After that, you will need to organize your information in order to write the essay. You can use the ideas in this article for that.
You might also want to look at some of my other articles and my Personal Experience Essay example that is linked to this article.
+ Personal Essay Topics For College And Writing Tips
Expectations: describe what you were expecting before you went. This introduction technique is especially effective if your expectations were reversed. Vivid description: Tell the scene in vivid sensory detail, perhaps focusing on the setting or on one or two children.
Background: tell what you have experienced previously which sets you up for this experience. What is the best way to start my essay about my experience with adapting to a new country with a new language and culture? Start with a conversation or story about a time that you either misunderstood someone, or they misunderstood you.