Personal Essay Writing
A personal essay is a kind of narrative essay where the author tells about a certain life incident or something that has had a significant impact on him or her. It may also speak of a lesson learned, or simply express a point of view on some issue, which was of vital importance to the author. The personal essay appears to be one of the richest and most vibrant of all literary forms. The personal essay is also one of the most popular forms of creative nonfiction.
Here are some of the other names that are used to refer to a personal essay: Narrative essay, Profile Essay on Person, Essay about Yourself, Narration Essay, Personal Biography Essay, Reflective Essay, Personal Experience Essay, Personal Statement, and College Application Essay.
Personal essays are really ‘personal’ as the name suggests, they are quite chatty, friendly and reader-oriented. It generally comes in a form of a monolog addressed to the reader. It may concern everything like the death of a cat or a beautiful sight from your window.
Remember that the purpose is to give people what they want but not to give what you can give. That is why the more practice you have the better your writing is. There is one more way to get an excellent grade for your personal essay - order it here.
Personal Essay Structure
The simplest structure of a personal essay has three parts: an introduction, body of information and a conclusion.
You can begin your personal essay with a captivating or interesting sentence that incredibly hooks your readers. Always remember that you want them to read more. Are you out of topic ideas? The truth is that some days you will brim over with countless topics to write about. On other days, you will have such a difficult time to even create a single idea. When you lack topic ideas, write stream of consciousness - open a blank document and pen down whatever comes into your mind without stopping until you have three pages. Yes, it is a mind dump! Repeat this technique every time you are blank and discover the magic.
The body of your personal essay comprises of 1-3 paragraphs that inform your readers about the topic you introduced. To ensure your thoughts are organized, an outline can be more than helpful before starting. Remember to put your paragraphs in the same structure as your entire essay. Start with sentences that introduce the point and draws a reader in. The middle sentences of a paragraph should offer information about a point. Have a concluding sentence that drives your views home and leads a reader to the next point.
Every new idea should be a signal to begin a new paragraph. Every paragraph ought to be a logical progression from a previous idea and lead to the following idea. It can also lead to the conclusion. Ensure your paragraphs are relatively short. Ten lines are always magical. There is no doubt that if you write concisely, you can say loads in ten lines.
In your conclusion, close your personal essay with a final paragraph that perfectly summarizes the points, which you have made, and states your final opinion. Your conclusion provides you the opportunity to offer the lessons or insights learned. You can also choose to share how you will be or were changed due to your approach to the topic. The rule of thumb is that incredible conclusions are always tied to your opening paragraph.
Personal Essay Writing Tips
Show and tell. The main difference between a piece of creative short fiction and a personal essay is that in the first one you must show but not tell, and in a personal essay, you must both show and tell. You need to turn on readers' imagination giving them useful information.
Use your personal point of view. In a short story, you write about a situation and characters that create it. In a personal essay, you are expected to give your own comments and express your opinion. A reader needs to feel that both the situation and its participants concern you very much.
Ideas. Ideas should be taken from your life. Everything that inspires you and makes you want to write will make an ideal subject for an essay. Some little things or extremely important issues may inspire you, so get ready to keep your diary with you and write down all the details!
The hook (humor and quotes). Remember that the reader is not obliged to read your article so you have less than 10 seconds to attract reader's attention. It is recommended to start the first sentence or a paragraph with a bang and get the reader’s interest immediately. Some writers use humor or serious quotes to get the reader’s attention.
Use the first-person active voice. You are the narrator and so you must speak for yourself. Try to avoid informal language. The style of your personal essay should be more conversational than in other literary papers, but don’t make it too easy and boring.
Be concise. Different publications require different format but one thing is consistent: concise writing will always make a good personal essay. When editing, cut the fluff, be specific, and make each word matter.
Connect. The personal essay is personal, but the main idea should be recognizable to your readers if you want to make a connection with them. The wider your audience, the higher your chances for publication.
What Makes an Exciting Personal Essay?
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ essay topic; one of the winning essay topics is something related to people. The broader the audience your subject relates to, the more successful your essay. It makes no difference whether you are discussing some philosophical issues or you are posting about the laundry detergent you have recently bought. If your reader came across the same problem and it was important for them, then you have reached them.
Top 20 Topics and Ideas for Writing a Personal Essay
- Words that stung.
- My favorite time with family.
- The proudest moment of my life.
- A book that has changed my life.
- The greatest movie moment.
- If I lived 100 years ago.
- A museum I’d like to visit.
- My most fortunate day.
- My secret love.
- A secret place.
- If I could invent something.
- If my cat or dog could talk.
- The animal I would like to be.
- If I could live anywhere.
- The greatest discovery.
- My secret talent.
- Words that prompted hope.
- A special morning.
- My favorite gift.
- How I would use power if I had it.
Where Are Personal Essays Used?
From college, and media to blogs, personal essays are used in an array of fields and industries. A personal essay gives you the opportunity to exceed all the limits of a standard essay. With this piece, you are able to utilize dialogues, conversational tone, characterizations, and settings. Plunging into your inner world is very important before starting to piece together your work. Know yourself from the inside first and perfectly gain the understanding of self. Remember that anytime you write your personal essay, the intention ought to be to vent your ideas, interests, and thoughts to others. Therefore, always allow your personal essay to let you drive towards self-disclosure, candor, and honesty with yourself.
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'My only talent was my ability to draw': Artist and caricaturist Gerald Scarfe remembers his school days
Updated: 22:30 GMT, 14 May 2010
Artist and caricaturist Gerald Scarfe, 74, lives in London with his wife, actress Jane Asher, with whom he has three grownup children. Apart from his political drawings, he is best known for his work on Pink Floyd's album and film, The Wall.
Who's the odd one out? Here is a sad little school photograph of me, aged about six. My story was rather chequered.
I was a sickly child and suffered from severe asthma from the age of about six months, which is why I can only speak about my schooldays in the vaguest of terms.
I was born in St John's Wood in north-west London, but my first school was in Cardiff because, when the war started, my father, who was a banker, enlisted in the RAF and my mother travelled with him.
Then and now: Gerald Scarfe pictured aged about 6 and as he is today
My brother, Gordon, was born after the war, so my first years were spent as an only child. I sort of remember my first day at school. My father had put me on the crossbar of his bike and was coasting down these hills in Cardiff. I was scared stiff – not of the bike ride but of going to school. I needn't have worried.
Within a week I was ill again and had to stay home. I never had time to settle in any of the schools I went to briefly as we followed my father's postings around the country. I was more often in hospital than in class but I picked up what I could and bluffed my way through.
I could read and write, but had no idea about algebra or geometry. Being shoved in a class where I understood nothing was misery. There was no time to make friends or learn before I was ill again. I always ran behind the crowd.
My only talent was my ability to draw. Even in that first Cardiff school I was renowned for drawing the Welsh dragon. I used my art to compensate – it was my way of surviving, at school and at home.
While bedridden I'd draw and sculpt, and create stages and puppets. I remember the day I knew I'd be doing this for the rest of my life – drawing and designing. It felt right. It was a happy revelation. I thought: 'This is something I can actually do'.
Before Cardiff, when we were still in London, I'd hide in the cellar when the city was bombed. Someone had wickedly told me there was a wolf lurking down there, so I was more worried about that than about Adolf bombing us flat.
All the images I've used since go back to those days and the fears I had. Even the Mickey Mouse gas masks given to us children during the war, which were asphyxiating to an asthmatic, inspired the troglodyte creatures I drew for the animations in The Wall.
My parents were so worried about me when I was small. As a consequence I was a very nervous, apprehensive, delicate child – continually frightened because I could sense their fear. In those days asthma could kill.
The illness means you can breathe in easily, but the muscles to expel the air don't work properly – a frightening feeling. In hospital they gave me oxygen and shots of adrenaline to get things going. I was always on some sort of drug.
There was a point in my hazy schooldays when one of my headmasters told my father, 'This boy is brilliant at art. He's missed too much of the academic work to benefit further, but he should go to art school early – at 15, not the usual 16.'
My father took me to see the head of St Martin's School of Art in London, who said, 'Right, let's see your portfolio.' I hadn't got one. I was told I was a bit young anyway and so it didn't happen. It was a relief to officially leave school at 16. I went to work in a commercial art studio – drawing objects for sale in catalogues.
Photographs weren't used much in those days, and I had to make mundane objects look fabulous and desirable. I was prostituting myself and it hurt after a while. I decided to go freelance and began to make good money, but I also felt a lack of academic background.
So, aged 21, I applied to the Royal College of Art. I thought if they would accept me it would be some note of acclaim. And they did accept me. I was delighted. But I left after four days! I realised that all I'd wanted was the acclaim, the recognition.
I already had a car and a flat – I'd embarked on life. I'd always felt that I was behind and had to catch up. Going back to school would have been a backward step. I remained completely self-taught.
Soon I began working for Punch magazine – who paid seven 'posh' guineas for each cartoon. But I really came into my own when I joined Private Eye. Peter Cook, Richard Ingrams and Willie Rushton encouraged me to do political drawings.
I was already known for my black humour and this grotesque style, which I can only put down to my rather grim beginnings during World War II. I'm still drawing – but always with an underlying feeling of insecurity from those days.
A lot of my work is very black because I'm aware of the thin line between life and death. No one can predict what's going to happen. Drawing makes sense of the world for me – holds it still for a moment. I do try, occasionally, to draw happier things – to show my lighter side.
Recently I enjoyed doing the designs for English National Ballet's Nutcracker – with my granddaughter in mind – and created to inspire children to go to the ballet and enjoy the fun and colour of it all. That was lovely.
To mark the World Cup, Gerald Scarfe has joined forces with Sky to create a limited edition football themed Sky+HD 1TB box, www. sky.com/designerboxes
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