Writing a personal essay is probably the most common type of essay collection that you will come across. These essays provide an opportunity for you to share your thoughts and feelings about a particular event or issue. Personal essays are often written from a deeply personal point of view and can be very persuasive in nature.
These essays are the most important part of an application to a college or university. The daunting element of the college application is writing a great college essay. Not only do they let the admissions counselors know who you are and your specific skill set, but they also give them a glimpse of your writing and communication skills.
What Is a Personal Essay?
A personal essay is a narrative that focuses on the author’s thoughts and reactions to a particular event or idea. It is often used as literary criticism, but there are many genres in which this type of writing falls.
These essays are similar to memoirs, but not all memoirs are personal essays. The distinction lies in that memoirs focus on people and events from the author’s past, whereas essays focus on ideas and events that have shaped who the author is today.
Essays come in many forms, but they all contain information about the author. They may talk about a childhood memory, an experience with a friend or loved one, a life-changing event, or even just how a particular book affected the author’s life. In any case, these essays contain details about what makes the author unique.
The best personal essays are ones that have a clear focus and purpose. If your essay is filled with unnecessary details, it will be difficult for your readers to follow your ideas and message. Keeping the topic-specific will make it much easier for your audience to understand what you are trying to say.
This type of essay also provides an opportunity for you to show the personality behind the words. You want to try and connect with your reader on a personal level. The more emotionally charged and genuine feeling your essay contains, the more impact it will have on its readers.
Writing memorable personal essay collections is not as easy as it may seem at first glance. However, once you develop an idea and put in the proper effort and research, you will find that composing this kind of paper is much easier than it seems.
Different Types of Personal Essays
In general, there are two different essay types: the “this is what happened to me” type of personal essay and the “this is what I learned from this experience” type.
The first kind of personal essay is a list of events, which can be very short or take up the whole piece. These types of essays are called plot-driven narratives.
The second kind of personal essay is more self-referential, exploring the theme or topic at hand. These essays are called character-driven narratives. It can be a humorous story detailing the writer’s personal experiences.
How to Structure a Personal Essay
Let’s look at the structure of a personal essay. An essay has three parts: an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
The introduction is where you grab the reader’s attention. The body is where you explain whatever it was that you grabbed the reader’s attention with. The conclusion is where you summarize and restate your thesis.
The introduction paragraph- The introduction paragraph of your personal essay should not be too long. A great introductory paragraph can be powerful and can instantly pull the reader into the essay, but a weak one will cause a reader to lose interest. The main purpose of the introduction is to hook the reader, so you want it to be as strong as possible.
The best way to write an introduction is to start with a story or observation that is interesting, true, and relates directly to your writing topic. This is what makes the introduction stand out. Detail is important in a good opening statement because it helps you paint a picture for your audience, and this helps them visualize what you are saying and will help them feel like they are right there with you.
Body– For a personal essay, the most important thing is probably the body paragraphs. That’s where you get to tell your story. So how do you use body paragraphs to tell a story? There are two basic ways to do it: either by having just one main idea per paragraph or several ideas that are all related to each other.
A good personal essay is divided into sections describing a single topic. Some of the topics are chronological; others have a general category of experience. The interesting opening line of each section is called the topic sentence; it describes the subject of that section.
It would help if you began a section with a topic sentence that tells the reader what to expect in that section. Each paragraph should be about one thing only and should tell the reader explicitly how it’s related to the topic sentence. And there should be a concluding sentence that ties together the previous sections. The concluding sentence may repeat part of a previous sentence or sum up something discussed earlier.
Conclusion- This conclusion summarizes what you have said in the essay’s body and should include a few sentences that bring the essay to a close. The conclusion might also include some final thoughts on the subject or any further ideas you want to share with your reader.
The next example shows how an essay can conclude:
“In this way, I have discovered that it is a great privilege to be alive now. I realize that I am in an extraordinary time, not only because of the wonders of technology, but also because of the problems we face. It is up to me to do something with my life, and I will do everything I can to make this world a better place for all people.”
Tips for Writing a Personal Essay
The personal essay is one of the most common college assignments and one of the most popular forms of creative writing. But even with a seemingly simple assignment like “Write about your family,” there are several things you’ll want to keep in mind to make sure your essay is polished, insightful, and effective.
Here are tips to help you write an engaging personal essay:
1 Create an essay outline
Some people prefer to plan their essay before writing, and others prefer to begin with a first draft.
Planning an essay outline is a good way to organize your thoughts. It lets you make sure that your essay has an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
To write the essay outline, follow these steps:
1. Write down the major points you want to include in your essay. This will include the introduction and body of the essay.
2. Place these points in order. Decide how much space you want to devote to each point and fit it into the order of your outline.
3. Write out each point as a simple sentence or two, using a combination of direct statements, quotations, and paraphrases from the readings or other sources.
4. Assemble these points into an outline format, with an introduction and conclusion.”
2 Start with your introduction
Your personal essay should have a clear introduction. This important part of your essay should clearly state the topic and why you want to write about the subject. In this section, it is also important to indicate why your essay will be interesting and why it has value for others.
It would help if you had an introduction that does three things: grabs the reader’s attention (A good hook), states your thesis (what you will be discussing in the essay) and forms an emotional connection with the reader.
The hook is the attention-grabbing statement or question that will make your reader want to read on. Your hook should state what you’re writing about and your thesis, which is the main idea you’re trying to prove in your essay.
3 Fill your body paragraphs
Your body paragraphs should include specific details of your experience supporting your thesis statement. You should also include any interesting quotes from people involved in your story.
The body of your essay also gives specific examples of your thesis. The great thing about personal essays is that they are based on real events and people, so it can be easy to develop ideas for this part of your essay. Remember that when you’re writing your examples, you don’t have to stop telling what happened; try including why it affected you and how it made you feel.
What often makes a personal essay powerful is showing the contrast between two points of view — in most cases, your own and someone else’s
4 Be specific
To write a good Personal Essay, you will need to use specific details, show emotion, and share your own opinion on a topic.
Explain an incident or situation instead of describing how you felt about it. The more specific your description is, the more likely it is that the reader will see herself in your story rather than feeling like she’s reading about someone else entirely. You can also help ensure that what you’re saying applies just as much to you as it does to everyone else.
5 Include a conclusion
The conclusion is the last part of your essay. It is where you sum up what you have written so far and draw your reader’s attention to the main idea of your paper. You should always include a conclusion because it helps your readers understand your ideas and remember them longer.
You can write a conclusion in three different ways:
- Summarizing the main idea of your essay
- Acknowledging that you are finished with what you want to say in the essay and thanking the reader for listening to you
- Explaining how what you wrote in the essay applies to real life and what conclusions can be drawn from it
Examples of effective personal essays conclusions are below:
“I learned that when you make efforts to help others out, you should never expect any gratitude in return. I was simply trying to do something nice for an elderly couple and was rudely rebuffed. Even though I know the couple is always very busy, I was hurt by this behavior because it shows how selfish they really are.”
“In conclusion, I would like to say something about the importance of being confident. If you are, I guarantee that you will never lack for friends. On the other hand, if you have no self-confidence and feel undeserving of the things and people you want in life, then you will be at war with yourself. You will feel compelled to prove that you are somehow better than everyone else. This is not a healthy attitude and it will only end badly. My advice is to improve your self-esteem. Tell yourself that you deserve the best life has to offer—and make it happen!”
6 Proofread your work
Be sure to proofread your essays. Your spelling and grammar do not need to be perfect, but they shouldn’t be so bad that people have to reread whole sentences to understand them.
The tone is also important. You want your essay to sound friendly but not chatty. Students often think they are casual when using words like “I” and “my.” These should almost always be avoided in formal contexts — even in casual conversation, we usually use the more formal “one” and “one’s.”
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