Academic Writing Complete Guide

Personal essays

This is one of the freest forms of literature and can be broken into two sections of narrative and opinion. Personal essays give an account of personal experience as well as your thoughts on a topic. The best writers can write these sections together. Personal essays differ from memoirs because they place no significance on chronology.

It is therefore easy to infer that a personal essay is broad and encompasses a verity of writing styles you can write about a person, a place, or a period in your life. The idea is to give a good account that the reader can uneasily decipher. It incorporates both descriptive and narrative forms of writing.

Tips for writing your essay

As a writer, you have shown the audience, not tell them. To achieve this, you have to use many details, but you have to avoid overly relying on adjectives. Instead, use strong verbs. Do not tell the reader that the sunrise was breathtaking, describe it to them.

Employ sensory detail

When describing something, most writers will dwell on how a situation or a place appeared. This is because most people are sight dominant when using their senses. You can bring the reader further in to the essay by including other senses of touch, smell, sound as well as taste.

Connect the event, place, or person to the larger idea

As you give your description of the place, person, or event, ensure that you remain within the main idea. This can be the thesis of your essay, and you have to show how the details come together to create it. Do not get lost in narrating the event that you forget about going into details on its importance.

Pay attention to the verb tense

As you move from the event that occurred in the past and its impact on your life until now, you have to use the appropriate verb tense to maintain consistency. Some people will describe a past event in the present tense to make the reader feel more involved. However, it requires great skills. Regardless of the approach, you decide to use, ensure that your verb tense remains consistent. If you are not sure about it, you can stick to the past tense for the actual event and discuss the change using the present tense.

A goods personal essay can move the audience and can leave the unsettled, uncertain, and full of questions than answers. To write a good personal essay, you have to understand its structure. You will they move to brainstorming stage to identify the best ideas you can write. By the time you are sitting down to write, you will have the advantage of writing an interesting piece.


Starting your essay

  • Identify a perfect angle for your essay
    You can find an interesting take on an experience or a moment in your life and focus on it. If you look at that experience from a specific angle, you will be able to come up with an essay that is meaningful. For instance, you can write about an experience that taught you a lesson on failure. Decide the best angle to approach this question, and you will have a good topic for your essay.
  • Write about a significant moment
    A good personal essay can hinge on an experience that created a sense of conflict in your life. You can explore how and why you were disturbed, bothered, or hurt by the experience. Think of this essay as a platform for your discussion of significant moments and reflect on its impact on your life entirely. You can talk about the first moment you experienced disgust as a child. Remember that moments laden with strong emotions will be more engaging to the reader. If you have strong emotions about a moment, you will be able to write passionately about it.
  • You can talk about a particular event that evoked an emotional response
    You can talk about a moment in your life that left a lasting impression on you. Personal essays are somewhat a reflection of a unique event that happened in your life and shifted it in a way. The event can be unique and personal to you. The stranger the event, the more engaging it still is to the audience
  • Think of a person in your life with whom you have some difficulties in some way
    You can explore a not-so-good relationship you have with someone. You can talk about how you two have grown apart or a person with whom you have difficulty or complicated communication. This can be good fodder for your essay.

Respond to a current event

A good personal essay can focus on specifics like your experiences. It can also focus on general aspects such as the current event or a topical issue. You can focus on a current event or topic that you feel passionate about. It can be abortion or refugee camps. You can consider the topic from a personal point of view. If it is a current event, identify how it intersects with your personal experiences. You can also identify ways in which you can explore the current events using your personal thoughts, emotions, and experiences.

Formulate an outline

Personal essays follow the format of introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusions. Let us expand on them:

  • The introduction
    This is supposed to hook the audience using a very interesting lead sentence. It should contain some narrative thesis, which heralds the discussion of an event, or a theme that ties your experience to the general idea.
  • The body paragraphs
    You develop your ideas using the body paragraphs as you include evidence to back your narrative thesis. The evidence can be in the form of your experiences and the reflection on them. Yi also has to note the passage time in your body sections to enable the audience to know when and how certain events transpired.
  • The conclusion
    This should provide a wrap up of the events and experiences that you have discussed in your essay. Write the moral of your story in the concluding paragraph. This should include the moment where you reflect on the lessons you got from the experienced and the changes that occurred afterward.

    Previously, it was always recommended to have five paragraphs with the first one being the introduction, two body paragraphs, and a single concluding paragraph. However, you do not have to stick to this five-paragraph essay format so long as you have them in your essay.

Writing the essay

  • The introduction is the opening section of your essay, and you should make it interesting and engage to the reader. Introduce key characters of the essay as well as your narrative thesis. This should be the central question that the essay is going to deal with.
  • Write in your perspective or unique voice
    This is a personal essay, and as such, you can decide to write it in a unique voice or point of view. The voice that you write with should be entertaining as well as informative to the audience. The writing voice that you use can be conversational, just as how you would speak to your mum or best friend. It can also be more reflective and internal. This shows that you question your assumptions and thoughts concerning the subject of the essay. You can also decide to use the first person pronoun as well as the present tense, which allows you to reflect more on specific events or moments.
  • Character development that is enhanced and well-rounded
    Use sensory details to describe your character. Even though you are telling a story from your real life experiences, you can employ elements like plot and character to keep your reader engaged from the onset. Lines of dialogue are also important to include depending on how well you remember the event.
  • Incorporate plot
    You have to give your essay a sense of plot where the sequence of events and moments help in the realization of conflict by the end of the essay. You can use a plot outline to organize your piece.
  • Uncover the deeper truth
    Think about the deeper meanings that are the heart of your personal essay. Give an honest and curious discussion of your experiences, especially if you are trying to uncover the hidden truths and anything you did not know was there that the time. You can try to uncover a truth that is uncomfortable or difficult not access.

Polishing your essay

You can try out different literary techniques and forms which ads richness o your essay through experimentation with similes, metaphors, personification, or repetition. It also makes your essay much stronger.

Read the essay aloud to listen to how it sounds. You can look for a tentative audience as you do that. This will also help you to identify mistakes that are confusing as well as unclear sentences. You get to ascertain the state of your character development, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Correct every mistake to make your essay perfect and then submit it.



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