The Three-Part Approach to a Perfect Personal Essay
Personal Essays are inevitable-regardless of where you are at in life, you are likely to meet with the task of a personal essay. Fortunately, the expectations for a personal narrative are roughly the same, regardless of the context of your assignment. In case it’s been awhile (or this is your first time), here is some great advice to help you successfully write a personal essay.
Before you begin, it is important to recognize why you are being asked to complete this task. Personal writing allows teachers and admission boards to quickly get a feel for who you are, while also gaining insight into your grasp of writing conventions. Regardless of the specific rubric readers will use to grade your essay, the scoring with revolve around three criteria:
- Do you demonstrate a command of basic writing skills?
- Do you successfully reach your audience?
- Do you make your essay memorable?
A good personal essay manages to achieve all of these goals in a way that flows naturally and appears effortless. By keeping these goals and pointers in mind you, too, can write or buy essay online that is sure to impress!
Demonstrating basic writing skills:
The easiest way to leave a positive impression on your reader is through gracefully adhering to the personal narrative structure. Personal essays allow you the freedom to stray from any strict format but that does not mean you should disregard writing conventions altogether.
Throughout your essay be sure to use correct sentence structures, proper grammar, and interesting vocabulary. You will want to write authentically-using your own voice and style-but never use this as an excuse to neglect proper language conventions.
Your essay should be logical. Use the guidelines of a 5-paragraph essay to make your writing clear. Like any other text, your essay should begin with an introduction that contains a thesis statement so that the reader understands the direction of your essay. The goal of this paragraph is to catch the reader’s attention and set the scene for the rest of your narrative. Your thesis statement should identify the theme or the learned lesson that your essay will address.
In the body paragraphs, you will want to “prove” your thesis by presenting vivid descriptions and specific details. Show, rather than tell, the reader all of the emotions and sensations you experienced, ideally using all five of the senses. Proper usage of transitions will help your story unfold logically-whether you choose to write chronologically or not. Remember to be consistent in your point-of-view and verb tenses. As a personal essay, your story should be written in the first-person, which implies you are speaking for yourself, not anyone else. Correct verb tense is key-use the past tense to “report” the story and the present tense to “reflect” or provide insight you understand now.
The conclusion is the perfect place to develop this reflection and analysis. Your conclusion substantiates the “moral of the story” you claimed in your thesis statement. A good conclusion, therefore, will tie together the story, restating (in different words!) what was said in the introduction and hopefully turning what you learned personally into a universal truth.
Reaching the audience:
A great essay is crafted by striking this perfect balance between the personal and the universal. The reader does not know you and is therefore not inherently inclined to care about your story. Your writing, therefore, must move him to connect. The most successful way to turn your personal account into something relatable, which has implications on a larger scale, is to start with the very specific. Do not write about broad generalizations; focus on one person, one place, one object, or one experience in such colorful detail that the reader feels as though he personally know it. Then broaden the scope to a larger meaning or truth.
In order to be successful with this, it is important you choose a topic about which you are passionate about and can describe with a lot of feeling. Some writers believe they have to have picked something “unique” and “obscure” to make their essay stand out. The reality is, if you do not truly connect with your topic, you are not going to be able to make the reader connect either. Pick something that you care about- regardless of whether or not it feels “commonplace”. What will make your essay stand out is the memorable ways in which you manipulate that topic?
Doing something memorable:
You can make the commonplace new by breaking from the traditional mold of how your theme is usually approached, delving into the raw complexities of your personal experience. Human beings, by nature, rarely feel just one emotion at a time. Capitalize on this condition you share with the reader by being frank about the contradictory thoughts or feelings you had regarding the experience illustrated in your essay. Although overwhelmingly distraught over losing your friendly feline, was there possibly a slight feeling of relief and freedom upon his death? Instead of brushing over this “unusual” response, emphasize and analyze it! Honesty and complexity are what makes a writer seem genuine and that will improve your score.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to try out unlikely connections. In order to “position your personal account inside a larger context”, you may want to consider how it relates to a powerful piece of literature, current event, or even a scientific discovery. It can be very powerful to align an emotional sensation with something unconventional, like the biology behind that reaction. Writer Leslie Jamison, who has published collections of personal essays, recommends this method. She points out that “there is so much outside the false cloister of private experience; and when you write, you do the work of connecting that terrible privacy to everything beyond it.”
Whether you make your essay unique by the content of the story, the uncensored honesty in your account, or the unusual connections, remember to always solidify what you achieved throughout the essay in a strong, analytical conclusion. Use this space to declare how your experience had implications on your understanding of life, humanity, or some other grand theme. Do this clearly and eloquently and you will have no problem earning a high score.