Personal narrative essays can be fun and rewarding to write. Whenever we delve into our psyches for a positive reason, we can benefit from the cleansing of examining our life more closely – trying to tease out what makes us operate the way we do, or examining our past more fully to try to make our future more rewarding.
However, you’ll want to heed these simple tips and instructions whenever you write about anything personal to you.
- Pick a topic about your life that you are not too emotional about.
- Now, even personal essays need a thesis to keep the paper on track. What’s yours?
- Write an introduction that leads up to that thesis.
- Now reinforce that in body paragraphs and a reflective conclusion
It is important to keep emotions in check whenever you are writing an essay. Your writing will not remain structured, focused, streamlined, or objective if you are so emotional that you begin venting and ranting instead of objectively discussing the essay. As I learned in English composition long ago, and in classes on how to teach English composition, writing about anything overly personal makes both you and the teacher feel somewhat uncomfortable. Some things are best only discussed with family, a counselor, or someone in the clergy if you are so inclined. Avoid overtly personal tragedies, choices, and relationship details—drug addiction, alcoholism, abortion, etc..
Every essay has an underlying message—perhaps your narrative is about an experience that changed you as a person—a moment of clarity that changed you as a person forever (these are called epiphanies—and English professors love using this word to explain the kind of “light bulb” moment that occurs when one has a life changing moment. So think of the angle this tale about your life is taking.
And one great way to introduce a narrative essay, to keep it focused and narrow, is to begin with the age you were when this experience happened. For example,
When I was 28, I think I finally, really ‘grew up.’ I began to have experiences around that age that changed me into an adult. One experience in particular was life-altering for me and caused me to experience an important change in my character. This was when . . .
What you want to move toward as you move from body to closing, is something what that light bulb moment means to you at this moment today.