Hi, everyone. I’m Farzana. I’m ecstatic to be a writer for this little blog. I hope you visit often and make sure you harass your friends to visit the blog as well. I’ll be ever so grateful.
Well, now that we have dispensed with introductions, let me as you a question: do you like reading or writing personal essays? If not, I hope you continue to read because then you will benefit from it (meaning you’ll increase your knowledge on this topic). If you decide not to give me a few minutes of your time, then I hope you like my other posts better! For those of you who do have some positive feelings towards personal essays, I have a few tips on writing personal essays that I have learned from class and from guest speaker Paula Darrow, the articles editor of Self magazine (she’s the editor of the “self-expression” section). I thought I should pass on some of the knowledge I gained on to you.
Writing a personal essay:
-A personal essay can usually range from 800-2,000 words.
– To pick a topic, you should start with a memory— one that sticks out the most to you because it most likely affected you in some way. Your topic shouldn’t be your best experience or your worst experience. It should be an everyday experience with a larger significance behind it.
– Your personal essay should not be an overview of your life (Naturally, you’re not write an autobiography here, are you?) The reason for not including your life from birth to present in a personal essay? Probably because you won’t be detailed enough in the amount of words a personal essay usually contains—that’s one reason among others.
– You want your piece to be familiar yet surprising to the readers. I doubt readers will want to continue if they know what’s going to happen. For your essay, you don’t want to choose a situation that is predictable. Paula Darrow mentioned that being counter intuitive is a good thing, the more counter intuitive the better! In your essay, it’s good if you have a shift in perspectives and have some type of epiphany (I’m guessing it’s okay if you don’t; it depends on your story).
– In terms of voice, it should be conversational.
– Also, it’s good to set up scenes and characters so the readers can imagine them and relate to them. It’s quite similar to fiction writing in regards to this.
For those of us who prefer reading rather than writing them, check out
www.salon.com (it’s the life section).