How to write a personal Essay The personal/narrative essay

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How to write a personal Essay

The personal/narrative essay tells a story. Generally the narrative essay is conversational in style, and tells of a personal experience. It is most commonly written in the first person (uses I). This essay could tell of a single, life-shaping event, or simply a mundane daily experience

Examples:A narrative essay could tell of . . .

* my brother's and my fishing trips;

* a boring trip to the grocery store;

* my near-death experience at the beach.

There is very little mystery to writing the personal narrative essay. There is no proper topic for such an essay. An essay can be about a variety of personal experiences. You, the writer, have the right to say what you want about your personal experience. You can write about anything -- Aunt Sally, the funky necklace you bought at a garage sale, the harrowing experience of being stuck in an elevator, the best Christmas you ever had, the worst day of your life. No topic or subject is off-limits; therefore there are endless opportunities to write an essay about your personal, point-of-view of what happened. A personal narrative essay can become a beautiful thing. It shows how the past or a memory’s significance affects the present or even the future.

We all have stories to tell. But facing a blank page is intimidating. Knowing where to begin becomes a real dilemma. A good place to start is with the word I. Write I was, I saw, I did, I went, I cried, I screamed, I took for granted. I is an empowering word. Once you write it on the page it empowers you to tell your story. That’s exactly what you are going to do next. Tell the story. Get it all out. Don’t worry about how many times I appears in the text. Don’t worry how scattered and unfocused thoughts are. Write however your mind tells you to write. Once the story is all down on paper you will go back and begin to shape the essay into a form that says exactly what you want it to say about your experience.


Write about something that happened to you. Use the pronoun I. (Essay should be 1-2 pages double space typed 12pt Times New Roman font)

Use descriptive language so that the reader will really know what the experience was like (remember to use most of your five senses.) Choose effective verbs and adjectives.

Be sure you essay is broken into paragraphs and that it has an introduction and conclusion.

Use your journal or take a look at this list for other ideas

  • Tell about a terrifying experience that you had when you were young.

  • Describe an important social event that you took part in. (wedding, church party, sports event, etc.)

  • Describe one of your grandparents. What has he/she accomplished in life? Would you like to be like him/her?

  • Tell about a family outing or vacation. What did you learn from the experience?

  • Is there anything in your past that you would like to change? How would you change it if you could?

  • Relate an exciting experience from which you developed a particular talent or interest.
    All of us learn from our failures as well as successes. What is something you gained from an unsuccessful experience?

  • Have you ever wanted something so badly that you would do anything to get it? How did you feel after you received or attained the thing that you desired? Did it make your life happier or more miserable? Tell about such an experience.

  • Who was the most influential person in your life? How did this person make you want to become better?

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