A well written personal essay can inspire and galvanize readers to act (for example to change something in their lives). It can be defined as a nonfiction narrative story in which authors share their personal experiences, incidents, insightful information or lessons learned from finding themselves in a predicament. In order to write a compelling piece, the first step is to understand the personal essay format and its implicit structure. Then, it is best to explore multiple personal essay topics by coming with basic outlines allowing one to examine which one would be the most compelling.
Table Of Contents
Like most academic tasks, the personal essay format can be easily outlined in five-paragraphs. Start with an introductory paragraph. It gives your reader a clear understanding of what the story will be about. Then, catch their attention and motivate them to read the rest of the paper with an awesome title. As you can see learning how to write a personal essay doesn’t have to be a pain when the process is clearly explained.
The following step requires students to include a thesis statement to the introduction and all the points you would like to discuss.
After creating an introduction, you must then formulate three body paragraphs that support your thesis statement. Each new point should contain its own body paragraph. Don’t forget to make transitions from one paragraph to another to make sure that everything flows smoothly.
In the end, it will be essential to wrap everything up and give your audience a sense of completeness by writing a proper conclusion. Restate your thesis, summarize the main points that you have stated in body paragraphs and leave your reader with a specific emotion, depending on the subject of your paper.
Before looking at some prominent personal essay examples let us discover what criteria can be used to select the most suitable topic for oneself.
Personal Essay Topics
If you have got a lot of exciting stories to tell, your personal essay can shine brightly by interactively engaging the reader. Put in a little extra effort and dig deeper to find a unique or interesting experience or an unusual moment in your life.
Looking at a life lesson from another angle can turn into deep and purposeful subject matter for your essay. But, if you decide to pick a topic from a huge list of personal essay topics that you found in the internet, it’s recommended to be precise and careful because not all of them can meet the requirements of your professor.
Personal Narrative Essay Topics
In this type of writing, try to explore a unique experience that created a sense of conflict in your life. Explore how and why you were confused, annoyed, or hurt by the experience. Imagine your piece of paper as a place where you can freely express your emotions and discuss significant moments and reflect their impact on your life. This tip can help you to create a bunch of really good essay topics, but if you need a motivation, you can find some examples below.
- "One small step that helped me skyrocket in my career!"
- "Why controlling urges teaches you master self-control."
- "People only learn from their own mistakes."
- "Life is not a one-dimensional path: it is curvier than a snake!"
- "What I learned about conquering my fears."
- "A moment when you should have made a better choice."
Write about specific emotions
You may also talk about a specific event in your life that left a long-lasting impression on you. Usually, this type of essay acts as a reflection of an incident that took place in your life and shifted it in some way. Dive deeper into your mind and find an event that is unique and personal to you. The weirder the occurrence, the more likely the essay will be engaging to read.
- "Moment when your life changed forever."
- "A disappointment you've experienced."
- "An accident that changed everything."
- "A near death experience."
- "Most terrifying thing you've witnessed."
- "An event that changed your life."
If you have not noticed, each of these titles can bring a fascinating vibe to the table. The names grab your attention, but you can only honestly know what they are about when you start reading them. That is the secret to a provocative title! Check out EssayPro's TOP 25 Personal essay topics to help you get started.
Crafting An Outline
This is one of the most important steps of personal essay writing at any level. Your outline will serve you as a navigator, and you don’t want to get off the track, do you? It will be important to understand how to start a personal essay, what to write in body paragraphs and how to conclude it appropriately.
Start your paper with a statement about your story, while at the same time catching the reader’s attention by making use of a hook sentence. It may be a suitable quotation, definition, fact or even an intriguing question. Don’t leave your readers in the dark by explaining the important things such as:
- Who are the major characters?
- When and where is it taking place?
- What kind of story is it?
The great introduction should also have a narrative thesis.
It must be written in one concise sentence that will bring the reader to the starting point of your essay.
It should include supporting evidence for your narrative thesis. Usually, it is presented in the form of your experiences and your reflections on these events. You should also note the passage of time in your body sections, so make sure that the reader is aware of when and how each specific chapter took place.
Naturally, it should include a conclusion to the events and experiences discussed throughout the essay. Students should also come to discover a life lesson by going through the story. It is a moment where you show what you have learned from your experiences or how previous events have changed your life.
Take our piece of advice and write your personal essay in 5 paragraphs. Use one for the introduction, two-three for the body section and one for the conclusion. Doing so allows one to put together a solid outline from the start. Nonetheless, keep in mind that you do not need to be limited to five paragraphs as long as you have all three sections covered in the personal essay.
Personal Essay Writing Process
So now let’s discuss how to write a personal essay. We are going to explore the various stages it involves when applying a step by step format, so just follow our essay writer tips and don’t skip anything.
Start with engaging opening sentence
Open your personal essay with an introductory section that will be engaging and interesting for your reader. In the opening section, introduce the principal characters of the story as well as the central theme or themes. It should also present the fundamental question of the essay.
Write from your unique point of view
You are free to write from your point of view or in your own unique style. In contrast to other types of essay, writing from your perspective or in your personal manner is welcomed.
Take the characters into account
Be sure to describe your characters from all angles. Even though it is your real life experiences, you should still consider storytelling elements like the plot and characters. Using these ingredients in your writing will keep your reader engaged and help your essay flow smoothly.
Shed light on a deep truth
Discuss your background experience with honesty and curiosity. Don’t be afraid to uncover a hidden truth or a truth you didn't know was there at the time. Expose a thing that is uncomfortable or difficult for you to discuss. No matter who will read your essay. Whether it will be a teacher or somebody else, they will definitely appreciate your honesty and strive to share your experience.
Personal Narrative Essay
Writing a personal narrative essay is an easy way to share your (writer’s) personal experience or a story from your life. Writing a good paper will require you to focus on many vivid details and look at them from another angle. You will need to identify crucial points and pay a lot of attention to the information you want to present.
The first line should let the audience know what you will be talking about and your own point of view on the subject. In the body paragraphs, it would be necessary to give the reader a full idea of what happened (personal experience, a particular event, etc.) and how you feel about it. Your story can be told chronologically, or you can just group the facts by importance.
In the end, you will need to wrap everything up and present the main idea of your story, whether it is a lesson that you’ve learned, the impact of a particular experience, etc. Using this type of personal essay format will allow the author to keep their audience in an interactive manner throughout the entire piece.
Writing A Rough Draft & Submitting
After you have completed all the previous steps, it’s time to write a rough draft. Writing a rough draft gives you the opportunity to get some new ideas about what you're writing. Moreover, it’s a great place to polish your essay up and correct small grammar, spelling and other types of mistakes. Get a second pair of eyes: No one can rate your writing as well as a neutral party. As soon as you have checked everything, you can start to write the final paper.
Before submitting your personal essay, double check everything once again and make sure to present the central theme. After it, go through it and proofread your entire piece. It is somewhat frustrating to read an essay full of grammatical mistakes, which can be easily avoided. You can ask your classmate for help, so by that way, you will save each other. Just don't forget to meet the deadline and you're officially finished!
Personal Essay Examples
In our time it’s much more easier to find things on the Internet, and examples are not an exception. Remember one simple thing, not everything that you can find on the Internet is done correctly. If you need some inspiration to get started you can find some personal essay examples below, or you can use our free essay samples to master your skills in any type of writing.
Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team
As a writer, I love writing personal stories with different perspectives and approaches as well as unique styles. There are a few tips I can give you for writing these personal pieces of work. My first and foremost tip is that you must use sensory detail and vivid description. My second tip for you is to combine personal experience with universal experiences. This will help you develop a story that is relatable and deep. Another tip that I have for you is that you find your voice and use it; if you’re original in your writing, you will be more memorable to your reader. Another tip is to not be general while you write. When you create a story, you wanna be as specific as possible in your themes and descriptions. Write about something that has meaning to you, but narrow it down to something concrete. My last and probably most important tip is to have fun while writing! Experiment with metaphors and words! Add surprises to your writing. This type of essay is supposed to be fun to write.
Writer Bonnie Lawson, from EssayPro
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The Personal Narrative Essay Outline
There are two times when you will write personal narrative essays – for a college admissions essay requirement and as a course assignment in an English com class. Usually such essays will be written in response to some prompt and will entail your depiction of an experience or experiences that in some way have shaped what you now believe or value, or even the person you have become. Some students find this type of essays to be the most difficult one. That’s why we have decided to give you some tips and help with it. Whether for admissions or assignment, the personal narrative essay outline is essentially the same and should at least roughly conform to the following structure.
The Hook: Your first sentence should be compelling and make the reader want to continue. Let’s say you are going to present a tale about your travel abroad, specifically an experience of being “pick-pocketed” in Florence, Italy. You might begin with a startling fact about the number of incidents of this crime in a day in that city or the fact that child gypsies are sent out by their families to pick-pocket as a means of supporting those families. On the other hand you may start with a description of your feelings caused by this accident. It will be an intriguing start, because the reader would like to know what the reason for your fear or despair was.
Set the Scene: Here you want to give the reader the general place and time of the experience(s) you will be relating. Sometimes, the experiences may occur over a period of time (for example, growing up in poverty) or they will relate to a single incident (being in Italy for a week as a part of family vacation). You must always include such information in the introduction. The reader should know from the very beginning where and when the action takes place.
The Thesis Statement: They can be a bit different from the statement you would write for another type of essay. You can actually begin your story, for example, “The morning began like any other, with breakfast and decisions about what we would visit that day, but it certainly ended up differently,” or you can offer a lesson learned, “I now know why travelers are encouraged to protect their valuables with one of those pouches that can go inside their clothing,” or some theme that your story will portray, “Hardships and lack make us all innovators of sorts.” It should also be interesting so that the reader would want to know more and continue reading the essay.
Usually, the body paragraphs will tell the story of the experience. However, this is not always the case. Suppose your essay is about growing up in poverty and you have used the theme that this condition turned you into an innovator (your theme). Each paragraph will then provide the reader with an example of how you became an innovator. Perhaps you learned how to fashion “toys” from objects you found in the neighborhood; perhaps you learned how to mix unlikely combinations of food when there was very little in the cupboard; perhaps you started to design and make clothes when there was no money to buy them.
Remember that every argument should always be followed by examples.
Remember to use good transition sentences between your body paragraphs – they can come either at the end of a paragraph to introduce the next one, or at the beginning of the new paragraph with some reference back to the previous one. All the paragraphs should be connected and the narration should be logical.
The other point is this: you need to “show” the reader your story, not just “tell.” You can do this by injecting actual conversation or by descriptions that paint a picture. Remember that you should avoid direct and dry statements here. Show your story in bright colors and use more description paragraphs.
Reflect on your experience(s) by asking yourself a couple of questions. What have you learned? How has your life been impacted? Would you act differently if you could relive that situation again? It’s very important to understand the lessons that you have received. It will explain your choice to write about this event and show that you are mature enough to learn from your experience, even if it’s bad.
Some Additional Tips
Usually these essays are written in the first person, so you will be using a lot of “I’s.” After you have written the piece, go back and see if you can replace some of those “I’s” by altering sentence structure. You may want to use passive constructions here also. There shouldn’t be many repetitions in the text.
You will obviously move from past to present and back to past tenses in this essay, and that is expected. Try to make it easy for a reader to understand when you give a retrospective and when the narration is in the present time. Don’t mess it up too much.
The Ideas On Writing
Some Personal Narrative Essay Ideas
1. Choose an incident or experience that is a bit “extreme” – extremely frightening, extremely humorous, extremely sad or poignant, or different from the experiences that most people have. This will make your narration far more interesting to the reader. Try to avoid boring and obvious things. But also don’t forget to include the lessons you have learned from this extreme experience, otherwise the story will seem incomplete or even senseless.
2. If you are responding to an essay prompt for college admissions, you will have options. For some students it makes the task easier, while others struggle even more with these given options. Read those options carefully and make a list of what you might write about for each prompt. Then review your lists and choose the one about which you have the most passion and emotions. This will make your writing more interesting as the chosen topic will be the most appealing for you.
3. If you are looking at a college admissions essay, and you have time to generate topic ideas, set up a file on your phone. It is with you every day, and you can enter ideas as they come to you. Some people also prefer using notebooks for all their thoughts. Choose the variant that is more suitable for you and write down all the topics that come to your mind during the day. Then, when you get ready to choose a topic, you will have lots of options. You can also try mind mapping to choose the topic you want to speak about. There are a lot of tips and information about mind mapping on the web, so it’s not difficult to find out more about it.
4. If the assignment is due shortly, and you do not have much time, sit quietly some place, go back to your childhood and move toward the present. What incidents or experiences really stick out in your mind? Which do you remember in great detail? These are your options. Consider using them.
This is a rather simplistic explanation for narrative essay construction, but it should get you started. You can find a great guide "how to write a personal narrative essay" on many college websites, so if you need more details, check those out! Also if you find yourself in a situation where you need professional help with writing your narrative essay – don’t hesitate and contact us! Our expert writers will perform an excellent paper for you no matter how short your deadline is and our support team will help you to place an order. They will also keep you informed of all the details of the ordering process. Thus you may be sure that your narrative essay will be written on time in an interesting and exciting way.
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