Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Essay 5: Personal Essay

A personal essay is an essay based on the author's lived experience. The personal essay is usually based on the writer's life and uses the first person. The personal essay can explore memories, ideas, feelings, beliefs, tastes, identities, fears, wishes, and dreams. For essay 5, you will write a personal essay. The essay may explore a memory, a relationship, a favorite thing (object, song, activity, place), a least favorite thing, an observation, an idea, a goal...the list goes on. Before you jump into writing your paper, spend some time prewriting, reflecting, thinking about the significant events and people in your life; reflect on the things that you care about; reflect on what you've learned and how you've changed; reflect on what you do every day and why you do it. Consider the mundane: sometimes the smallest details -- the color of a pillowcase, the way you eat your favorite foods, the way you organize your address book -- can become profound. You can write about anything you want as long as you do it with focus, creativity, and thoughtfulness. Your essay should be between 2.5 and 5 pages.

1. Cover the Basic Facts

Keep in mind that your reader may not be familiar with your interests or background.You may have to explain certain aspects of your story. Always assume your reader is intelligent, but that they may have a different background than you.

2. Vivid Detail

Your words will come alive with strong, active verbs. Strong: The puppy whimpered and cowered in the corner. Weak: The puppy was afraid. Use carefully considered adjectives.Describe important aspects of your story in greater length and condense less important aspects.

3. Voice/Personality

Decide whether you want to be totally serious, funny or somewhere in between. Humor is fine, just don’t overdo it and it’s best to avoid sarcasm. Can your reader get a sense of who you are or what impression you want to make by telling your story? Ask yourself how you want to come across.

4. The Meaning of Your Story

This should be discussed in a full paragraph before the conclusion. You may also reflect on your feelings and ideas throughout the essay. If you’re not sure what the point of your story is before you begin writing, take more time to figure it out.

*Final Points*

No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. Hopefully you’ll discover something about yourself you didn’t know before doing the essay, even it it’s just little details. Hopefully this will be a piece of writing you will delight and/or take pride in - not just another school assignment.

Your draft of paper 5 is due Monday, November 16th. If you wish to include this essay in your portfolio, you will need to revise it, and revise it again (all of the papers in your portfolio must include at least 2 drafts).

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