Just like a good fictional story, your essay should have rising action. Stephen King describes it as making the reader “prickle with recognition.” Your essay should end with your own reflection and analysis. How have the events and thoughts you described changed your life or your understanding of life?
Raise the stakes with each paragraph until you reach a climax or turning point. It’s not enough to say “And that’s what happened.” You have to describe how whatever happened shaped you.
Plan to add a conclusion that will evoke an emotional response in your reader. Your essay may well be about sexism, but you need to illustrate it through the lens of a defining incident that’s deeply personal to you. Just as a good lead hooks readers and draws them along for the ride, a good conclusion releases them from your essay’s thrall with a frisson of pleasure, agreement, passion or some other sense of completion.
Circling back to your lead in your conclusion is one way to give readers that full-circle sense.
) blended personal essays into memoir-esque collections that became best sellers.
Personal Experience Essay Topics
We head for the nearest bookseller when essay titans like David Sedaris or Anne Lamott have a new release.
The challenge lies in getting that story and message out of your head and into print in a way that resonates with your audience.
Starting somewhere in the late 2000s, a certain type of personal essay experienced a popularity boom.
When I was young, my family didn’t go on outings to the circus or trips to Disneyland. Instead, we stayed in our small rural West Texas town, and my parents took us to cemeteries.
—Anne Lamott, “Blessings: After Catastrophe, A Community Unites” Your hook and opening paragraph should establish the topic of your essay (or at least allude to it) and set the scene and tone. Your challenge is to evoke those senses and feelings without flatly stating them.