Great Personal Essays

Great Personal Essays-75
“A lot of writers fail to remember that great essays can be written about stuff that’s happy or funny,” says Sloan.“It doesn’t always have to be wrenching, and in fact, we’d often rather it weren’t!

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Raymond says she receives many submissions from foreign travelers who “write up, essentially, a description of that country without any personal element, without a narrative and without a character arc or any sort of personal revelation,” making it about as fun as your neighbor’s vacation slideshow.

A good essay, like a road trip, takes you somewhere different from the place you started.

As an official judge for the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition, I read a lot of essays, the quality of which fluctuated from powerful to pointless.

Despite this range, what struck me most were the handful-and-a-half common, correctable mistakes that kept many essays, even potentially wonderful ones, from truly hitting their mark.

But, actually, now that I think about it, maybe I am.'” So approach all issues, especially your own, with an open mind.

Susan Shapiro, a writing professor and author whose own essays have appeared in The New York Times‘ “Lives” and “Modern Love” columns, warns writers not to trust themselves absolutely.

Most importantly, they tell a story and show the shared humanity in even the oddest of jobs.

Secret Lives stories are:-Fresh and surprising: The experience at the heart of the story is not something you hear about every day, it piques the reader’s curiosity from the start because it’s unusual, maybe even a little strange.-Narrative: Like all Narratively pieces, “Secret Lives” stories are narrative-driven, not topic-based.

“Make your point through personal anecdotes.” Midge Raymond, longtime writing instructor and co-founder of Ashland Creek Press, agrees that personal stories are a perfect vehicle for your point.

“Personal essay writers need to keep in mind that readers want to be told a story,” she says.


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