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How to Write a Personal Experience Essay With Sample Papers

Virginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes in helping people write essays faster and easier.

Write About Relationships

Do you have a sister, friend, cousin or other female relative that has significantly influenced you?

Do you have a sister, friend, cousin or other female relative that has significantly influenced you?

Included in this Article

1. What you need to do to get a good grade.

2. How to explain the meaning of a memory.

3. How to choose a great topic.

4. Easy organizing strategies for fabulous essays.

What Makes a Great Essay

Want a good grade on your essay? Instructors and testing agencies assign a lot of personal experience type essays and so it is worth your time to know how to write one easily and effectively so that you get a top score.

The reason these types of assignments are given so often is that anyone can write about their own experience and it doesn't require any outside resources or research. However, even though anyone can tell a story about their life, that does not mean anyone can write a good essay about that experience. As a professor and teacher for 30 years, I've read thousands of essays and can tell you there is a distinct difference from telling a story about yourself and writing an excellent personal experience essay. The difference between good and great:

  • Top essays paint a vivid picture of the experience so that the reader feels they are there.
  • Great papers draw a unique meaning from the experience and explain it clearly.
  • The best papers are well-organized.

This article tells you how to do all that!

Write About a Conflict

When is a time you lost?  What person have you had conflicts with?

When is a time you lost? What person have you had conflicts with?

How to Find Significance of aMemory

Writing an essay about a personal experience or relationship can be a powerful way of both discovering the meaning of your own past and sharing that past with others. When you write about something in your past, you have two perspectives: your perspective in the present and the perspective you had at the time the event occurred. The space between these perspectives is usually where you will find significance in that event or relationship.

  • Your perspective in the present.
  • Your perspective you had at the time the event occurred.

The space between these perspectives is usually where you will find significance in that event or relationship.

Choosing a Memory to Write About

If the event or relationship is recent, you will be closer to the "you" that experienced the event. If the event is more distant, you will often find yourself reflecting on the experience, your reactions and the meaning of the experience differently. As you write the essay, you will need to decide if you want to talk about the experience as you see it now, or as you saw it then. Often, you may do both of those things, or use your perspective now as the conclusion.

Example

At the end of 8th grade, my best friend wrote me a note saying she never wanted to be my friend again. I was devastated, and terribly depressed all summer, terrified to start High School alone. Forty years later, I realize that that experience was probably what made me finally reach out to develop new friends. Those friends encouraged me to develop my life-long interest in speech, theater, and writing. More importantly, that experience of rejection gave me a lifelong compassion for others.

— VirginiaLynne

Topic Ideas

Any event from your past can be a good topic if it was important to you. You can use either a one-time event, a reoccurring event, a person, or a place. Brainstorm ideas by thinking about the following:

  • A relationship with an important person like a grandparent or best friend.
  • A single encounter with someone that changed you.
  • An event which was small but significant.
  • A major, life changing event.
  • Something that you did over and over that was meaningful to you.
  • Your experience and memories of a place that embodies who you are, or has meaning for you.

How to Decide if You Have a Good Topic

To make sure you have a good topic, you need to determine what the meaning of that event or person was for you. To help you get ideas about the meaning and to decide whether this topic is a good choice, jot down some notes answering the following 5 questions:

  1. What did I think the meaning of the experience was when it happened?
  2. How have my thoughts about it changed?
  3. What did I learn?
  4. How has my life direction been affected by this event?
  5. Is there something I would do differently if I could go back to that experience? Any regrets?

How to Organize Your Essay Easily

Why re-invent the wheel? Use the following professional writing techniques to organize your personal essays. These strategies aren't secret and they aren't hard. They are what you've seen over and over in books and movies. Now you need to use them yourself.

Chronological Organization

This is the most obvious way to tell the story. You just tell it in the way it happened in the order it happened. Most of the other organizing techniques use this way to tell the main part of the story. See Anne Dillard's "Handed My Own Life" for a good example of chronological organization of a personal essay.

Characteristics of this organization strategy:

  1. Tells story in the order that it happened.
  2. Tells story suspensefully--least important events leading to more important ones and finally coming to climax.
  3. Explains meaning after climax or lets events show the meaning. For example, Dillard states her understanding in a series of phrases, such as "I was handed my own life," and "my days were my own to plan and fill" along with a lot of specific details of how she did that. Of course, she also uses the title to explain her meaning.

Expectations Unfulfilled

Want an easy way to organize your essay? Try the "Expectations Unfulfilled" technique. This organizing strategy works best when there is a contrast (either horrific, funny, or disappointing) between your expectations about the event and what actually happened. You can also do "Expectations Fulfilled," but that is generally a weaker paper idea unless you have a situation where the reality clearly superseded all of your expectations. Rick Bragg's "100 Miles an Hour, Upside Down and Sideways" is a good example of this kind of essay organization.

Characteristics of Expectations Unfulfilled:

  1. Introduction vividly describes expectations for a particular event. Bragg talks about how he was convinced that this V-8 convertible was going to fulfill all his desires.
  2. Maybe foreshadow the problem. Bragg's uncle warns him to be careful because "That'un could kill you."
  3. Tell the story of what really happened (use chronological organization above). Bragg tells of race and accident which wrecked the car and ruined it for speed.
  4. Describe the contrast between reality and expectations. Bragg's memories of the crash are the radio still playing and being pulled out unscratched and of being famous not for having the best car, but for being the kid who survived a 100-mile crash.
  5. Reflection on experience. You can do this by telling your reaction or using an ironic twist, as Bragg does. Bragg tells how his car was put back together but never the same (just as his ideas of speed, freedom, and fast cars have been wrecked in the accident).
  6. Conclude with irony. An ironic end can sometimes be a good conclusion for this sort of story. Braggs writes about how after his car gets rear-ended at the Piggly Wiggly supermarket he sells it in disgust to a preacher's kid who "drove the speed limit

Frame Example

Frame Organization Strategy

Using a frame story for the introduction and conclusion should be familiar to you from lots of movies.One good example of a story frame is UP. In this case, the movie opens with the frame of Carl looking at the scrapbook Ellie has made for him about their life and dreams, before flashing to the present story of Carl and Russell and their adventures. The movie returns to the frame at the end of the movie as Carl looks at the last page of the photobook Ellie has made for him. He learns that it was the journey of the relationship which was the real adventure.

Another kind of frame can be a flashback. In this technique, you start in the middle of the action (or after it is over) and then flashback to an earlier memory. The Notebook uses the story of a man spending time with his wife with Alzheimer's as the frame for his re-telling the story of their romance.

The advantage of using a frame is that it makes it easier for you to talk about the meaning of the story, especially if you use the present day to flashback to the past. Be sure the frame is not just random. There should be an event, object, conversation, or situation which causes you to flash back in memory.

Internal and External Conflicts

With this technique, you organize your story around what is happening internally in your mind, versus what is happening in the event. Of course, like "Expectations Unfulfilled" this works best if there is a conflict between what is happening in your thoughts and what is happening in the situation.

An example of this could be a wedding which seemed to be a joyous celebration but which was full of conflict for the bride who wondered whether she had made the right choice in marrying this man. Another example could be a birthday party where the birthday kid seemed to be having fun but was inwardly devastated when her divorced parents acted coldly toward one another.

Student Sample

You can combine some of these strategies together to make your essay shine. A good example of this is the student essay by Jean Brandt, "Calling Home." Along with using a frame. Brandt also uses internal and external conflicts in her organization.

  1. Introduction: beginning frame story. Brandt's essay has her ride to the mall.
  2. First conflict and resolution: Brandt has an internal conflict about whether she should steal and the resolution that she will.
  3. Second conflict and resolution: Brandt's second conflict is external when she is caught by the store owner and he calls the police.
  4. Third conflict and resolution: Brandt's third conflict is both internal and external. She wonders how her parents will react. She is brought to the police station but not punished by her parents. She realizes that disappointing them and realizing she had made the wrong choice is worse than if they had punished her.
  5. Conclusion: ending frame and expectations unfulfilled. Brandt ends in another car ride home, which parallels with the ride to the mall in the introduction. The twist is that not only was the mall trip not what she expected, but she has also disappointed the expectations of her parents too.

Small Events Can Make Good Essays

Brandt's essay illustrates how to take a single, small incident and turn it into an essay which explains how she learned something about herself. It is a coming of age essay. When thinking about your own essay topic, try to think about moments in your life which were important turning points. The event can be something small and doesn't have to be dramatic. What is important is the significance of that event in your life. See the chart below for some ideas.

Memories of Times When You

Events

People

Memories

were forgiven

teacher

got an award

did something wrong

neighbor

lost something

got caught

grandparent

created something

didn't get caught

sibling or cousin

gave a gift

had an adventure

best friend

forgot something

met a friend

uncle or aunt

were embarassed

spent time with grandparent

bully

felt ashamed

met your hero

someone different from you

regrets

Do you have a favorite memory of your father?  Of sports?  Of childhood?

Do you have a favorite memory of your father? Of sports? Of childhood?

Tips for Chronological Organization

Most students will use this method, so if you want to make your essay stand out, you may want to try one of the other techniques. When you do use this method remember:

  • Where's the Conflict? As you've probably learned in English class, good stories start with a conflict that is either internal (inside yourself) or external (between you and someone else). Good stories show the development of the conflict, the crisis (called a climax) and then the resolution of what happens afterward (either good or bad). Make sure your story follows this pattern.
  • Don't add unnecessary details. You need to "clip" the memory effectively. Imagine yourself as a film editor. What needs to be in the story? What can you leave out?
  • Make details specific and interesting. Make your descriptions of the setting, characters and action concrete and specific. For example:

Don't say, "Maura was a beautiful but boring blonde bombshell."

Say, "Maura was a sleek, 5 foot 10, long-haired, blonde who never tired of talking about her exotic vacations or newest boyfriend."

  • Keep Boredom at Bay. Tell enough detail like setting and character development that the reader is drawn into the story, but don't spend so much time in details that your reader gets bored.
  • Action and Dialogue are Best. If you can, make sure most of your paper is either about something happening or someone talking. Both action and dialogue move the story along faster than description. Anne Dillard's

Metaphor Organization

Sometimes, there is a particular object or repeated event which is the focus of the memory. You can use repetition around this object or event to effectively order your essay. "On Being a Real Westerner" by Tobias Wolff is a good example of using a metaphor to organize.

Characteristics of this organization:

  • Several memories relating to one object, person or emotion. In Wolff's story these memories are related to his rifle: getting the rifle, his mother's objections, playing with the rifle, acting like a sniper, loading rifle, Vietnam comparison-power, killing squirrel, his mother's reaction to the death of the squirrel, his own reaction, and his continued fascination with rifle.
  • Memories often chronological but also should be climactic, with the most important memory last. In Wolff's story, the climax is when he shoots the squirrel and has to deal with the reality of what owning and using a rifle really means, or what it really means to "be a westerner."
  • Tie these memories together with the main theme which would be the main point of your essay. Wolff ties his memories together with the theme of power, the power of the rifle, how the hunger for power shaped him, and his powerlessness to change the past, "a man can't help the boy."
Did you have a moment when you felt carefree? When you returned to childhood?  When you did something crazy?

Did you have a moment when you felt carefree? When you returned to childhood? When you did something crazy?

Organizing Essay About a Person

Generally, it helps to keep the essay focused on one to three important memories about that person. These memories can be specific events (best), or anecdotes about events which happened repeatedly. Characteristics of this sort of essay:

1.Vivid Portrait of Person

  • Dialogue (the reader can hear how this person talks).
  • Describe a place which reflects the person (the reader can know about the interests of the person and picture them where you do).
  • Person (describe what the person looks like).

2. Specific Memories

  • Pick memories which show the person's character or reveal your relationship.
  • Tell one time incidents: every essay should have 1-3 of these. Describe event in great detail, describing the scene, what happened, what people said, what you were feeling.
  • Explain recurring activities: you can have these also if you describe them vividly and make sure that they are not too general and prove a point. Don't say, "My mother always scolded me." Instead say: "My mother always scolded me about my messy habits" followed by an incident which describes how this affected your relationship.

3. Indication of the Person's Significance

Choose 1 or 2 main points to make: Trying to explain everything that person means to you is too much to do in a short essay.

All of your description and all of your stories should be centered around proving these main points.

Other Organizing Strategies

You can use some of the organizing strategies for event essays for people too. Here are some suggestions:

I. Revelation/Expectations Reversed

  1. Your usual judgment about the person.
  2. Analysis of personality/Physical description /some of background history.
  3. The revelation about them (story of a particular moment when you saw this person from a different perspective).

II. Conflict and Resolution Organizing

  1. The story of a conflict you have with this person.
  2. Analysis of personality/Physical description/background history.
  3. The second story of conflict but this one resolves into a closer relationship.
  4. Third story--conflict leads to a lesson learned.
  5. Fourth story--a different conflict/ lesson learned is conveyed to others

III. Comparison and Contrast

Notice that both views are found in each paragraph or section. This paper is ordered thematically. Another possibility is to talk about all the views of another person first, then talk about your views.

  1. Introduction: Description of person and set-up of contrast between you.
  2. Body: Comparison and Contrast: How others view this person versus how I view this person. Or how I used to view that person versus how I now view them.
  3. Conclusion: How I have come to see this person

Questions & Answers

Question: What is the best way to start my essay?

Answer: One really good way is to just start writing down everything you can think of that has to do with that personal experience: sights, sounds, memories, smells, and feelings. When you do this sort of brainstorming, you don't have to worry about grammar or even writing complete sentences. Just write a list of everything you can remember. Sometimes people make this using a web, with the main idea in the middle and lines going out to show the connecting ideas. Whichever way you write it, this brainstorm list gives you a start for your ideas.

After that, you will need to organize your information in order to write the essay. You can use the ideas in this article for that. You might also want to look at some of my other articles and my Personal Experience Essay example that is linked to this article. Another good article to look at is "How to Write a Great Thesis for your Essay."

Question: Do you think "Describe some memorable things that happened to you recently, and tell why these experiences were meaningful to you?" would make a good essay topic?

Answer: Your question is basically the main idea of most personal experience essays which have to do with recalling a specific experience. I always suggest that to make a good essay, students focus on a very specific moment in time. Try to describe that experience so that the reader feels they are there.

Question: What is the best way to start my essay about my experience at a deaf/blind school?

Answer: 1. Expectations: describe what you were expecting before you went. This introduction technique is especially effective if your expectations were reversed.

2. Vivid description: Tell the scene in vivid sensory detail, perhaps focusing on the setting or on one or two children.

3. Background: tell what you have experienced previously which sets you up for this experience.

Question: What are easy words one can use to enter and exit a flashback?

Answer: You need to use a time transition word or phrase which tells the reader it is in the past, such as "seven years ago," or "when I was twelve." You can also just tell the reader you are remembering: "Looking at the night sky made me remember..." or "The look on her face made me remember when..." Coming out of the flashback, you will probably start a new paragraph and say something like: "The meaning of this memory is clear to me when...," Now I know that..., "Looking back I can say that..." For more transitional phrases, see my article: https://hubpages.com/academia/Words-to-Use-in-Star...

Question: What are the points to consider while writing my story on how I almost got molested by a neighbor?

Answer: Quite honestly, I would be very cautious in writing a story about this if it is for a class. You would have to be careful with the language you used and want to be sure you did not cause undue stress to another person who may have faced actual abuse. I always tell my students that writing about anything deeply personal is a wonderful idea because it helps you to come to a better understanding of how that particular incident affected your life. However, writing about a deeply personal event for a class is the same as writing it for the public because lots of other people may see this if you are doing any sort of peer editing in the class. If only the teacher sees it, you may have a different situation. However, I think the best thing to do is to talk to your instructor.

Question: How do I think of something to write about? Like something that left a mark in my life?

Answer: Many events, large and small, can make good essays. My sample essay takes a small event, going to the beach, and expands on the meaning that has had in my life. Often, the easiest and best essays are written about something which is ordinary but which has shaped you. That can be a place you visit all the time, a family tradition, a place that makes you feel peaceful, or a one-time event which you feel changed your direction in life.

Sometimes, students worry that they don't have any dramatic story to tell. However, I often find that the dramatic stories (especially if they are recent) are harder for students to actually pull the meaning out of. In fact, some large events in our lives are things we don't fully understand until we are much older (like a parent's divorce or the loss of a loved one).

One way to get a topic is to think about your emotions towards something or some place or memory. If you have strong emotions, then you will probably have a meaning you can draw from that experience.

Question: For a personal essay, is an experience better if it is something that you think has only ever happened to you?

Answer: An experience essay can be written about an experience that is unique, but it doesn't have to be. Your experience and reaction will be interesting to the reader if it is something that they have not experienced, but it may actually be more interesting to them if they have also experienced something similar. It is important to think about that while you write. You might want to say things like:

"Many people may have experienced something similar.."

or

"My experience was unique to me, but other people may share this type of experience..." or

"What the experience meant to me was

Even though this is something other people may have experienced, I had never thought it would happen to me..."

Question: In a school project, they asked us to take a self-help habit and pretend it was written about you and your life. We need to write a page in our book about that. How do I do this?

Answer: You probably need to talk with the instructor. Since I am not familiar with what your book is supposed to include, I can't offer specific information. However, it sounds to me as if you are supposed to describe yourself as doing this self-help habit and tell how this habit changes your life for the better.

Question: I would like to write about my sister's death. What would be a good way to introduce the topic?

Answer: I am very sorry for the loss of your sister, but I think that in writing about it you can use both share about her life with others and also help your own grieving process.

You can an essay about someone who has died at the moment you learn she is ill, or has passed away. Or you can start it at the funeral and then flash back to her death and explain along the way how that affected you and what she meant to you. However, often the best way to start this sort of essay is to tell a short, favorite story about your sister which explains her importance in your life. Then you can flash forward to some point in time which involves the main story and tell about that experience. Your conclusion can tie those two stories together as you use the first story to explain the effect her death has had on you.

Question: I need to write an article about my experience as a TB patient. What is the best way to start my article?

Answer: Start with a story that illustrates the main point you want to make, or which startles the reader with your experiences. Perhaps you can tell about when you got the disease, or how people reacted to hearing you were ill. Another possibility is to start with the story of a good or bad experience with the health care system.

Question: I am a native of Uganda, and at one point lived in poverty. What would be a good way to write about my experience in an essay?

Answer: Start by telling a story of a time when you were living in poverty. You might want to start in the present moment when you see someone else living in poverty and then flashback to a story about your own life. Then come back to the present moment and tell how you feel about the time in your life now, and what you have learned from the experiences you had. You also might want to talk about how that has changed you and influenced your thinking and how you act now. If you want, you can end with something like helping out the person you see, or encouraging your reader to think, act, or believe something different about poverty.

Question: What is a good topic on the subject of stresses in life?

Answer: Stress is a common experience and writing a paper about your personal experiences with stressful situations is an interesting idea. Here are some topic ideas:

What I learned from stress at work.

How I've learned that families can add to a student's stress.

What parents could do better to help their children overcome stress about school.

How social media increases stress in adolescents.

How animals can help you overcome stress.

How I've dealt with stress in my schoolwork.

Why college students shouldn't worry so much about stress from tests.

How stress leads to panic attacks and strategies I've learned to remain calm.

How friends can help each other overcome stress.

How disrupted or inadequate sleep affects our ability to handle stress.

Do essential oils really help people deal with stress?

Is our microbiome important in dealing with stressful life situations?

Does stress really cause people to be infertile?

How important is exercise and eating to enduring stressful situations?

Can you learn to be more resilient in a stressful situation?

How can you learn to slow down and enjoy life?

What is the best way to handle big disappointments and roadblocks?

How can you stop worrying about what other people think?

Question: What is the best way to start my essay of experiencing life on a farm?

Answer: I think the best way of starting a farm essay is to tell a story. You can either tell a typical morning or a typical day of your life on the farm or tell a story of a dramatic event like the birth of a calf or a difficult time with crops or weather. The story you tell should relate to the meaning you want to express to the reader at the end of the essay. For example, if you want to explain how living on a farm has made you an independent thinker and able to deal with a crisis effectively, you can start with a story that shows you doing that, or shows a time when the circumstances forced you to develop those character qualities. If you want to explain the beauty of living in nature on a farm, you can tell a story of what it is like to see the sunrise each day, or tell what it is like to walk along the land of your property and explain in vivid sensory detail what you see, hear, smell and feel.

Question: What is the best way to start my essay about my experience with adapting to a new country with a new language and culture?

Answer: Start with a conversation or story about a time that you either misunderstood someone, or they misunderstood you. To make this most effective, try to choose a time which was either funny or embarrassing.

Question: Is personal experience about traveling a good topic?

Answer: Writing about your personal experience while traveling is not only an excellent topic, it is a genre all of its own. Rick Steeves is a radio commentator who has on guests each week who give travelogue experiences as well as recommendations. What you need to do for a good travel experience paper is to describe a few things very vividly and then explain how those experiences impacted your life. You might talk about something you saw, someone you met, or some part of history you came to understand. Another thing you can use is the experience of traveling and what you learned about yourself.

Question: "Describe your experiences with issues of diversity." How would one answer this question?

Answer: Generally talking about your experiences with diversity means giving examples of times when you had encounters with people who are different from you in race, socio-economic status, culture, or some other life experience which you are not familiar with.

Question: How can I set a scene in my personal experience essay for a student not willing to go the gym?

Answer: An excellent way to set a scene of conflict is to use dialogue. You could have the teacher telling the class what to do and then talking with the student who says they do not want to go. Then you can tell the inner thoughts of the teacher about the situation. Many times, I find that my students are reluctant to write dialogue because they aren't sure how to write it, so I've written an article about that: https://letterpile.com/writing/Punctuation-of-Conv... You will probably also want to look at my example of a reflection essay for help.

Question: Concerning writing a personal experience essay, is it possible to write about a person you lost?

Answer: While I always suggest that people check with their instructor to find out if there are any restrictions in the assignment, I would say that writing about a person you have lost through either death or another circumstance like moving away, divorce, or a broken friendship can be a good topic for a personal experience essay. Often, we learn a lot as we think about these experiences of loss and I've often found that writing about this type of topic can be not only meaningful to students but also healing.

Question: What would be a good way to write about a coup d'etat that I have experienced?

Answer: Start with your feelings about your country before this event, or with your feelings right now. Then go to the event and conclude with how this even affected your life and also your country for better or worse.

Comments

Saima Baig on July 16, 2018:

How do you write a personal experience about a special trip?

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on March 15, 2018:

Hi Vanessa, everything you need to write your essay is here on my website. I have over 100 articles that explain how to pick a good topic, how to write your thesis and outline and how to give good examples. You will learn and get better in English if you apply yourself and practice! Here is an idea for your essay: start with a story in the present about a problem you encounter in the class, such as a student who is having trouble learning the material or a discipline problem. In the next few paragraphs, give examples from your past teaching that show how you have learned to handle this sort of problem. Then conclude the essay with a paragraph showing how your continuing experiences make you realize that you can overcome this current situation and will become even better as you continue to teach.

Vanessa on March 14, 2018:

I just need help to write an essay for my experience in teaching in the past,present and future. My english are no perfect if your willing to help me with .Im willing to learned from you.

salmafethi2@gmail.com on December 30, 2017:

I want to write about something you did interesting with your friend

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on September 24, 2017:

Hi, Ronald-The best topic is something that you know the meaning of easily, but not something that makes you very emotional, or which is hard to talk about. Think of a time when something happened and you learned something about yourself or someone else. Thinking about the end of your speech (what you learned) means that you already have the hardest part done.

Ronald on September 24, 2017:

Hi what is the best topic to write an personal speech and i'll perform it in my teachers and in my classmates

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 28, 2017:

Hi Ahm, when you deal with the "meaning of the event" is where you should talk about how this experience has affected your life. Generally, you would want to explain the meaning and how it changed you. As far as how long this part should be, I would advise you to give enough detail so that the reader understands the changes it made to you but avoid being overly personal about things you may not want everyone to know or which might reflect badly on another person. Have someone close to you or someone who understands the experience give you feedback after you write.

Ahm muj on August 28, 2017:

Hi,

Do you have any tips for how can I write a personal account of how the ordeal has affected my life?

I'd like ask if I should describe the ordeal prolongedly or briefly.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on May 27, 2017:

Hi, Jorge--I actually have over 100 different articles about writing posted on Letterpile and HubPages, so generally you can find what you are looking for if you search for it. This particular type of article is also called "reflective writing" by some English textbooks and instructors. I think what you are looking for is this article: https://letterpile.com/writing/Reflective-Essay-Sa... which focuses on the example and gives you a full essay.

Jorge Lopez on May 27, 2017:

This is like watching a video about making a soufflé and only hearing people describe how it tastes or how hard it was to make.

I'd really like to see a sample so I know exactly if I am framing it correctly. Do I write it like an editorial? Do I write it like a 3rd grader? I get it. It's subjective. Show me some examples of subjective papers. Walk me through it.

Essay Peer on November 22, 2016:

The setting of a novel or play often plays a big role in the overall telling of the story. Below are tips on how to write a settings essay:

• State your overall theme

• Write your introduction

• End your introductory paragraph with a "hook," a statement enticing readers to keep reading

• Write the body of the essay one paragraph at a time

• Conclude the essay to tie together all of your points and reiterate your theme

Suzette Gray from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on October 21, 2015:

I have now finished my very hard personal experience essay. As it is only for my best friend I will not be posting it anywhere. Thank you VirginiaLynne for your comments and your inspiration. The only thing left to do is to show it to my friend and I must admit that I am being a bit of a chicken in doing this, but I will do it. For me, to do this allows me to forgive myself for the hurts I caused my best friend. I thank you again.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on October 20, 2015:

Hi Watson. Your comment does make sense to anyone who has struggled in making a relationship work, and that is most of us!

Suzette Gray from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on October 20, 2015:

Thanks so much VirginiaLynne. Believe it or not the person I am writing about and the person who is trying to get me on the right track are one and the same and I very much appreciate his critique. I know why he is being tough on me and I too am being tough on myself. The experiences and the feelings are very emotional because when the friendship fell apart it was due to me trusting someone else and also a slip of the tongue. Needless to say I don't trust as easily now. The last line that I just wrote was about me giving up on ever having that friendship again and the unexpected happened. We are now friends but on a totally different level now than before. Writing about it is hard and I know that he wants me to be honest as he has been. I start writing and I can't stop. It is a friendship of over 3 and half years. It is hard to cut back on it so that it fits essay requirements. Thank you for your input and it is much appreciated. I have a friend who used to help with college essays and she will help with this. She also knows what I am writing about. Thanks again. I don't know if this even makes any sense

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on October 20, 2015:

Hi Watson--I appreciate your comment. One thing that is very difficult to do is to separate your feelings and experience from the piece of writing about that experience. It is very easy to feel that the piece we write is really a part of ourselves and that any criticism of that piece is a criticism of us. Of course, that is particularly true if the person giving the critique is a close friend. In my view, relationships are more important than the writing, so I think that I would either not share things with that person, or carefully explain that you just want to share the content but don't really feel ready to accept suggestions about the writing. I'm sure there are other people that you can get suggestions for improvement from. It might be that the same suggestions coming from someone else would be helpful rather than hurtful. However, as an overall help in developing your writing, I suggest that you try to grow into the idea that what you write is a thing you produce, which can be done better or worse some days and which can generally always be improved. Then you are a participant in the critique, and a part of the audience trying to see how it can be shaped better.

Suzette Gray from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on October 20, 2015:

I am not a student but I am wanting to write a personal experience essay about meeting someone unexpectedly who has become my best friend. This person has inspired me to better myself in a lot of ways. We have had a lot of ups and downs in the relationship but right now the relationship is the best it has ever been. He is in college at the age of 45 and that in itself is inspiring. I have sent this friend a few essays but he is being very critical. I know he wants me to really think about it and it is going to be very emotional for me. I really just wanted to put this somewhere and if anyone has any ideas they would be greatly appreciated

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on July 22, 2015:

Ii actually advise students to avoid using quotes to start an essay. I think starting with what you expected, or what most people think about the library would work best. Another way you could introduce this is with a conversation with someone about using the library or by remembering the library you used as a child and comparing it to this college library. A final way to do the introduction is by starting with a very detailed description of the library. They you can talk about what your story is and what it meant to you.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 13, 2015:

I have written some personal experience but it was a hit and miss. This time, you have given me a platform to write them.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on November 04, 2013:

So very sorry Mary to hear about your loss. I think you could use a frame story for this sort of essay. Start perhaps with a memory right now about taking care of things and maybe feeling frustrated about this or seeing something which reminds you of your mom. Then go back in time and talk about your mom dying. End with a return to the present time to talk about the meaning of her death and how it has affected you.

Mary on November 04, 2013:

I need help on how to start my personal essay off. It is going to be about my mum dying in March of this year and me taking on the responsibility of taking over the house and getting left to look after our two pets and my little sister . How would I go about starting this?

heart4theword from hub on August 16, 2011:

Some specifics to think about, in writing your essay. Thanks for sharing.

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