Personal Essay

THE PERSONAL ESSAY

ASSIGNMENT

Your first major assignment is to write a personal essay drawn from your own life experiences. A personal essay sometimes called a personal memoir or, simply, a memoir, from the French word for memory is an example of what is sometimes called creative nonfiction.  The story a personal essay tells is the story of a real moment in the authors life. It is based on truth.

A personal essay relates an event in the life of a person as that event appears in the mind of an often older and wiser author. A good example of a personal essay is Annie Dillards Death of a Moth, which you wrote about in your second discussion board post. You can use this essay as a model, but you may go in whatever direction you like. The important thing to remember is that there should be some distance between the person who had the experience and the person who is telling the story today (you in the past, and you, today, reflecting on that experience).

This assignment asks you to compose a personal essay that vividly describes a moment or event in your life and explains implicitly or explicitly why that moment or event is significant for you. Your personal essay should be full of relevant detail that helps the reader to see, feel, hear, smell, and perhaps taste what happened to you.

Some of the things that a personal essay should have would include some, if not all of the following:

A clearly identified event (What happened? Who was involved?)
A clearly described setting (When and where did it happen?)
Vivid descriptive details and vibrant language
A consistent point of view (First person)
A clear point (Why does the story matter?)

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