Writing Personal Experience

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Writing and coffee

Don’t you just love to lose yourself in a true story, whether it features romance, mystery, or humor?

People like to read about three kinds of personal experiences:

  • those that are universal,greta-punch-62508
  • those that awaken nostalgia, and
  • those that are unique.

If you are reading this article, you undoubtedly have had experiences you want to share. How do you write them so they resonate with your readers?

It all starts with a story.

The anecdote you want to share has a beginning, a middle, and an end; one or more characters; a particular setting; a theme; perhaps some action that resulted in a change; possibly some dialogue. You will need to develop all of these as you would in a novel, though economically if you’re writing a short piece. And, your story must have a point.

To have a point, the story must do at least one of these three things:

  • present a solution to a problem,

    photo-by-torgakhopper-on-flickr

    Image by torgakhopper on flickr.

  • make the reader laugh, and/or
  • remind the reader of what we once took for granted but have lost.

In order to be effective, the personal narrative must be well-crafted.

Observe the conventions of good spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Use precise words that are descriptive, active, and visceral. Engage the senses and the emotions. Vary sentence structure. Reflect on how your experience impacted you. What did you learn from it? What takeaway can you offer?

Most of my own personal experience pieces have been published on my critique group’s website, Doing Life Together. Here are some of my favorites:

Have you written personal experience pieces? Feel free to share a link in the comments below.

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

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