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Crafting a First-person Essay

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❶First-person essays are aimed at sharing an experience, letting your reader see and feel it.

Character Worksheets

Preparing the First Draft
First Person Writing Examples
Choosing an Experience to Share

But Gould and Tkacik were building relationships with readers via self-exposure, cultivating boundary-pushing personas that encouraged a kind of voyeuristic investment in their shifting personal dramas and thoughts. So many of these new iterations, by contrast, feel like one-offs—solo acts of sensational disclosure that bubble up and just as quickly vaporize.

Despite the 7, words it spanned, it mostly just wandered through descriptions of her job and relationships and instant message chats. The first-person boom has had one significant benefit: These are models of how to write about oneself in a way that is at once gripping and sensitive and that sheds light on broader sociopolitical issues.

Even when they are graphic and raw, their self-revelations are strategically dispensed. In fact, the defining trait of the best first-person writing is exactly what is missing from so much of the new crop: Still, Carroll published it, knowing that—brutally honest as it was—it was sure to be provocative.

This is a key problem with the new first-person economy: The mandate at xoJane , according to Carroll, was: The speed of the churn is grueling enough when applied to news analysis; when it comes to personal essays, the stakes are even higher. But it can be a dangerous force for the people who participate in it. And though the risks and exploitations of the first-person Internet are not gender-specific, many of these problems feel more acute for women.

Massey had been working in PR, knowing she wanted to be a writer but not quite knowing how to start, before she began writing online essays about her body-image problems and her eating disorder, first for xoJane , then BuzzFeed and Medium. To make your thoughts and emotions run in the right direction, you need to follow the basic rules. Here is how to write from your perspective and show your reader the true sense of the story.

The topics are endless. Almost anything can be the subject material for your essay — relationships, nature, climbing, death, traveling — just ask yourself what you have experienced that has emotional appeal. Your topic can be funny, compelling or touching. If you cannot decide what to write about, ask yourself what makes you happy or what makes you sad. All topics are at your fingertips, you simply need to choose a great illustrative one that will make your reader care.

When you have a clear idea of what you want to share, go to the next important step — writing the first draft. The first draft of your essay is your first step in creating a thoughtful and focused writing piece. Let your emotions and ideas flow! Don't critique your first draft, after all, you'll have time to improve it later. All you need to do right now is to describe the things that are crucial for your story — people, places, events. You need to find the balance in giving the reader enough information so they can understand your actions or decisions.

While writing your first draft, it is OK to pause, recollect your thoughts and remind yourself of your goal. When you think you've said all you can say, close your notebook and walk away. In several hours, in a day, or so, read your essay. You'll find information that shines with brilliance and you'll see plenty of unnecessary details.

It's good to recognize this before you submit your work. You might accidentally flip some breakfast cereal with your spoon and have an epiphany about the origins of catapults. A piece for a history journal comparing ancient weapons to new.

On the twenty-ninth of July, in , my father died. On the same day, a few hours later, his last child was born. Over a month before this, while all our energies were concentrated in waiting for these events, there had been, in Detroit, one of the bloodiest race riots of the century. Subjects float all around you.

Should you write about baseball, bacteria or bougain-villeas? The key is engagement with your topic so the angle your writing takes is pointed and penetrating. The essayist should be to paraphrase Henry James one of the people on whom nothing is lost. Idly looking over at a fellow driver stopped at a traffic signal might be a moment to yawn, but it might also be a moment to consider how people amuse themselves in their vehicles.

An essay here about new car technology, an essay there about boredom and its antidotes. Essays are literally at your fingertips. Consider a piece on how fingerprint technology evolved. Or at your nosetip: My most recent published essay was about a lurking smell in my house that led to a mad encounter with attic rats. Humble topics can spur sage tales. Which way should your essay tilt? Some essays wrap blunt opinions in layered language, ensnaring a reader with charm, not coercion. Cranky, apprehensive or playful, your candid voice should be a constant.

One method is direct address.

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This is why the first-person point of view is a natural choice for memoirs, autobiographical pieces, personal experience essays, and other forms of non-fiction in which the author serves also as a character in the story.

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If I tried to avoid first-person pronouns, my sentence might read: “Right now, this essay is being written in Microsoft Word.” While this sentence is not wrong, it is what we call passive—the subject of the sentence is being acted upon because there is no one performing the action.

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First-person essays span space, time and subject: The city dump, an obsessive bird or a toy from the ’60s—all subjects of essays I’ve published—can come up with just one shuffle of an endless deck of compelling themes. Mongrel lot or not, it’s never the subject of an essay that tells, but the style and stance of its author. Free first person papers, essays, and research papers.

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For one, using the first person in an academic essay reminds the audience (and the author) of a simple fact: that someone is writing the essay, a particular person in a particular context. A writer is in a position of power; he or she is the master of the text. First-person essays are aimed at sharing an experience, letting your reader see and feel it. They show how that experience changed your mind, affected you, educated you. Your essay is your personal journey of discovery.