Finally, read the most adventurous current practitioners, such as Geoff Dyer, Maggie Nelson and David Shields.If you haven’t read these writers yet, I’m really jealous of you. Craft your ‘I’ with great care, as if you were a fictional character. It is commonly understood among creative non-fiction writers, and also dedicated readers, that the ‘I’ in the work doesn’t equal the author, that it is a version of her, shaped to fit the story.They conclude with the author having learned, changed, or grown in some way and often present some truth or insight that challenges the reader to draw their own conclusions. Although the story itself is unique to the author’s experience, there’s some universal truth that speaks to us from just below the surface.
In writing creative non-fiction we often engage with our past.
Yet memory, as we all know, is a fickle, capricious princess.
Here are seven tips to help you craft a personal essay that will connect with readers. Here’s a definition we like: A personal essay is a short work of autobiographical nonfiction characterized by a sense of intimacy and a conversational manner. A type of creative nonfiction, the personal essay is ‘all over the map,’ according to Annie Dillard. No subject matter is forbidden, no structure is prescribed.
Ask three different experts what a personal essay is and you’ll likely get three different answers. You get to make up your own form every time.’ —Richard Nordquist for Thought Co.
Their headlines were clickable, not to mention shareable, for their shock value alone.
Here’s a tip: Want to make sure your writing always looks great?
We head for the nearest bookseller when essay titans like David Sedaris or Anne Lamott have a new release.
We’re thirsty for real stories and musings from people who are able to share their foibles, lessons, and truths in a way we can relate to.
Personal essays relate the author’s intimate thoughts and experiences to universal truths.
They aren’t simply a retelling of events, though—that falls more in the realm of memoir or autobiography.