One Way to Write a Personal Experience Essay (An Epiphany) Your personal experiences are often ironic, poignant, ordinary in a singular way, funny in an excruciating way and filled with bizarre "opportunities for growth." What you understand as a result of your life experiences may often touch a deep, universal core. With a few structural guidelines, you can create interesting, entertaining essays based on the life you've lived and the things you've learned. All you need is the willingness to share your personal experiences and insights with honesty and humor. Step 1 Subject: Decide what to write about. Is the piece about your first job? A disappointing birthday? A hideously embarrassing moment in second grade? The seemingly obscure details of your experience are filled with comedy and wisdom. What would you like to write about today? Pick a subject and write about it in the first person. Step 2 Purpose: Name the pretext for writing this particular essay at this specific time. A purpose can be seasonal, such as when you write a Christmas essay in December. Your idea could be sparked by a newspaper article. Maybe you ran into someone you knew in grammar school and that triggered a memory. For us, it may well be an assignment or a college application essay. Answer the question of "Why now?" and you've got your purpose. Keep this and your audience in mind as you write Step 3 Angle: Choose how to get into your subject. Let's say you're writing about your high school prom. Do you begin with your thoughts as you're getting ready? Your thoughts as arrive home from the dance? With the most thrilling moment of the evening? How will you "hook" your reader right from the start? Step 4 Tone: Determine your emotional attitude about your subject. The tone is the primary emotion that informs it. Should the tone of your language be ironic, funny, wistful, sad, argumentative? Ask yourself how you really feel about your subject. That emotion is your tone for the essay. Use diction, dialogue and substance to help create your tone. Step 5 Anecdote: Tell a story. An effective way to write an essay is to enclose it in a story. Write actual scenes. Set up the essay with a beginning, rising action, climax and resolution. (You don't necessarily need to plot it this way, though.) When you reach a point of final insight at the end of the essay, you may or may not conclude the piece with the outcome of the actual story, but be sure your ending encompasses Step 6. Step 6 Epiphany: Show how you ultimately come to terms with the particular situation. This is where a change takes place in your understanding of yourself or the world. The epiphany is a universal insight. It's where your deeply singular, personal story becomes everyone's story.