A personal essay features life experiences which illustrate an idea. Essayist Edward Hoaglund explains that an essay “hangs somewhere between two sturdy poles: this is what I think, and this is what I am.” Your idea—what I think—is the core of the essay; it need not be stated explicitly, but it does need to be clear. The style and voice you use in communicating your idea reveals aspects of your self—“what I am.”
We are looking for essays which:
Through employing these techniques, you may move beyond merely reporting an experience or evidencing a point to creating insightful, personable literary art. Essayist Philip Lopate emphasizes, “While it is true that historically the essay is related to rhetoric, it in fact seeks to persuade more by the delights of literary style than anything else.”
You may also find the articles filed under writing tips at our blog to be helpful.
Edward Hoaglund, The Tugman’s Passage (New York: Random House, 1982), 25.
The Art of the Personal Essay, Phillip Lopate, ed. (NY: Anchor Books Doubleday, 1994), 301.