Crafting Personal Essays

Image by J. Paxon Reyes via Flickr

Crafting Personal Essay Writing Workshop

     On Saturday I attended a writing workshop offered by Whidbey Island Writers Association (WIWA) for “Crafting and Publishing Personal Essays,” taught by Corbin Lewars and Jennifer Monro. I’ve been dabbling with writing short pieces of some of my experiences in Alaska and my recent trip to the British Virgin Islands. I thought this workshop would help guide me in the right direction.

Essay / Memoir Structure

     Six hours later (plus 2 hours drive time), $75 dollars shorter, I’m glad I spent the time and the money. It’s been years since I’ve learned the basics of essay writing. The structure is, for the most part, the same. One difference is there does not need to be a thesis statement. The thesis point or overall theme has to be clear. The first sentence, as well as the title, are critical as they both hook the reader. This is the fun part as a hook is catchy and fun. What makes the middle part of the essay is you. This is where you do your best to relate to the reader. Afer all you are the one who had the experience, or wrestled with an issue, idea, feeling or conflict. The end is the result or resolution. But, it can be a mild resolution and does not have to be positive.

Getting Your Essays / Memoirs Published

     Both Corbin and Jennifer spent a good chunk of time going over publications on where to send your essay. On Jennifer’s site she has a fantastic resource list. For all my SciFi and Fantasy writer friends out there check out Angie’s Desk. Jennifer also recommended that writers be choosy on which contests they submit too and be sure to weight out the benefits. Submitting a short story or essay instead of submitting to a contest may be the better route as there is no fee and there might be a greater chance for recognition by agents and editors.

The Upcoming Writing Week     

     With the class, yard work and social events I did not get a chance to write all weekend. I’m looking forward to the writing week ahead to catch up on my WIP and dabble with a personal essay.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Leslie Rose says:

    I admire those who can write in short story/essay form. I dream of being that concise someday.

    1. laradunning says:

      Since I’ve been writing flash I’ve noticed my stories improve. I’m hoping I can carry that over to personal essay. It requires a different thought process-I think that is one of the biggest challenges.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Hi, Lara! Thanks for visiting my page and I’m glad to find yours as a result! And thank you for sharing the great tips you got at the workshop. I’ve been woefully slow on blogging lately…need to get back on it!

    1. laradunning says:

      Happy to do it! I find that if i write 3 or 4 blogs at a time that helps me keep up with them. I’ve been really busy lately and have only been able to post a couple of times and need to get back into the groove. Hoping the three day weekend will give me some time to get ahead.

  3. Sounds like you had a very successful experience and I look forward to any of your personal essays you decide to post here.

    For those of us clueless ones down in the lower 48 … wht is it like to live in a climate where 70 is considered a heat wave?

    Just thought I’d throw you a “theme” … remember themes from school?

    Good post 🙂

    1. laradunning says:

      The summers in Alaska are actually pretty hot. In Ancorage 75 feels like 85 and the nights are warm because the sun is out almost all night. The further inland you go, the warmer it gets. In Fairbanks it can get up to 90 degrees. Now, on the Aleutian Islands the summers are cooler, but so beautiful.

  4. ganymeder says:

    Glad you got a lot out of the class! The closest I’ve come to something like that is going over virtual lessons with my son for his homeschool (they are outlined online and through workbooks). Keep up the great work. I love your vampires!

    1. laradunning says:

      Kudos for taking on homeschooling and writing on top of that. I’ve been to couple of their classes and found both of them really helpful. I’m so glad I went. The other writers there were really interesting, nice to chat with folks that write that way. Right now I’m trying to figure out the next part in Vampire Tracker. I’m in a place where it can go several ways. Waiting for inspiration to strike.

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