Hi, Kelly Eden here from Medium.
Personal essays are in demand! There’s been a rise in editors seeking out personal essays recently which is great news for us as writers. Humans are drawn to connection with others and, in our social deprivation, reading a personal story is the next best thing to being with people physically—being with them emotionally!
Most of what we write about will be in the past tense so let’s take a quick look at how to do that best.
Get your reader in your bubble
Your reader wants a sensory experience! We can tell them our story or we can show them, get them tasting it, feeling it—touch is one sense we are missing out at the moment, so let’s put it in our stories.
Show your story like a movie.
As I type this for you, for example: I’m sitting on my couch, the afternoon sun filtering through net curtains to make a zebra pattern on the shaggy rug under my feet. My youngest daughter sits next to me eating chocolate cake. She’s all soft and teddy-bear like in her fluffy pink onesie. The hum of cars driving past the window is almost covered by orchestral music from her Tinkerbell Movie. It’s only distracting when it hits the exciting part and loud tom-tom drums punctuate the fairies’ chase scene!
I could have told you that I was typing in the lounge sitting next to my daughter, but would you have been able to picture it the same?
Rewrite using “-ed”
When you’re telling about something that happened in the past, make it feel more alive by using the suffix “-ed”. Here’s an extract about dating online from Anna-Sophie Druessi that shows this:
“When we greeted each other again, pixelated and uncertain, I noticed how different he looked from his profile – a little less Tinder model, a little more shabby chic. He was sitting at his kitchen table, ladles and pots hanging from the wall behind him and a vase on a shelf with flowers that still looked alive. "Are you ready?" I asked him. He warned me that he was prepared to play.” Excerpt from Virtual Tinder Dates Don’t Have to Suck on Vice
Have fun writing personal essays! (Vice.com is taking submissions by the way)
My personal essay course is almost ready to go live online, but if you want to do it early I’m still keeping it open for writers on this newsletter at the pre-release $20USD rate. (It’ll be $67 online).