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Novel Approach to Personal Writing
The easy, normal, and thus usually boring way to write your piece is using your one and only voice. The awesome way to write it would be to use a different—either contradictory or complementary—voice to add variety to your writing.
If you’ve ever taken an English class you know the first piece of writing is always a personal piece. Why do these teachers always force you to dig out your deepest darkest secrets to put on paper and humiliate yourself with? What if you really are a dull person with nothing to write about except an extra-curricular activity that you have used for 90% of your writing in the first place? Where’s the Shakespeare? Well, most likely your English teachers sincerely want to get to know you and how you write and aren’t quite ready to read Romeo and Juliet for the umpteenth time. Unfortunately, personal pieces work best when you actually write about yourself—your own feelings, experiences, reflections, and (don’t judge) actions. Having said that, if you’re not too worried about your first grade in the class, your teacher seems pretty chill, and you want to have fun writing, consider the following perspectives.
Your worst enemy
Someone you stalk
Someone who stalks you
Your (perhaps former, <sob, sob>) imaginary friend
The person who inspires you most
If you dare to attempt writing a “personal” piece from one of these perspectives, or, God forbid, one you create, be sure it is their perspective narrating your experience. Oh, Come on, you must have some interesting experiences to write about. Your English teacher may regret my saying this, but it would be particularly epic if you used more than one of the above voices. If at this point you are still not excited about writing your piece, spend ten minutes conversing with one of the above people in your head. If you have trouble with this, you desperately need to work your creativity and imagination. Spend some time thinking about magic. Harry Potter can help you with this. If you don’t feel like reading a 1000-page book and you like Daniel Radcliffe (or Darren Criss) better than Harry Potter check out this trailer with a creative twist. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MahTKZDHXaA
Creativity is essential in not only using these different voices but also to keep the interest of the reader.
Here’s your first assessment!
In what ways does this passage display effective personal writing? How could it be improved?
The World’s History, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Physical Science are piled high in front of me. The words on the pages begin to blend together and I start to space out; nostalgia overcomes me as one daydream leads to another and I start to recall a time of no books other than ones with pictures, the perfect-life childhood memories of a previous chapter…
Step 2: Come up with a unique and interesting personal experience. Jot down what it was, how it made you feel, how it changed you, how you view it today, etc. etc.. .(period) s***, now I have to put another one. . This is also really entertaining and interesting to your average reader. Remember, voices. Different text/font as well as that supplements the unique language of each voice will stress diversity and uniqueness. By the way, step one was reading this awesome guide. Going out of order like this and commenting on previous writings makes your reader on edge. Choppy, enigmatic, contradictory, yet straightforward sentences, like this one, help. A lot.
Step 3: Pick your viewpoint(s). At least try to put in a little of your own voice too. Conflicting and diverse voices make the reader that much more interested. Once again you jeopardize your grade on this assignment by pretending you are Machiavelli whilst writing your personal piece. Make sure to use personal language in your piece such as song names, location names, and names of people, etc.
Here is an example of what not to do:
Although, instead of asking me the usual boring questions that most adults do, my grandfather asks me about things that are interesting and fun. He also tells me stories of his own life and childhood.
My story is not specific enough with word choice and not at all creative. The narrative should include the stories of his life and childhood using his distinct voice.
Step 4: There will always be the peer-editing stage. If you’re a little bit of a wiseass and you’re kind of tired of simply hearing “this is really good” from your editor, tell him/her to read the sentences backward. Here’s an example (this is not part of the previous story):
In second grade, I played a lot of touch football. It was absolutely, unbelievably, superfragilisticlly fun. I liked to play lineman. Teddy was the quarterback and Doug was the receiver. Jack always wanted to play foursquare. I played lineman, thus it was no longer touch football.
“Better to be feared than loved, if not both.” I just couldn’t be both. Better to be hated than to be loved, if not both.
(He’s Horatio). “Shut up, Horatio.” “Who’s, Horatio?” “Why, I’m Horatio.” “Shut up,” said Doug. We owned a lot of people in “touch” football back in Mrs. Korman’s second grade class.
Don’t forget to read it (in sentence format, of course) backwards. Your reader will be stroking any and all facial hair (esp. his beard) while musing your genius. Your teacher will love it; no more need for apples! Now, on to the next step.
Step 5: Think of a picture that would fit your topic to put in. This will add customization and information to your paper. I refuse to put in the cliché. Make sure its in color if possible. Best of all would be either a picture that includes your own self or life relating to that topic. For instance, when I wrote about my 2nd grade football experience, I wouldn’t put in a picture of a football, but a picture of Doug, Jack, Teddy, and me. F.Y.I, Horatio was made up. This is OK as long as you develop a unique voice for him.
Tip: Use creative words whenever possible. Building and expanding your knowledge of such words are important to creative writing. Some of my favorite types include Yiddish, Spanglish, and fun words (uber, umpteenth, tizzy, voilá/woala). Scientific words can work now and then.
My short legs piston and my arms pump up and down as I near the grass’s border to the gravel driveway marking the finish. My grandfather trots close behind jeering at me, trying to gain an advantage.
“I would have beat you with my Fila’s on,” he declares. The Chutzpah!
Notice my story so far is definitely a personal narrative (once again, disregard the bit about football, that was only an exercise; your personal narrative should not be so out there if you hand on turning it in) but it has customized language, characters, and experience.
Step 6: Always, always, always include dialogue. Think a lot about voice and make sure you develop character voice and description. Consider all possible interpretations of dialogue and make some of it explicit and some of it enigmatic and open to interpretation. Once you develop an ingenious collage of voice and character traits, stick in some random dialogue that has nothing to do with the speaker. This will keep your reader on their toes and maybe even make them laugh.
For example, develop Jason, your best friend, who is a CIA agent to have a very serious and frank air. In the middle of the story have him inform the reader that he likes watermelon.
A more practical example would to be to develop a really grim, gruff, and intimidating character throughout the story. Then, to make a moment stand out have that character smile. This is very dramatic, which is obviously good.
Write your piece to stand out. If your English teacher feels that your writing is like the generic, average essay and similar to everyone else’s in the class, you will get an average grade. More importantly, your reader will be more interested in a piece of writing that utilizes structure he/she’s never seen before, unique language, and whacky characters with diverse voices.
Step 7: I must surprise you by counting by whole numbers. I just know you’re pining for that step 6 and 6/17.
Notice it’s OK for you to trail things off like that or end ideas randomly. After all, for someone to read your personal piece they have to be interested in it. Namely, the only people I could think of who would be interested in your personal piece would be your English teacher and your stalker. Either way, they’ll understand.