These are very rewarding, and in most cases easy because you don’t have to do much research. Isaac Bashevis Singer once said: ” If you write about the things and the people you know best, you discover your roots. ” What better form to write about the events in your life than in a personal experience article.
We have all experienced things that can interest others. The events don’t have to be world-shattering, just incidents that readers can relate to and find meaningful. If you learned something from it, maybe others will too. Given the right spin and structure, you can turn it into a saleable article.
Magasines like Redbook and Ladies’ Home Journal; some men’s magazines and religious magazines like Guideposts all use true personal experience articles, as do Reader’s Digest, and confession magazines that want fictionalized versions.
You need a tight structure, with a strong focus. Always start on the day something different happens to you. This incident becomes the hook on which you capture the reader’s interest. Try to make it provocative, and a shocking statement works well – e.g. “I didn’t think it would feel so good to pull the trigger” or “snooping through my mother’s dresser drawer , I found out that she was transgender”. These are a bit extreme, but a dark moment or turning point that forces you to make a sacrifice or a choice that teaches a lesson can make a successful article.Your hook is the problem or conflict. Then comes your reaction . Finally, the motivation – why you made that choice. That is often done by way of flashback, or it can be woven in by means of introspection – your inner thoughts – as long as this doesn’t break the flow of the narrative.
Build your story towards a satisfactory ending. This doesn’t have to be a happy ending, because the conclusion doesn’t have to be happy. After you’ve drafted it, go back to see if you have developed the theme you set out to tackle. Eliminate any tangents or digressions. Only one theme should dominate.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “A writer wastes nothing”. Don’t waste your personal experiences. Look into your own life and find the experiences that changed you and made such an impression you still remember them vividly. Then write them down.
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