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09/04/2019

How to start a personal essay?

QUESTION
How to start a personal essay?
Could you help me with how to start an essay about who I am? I always have trouble getting started. Thanks

ANSWER
Actually, what the Goku (the DBZ guy) wrote (“write your name on it”) is a good idea! But take that up a notch and try introducing yourself by explaining the name. Almost all great first-person introductions start off with the person (whether it’s Holden Caulfield (“Catcher in the Rye”) or David Copperfield) explaining who they are and telling the reader something about themselves. They might leave out the standard “Where I was born”, etc., and substitute that with a style of writing, like Holden’s offbeat, rebellious, grammatically poor style.

Right away, the reader knows this kid is rebellious, angry yet funny. He uses a lot of swearing to “spice things up”, too. This may not work for you, if the teacher (this IS for school, right?) is insisting on good grammar.

My all-time favorite intro is Nabokov’s character, Humbert Humbert, who tells you about himself by describing someone else: “the light of [his] life”, Lolita (from the eponymous novel), also calling her “the fire of my loins, my sin, my soul”. He then describes her name as if it is a poem. The reader now knows that this book is about a man obsessed with a woman (we find out later it is actually a teenage girl!). The point is: she IS his life. He cares about nothing else.

In a more popular story, the film “Anger Management”, at one point, Nicholson’s character, “Buddy”, asks Sandler’s character, Dave, to “tell us who you are”. Each time Dave tells them what his job is, where he lives or what kinds of things he likes, Buddy shuts him down and says, “No. Don’t tell us what you do, where you live or about your hobbies. We want to know who YOU are.” He’s trying to provoke Dave into anger, but the question is valid.

In Russell Brand’s autobiography, “My Booky Wook”, he begins it with a very annoyed description of his waking up in a clinic for sex addicts. This is who he is, in part, or how society has defined him. It tells you about inner workings of this guy without being obvious. It is also quite funny.

Of course, depending upon who will read this, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend talking about your sexual obsessions either! But, there are some offbeat ways to start.