Choosing the Incident
The first step is choosing the incident. It can be something you experienced personally or something you witnessed but did not participate in. For ideas, brainstorm significant people, places, and things or writing "I remember when..." on the top of your paper and finishing it with as many things you can think of. Once you have chosen an incident, do the following:
- Test the topic. Make sure you remember the incident well enough to write about it, understand the significance of it, your willingness to share it, and your ability to express the incident's impact.
- Consider your audience and purpose. Tailor the subject matter and the writing level to those who are most likely to read it.
- List key events. This will help you establish a foundation for the narrative. Don't get hung up on facts. In most cases, inventing or changing characters, words, or setting is acceptable.
Take your notes and use those to write your final draft. Here are some tips:
Introduction: Either start with a vivid description of the place, your experience, or a summary of what you are reflecting about. End with your thesis idea. Sometimes you may want to put a question first and then the answer
Example Thesis: Why was I feeling so peaceful while walking down this beach? I realized it was because the beach had always been a place of rest to me.
Body: Each of the questions you've answered can be a paragraph in the body of your essay. Take your notes and expand them. Add more details and examples from your experience and your life story.
Conclusion: Explain and expand on your thesis idea. Tell how this experience taught you something new or how it helped you to understand something. Another way to conclude is to suggest where you might like to go from this point in thinking about your thesis idea.
Example Conclusion: I sent my photo of "For Rhonda" to my friend along with a text letting her know how much I appreciate her help in letting me know that we can always find places to relax and renew in the midst of our busy lives. Now, I want to find a way to help Rhonda have a day off of her own, and I'm hoping someday we can take a trip to the beach together.