Guest Bloggers

Simple Structure for Building the Essay by Susan Bono, Guest Blogger

Continuing with Guest Blogger, Susan Bono, here are building blocks for writing personal essay, or memoir.

Character: you

Problem: give yourself a problem

Struggle: problem creates conflict

Epiphany: after struggle, a flood of new understanding

Resolution: what you do differently as a result

Many essays begin with a clear, straightforward statement of intent. All essays have an implied thesis and should have a clear angle —a particular way of approaching and narrowing the subject matter.  For example, notice how the following statements could shape your narrative from the start.

I want to tell you how ______________changed my life. (Universal statement: this is the basic scaffolding for every personal essay)

I learned about ________from ___________.

I thought I would never learn to love ____________.

We’ll continue this exploration of personal essay and memoir over the next few days with intriguing writing prompts suggested by Susan Bono.

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  1. Kathy Myers

    Marlene Cullen unashamedly calls herself a book slut— she’ll sleep with any interesting volume that strikes her fancy. In the old west she’d take up residence on the second floor of the saloon, lean over the railing and invite up a mysterious stranger to excite and entertain her until she drifts off into satisfied slumber.
    But there is another aspect of Marlene that resides down the road in the one room school house; the sweet schoolmarm who educates and encourages her rambunctious students to be creative and disciplined with their writing and adventurous with their reading.
    Susan Bono, in her forum presentation, suggested that we combat the negative influence of our inner critic by creating an “inner teacher”. This is a gem of an idea and so far my inner teacher looks and sounds very much like Marlene. I’m like a bone-dry cowpoke straggling in from the desert, thirsty for knowledge and literary sustenance. Jumpstart and forums have been the beefsteak and sarsaparilla I needed to carry on. I’m so full of it now, I’m bold enough to break my blogging cherry on Marlene’s website. Maybe I needed an inner slut.

    1. mcullen Post author

      Thanks for the chuckle, Kathy. I can see myself as Miss Kitty in the ‘ol saloon, alternating with my other persona, the schoolmarm inspiring and engaging her students. Lovely visuals! Thanks for the inspiration!

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