Starting Personal Essay

My eyes were red and burning as blood slowly ran down my forehead. My cramped and trembling fingers hovered over the keyboard like it was a Ouija board. I closed my eyes and, when I opened them again, the blog post was finished. It was like nothing I had written before.

Okay, so, that didn’t happen. But, with any luck, that beginning has motivated you to read the rest of this blog post. And, therein lies the magic of a hook.

It can be difficult to keep your audience reading–because, let’s face it, most of us have short attention spans. However, a good hook can do just that. It’s the difference between pulling your reader into your writing and losing them to other distractions.

Without an interesting hook, you can lose your reader before the second paragraph.

A good hook is key to nearly every essay you write, but maybe none more so than in the narrative essay. So, let’s take a look at how to start a narrative essay.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

Before you can fully engage in what makes the perfect hook for your narrative essay, let’s make sure you know what a narrative essay is exactly.

A narrative, quite simply, is a story. Unlike other essays in which you may need to argue or prove something, a narrative essay is about telling a story.

Quite often, of course, this will be a story from your life. We all have stories. We tell them often. However, not all of those stories in your brain will make for a good narrative essay.

For example, you may have a really funny story about the time you ate grass as a kid and threw up at school. But, what will the reader take away from the story? Don’t eat grass? Well, we already know that.

Perhaps you also have a story about the first time you cut the lawn. You remember it being fun, exciting. However, the moment your father offered to pay you to do it, it suddenly felt unappealing, like work. Now, this story has potential, featuring a character transformation and a lesson to be learned.

A good narrative essay will be fun to write, interesting to read, and meaningful in some way, among other things.

And, it should all start with an awesome hook.

Why Is It Important to Know How to Start a Narrative Essay off on an Interesting Foot?

Well, let’s keep this simple, shall we? When we write something, we want people to read what we have written. That goes double for something that is personal, like a narrative essay.

However, if the reader isn’t engaged in your writing, they aren’t going to finish it. Why would they when they could be learning about the Arab Spring through Jurassic Park Gifs?! (Cough DieBuzzfeed Cough).

This makes it utterly important that you grab their attention early. Whereas they have the opportunity to learn something incredibly useful from your stellar narrative, the vortex of technological distractions can blend their brains into a fine purée.

So, please, start your essay off on an interesting foot. Please. Think of the children.

A good hook sentence grabs your audience and refuses to let go. It sets the tone for the rest of your story. It gets under your reader’s skin right from the beginning and starts to stir those feelings that your narrative essay intends to address.

16 Awesome Hooks to Start a Narrative Essay

There are myriad ways in which you can formulate your hook sentence. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, because, well, writing doesn’t always fit into a mold. It involves being bold and striking out on your own and trusting your gut, even if your writing doesn’t fit neatly into a category.

However, having said that, there are some tried-and-true methods for hooking a reader. Here are few of the most common types of hooks, along with some awesome examples:

Quotes

Quote from Literature

Is there a piece of literature that influenced you or relates directly to your story? Use a quote from it to eloquently connect your reader to your narrative.

  1. I had felt so alone for so long, wondering why I was different, why I couldn’t be normal, when I read Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano for the first time: “I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” That was it.
  1. I was alone in my room reading On the Road in which Jack Kerouac wrote, “A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world.” I was immediately transported back to that heavy summer day at Penn Station, July 23, 2010.

Quote from a Famous Person

Has a famous person inspired you in some way? The good news is that your reader probably knows the person too, you know, because of the whole famous thing. Tap into that connection.

  1. Christopher McCandless once said, “The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” It was in this spirit that I packed a small bag and left home at the age of 18.
  1. As Socrates waited for his execution, he practiced a tune on his flute. When asked what was the use, he replied, “To know this tune before dying.” I can’t explain my own motivations any better. I just need to know.

Anecdote

No matter whether it’s funny or moving, starting your essay, right off the bat, with an intriguing anecdote from your story can be a great way to raise questions in your reader that keep them reading until the end. Authors do this all of the time.

  1. One day, when I was ten years old, my father woke me for school. We had cereal together in the kitchen. He asked if I’d brushed my teeth. He walked me to the bus stop and told me to have a good day. It was a completely normal morning, which is what really gets me, because it was the last time I ever saw him.
  1. The children talked about me, as they tended to do, not knowing that I could understand what they were saying. “Look at his eyes and his nose. So weird.” The life of an American in China is somewhat akin to an animal in a zoo, I suppose.

Question

If you have more of a direct style, instead of writing an anecdote meant to stir up questions in your reader, you may choose to just present them with a question. Again, the search for the answer can keep the pages turning.

  1. They assured me that my choice would change nothing. But, how could it not? Could you sit down at sixteen years old and choose between your father and your mother, knowing the other will be devastated?
  1. You just won the lottery. We’ve all imagined this scenario from time to time. What would you buy? Where would you go? What would change? Well, what if I told you that you didn’t need to win the lottery at all? Would you believe me?

Shocking Statement

If you want to be even more direct, try bypassing the questions and simply hitting your reader with the answer. Now, obviously, no one likes to be told what to think, so the idea is to feed the reader a bit of a shocking statement that motivates them to find out how you arrived at it.

  1. Nothing you learn in the first seventeen years of your life means a thing. This was crystal clear the day I turned eighteen.
  1. There is no such thing as free will. If it existed, I would have had a say in when, where, and to whom I was born.

Interesting Fact

The idea here is to present your reader with a fact that they are unaware of. Obviously, since we are talking about narrative essays, this will somehow have to relate to you personally. If executed correctly, it will add another layer to your story, putting it into perspective for the reader.

  1. Every cell in the human body is replaced over the course of about seven years. That means, not one part of me from that April day ten years ago is still with me today.
  1. Write now, as you read this, you are flying through space at a speed of 67,000 mph. There have been times in my life when I swear I could feel it.

Setting

A narrative essay is not only about getting your message across. You must pull your reader into the story. You can do this by clearly describing your setting so your reader can envision it; once in, it will be difficult for them to get out.

  1. As he pounded on the door, the room shook. I knew it would open eventually, and nothing would be the same, but I wasn’t watching the door. I couldn’t take my eyes off the Little League trophy that was slowly moving closer and closer to the edge of my shelf.
  1. There was an old water tower in my hometown that I’d climb from time to time. I’d sit dangling my feet off the edge, picking at the flaking turquoise paint, and watching the cars carry those lucky people down that road, towards the setting sun, far away from me.

Statistics

How can statistics relate to a narrative essay? Well, that depends on your story, but they can help the reader understand where you’ve been or where you’re going.

  1. 25% of anorexia and bulimia sufferers are men, so why did I feel so alone?
  1. The average American consumes 77.1 liters of beer per year in the United States. Then again, my father wasn’t average.

As alluded to before, this isn’t a complete list. However, with any luck, these examples have helped inspire you to understand how to start a narrative essay with a great hook.

If you still feel unsure about your hook, or your narrative essay in general, send it over to the dedicated editors at Kibin. They will give you honest, constructive feedback on how hooked they felt after reading your introduction.

Until then, explore the rest of the Kibin blog for stimulating content that nurtures the mind instead of turning it into mush.

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

The main question of all students who have to write a reflective or personal essay is whether it is possible to come up with such type of academic paper without sounding too egotistical. From one side, it might seem that there is nothing easier than writing about yourself. From time to time, even personal essays should stick to specific rules. For instance, the writing style is an obligatory condition.

In this article, I will try to reveal the basics of writing an essay about yourself so that you may use these tips in your academic life.

Tricks and Tips on How to Write a Personal Essay

We have gathered several life hints that can help every student to prepare for writing an essay on yourself. First of all, you should try to focus on your personal life experience. People would like to learn about the things you have gone through instead of some imaginative things.

Second, you should describe an experience which is related to your education. Describing your first wedding ceremony or gig with the music band is not the best idea. It is better to dedicate time to the things you've learned from school, college, or other educational institutions. If you have a specific person who inspired you to enter target college or work in the certain field, reflect this role model.

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Even though the essay about you should be focused on your name and deeds, do not start writing with the trivial phrases introducing yourself. It is still better to put an intriguing question which requires an answer in the end or begin with an interesting fact/quote/joke.

Third, let your family read the final draft once you are finished with your writing. Sometimes, you know yourself worse than people around you so that you can trust them.

Finally, try to avoid sensitive subjects like:

  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Political situation
  • Race and nationality
  • Income level

How Do You Start an Essay about Yourself

As a rule, an essay about yourself contains up to 400 words. Although you can think that there is no specific topic for such type of paper, sometimes tutors assign particular subjects to discuss.

For example, you may be asked to write where you picture yourself in five or more years. It is your chance to prove that high school or even college education is not enough.

You should start telling personal things. However, use the great words you know to explain why you deserve the place in the target educational institution or company. Avoid making up a story; you should be as sincere as possible. Come up with the story describing the challenges you faced as a surgeon's assistant. Tell about the personal struggles you have gone through to accomplish your internship as a bank cashier. Provide the background of your sports achievements.

However, whatever you decide to recall, make sure it has a connection with your future profession. You can include an interesting part related to your hobbies, but don't go much into details.

On the whole, make sure to highlight your:

  • Educational background
  • Work background
  • Skills and knowledge
  • Life goals
  • Hobbies

For the affordable price, you can get an eye-catching introduction of any reflective essay.


10 Simple Tips on How to Write a Personal Essay

  1. Choosing the best topic

Go to the section with great topic ideas to discover new and time-tested examples.

  1. Formatting your paper

When writing an essay on yourself, you don't need to add abstract or reference page. The structure of personal statement is much easier. At the same time, you have to mind your:

  • Font
  • Its size
  • Margins
  • Intervals
  • Borders

In other words, a paper dedicated to your life should look accurate and structured.

  1. Manage your time

Any academic paper has a deadline. A paper describing yourself has a strict deadline as well. It is better to start writing as soon as you are assigned the task. Thus, you will have more time to proofread and edit your draft. By the way, you should involve several drafts.

  1. Get your family involved

No, I am not telling you to use your family members as writing guides or something. It is better to get professional writing assistance from the corresponding service. I mean that recalling the stories related to your family or personal experience is a good way to appeal to the heart of your readers. You may share a story of your family member who used to cope with the serious disease. When you work on the paper about yourself, it is important to stay sincere and honest. So, if you have some really good life stories to share, feel free to do it.

  1. Find inspiration

If you have no idea what an essay depicting your person should include, you may get inspired by another person. It's okay if you don't have a rich experience or amazing story to share with your audience. Find people who were once students like you or describe the fate of your friends. You may also find ideas from the:

  • News
  • Books
  • Magazines/newspapers
  • Internet blogs
  • Social networks

Find more inspiration after reading these ways to make your college essay great!

  1. Focus on the needs of university

If you are writing a paper about yourself as a part of your admission, describe your personal skills and university goals equally. Give them an overall idea of what you can do well, and describe how you can contribute your knowledge to the prosperity of that particular college or university. In order to sound less egotistical in the essay about yourself, please look through this advice.

  1. Avoid using complex words

Don't type the words you don't know - your Word will most probably fix all your grammar mistakes, but you need to know what every word means when you use it in the essay about yourself. Choose synonyms to make your text richer, but replace difficult terms with simpler words.

  1. It's all about great introduction

Forget about general phrases like "My name is..." or "Everybody loves.." When you compose an essay about your life, you don't have to sound trivial. Use statistics and interesting facts to begin your paper. Various quotations might also work. It's just important to choose citations that are related to your story somehow. You may read more about composing powerful introduction and other parts of this article.

  1. Keep away from sensitive subjects

Writing a paper that reflects yourself should not hurt the feelings of other students, tutors, or people around. The worst topics you might find for your personal paper involve gender, racial, political, and religious issues. It is recommended to make your essay more positive even if you prefer to recall a hard time of your life.

  1. Always revise the paper and double-check the grammar

A finished draft is only half the battle. Download grammar checker or use online checkers to have a text free of grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors. You should also get anti-plagiarism software to find out whether your content is 100% original.

College Essay Examples about Yourself

We have discussed so far how to start a essay about yourself and the overall structure recommendations. Here we go with the top topic ideas for the personal essay. If you want to avoid difficult argumentative essay topics, you may find some great ideas on this blog. Choose one of them:

  • My early days at school
  • How I survived my college years
  • My first work experience
  • Looking through the mirror
  • Homecoming
  • How my friends influenced my interests
  • The art of telling lies
  • Learning English (a good topic for international students)
  • The impact of my brother on my life

You can search for more topic examples as well as personal essay samples here.


One more thing: in case you still have some doubts regarding the quality of your paper, you may contact a professional online writing service and order a full job written from scratch.

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