- Writer’s Digest
- Writer’s Market
- Writer’s Digest University
- Writer’s Digest Tutorials
- 2nd Draft Critique Service
- Writer’s Digest Shop
- Writer’s Digest Events
- By Writing Genre
- Literary Fiction
- Young Adult/Childrens
- Science Fiction/Fantasy
- Short Story/Essay
- Script Writing
- By Writing Goal
- Get Published/Sell Your Work
- Build a Platform Start Blogging
- Promoting Your Work
- Business Legal Matters
- Complete 1st Chapter
- Complete 1st Draft
- How to Improve Writing Skills
- How to Write an Article
- Overcoming Writer’s Block
- By Writing Level
- Haven’t Written Anything Yet
- At Work on First Draft
- Completed Multiple Manuscripts
- Published Author
- By Writing Genre
- Editor Blogs
- Guide to Literary Agents
- The Writer’s Dig
- There Are No Rules
- Poetic Asides
- Writer’s Digest Annual Conference
- Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference
- indieLAB | Writer’s Digest
- Code of Conduct
- Writer’s Digest Annual
- Self-Published Ebooks
- Self-Published (Printed/Bound)
- Short Short Story
- Popular Fiction
- Science Fiction/Fantasy
- Young Adult Fiction
- Your Story
- Tip of the Day
- Live Webinars
- Free Downloads
- Free Webinars
- Writing Tutorials
- Writing Workshops
- Webinar Downloads
- Weekly Writing Prompts
- Wednesday Poetry Prompts
- The WD Community
- The Writer’s Digest Podcast
- Writers Market
- Writer’s Digest University
- 2nd Draft Critique Service
- Websites for Writers
- ScriptXpert Screenplay Critique Service
- Story Coaching
- Consultants Center
- Publisher Market Listings
- Agent Listings
- SUBSCRIBE NOW!
- Digital Edition
- Renew Subscription
- Give a Gift Subscription
- Free Weekly Newsletter
- The Writer’s Digest Podcast
- Books Downloads
- Kit of the Month
- Magazine Back Issues
- Final Draft Software
- Gifts for Writers
- Become a VIP!
Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and download free character development worksheets!
Powerful, surprising, and fascinating personal essays are also “reader-friendly essays” that keep the reader squarely in focus. So how do you go about writing one? In this excerpt from Crafting the Personal Essay , author Dinty W. Moore shares a variety of methods for crafting an essay that keeps the reader’s desires and preferences in mind, resulting in a resonate and truly memorable piece. As Moore says, “Privacy is for your diary. Essays are for readers.”
Writing the Reader-Friendly Essay
Good writing is never merely about following a set of directions. Like all artists of any form, essay writers occasionally find themselves breaking away from tradition or common practice in search of a fresh approach. Rules, as they say, are meant to be broken.
But even groundbreakers learn by observing what has worked before. If you are not already in the habit of reading other writers with an analytical eye, start forming that habit now. When you run across a moment in someone else’s writing that seems somehow electric on the page, stop, go back, reread the section more slowly, and ask yourself, “What did she do here, put into this, or leave out, that makes it so successful?”
Similarly and often just as important, if you are reading a piece of writing and find yourself confused, bored, or frustrated, stop again, back up, squint closely at the writing, and form a theory as to how, when, or where the prose went bad.
Identifying the specific successful moves made by others increases the number of arrows in your quiver, ready for use when you sit down to start your own writing. Likewise, identifying the missteps in other writers’ work makes you better at identifying the missteps in your own.
Remember the Streetcar
Tennessee Williams’ wonderful play, A Streetcar Named Desire, comes from a real streetcar in New Orleans and an actual neighborhood named Desire. In Williams’ day, you could see the streetcar downtown with a lighted sign at the front telling folks where the vehicle was headed. The playwright saw this streetcar regularly—and also saw, of course, the metaphorical possibilities of the name.
Though this streetcar no longer runs, there is still a bus called Desire in New Orleans, and you’ve certainly seen streetcars or buses in other cities with similar, if less evocative, destination indicators: Uptown, Downtown, Shadyside, West End, Prospect Park.
People need to know what streetcar they are getting onto, you see, because they want to know where they will be when the streetcar stops and lets them off.
Excuse the rather basic transportation lesson, but it explains my first suggestion. An essay needs a lighted sign right up front telling the reader where they are going. Otherwise, the reader will be distracted and nervous at each stop along the way, unsure of the destination, not at all able to enjoy the ride.
Now there are dull ways of putting up your lighted sign:
This essay is about the death of my beloved dog.
Let me tell you about what happened to me last week.
And there are more artful ways.
Readers tend to appreciate the more artful ways.
For instance, let us look at how Richard Rodriguez opens his startling essay “Mr. Secrets”:
Shortly after I published my first autobiographical essay seven years ago, my mother wrote me a letter pleading with me never again to write about our family life. “Write about something else in the future. Our family life is private.” And besides: “Why do you need to tell the gringos about how ‘divided’ you feel from the family?” I sit at my desk now, surrounded by versions of paragraphs and pages of this book, considering that question.
Where is the lighted streetcar sign in that paragraph?
Well, consider that Rodriguez has
- introduced the key characters who will inhabit his essay: himself and his mother,
- informed us that writing is central to his life,
- clued us in that this is also a story of immigration and assimilation (gringos), and
- provided us with the central question he will be considering throughout the piece: Why does he feel compelled to tell strangers the ins and outs of his conflicted feelings?
These four elements—generational conflict between author and parent, the isolation of a writer, cultural norms and difference, and the question of what is public and what is private—pretty much describe the heart of Rodriguez’s essay.
Or to put it another way, at every stop along the way—each paragraph, each transition—we are on a streetcar passing through these four thematic neighborhoods, and Rodriguez has given us a map so we can follow along.
Find a Healthy Distance
Another important step in making your personal essay public and not private is finding a measure of distance from your experience, learning to stand back, narrow your eyes, and scrutinize your own life with a dose of hale and hearty skepticism.
Why is finding a distance important? Because the private essay hides the author. The personal essay reveals. And to reveal means to let us see what is truly there, warts and all.
The truth about human nature is that we are all imperfect, sometimes messy, usually uneven individuals, and the moment you try to present yourself as a cardboard character—always right, always upstanding (or always wrong, a total mess)—the reader begins to doubt everything you say. Even if the reader cannot articulate his discomfort, he knows on a gut level that your perfect (or perfectly awful) portrait of yourself has to be false.
And then you’ve lost the reader.
Pursue the Deeper Truth
The best writers never settle for the insight they find on the surface of whatever subject they are exploring. They are constantly trying to lift the surface layer, to see what interesting ideas or questions might lie beneath.
To illustrate, let’s look at another exemplary essay, “Silence the Pianos,” by Floyd Skloot.
Here is his opening:
A year ago today, my mother stopped eating. She was ninety-six, and so deep in her dementia that she no longer knew where she was, who I was, who she herself was. All but the last few seconds had vanished from the vast scroll of her past.
Essays exploring a loved one’s decline into dementia or the painful loneliness of a parent’s death are among the most commonly seen by editors of magazines and judges of essay contests. There is a good reason for this: These events can truly shake us to our core. But too often, when writing about such a significant loss, the writer focuses on the idea that what has happened is not fair and that the loved one who is no longer around is so deeply missed.
Are these emotions true?
Yes, they are.
Are they interesting for a reader?
Often, they simply are not.
The problem is that there are certain things readers already know, and that would include the idea that the loss of a loved one to death or dementia is a deep wound, that it seems not fair when such heartbreak occurs, and that we oftentimes find ourselves regretting not having spent more time with the lost loved one.
These reactions seem truly significant when they occur in our own lives, and revisiting them in our writing allows us to experience those powerful feelings once again. For this reason it is hard to grasp that the account of our loss might have little or no impact on a reader who did not know this loved one, or does not know you, and who does not have the emotional reaction already in the gut.
In other words, there are certain “private” moments that feel exhilarating to revisit, and “private” sentences that seem stirring to write and to reread as we edit our early drafts, but they are not going to have the same effect in the public arena of publishable prose.
In the last twenty years of teaching writing, the most valuable lesson that I have found myself able to share is the need for us as writers to step outside of our own thoughts, to imagine an audience made up of real people on the other side of the page. This audience does not know us, they are not by default eager to read what we have written, and though thoughtful literate readers are by and large good people with large hearts, they have no intrinsic stake in whatever problems (or joys) we have in our lives.
This is the public, the readers you want to invite into your work.
Self-expression may be the beginning of writing, but it should never be the endpoint. Only by focusing on these anonymous readers, by acknowledging that you are creating something for them, something that has value, something that will enrich their existence and make them glad to have read what you have written, will you find a way to truly reach your audience.
And that—truly reaching your audience and offering them something of value—is perhaps as good a definition of successful writing as I’ve ever heard.
You might also like:
You might also like:
62 thoughts on “How to Write a Reader-Friendly Essay”
Nice article, it covers almost everything a student needs to know Clothing9 Store and Fashion BlogLog in to Reply ↓
I found your this post while searching for some related information on blog search…Its a good post..keep posting and update the information.
no plagiarism generatorLog in to Reply ↓
I’m pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include. hoteles juegos olimpicos rioLog in to Reply ↓
Hi there, I discovered your blog per Google bit searching for such kinda educational advise moreover your inform beholds very remarkable for me. Obsession PhrasesLog in to Reply ↓
Thank you for all these tips on topic how to write a reader-friendly essay! It seems that following all the rules, it is not too difficult to write! If you have all needed skills and imagination then you always can write a perfect story or essay!Log in to Reply ↓
You will get a awesome packers and movers service in Bangalore.Visit:-
Packers and Movers in BangaloreLog in to Reply ↓
You will get a awesome packers and movers service in Pune.Visit:-
Packers and Movers in PuneLog in to Reply ↓
Good blogs, I think it is all about writing quality and all writing depends on quality .However I think in this friendly essay I found something great and it is similar to that provides essay writing service with quality. And I know this service is reader-friendly essay after getting this.Log in to Reply ↓
Alternative financing solutions like factoring, AR financing and asset-based lending are often better working capital sources of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit.
Life Experience DegreeLog in to Reply ↓
Writing essay is always challenging, A good essay helps to clarify the topics readers want to know. essay writers for pretty writing.Log in to Reply ↓
COMMENT Cancel reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .
November/December 2018 Issue
Writer’s Digest Magazine
- Preview the Issue
- Buy It Here
- Give a Gift Subscription!
Free Writing Downloads
- 10 Situation Starters to Beat Writer’s Block
- Freelance Pricing Guide
- Promoting Your Work and Yourself
- Why Am I Getting Rejected?
- Protecting Your Writing
- Free Guide to Revision Techniques for Writers
- Fiction Genre Descriptions
More Free Writing Downloads
Writer’s Digest Shop
- BUY NOW!
Master Story Structure Plot
Structure and plot enable readers to connect to the story you want to tell. Save 84% on this premium collection of 11 resources on mastering these elements.
Writing Workshops Starting September 13
- 12 Weeks to a First Draft
- Character Development: Creating Memorable Characters
- Writing the Picture Book
- Copyediting Certification
- Short Story Fundamentals
- Form and Composition
- Write Great Dialogue
View All Online Writing Workshops
UPCOMING BOOT CAMP
Agent One-on-One: First Ten Pages Boot Camp
Each month, Writer’s Digest University offers exclusive Boot Camps with literary agents, editors and other publishing professionals who will provide great presentations, review your work and offer feedback.
Sign Up Now!
- Writing Guides
- Call Now! (USA)Login
EssayBasics.comCall Now! (USA)Order now
- Order Now
- Writing Guides
I Am a Friendly Person
Making friends can be very difficult for some people, especially for introverts. They hate being in public and find many things wrong with people in general. In short, socializing annoys them. However, as an extrovert, I enjoy socializing with various personalities. Moreover, I never found interacting with others intimidating at all and instead, I look forward to attending events where I can be with people whether they are friends or strangers. I am a friendly person because I love talking to people and knowing about their lives, I like helping people, and I genuinely enjoy being surrounded with different people who will help me appreciate life better.
I take pleasure in speaking with people and learning more about their lives. While some individuals are not interested in communicating with others, I actually love diverse conversations. I can strike conversations with strangers and I will feel happier in the process including the result of making new friends. For me, great conversations are vital to having a happy life because I am learning about reality when I get exposed to what other people are experiencing, thinking, as well as feeling. As a result of these discourses, I feel like I am growing and expanding as a person. If I avoid talking to other people, I may have a very limited sense of what others are going through. Definitely, TV, print, and social media are sources of information about what is going on in this world but I believe it is different and better when I chat with people face to face where I can personally determine what they are going through. In my mind, there is a difference between learning by reading and learning by interacting. I appreciate and initiate dialogues that help me develop a deep sense of people’s lives, dreams, and goals.
Besides great conversations, I am friendly because I enjoy helping people. By nature, I already like providing any kind of support to others whether it is emotional or physical. As the eldest, I am a good listener and quick to lend a hand to my family. Furthermore, I extend the same practice to my friends and even strangers. I am the go-to person for organizing events and getting things done. At the same time, in my kind of work in the field of customer service, I practice goodwill all the time. I ask customers, co-workers, and bosses about their problems and offer solutions. If the first recommendation failed to work, I will provide other options until the main issue is fully resolved. I find fulfillment in being able to give any form of assistance to other people. In other words, I am a friendly person who wants to improve the lives of individuals or groups around me.
Finally, I value my extraversion because I sincerely feel happiness in being surrounded by many people. Socializing provides the opportunity to arouse deep conversations and connect with others deeply. One time, I talked to an old woman who has cancer and felt like quitting life. She said that speaking with me made her feel better about people and life. I am glad that I contributed something good to her life. Consequently, I like the noise of people interacting as I find joy in socializing with them. Knowing who they are and how we can support one another give me happiness. Indeed, to interact with humanity gives life to me. To be surrounded by people is to feel human! I know some people prefer to be alone to recharge but I am different. When I am tired and feel drained, I reinvigorate myself by visiting family and friends. To be happy, I need to be with people. I choose the company of happy people who spread positivity and give me motivation to live.
Friendliness is my nature and my practice. I am friendly because I like to talk to people and make sure that they are doing well. Likewise, I love the feeling of being in the middle of human activities. The buzzing of humanity is a joyful rhythm to me. If there is one thing I like about being friendly, it is that I know that I am not alone. Whatever problem that I will be going through, I am certain that I have individuals who will be there for me. Even at the lowest point of my life when I will feel worthless, I have a great circle of family and friends who will make me feel that life is truly beautiful and full of hope. Life will always be meaningful in the company of people who love and support me.
- Admission Essay (21)
- Argumentative Essay (45)
- Basic Essay Writing Tips (263)
- Cause and Effect Essay (6)
- Custom Essay Writing Services Reviews (25)
- Essay Formats & Styles (65)
- Essay Samples, Free Essay Samples (1,243)
- Essay Topics (67)
- Homework Help From Essay Basics (63)
- Narrative Essay (16)
- Persuasive Essay (13)
- Q&A (11)
- Reflective Essay (6)
- Research Paper Writing Guides (8)
- Scholarship Essay (6)
- Top Universities (1)
- Uncategorized (83)
Homework Help |
Essay Editing |
Pay For Essay |
Write My College Essay |
Thesis Help |
Do My Essay |
Assignment Help |
Write My Essay |
Essay Writing Help |
Buy Term Paper |
© EssayBasics, 2018