What Is the Goal of Writing a First-Person Essay?

A first-person essay helps the reader connect with the author.
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The goal of a first-person essay is to connect with your reader, so she can visualize and understand your perspective. The first-person voice adds credibility and believability to your experiences, enabling the words on the page to come to life. This natural writing style is easy to read and flows smoothly, so transitioning to new topics isn't difficult. If you want your essay to have a personal touch, the first-person writing style works best.

1 Personal

The goal of a first-person essay is to write in a real and personal way, so the reader feels genuinely connected to the author. Even if you don't choose to use the personal pronoun "I" throughout your essay, your first-person writing style suggests that you're the main protagonist, or at least you're writing from that view point. According to the website, Writer's Digest, the best personal essays are written like a conversation with an intelligent, provocative friend. First-person essays are individualistic, intimate and revealing, so they draw the reader into your personal world.

2 Engaging

A first-person essay is engaging, so candid details, humorous experiences and intimate feelings are readily expressed. Dry language, irrelevant details and non-descriptive wording can bog down a first-person essay, making it feel like a boring documentary. A first-person essay should read more like a flavorful journal entry than a science report. Writer's Digest states that the key to an engaging first-person essay is to make sure your writing style is direct and penetrating.

3 Understandable

A major goal of a first-person essay is to ensure that the content is written in a style that's straightforward and understandable. The University of North Carolina's Writing Center recommends using the first person if you want your essay to have clarity. First-person essays are clearly constructed, so there are no awkward phrases or vague references. For example, an effective first-person sentence might read, "I felt the shudder of silence as I closed the door for the last time." Or, "My heart beat so rapidly that it took my breath away." The language is simple, coherent and concise.

4 Revealing

First-person essays are revealing because personal references establish the time period, historical relevance, setting, theme and mood. For example, a first-person sentence might read, "My heart swelled as I walked along the harbor, staring in awe at the wooden tea crates as they bounced across the water." That one sentence reveals that the time period is the American Revolution during the Boston tea party, and the protagonist is proud and overcome by the event. It would be difficult to disclose that much information in one sentence using the second- or third- person points of view.

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.