How to Start an Autobiographical Essay

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An autographical essay is a personal narrative written in the first person about your life and experiences. Universities often require this type of essay in admissions applications. A potential employer may also want to read about your life. Newspapers and magazines are also interested in autobiographical essays of famous or otherwise newsworthy person. A very long autobiographical essay makes an autobiography, a popular genre in literature. Since they appear easy to write and have a reputation for being dull, it is essential to start an autobiographical essay with a piquant sentence.

1 Consider your audience

Consider your audience to grasp the purpose of the essay. An essay as a supplement to university application will be different than one submitted to a prominent magazine for publication. Find out what the audience is looking for, and tailor the essay to that purpose.

2 Decide on the theme of the essay

Decide on the theme of the essay before you start writing. The theme is the thread that ties the essay together, and an essay without a theme is merely a list of random recollections. Start an essay with a theme to make your work coherent and easy to follow. For example, the theme of an autobiographical essay for college can be “resilience in the face of hardships.”

3 Make an essay outline

Make an essay outline before you start. Sketch the different sections of the essay. An essay, like a story, has a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning introduces the topic to the reader, the middle expounds and the end concludes.

4 Start with a direct

Start with a direct, thought-provoking sentence. Never start with “in this essay I will talk about….” Launch into the topic straightaway. Remember that the goal is to arouse interest and curiosity in the reader, who, in all probability, have read countless autographical essays already. For example, “The summer Joe was released, I taught my mother to use a shotgun” makes the reader want to know more about what happened.

5 Give a novel angle

Give a novel angle to ordinary events in an ordinary life. The first sentence does not have introduce a life-shattering event. Remember that beneath the veil of reality, there’s a mysterious, unexplained world where cause and effect is not readily apparent. Avoid starting the essay with a certain date and proceeding chronologically until you arrive at your writing desk.

6 Reject the temptation

Reject the temptation to be economical with truth. In the first sentence or anywhere else in the essay, do not fabricate events that didn’t happen or invent conversations that didn’t occur.

Kiran Gaunle is a freelancer based in New York. He started writing professionally in 2006. He has written research reports for the UN Development Programme and the "Kathmandu Post." Gaunle is working on a book of short stories and a novel. He holds a Master of Arts in international political economy and development from Fordham University.