Consider the following prompts, all topics taken from a variety of high school and college essays.
1. Consider the following quotation: “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Write about a time in your life when you learned what that quotation meant. It does not need to be romantic love that you write about. It could mean platonic love or a familial relationship.
2. React to the following bumper sticker by telling about a time in your life when it proved true: Animals are man’s best friends.
3. Movies and books often talk about the importance of loyalty and friendship. Tell about a time in
your life when friendship proved to be of great importance to you.
4. Martin Luther King Jr. said that he wished for the day when his children “would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Tell about a time in your life when the content of your character was tested.
5. The way a person handles disappointment tells a great deal about what is important to him or her.
Tell about a time in your life when you confronted disappointment and learned from it.
You will notice that the prompts themselves provide the direction that you must take in deciding what to write about. Each one provides the “theme” for your story. Remember that “theme” is the main idea you will be discussing. To answer the first question, you will be writing about your feelings concerning love. You will have to think about a time in your life that tells why you either agree or disagree with the statement. To answer the second question, your theme is your opinion about animals. Do you agree that they are worthy friends? To answer the third question, your theme is loyalty and friendship. Can you think of a time in your life that proved the statement true or false?
The fourth question’s theme is character.Were you ever forced into a situation where you had to demonstrate honor, loyalty, or trust? The theme of the fifth question is the effects of disappointment. Can you think of a time when disappointment caused you to understand
yourself or others? Once you have identified what your topic is and you have figured out a time in your life that illustrates your point of view, you can begin to write. Remember, you are writing about a specific time so you want to determine the parameters of the experience.
When did it begin? How long did it last? How and when was it resolved? In other words, you need to narrow your experience to a set period of time. Then consider who the people were who contributed to your experience. They become your characters. Be certain to limit the number of people to just two or three, because in a three- or four-page essay you want to focus on the experience and not distract your reader with too many players. Then establish the time and place—the where and when of your story. This is your setting. All that is left is your plot. The how and why your characters interacted enables you to come to the conclusions you did about your topic.
Sounds easy? Well it should be. You’re being asked to write about the things that are the most personal to you and about which you have all the information you need.
Choose 1 of the previous prompts. Start a draft for developing your first personal writing, applying all the strategies learned in this lesson.
Post your draft here. By next week you must proof read it, edit it, and post the final version