Structure of a Personal Essay


The following post is intended to show you how the common personal essay is built. These essays describe some personal experience of the writer, examine some point or tell a story based on the life of the narrator. Using the given structure it might be much easier to write your assignment and understand how the essays are made by breaking the content into sections.


The hook

Personal essay should definitely start with some fact, humor or other information that can grab readers’ attention and create an interest for further reading. Carefully use your opening paragraph and make its content tailored to the needs of your audience if necessary.

Set the scene

You as the director have to provide information about everything and everybody. You need to identify the place of action, the main and secondary characters. Also it is necessary to tell whether the situation is real or imaginary. 

Main idea

Thesis statement in personal essay serves a little bit different purpose than in other types of academic works. In this case the paper can start with describing the conditions when the situation has happened: “It was a cloudy Sunday morning' and propose a moral of the story or the lesson that was learned by you, the writer. For example: “I will never go fishing in winter time again'. Also the paper might describe the theme that provides details for experienced feelings: “Fishing can be a lot of fun'.

Body of the paper

Show, do not tell

Good personal essay must include detailed description of the events that happened. It is a great idea to refer to senses: how you felt, what you heard. You need to describe your condition during the time. For example, “When I saw that big fish on my hook, my heart raced: it was the biggest fish I’ve ever caught in my life'. Also details and observations during the event are important: “When I was on my way to the lake, I saw a huge bear so it was a little bit scary to go through the woods'. 

Supporting evidence

The evidence in personal essay is the lesson that has been learned by the writer. Or it might demonstrate how the event was significant for your life.

Passage of time

The most common way to present the information is chronological order. This way the readers will not be lost in time and do not lose the interest and focus on your story.


Each section and paragraph of the essay has to make some changes to the story. However, there has to be a connection between the parts of the paper. It is right to use logical order. For example, the paragraph might end with the following sentence: “I was afraid of the bear and started running away'. The next paragraph should start with something like this: “Running from the bear is not considered to be one of the safest options'. 


The morale of the story

The closing part of the paper should be focused at final action and include personal reflections of the writer on the story. You need to identify the morale of the story and show the lesson you think should be learned from the event.