Why write a personal experience story? You write this type of story to share an experience, convey an idea, pass on a lesson, make a statement, or simply entertain. More importantly, you write the personal experience story to reach people and touch them in a meaningful way! And personal experience stories have the potential to have great impact. But how do you maximize this impact? Here are three tips to give your articles enduring impact.
1) Find a Unique Angle. Doesn’t it seem like every story angle has already been used? Yet, editors still insist on articles with a fresh perspective or a unique angle. Ironically, every television program I watch seems to be a retread of a plot I’ve seen a thousand times before. Go figure.
Nevertheless, approach every personal experience story from a unique angle. When I was writing “Lose the Head, Open the Heart,” a story about a young mother dying of cancer at age 27, I approached it from her children’s point of view because I lost my mother from cancer when I was 11. This unique angle allowed me to be both the narrator and a character in the story. And since this angle added greater impact, the story was consequently accepted for publication by three magazines.
2) Reveal Your Heart. Whenever I read a personal experience story, I am most engaged when the writer shares his heart. How did the events of the story affect him? I want to sense her pain, his struggle, her feelings of defeat and ultimately her victory. In a personal experience article, the more you see inside the writer, the more you emotionally connect with the story.
3) Convey a Personal Discovery and Your Road to Victory. Every personal experience story must convey the arrival at some truth. The “lesson learned” is the reason you write the story. The goal is to always to help others, to identify with their plight, to sense their fear, to feel their pain, and to share your road to victory or, in some cases, the victory you found in defeat. And this is why the reader reads your story. Their goal is to learn from your learning, to apply your healing balm, to walk beside you rather than wander alone, and to claim eventual victory from the light cast from your experience.
Writing with impact is not reserved for compelling novels or large works. Your work can have lasting impact whether it’s an 80,000-word novel or an 800-word personal experience story.
Remember, writing with impact is not about word count, it’s about making your words—count.
The Writer’s Refuge blog is a place for writers, like you, to break away from your daily routine and for just a few minutes find insight, inspiration or simply a word of encouragement.
Blog entries are posted on Thursday.
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