I am a tense person. I like to tell people I’m high strung. I’m not sure why I like to tell them. It’s not exactly a positive trait. I guess it’s so that when they sneak up behind me, and I jump to the ceiling I can say, “Well, I told you I was high strung!”
What does this have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing. I was hoping when I started this I’d come up with some sort of witty play on words or pun or something, but that didn’t happen. What I really wanted to talk to you about was tense and person in personal essays. I was reading an article about how to write the perfect personal essay, and it mentioned, specifically, that most personal essays are written in the first person (you know, “I” statements) and in the past tense.
I don’t know that first-person-past-tense makes for the perfect essay. It’s probably what we get the most of here on this challenge, but we get plenty that aren’t that exact combo. We’ve had more than a few second person essays and even a third person has popped up. And we definitely get many present tense essays as well. When an essay has all the other elements of a good essay, I’m not so sure that tense and person matter. Done poorly, however, I feel that it can sound gimmicky like, “I don’t have a good story here so let me write it in second person and see if anyone notices!”
What do you think? Do you have a preference? Your thoughts in comments.
Nonfiction Know-How: Tutorials
How often have you heard “the best way to learn a thing is to teach it?” This month’s Nonfiction Know-How focuses on a specific type of essay – tutorials – and how to show the lessons beneath the lessons to your audience. Get your Nonfiction Know-How right here.
How to submit and fully participate in the challenge:
Basic YeahWrite guidelines: 1000 word limit; your entry can be dated no earlier than this past Sunday; nonfiction personal essay, creative opinion piece or mostly true story based on actual events.
1. In the sidebar of this week’s post, please grab the code beneath the nonfiction badge and paste it into the HTML view of your entry;
2. Follow the Inlinkz instructions after clicking “add your link” to upload your entry to this week’s challenge grid;
3. Your entry should appear immediately on the grid if you don’t receive an error message;
4. Please make the rounds to read all the entries in this week’s challenge; and
5. Consider turning off moderated comments and CAPTCHA on your own blog.
Submissions for this week’s challenges will close on Wednesday at 10pm ET. Voting will then open immediately thereafter and close on Thursday at 10pm ET. The winners, as always, will be celebrated on Friday.
Thank you for sharing with us your hard work! Good luck in the challenge…
About the author:
Michelle submitted her first entry to YeahWrite in March 2012 and they haven’t been able to get rid of her since. After nearly 20 years in the insurance/employee benefits industry, she decided to give it all up to pursue writing full time. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post and xoJane, as well as several local sites near her northern NJ home. She blogs at Michelle Longo.