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Original Essay Topic Ideas

Interesting Personal Essay Ideas

A personal essay gives the reader a glimpse of your personal life experience. A lot of times you may need to compose a personal essay. It could be for a simple class assignment, or the requirement for a college application. In order to gain ideas of writing a personal essay, you can get inspired by the listed topics below. Just think of each of the ideas as a prompt for writing, and imagine any special moment the prompt may bring to your mind.

  • How you and your best friend met
  • The bravest moment of your life
  • What makes your parents special
  • The experience of overcoming a fear
  • The moment your life changed forever
  • Why you can succeed in life
  • A difficult choice you have made
  • A place that is special to you
  • The experience of being let down by a friend
  • A failure you experienced
  • A disappointment you had
  • A surprising turn of events you experienced
  • Your favorite period of time
  • A place you always try to avoid
  • If you had power, what you would do with it
  • What super power you choose to have
  • If you could change someone’s life
  • How money matters for your life
  • Where would you go hide
  • The biggest loss you have experienced
  • If you could have a do-over
  • Words that stung
  • A book that has changed your life
  • When you have the desire of running away
  • When you have the urge of hiding in a hole
  • The proudest moment of your life
  • When you were taught a lesson by a child
  • Words that prompted hope
  • If your dog or cat could talk
  • Your favorite time with family
  • If you could invent something
  • If you could live in a different country
  • What the world would be like in 100 years
  • If you lived 100 years ago
  • The animal you would like to be
  • The greatest movie moment
  • One thing you would change about the world
  • If you could change one thing about yourself
  • The type of teacher you want to be
  • If you could live anywhere
  • A museum you’d like to visit
  • If you could become a building
  • Something a robot could never do
  • An animal that could be in charge of the world
  • The greatest discovery
  • Your most fortunate day
  • Your secret love
  • Your secret talent
  • The ugliest thing you have seen
  • The most beautiful thing you have seen
  • An accident which changed everything
  • Something you have witnessed
  • A right choice
  • A wrong choice
  • How you would spend a million dollars
  • The meaning of color
  • If you could start a charity
  • Your favorite gift
  • A close call
  • A secret place
  • A hard lesson
  • An unexplained event
  • Something you can’t resist
  • A visitor that you can’t forget
  • The longest moment you ever had
  • An awkward social moment
  • A near death experience
  • The hardest news you had to deliver
  • A special morning
  • A kiss that meant a lot
  • Why you will never tell a lie
  • When you needed a hug

After you have a topic idea, what's next? You have to develop information that you will put into your essay and decide on your audience and purpose. Then you will need to decide the point of view, tone, and style of writing you will use. Sound confusing? Don't worry. Just answer the following questions to get ready to write. You can open up a word processing program, copy these questions, and then answer them, or do it the old-fashioned way with paper and pen.

  1. Topic idea: ______________________________________________. (Write yours out.)
  2. What kind of expository essay is this? (How to? How does it work? Definition? Fact? Cause? History of?)

Gathering Ideas:

  1. List or cluster different aspects or parts of your topic.
  2. Circle the aspects which are most interesting to you. Cluster those.

Topic Evaluation:

  1. Do you have enough to say or too much? Do you need to narrow your topic or expand it?
  2. What sources can you use? Where can you find them?

Audience Evaluation

  1. What are some things your audience would be familiar with which you can compare your topic with?
  2. What do they already know?
  3. What would they be interested in knowing?
  4. What kind of tone would be best for this audience? (informational, satiric, humorous, folksy, professional?)
  5. Considering your audience, which point of view would be the most effective one to write in? Would it be better to write in the first person ("I" or "we"), second person ("you"), or third person (impersonal)?

Write Your Thesis

  1. Your purpose (What do you want audience to think, do, or know after reading? This will be related to what your audience doesn't know.)
  2. Turn your topic into a question: ___________________________________________
  3. Answer that question: __________________________________________________
  4. Make a thesis statement: _______________________________________________
  5. Essay map—sentence(s) which list main sub-topics: ______________________________________________________________ (These can be headers for sections of the paper.)

Essay Organization

  1. Which sort of organization would work best for you? Examples: chronological (in time), spatial (in space and time), process (step-by-step), topical (part-by-part), cause/effect, historical overview, comparison and contrast, or reverse expectations.
  2. Write a brief outline for how you will structure the body of the paper.

Intro and Conclusion

  1. Which of these introduction and conclusion ideas could you use? Reverse expectation, expectation fulfilled, scenario (imagined typical story, also called a case study), personal story, frame story, vivid description, conversation, definition, comparison and contrast, analogy, startling statistic or fact, quotation, story from book or movie.
  2. Choose the best one(s) for your essay and explain what you will do.

Tone, Voice, and Style

  1. Which person will you write in for your essay? (1st “I,” 2nd “you,” or 3rd “he, she, it.”) Why?
  2. What sort of tone will you have? Why? (Example: serious and informative, humorous, sarcastic, enthusiastic.)