Perspective Essay Format





Northridge, California, June 19, 1996--- There are occasions when you as a writer get to sound off, to give an opinion that does not have to be supported, documented, or even explained. Some of the forms that Personal Perspective essays take are "Letters," editorials, guest columns, speeches, and special assignments when the writer is asked to respond to a particular issue, subject, or the like. Sometimes the personal perspective is important because of the writer, who may be a celebrity like Spike Lee or Bill Cosby, a famous government official such as California Congresswoman Maxine Walters, or newsmaking personality like Reverend Jessie Jackson and Minister Louis Farrakhan. Sometime the personal viewpoint is important because the writer represents a large or definite segment of society like National Urban League President John Jacobs or Brotherhood Crusade President Danny Bakewell and is, in effect, speaking for that constituency on a subject such as Black-Korean Relationships in Southcentral Los Angeles.

Other times, the personal perspective is important because the writer is an editor of the magazine in which the piece appears like John Johnson of Ebony, Essence Magazine's Susan Taylor or San Francisco Sun-Reporter Publisher Carlton B. Goodlett, and the personal viewpoint can give readers a fix on the slant of the newspaper or magazine itself. At other times, the personal viewpoint is important just because the writer has a real flair for writing like Alice Walker, or like Ishmael Reed is very amusing, or so capable of saying what everybody is thinking but couldn't say so well such as Amiri Baraka.

A Personal Perspective essay has no particular form. It is, rather, the writer's opinion -- pure and simple. The writer does not have to explain carefully why he or she believes this particular thing or thinks this particular way, and the reader does not have to do anything more than take the essay or leave it. Personal Perspective essays are usually very interesting to read, however, because they almost always carry the stamp of the writer's personality prominently.

There is a checklist for writing a Personal Perspective essay:

  • Write about something that's been on your mind for a while. When you do this, then the subject typically will be something that you care about and have not been able to forget or simply file away. Perhaps you've been concerned about what you see as the inequity between the way in which funding is done for affluent schools and the way that schools situated in poverty-stricken neighborhoods takes place. It's on your mind because the subject matters to you, and demands to be expressed.
  • Carve out your own turf. Don't depend upon the thoughts, opinions, views, or positions of others. If the subject happens to be the Moral Majority taking a swipe at what is loosely called the "declining social values caused by an increase in the number of single parent households" and you grew up in exactly that sort of household as did your brothers and sisters, all of whom went on to become positive, productive citizens despite harsh circumstances, then you don't have to go to the library to look up and see what others have to say. Take your own stand, making it clear to your readers that this is what you believe in and stand for, that this is what you personally care about.
  • Help the readers understand your point of view. You aren't simply writing to impress people, or toot your own horn. The purpose of writing always is to communicate with others. When you do so, the language chosen is deliberate given the audience (i.e., you don't use technical language to communicate with the general public and you don't come across as condescending when the subject is serious!). Sometimes young writers mistake this as an invitation to engage in slang or profanity. You should be cautioned with the old proverb that, "Profanity is the mark of a lazy mind!" Remember that words are power, and you want to choose language that works for you and helps to tell the story, language that you would not be ashamed to be associated with no matter the setting or listeners (in this case, readers!). Be engaging and entertaining where possible, invite the readers to join in this discussion with you.
  • Find a style suited to your subject but distinctly in your own voice. Use the first person when writing this type of essay: I . Keep in mind that this is not a purely expository or objective essay. The Personal Perspective is exactly that, it is your point of view about a particular subject or topic and the readers expect as much.
  • Use lots of examples, illustrations, and details to involve your readers. Paint a word-picture, one that enables the readers to see what you are writing about, to feel what you are experiencing, to share in the emotions that have been carried around within you long enough that you have had to come out and make a statement.

This leads to some critical concerns about your audience of readers:

  • Make your readers sympathetic to your point of view. You should work hard to give them the sort of details that allow them to appreciate why it is that you feel as you do. Help them understand what it is like to be in (or to take) your position.
  • Connect your particular opinion to related opinions readers might share. (For example, people who have been victimized by absentee landlords might better understand your outrage about slumlords who do little or nothing to improve properties but are constantly raising rents.)
  • Anticipate what your readers need to know. Try to give them numbers, statistics, dates, names, and facts as needed, brief descriptions of locales, and quick rundowns of relevant situations. Don't simply assume that the readers know where you're coming from.
  • Remember that people like to read about other people. Give all the people in the essay
  • including yourself -- an identity. Names and facts are important. Bring the characters to life in the essay you are writing. Stay away from excessive pronoun usage.

Finally, one wants to keep in mind that all essays have a basic format although content and style will influence the shape the composition takes:

  • The Introduction wherein your get the reader's attention and then present your thesis. For this type of essay, choosing something from the human drama of life, actual experience, is what works best and gets the audience's immediate attention. People like knowing that what they are reading "actually happened" or "is happening right now!"
  • The Body of the composition wherein you support the patterns indicated in your thesis statement. This is where you will want to expand upon the illustrations, examples, and facts; and finally,
  • The Conclusion wherein you bring home to the reader the purpose for the composition, what it was that drove you to sit down and take the time to put this essay together in the first place. You always want to work for a conclusion that will be thought-provoking. Don't limit yourself to a one-paragraph conclusion. It can be two or three paragraphs, whatever works most effectively.

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A reflective essay is a type of writing in which you (the author) interact with an audience and describe some moment or experience from your life. This “experience’ explores personal ideas, feelings, and opinions about the event and how it affected you.
Reflective writing allows an author to:

  • Analyze and draw conclusions about what they have read, heard, or seen;
  • Make connections between the text and themselves, or other texts and the world;
  • Think about what they have learned and how they can or will use the newly acquired information;
  • Write subjectively (from their point of view); Identify areas for further reading.

Table Of Contents



Writing A Reflective Essay

Reflection essays are usually requested by professors or teachers, as they allow you to share your experience about an article, lesson, or lecture. Reflections are very personal and subjective, but they must maintain a formal tone and should be well organized.

If you are reflecting on a certain text, annotate your initial emotions and thoughts while reading it. If you are writing about yourself or an event in your life, brainstorm by making a chart with three columns: past experiences, description, and reflection. This table should help you brainstorm and structure the introduction and the body of your essay.

Example: You are writing about your experience at an animal shelter.

Personal Reflective Essay

Personal reflective essays are papers that reflect your personality, your experiences, and your influences. Ultimately, they help the reader of your paper get to know you. Unlike other types essays that you’ve written before, they do not rely on facts or research. Instead, they are focused on you. Application essays or job resumes are, in a way, reflective essays too. One thing that separates a good essay from a bad one is organization; thus, start by building an outline.

Format

The format of a reflective essay greatly differs from normal argumentative or research essays. A reflective essay is more of a well-structured story or a diary entry. An essay in APA format or MLA format is only applicable when it comes with an external text that you are reflecting upon. The typical reflection essay length will vary between 300 and 700 words

  • Ask your instructor about word length to make sure you follow the instructions.

Here, it is important to avoid the academic style of writing. Stick to your feelings and original ideas. This essay is about you, not about the text. If your instructor asks you to format your paper in APA or MLA style, here are a few shorthands:

MLA

    APA

      Outline

      To start organizing your reflective essay, take a look at your brainstorming table. The ‘past experience’ and ‘description’ should constitute less than 10% of your essay. Limit listing events and tell events as little as possible. Instead, show the events in your reflection.

      Your introduction should consist of:

      • The hook: grab the reader's attention in a short preview of what you’ll be writing about.
      • Example:
      • The reflective essay thesis statement should include that ‘past experience’ information; a brief statement of what your essay is going to be about.
      • Example:
      • The structure of body paragraphs is best discussed in chronological events. Answer the bold questions in the ‘reflection’ section of the table; this should naturally create a linear storyline. No matter what you’re writing your essay about.

      The body paragraph outline should look something like this:

      • Expectation about the shelter
      • First impression
      • Expectations: "Thought it was going to be boring and mundane"
      • Working experience
      • Finding and rescuing Buffy
      • Other experiences with rescuing animals
      • Discoveries
      • Newly found passion and feelings toward the work
      • A newly developed mindset about animal treatment

      Conclusion

      Must wrap your ideas up and demonstrate development. Feelings newly found discoveries, and most importantly, plans for the future are important factors of the conclusion.

      Example: Buffy’s case inspired me to pursue a career as a veterinarian, hopefully, one day working in an animal shelter.

      Ideas And Topics

      The reflective essay is probably the one essay you can’t borrow a topic for, because the essay should be about your own experiences. However, here are some prompts to help you begin:

      • An experience you can’t forget.
      • Time you overcame a fear.
      • The most difficult choice you had to make.
      • A time your beliefs were challenged.
      • Have you ever discovered something life-changing?
      • The happiest moment or the most frightening moment of your life that far.
      • What can people do to improve the quality of the world?
      • Name a time you felt lost.
      • Are you always making the right choice? Can you think of time you made a wrong choice?
      • A moment in your life you would like to relive.

      You may find it convenient to create a chart or table to keep track of your ideas. Split your chart into 3 parts.

      • In the first column, write key experiences or the main points. You can grade them from most to least important.
      • In the second column, list your personal response to the points you have stated in the first column.
      • In the third column, write how much of your response to share in the essay.

      How You Write

      Watch what you are writing

      A reflective paper is a very personal type of writing because it includes your feelings and opinions about something. Before including something in your paper, ask yourself is this information appropriate to include or not?

      • If you feel uncomfortable about something personal, avoid including it in your essay, or write about this issue in more general terms.

      Stay Professional

      Even though a reflection paper is personal, you should keep your mind organized.

      • AVOID SLANG: Use only correct spelling and grammar. Abbreviations like “LOL”, “OMG” or “ROFL” should be avoided in professional custom writing.

      • This is your story, so there is no need to drag someone else into your custom essay. Even if this person made the experience you are going to talk about, you must maintain professionalism and describe the actions, not the person. Additionally, you should frame those actions within the context of your writing.

      Do Not Be Lazy

      Review your paper sentence by sentence to eliminate all mistakes.

      • Keep your sentences to the point. Avoid squeezing two thoughts into one sentence.
      • Don’t leave sentences unfinished; make sure that all your sentences have a purpose.

      Put The Cherry On Top Of Your cake

      Use transitional phrases to shift between arguments and introduce specific details. The usage of transitions will make your paper look like it was written by essay writing service writers.

      Essay Rubric

      Satisfactory essay:

      • The reflection provides the ‘big picture’ of the person’s experiences.
      • The student interweaves information regarding specific artifacts and how these artifacts were beneficial. The student’s experience paints details that are unique.
      • The reflection shows that the student has learned from their experience. Reflection reveals insight into personal goals
      • Demonstrates an ability to reflect on own work and an adequate number of examples are provided.
      • Reflection demonstrates personal perspective.
      • The essay has no grammatical and spelling errors, is an overall organized paper.

      Unsatisfactory essay:

      • The reflection provides the pieces of the student’s experience. The essay is not written in a linear manner.
      • The students essay consists of generalizations and is not unique or memorable.
      • The reflection does not adequately demonstrate that the student has received knowledge from experience. The student does not state personal goals.
      • The essay insufficiently reflects on own work.
      • Reflection demonstrates universal perspective.
      • The essay has many grammatical and spelling errors, the paper is incoherent.

      Reflective Essay Example

      Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

      Awesome Tutor, from EssayPro

      A reflective essay in middle school and earlier years of high school is typically not a serious type of essay. In your junior and senior years of high school, you will usually find that a more sophisticated format of the essay. The two most common places where you will be asked to write a reflective essay are college application papers and different kinds of reports (lab or otherwise) that require you to state your opinion, not just straight analysis. One thing that must be stressed is that an essay should demonstrate what the writer has learned. It also explains what things caused the author to change. A quick shortcut is to reflect on how you improved. In college application essays, you will want to know how to talk about what you learned from an event or experience.

      A strong reflective writers will not only share the change but also give examples as supporting details. For example, if a writer discusses becoming more optimistic in life, then the writer would discuss how they took a positive approach and came out with a good outcome.

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