Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Writing Personal Experience Articles (Part 2 of 6)

Personal Experience (PE) articles need two special qualities. First, you need a unique story. That part is simple. You tell what happened to you—an incident that made a significant impact on you. It can be an answer to prayer, a failure in your job, going through a divorce, or struggling over the death of a child. It may involve a moral issue, an ethical lesson, or the discovery of a religious truth. You can tell how a Bible verse has slammed into your life.

PE accounts don’t have to hit 10 on the Richter scale. They can involve everyday things such as frustration over traffic jams or problems we face with a dishwasher. It’s not the event itself, but the effect the incident had on us that makes it unique.

For example, HomeLife magazine asked me to write a PE piece about forgiveness. I wrote about an experience that involved another missionary who criticized me and gossiped about me. That’s a unique setting; not many people are missionaries.

That has to be coupled with a second major factor. Read my next blog.

My experiences are unique. No one else has encountered exactly what I have.


  1. Cec, thank you for the enlightening constant knowledge that you share with us. I haven't missed a one, but here's a wee question that possibly you covered and I missed. Did you say a writer can take small personal experiences and then compile them into a book for future publishing? If one does this, would there be problems with the "rights" to the articles published elsewhere?

  2. In response to Kareenia's question: If you sell only first rights to an article you can legally use it in a book. First rights means you can't resell or reuse it until it's been published.

    However, if you sell all rights, you may not use the material again without asking for permission.

  3. Thank you Cec for the clarification. Karen

  4. I have written numerous stories and poems with response from my critique group, "This must be published!" Ok, great. How do I make this happen? Where can I get them published. I have also been told I have enough to compile into a book. Again, how do I go about this? I am a novice at making it happen, not writing, per se, although I'm a sponge when it comes to learning from you and others, and I am grateful to you all for your help. Joni Spicer spicerjoan@yahoo.com


What are your thoughts?