8. End with emotional insight. Personal essays must get personal. But even if you bravely revisit your worst struggles, playing victim and reciting a litany of injustices inflicted upon you is boring and cliché. Question, challenge, reveal and trash yourself more than others. One colleague wrote about her ex-husband of 20 years, an abusive alcoholic, listing all his evils. When she admitted she knew he was a problem drinker after a year, I suggested refocusing on why she’d stayed for 19 more. Turned out her father was a drinker and her mother helped him give up the sauce—at age 60. So that was her model for marriage. Now that piece was a standout.
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket. Illustrated by Brett Helquist. (1999, HarperCollins. ISBN 9780064407663. Order Info .) Chapter Book. 162 pages. Gr 4-8.
This Gothic spoof is the first book in a long series which was also made into a movie. Unlike other mystery series this one takes the entire series to solve the mystery. In the meantime there are smaller mysteries and much peril to entertain the reader. The narrator's voice is prominent here as he tells us about the plight of three orphans whose parents were killed and who are pursued by a guardian who is intent on getting the family fortune from them. The mystery concerns who killed their parents and why. The books are very funny and addictive. The audio versions ( Order Info ) are also very well done.
Style guides like those published by the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) are great sources to turn to when you need to know how to punctuate something properly for a paper. But if you’re not writing an academic paper or your writing includes topics that aren’t typically found in professional publications, they won’t provide you with the answers you need. For those issues, you have to rely on your own judgment in applying the rules because an official standard hasn’t been set.