We're heading into a patriotic week-end and you'll be seeing a lot of essays dealing with Memorial Day--honoring those lost in our many wars, as well as veterans, and today's military personnel. I've written several over the years. Some have been for Memorial Day and others meant for Veteran's Day. They fall into the creative non-fiction or personal essay category.
I thought now might be a good time to talk about things to remember when writing an essay of this type. I've listed a few below.
1. Include a bit about the holiday if you can. How or when did Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, Fourth of July start. Keep it minimal for that is probably not your primary objective.
2. It's OK to be emotional, but don't overdo it. Write it, let it sit awhile, read it and tone it down if it's overly sentimental. Of course, the degree of emotion is going to be different for each writer.
3. Consider your audience. Who are you directing your essay to? Children? Young Adults? All adults? Seniors? You may want different approaches to these groups.
4. Don't use your essay to rant and rave about things you don't like about the government or the way holidays are handled in your community--or anything of that kind. Save that for another kind of essay.
5. Add something personal. It always touches people far better than facts and figures.
6. Create a story within your essay to create and hold the reader's interest.
Over the next few days, I'm planing to post some of my patriotic essays that have been published. It may be too late for you to write and submit a patriotic personal essay for this week's holiday, but the Fourth of July and Veteran's Day are still ahead. Submissions for those holiday need to be sent in soon. Come back Saturday, Sunday and Monday to read them.