In preparation for the Personal Narrative competition, this week’s prompt asks you to explore yourself as a character on the page. Phillip Lopate, one of the masters of this form, points out that “In personal essays, nothing is more commonly met than the letter I
.” It’s easy for writers to assume that they've “said or conveyed more than they actually have with that one syllable. In their minds, that ‘I’ is swarming with background and a lush, sticky past… whereas the reader, encountering it for the first time in a new piece, sees only a slender telephone pole standing in the sentence.”
So, Lopate says, we must turn ourselves—turn that anonymous I—
into a character.
Respond to the following questions in lists of three.
You need not answer every question—perhaps some spark your interest more than others. Use this as an exercise to see what aspects of yourself come to the surface with a little digging. How might these elements of character turn that telephone pole into a person?
Thank you to Write the World member Annabella
who has written some insightful lists
about who she is. Have a read of them here
. And for exemplar responses to this prompt, check out the works of Write the World Peer Ambassadors: PalmLeaf's "Three of Three" and clos's "threes."
What truths will your
- Three quirks or idiosyncrasies.
- Three communities to which you belong (these can be unusual).
- Three adjectives your peers would use to describe you.
- Three adjectives your family would use.
- Three adjectives you would use.
- Three things about you that very few people know.
- Three beliefs you hold.
- Three questions you have.
- Three qualities that make your life singular and/or unusual.
- Three specific physical descriptions (the particular shape of your front teeth, the color of your palms, the curve of your spine).
- Three flaws.
- Three favorites.
- Three pet peeves.
- Three instincts that serve you well.
- Three sources of comfort.
** Please copy and paste the question you are answering above each list.