One of the best ways to write about yourself is to start with a little story, also known as an anecdote. Not only are these mini-stories compelling and natural “grabbers,” they are an excellent way to “show” the reader about yourself instead of just “telling” them. (Want to learn how to “show” your reader what sets you apart from the pack, and write in a narrative, or story-telling, style? Read THIS.)
So let’s assume you have chosen your story. (Click HERE to find great story topics!) Now, where do you start? Make sure the beginning has the most interesting, dramatic, compelling part of the story–otherwise you won’t hook your reader. It is quite common to “bury your lead,” that is, have the best part of your story, the highlight, the drama, the irony, etc., too far down in the narrative. If this is the case, just bring it up–and background it later.
Start your story at the best part, even if it happened in the middle. Start with the good stuff, the action, the impact, the peak of the problem, the punch of the moment, whatever has the most “juice.” Usually, you will only describe “a time” or moment that only lasted a few minutes. Often, this incident also will reflect on your larger message–that’s why it has that “juice.”
If you start in the middle of your story, and describe the highlight, you just need to quickly take your reader back to the beginning of your story in the following paragraph. You always want to go back and start at the beginning because that’s the most natural way to tell a story: chronologically. That way, you also end at the end, so writing your conclusion is natural and simple.
Read some sample essays that tell stories and note where the writer starts her or his story, and study how the narrative was handled. If you want more help on writing a mini-story or anecdote, read THIS POST on how to write an anecdote. If you need help getting started with your college admission essay, try my Jumpstart Guide.