The personal experience story is generally about 1,200-1,500 words and is always true. It is usually written in the first person, because first person is more powerful. It contains three ingredients:
- Reader Identification – your readers may not have experienced exactly the same thing, but they can empathize. You want readers to be involved at the heart level. Write heart-to-heart, not head-to-head. You want to work a change in your readers’ hearts that will result in a change in their lives. Don’t preach. Involve readers on an emotional level. You do this by using fictional techniques in your nonfiction. Use anecdotes, dialogue, and description. Be specific and concrete, not abstract. Take readers on a journey with you. Make them feel and see all that is happening on the way.
You want them to say, “I couldn’t put it down. I cried. I laughed.” This is achieved by showing readers rather than telling them. Show—don’t tell.
- Take-away – what readers remember when they have forgotten the story. The take-away is what readers take from your story and use in their own lives to become better people, to move closer to God, or to realize a truth.
- Spiritual Emphasis or Reader’s Reaction – move your readers, inspire them, and arouse their emotions. You want your readers to do something when they finish reading your story. Perhaps you want them to change in some way or desire to help another individual.