The Fall 2020 issue of Exponent II is open to any topic and we encourage everyone in the Exponent community to submit something. We often hear: “I am not sure what to write about or how to even begin a personal essay.”
The best essays start as everyday stories. Something happens to us that we did not expect, or we react to something in an unexpected way. We had a script in our mind as to how a scene would play out; then the story changed and we found ourselves in a completely different narrative. Notice these moments as you move through life; think about moments like these in your past life. These moments are the stories that spark interesting essays.
With one of these ideas in mind, ask yourself a few questions and jot down the answers.
- What was I expecting? How was I living in the world before?
- What happened that I did not expect?
- What were the details of the moments–what led up to this point, what was going on with the main players; what was the setting; what were the reactions of the bystanders; what did I see, hear, smell, taste, and feel?
- How was the world different afterward? How as I different? How is it now?
Take these notes and organize them into a simple draft. Stay focused on your story and keep in mind a few things not to do–they can be distracting to you and reader:
- Don’t add lots of quotations. We want to hear your voice and how you frame your experience.
- Unless submitting to Sabbath Pastorals or Women’s Theology, we want to hear your experiences and insights about those experiences in narrative form and not as a doctrinal talk.
- Don’t feel compelled to tidy things up with a moral to the story. The best essays describe what happened, what it means to the writer, and then invites the reader to make their own connections to their life.
In addition to personal essays, we publish a broad range of features. Women’s Theology looks at Mormon feminist theology. Global Zion publishes the experiences of Mormons around the world and how faith and culture intersect. Sabbath Pastorals shares sermons given by Mormon women over the pulpit. Flannel Board gives practical ideas for how to make church work better. We also have poetry and short fictional stories. If you’re interested in contributing to any of these, please contact us.
Drafts are meant to invite discussion and revision; they are never perfect. Send the best draft to us and let us look it over. Don’t be intimidated if you are a new writer. If your story is a fit for the magazine, we have staff members who can work one-on-one with you to prepare your essay for publication.
We are dedicated to sharing a broad range of Mormon women’s voices and the voices of marginalized genders through writing and art. If you have something you would like to submit, please send it to [email protected] by July 1. Submissions should be 700-2400 words and in Google Doc or Word format.