Introduction 

Let’s start by harking back to the famous anecdotal masterpiece, “Three Men in A Boat,” by Jerome K. Jerome. This humourous novel deals with a boat trip on the River Thames that doubles as an excuse to share real-life anecdotes that are both funny as well as satirical in nature. Anecdotes in the novel include a trip down memory lane with Jim visiting the British Library as a hypochondriac, George falling from the bed into the bathtub, and Harris declaring that he would rather die than walk another step to find a hotel. 

So, what is an anecdote in writing? An anecdote is a short narrative about an event that we are personally aware of. It is a brief account of real-life incidents often recited to create an impact on the readers. This article will help you to understand how to write an anecdote. 

Summary

  • What is an anecdote?

  • When do you need to write anecdotes?

  • Steps to write the perfect anecdote

  • Quick tips to write anecdotes

  • Examples of anecdotes

  • Conclusion

What is an Anecdote? 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an anecdote is a short, interesting, amusing story about a real person or incident [1]. It could also be a personal account of an event. Most authors include an anecdote to make their story more interesting. Anecdotes are a powerful tool to start a story or give an idea to the story. The buildup of characters can be through anecdotes. The purpose of one’s writing is important here.

Do we want to make the readers laugh or reminisce about the old days? The goal should be clear while writing anecdotes. Anecdotes should sound natural and crisp. Usually, they are short-short stories and come directly to the point. Keeping the audience engaged should be the author’s priority. 

Anecdote

When Do You Need to Write Anecdotes? 

We need to write anecdotes and know how to start an anecdote because the audience needs to connect with the story. This can only be through introducing a brief account that fits the tale very readily. Humans grew up hearing and sharing stories, and stories of every kind are embedded in us. Our minds tend to think in analogy first rather than words. 

An anecdote works as an illustrator and presents a candid idea of what the narrative wants to convey. It is more of a personal account rather than just a story; anecdotes are meant to create an emotional quotient. Hence, the readers should correlate with the character, and anecdotes should be designed that way. For example, the best way how to write an anecdote would be to share something from our childhood. It is a great conversation starter in writing and a useful tool to interact with the audience. 

Steps to Write a Perfect Anecdote

The following are the five steps of how to write an anecdote

  1. Clearly Defining One’s Purpose: Starting with a goal of writing is always a good plan. Some may think that brief stories consume more time and energy because there is less space since they consist of fewer words. Showing purpose should be the aim.

    For example, if the author decides to show the negative consequences of some decision, then they might write a cautionary little story and add a catchy punchline to highlight the story. Stressing the importance of values like friendship, love, and patriotism can also be helpful.

  2. Beginning With the Action: Writing an introduction to warm up the readers is an essential device in writing an anecdote. Adding more details can enhance the writing. Intriguing literary devices can be a perfect anecdote. But one needs to create a story and keep the audience in mind. 

  3. Writing Short Anecdote: Adhering to one’s purpose, one should be very clear in how to write an anecdote. Avoiding unnecessary details that don’t contribute to the story makes the tale engaging. Using narrative tenses should help the audience to remain engaged in the story. Adjectives and adverbs play a significant role in written speech; for example, words like beautiful and incredible embellish the anecdote.

    Adding sequential words like ‘firstly, later on, or finally’ gives an edge to the anecdote. Lastly, including an emotional appeal to show one’s reaction acts as the cherry on the cake. Also, one needs to consider the target audience. While using a science-related word, check that everybody knows that concept. Making everything crystal clear should be the motto of an anecdote.

  4. Providing a Clear Ending: Ensuring readers know where the story ends is the key to writing anecdotes

  5. Reading One’s Anecdote Aloud: By doing this activity, one can judge if they need to make any further changes in the anecdote. One needs to self-analyze the anecdote and be their judge. Changes like using simple sentences instead of long ones or rephrasing some sentences might enrich the anecdote. 

Quick Tips: Writing Anecdotes 

Storytelling techniques that will help you boost your anecdotes include:

  1. Engaging One’s Audience in the Story: Own the mood of readers. Adding phrases like “Did you know what happened after that?” or “You are surprised as well, right?” might make the anecdote more interesting. It will immerse the readers in your matter because you are making them a part of your story by questioning their reactions. The readers will feel that you care about their opinions and penning down a story for them specifically. This technique can bring some brownie points. 

  2. Be Sincere: Writing about a personal experience can be daunting. It isn’t easy for everyone. One can avoid writing personal anecdotes if they don’t want to share their feelings and thoughts. But if you are going for it, try to add the emotional appeal. It is essential in application essays, scholarship essays, and academic essays. Using phrases like “I believe” and “Honestly speaking” can give your anecdote an edge. 

  3. Creating Suspense: Imagining an interesting story without a thrilling touch is impossible. Suspense can be an excellent tool to keep the audience engaged throughout the narrative. The story’s build-up must be the priority in this anecdote, as one needs to keep the audience curious. One can add rhetorical questions like “What would you do in this situation?”. 

Examples of Anecdotes 

Examples of anecdotes can be of a wide variety, involving various emotions from different stories and tales. Even stories can come from random strangers and become an anecdote. These can help you grasp the basics of how to write an anecdote

  1. Everyday Anecdote: For example, you went to a supermarket, and the cashier commented on your brand of chocolate. Perhaps it might spark the employee to share a quick personal story. He might add, “This is also my daughter’s favorite candy. She doesn’t want any other chocolate.”

  2. Childhood Anecdote: This is the most common anecdote. Everybody has a childhood story for every situation. Also, we can all relate to the same. Starting with, “When I was five, I learned how to swim. My instructor, Miss Jen, helped me get comfortable holding my breath…”

  3. Interesting Events: It is fun to interact with the audience. Sharing life events can be a brilliant anecdote in the first place. You can start by writing, “One evening, my twelve-year-old cousin and I went to watch a movie. I drove the car to the theatre. And, to my surprise, I found the windshield covered with slices of ham. To this day, I don’t know who put it there.”

Conclusion

All in all, anecdotes can be an interesting device to start any piece of writing. From an academic essay to a college application, anecdotes always enhance your writing. The bottom line is that the reader should connect with the anecdote on a deeper level. 

Reference:

1. Oxford Definition: https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/american_english/anecdote#:~:text=1a%20short%2C%20interesting%2C%20or,a%20rich%20store%20of%20anecdote.