Personal essays can begin in a variety of different ways, and choosing the best method to start can depend on the subject matter. Before starting the essay, it helps to consider what topic the essay will focus on, and create a brief outline or list of points to address. A general rule of essay-writing is to start the paper with broad, universal ideas before narrowing it down to the more specific points of the essay. For example, in a paper that discusses a life-changing event, the paper can begin with a universal lesson that you learned through your specific experiences. It might help to develop the specific focus of the essay first, and then consider what universal lessons might apply for your introductory paragraph.