Topics: Snap Judgment - WNYC
A well-written profile essay gives the reader a vivid portrait of a person, place, organization or happening. It's comprehensive, balanced and sensory, capturing the details that help readers feel as though they really know the subject. A profile is a type of descriptive essay, allowing the writer more literary freedom than an expository or persuasive essay. But it's still important to plan thoroughly, organize carefully and make sure your facts stay straight.
Even if your essay is a profile of someone or something you absolutely love or don't especially like, as a good writer, you must put that aside. Strong emotions and preconceived ideas can blind you to important facts and details. If you're interviewing a person, give the interviewee an idea of the types of questions you'll be asking. (You can always throw in a few more as the conversation progresses.) If you're attending an event, make contact with the organizers first to get preliminary details and find out what aspects they consider most important and not to be missed.
A profile is a portrait, not just a recitation of facts. Be aware of taste, touch, background noise, odors, body language. These are the sensory details that help the reader feel as though she is sitting on your shoulder. Take detailed notes. If you're profiling an event, don't just talk to the people in charge, interview some of the ones who show up and find out why and what they think of the presentation.