A strong college admissions essay often involves creative writing. These essays often tell a story, or use an anecdote (a mini story using narrative writing style) to lead into the piece. Sadly, many high schools and English teachers don’t have a lot of time to teach creative writing, and focus on more conventional essays (such as those that compare works of fiction, you know the ones, where you use theme, diction, etc.) It’s great to learn how to structure those essays, but often students don’t get a chance to explore creative writing.
A great way to try to switch into writing creatively is to think visually. You have probably heard that you should “show, don’t tell,” when trying to describe something, such as a scene or event. So put yourself behind an imaginary video camera, and point it at a past event and simply describe what you see (or saw).
Pretend you are describing it to someone who can’t see it. You can start with a general, sweeping description, but quickly zoom in on the details. Include those 5Ws, who, what, when, where and why. In general, you usually can’t go wrong when you present information in the form of a story. And if you add visual pictures, it will be even better, like a movie.
Don’t forget, once you pound out your story, full of description and action and detail, remember to go back and slice out the words you don’t need. Read it out loud. Does it bog down in spots? Then cut those. At some point, you will like what your hear–and see!
Check out my Jumpstart Guide to help get you started on your college application essay!