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Last-Minute Essay Fix

Last-Minute Essay Fix

By Miss Marm

"My applications are due TOMORROW," you say. "How can I possibly improve my essay by then?"

Here are two tips:

1. Replace all the thesaurus words with plain, simple words

2. Take out most of the adjectives and adverbs

Look at this paragraph from a Sparkler's application essay:

During orchestra class that week, I tried to mimic the body movement and the technique from the skillful violinist whom I luckily stumbled upon.  My first effort was awkwardly executed.  I silently counted the rests as I tapped my toe, preparing to inject upon the steady orchestra.  One, position, two, note, three, bow, four, inhale, lift, and … I missed my entrance.  Mr. Martin stopped his baton mid air and, without a word, restarted the orchestra.  After my continuous lapse of judgement, Mr. Martin finally spoke up.  He shifted his head down at (towards) me, vexation deluding his olive colored eyes, and said, “You have to listen to the other sections, they can help you.”  I looked over to the rest of the orchestra while he spoke then dropped my eyes down to my music.   Registering frustration on my face, he lightly said, “You have to feel the music, just relax.”  I picked up my instrument in respond to his suggestion and just listened.  I felt the violins murmuring by my ear as the cellos and violas cautiously hummed side by side.  The bass droned quietly in the background joining along with my pulse.  I can hear all four parts working independently, yet simultaneously intertwining and exchanging notes, creating one complex tune.  I held my breath and concentrated on the music itself.  I listened as it curves and twists along the melody.  I heard it leap and trickle from one chord to another.  The notes anticipated upon my fingers, and as I pressed my middle finger down on the E string, the second violins welcomed me into their song. I set my bow onto the string and stroke my way into the symphony.

This is a strong excerpt, but look how much better it reads when we get rid of some of the adjectives, adverbs, and fancypants language:

During orchestra class that week, I tried to mimic the body movement and the technique of the skillful violinist.  My first effort was awkward.  I silently counted the rests as I tapped my toe, preparing to join the steady orchestra.  One, position, two, note, three, bow, four, inhale, lift, and … I missed my entrance.  Mr. Martin stopped his baton in midair and, without a word, restarted the orchestra.  I tried again. And again. Each time, I missed my entrance. Mr. Martin finally spoke up.  He looked at me, irritation in his eyes, and said, “You have to listen to the other sections. They can help you.”  I glanced over to the rest of the orchestra while he spoke, and then dropped my eyes down to my music.   Registering the frustration on my face, he said, “You have to feel the music. Just relax.”  I picked up my instrument and just listened.  I felt the violins murmuring by my ear as the cellos and violas hummed side by side.  The bass droned in the background, joining with my pulse.  I could hear all four parts working independently, yet simultaneously, intertwining and exchanging notes, creating one complex tune.  I held my breath and concentrated on the music itself.  I listened as it curved and twisted along the melody.  I heard it leap and trickle from one chord to another.  I anticipated the notes with my fingers, and as I pressed my middle finger down on the E string, the second violins welcomed me into their song. I set my bow onto the string and stroked my way into the symphony.

As you're putting the final touches on your essay, remember: simplify, simplify, simplify.

GOOD LUCK! And a very happy New Year!

Topics: application essays, adjectives, adverbs
 

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