Building on #5 of the twenty five ways to make your college application essay the best writing you’ve ever done, here’s #6.
#6: Follow the Basic Rules of Good Writing BUT…
As long as it’s purposeful and you do it with flair, you can break some of the traditional rules of good writing in your college application essay.
These rule-breakers include writing a one sentence or even one word paragraph (“My world fell apart.” “Panic.”), judicial use of sentence fragments (“It was the only basket he ever made. The game winner players dream of.”), and starting a sentence without a subject (“Had to get home fast.”). The critical aspect of any of these techniques, and others you might want to employ, is that they create a clear dramatic (or comedic) effect, or emphasize an idea you want to bring forward. They can’t be there just to be audacious; they have to add to the essay in some way.
Of course, breaking the rules is not for everyone and if it’s not your style, don’t do it. Some people are more comfortable writing in a strictly formal style and there is no downside whatsoever to that. In addition, always be sure your reader knows that what you’re doing is intentional, and not an actual mistake. This can be accomplished by 1) making sure that the rest of your essay is punctuated to perfection, and 2) not overdoing the rule breaking. Like the suddenly ubiquitous condiment Sriracha, a little goes a long way.
For more personal help with the Common Application essay, supplemental or any other college application essays, please contact Craig Heller at www.CollegeEssaySolutions.com, or 818-340-1276.