How To Take Your Drafts And Find The Content That Will Turn Into A Great College Application Essay

We Emphasize Drafting Because It Allows You To Assemble Ideas

As you acumulate content you will find that some of the things you have written about bring up more emotion than others.  Some drafts may feel finished and that you have nothing to add.  When you review other drafts you will want to add to them to clarify your thoughts or connect scenes that haven’t been written yet. 

Take the draft that you are most eager to continue writing about.   Rewrite those segments that seem shallow or lacking detail. Identify those sentences that gloss over details and turn those sentences into paragraphs. Instead of alluding to conversations, write out the dialogue. Always remain true to the facts, and resist the tempation to add flowery language or describe emotions and a central element of the story.

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Identify And Eliminate These Terrible Writing Habits

As you review the drafts that you are most interested in, search for any statement that is a platitude or commonplace, or a trite phrase.  Platitudes are detrimental to essay writing because they show a lack of thought. Readers will automatically begin to tun out when they encounter writing that’s using phrases that are too often used in regular conversation. 

 If you can start a phrase and someone else can finish it, then you’re using a trite phrase. Identify and revise any statements like:

  1. Avoid it like the plague
  2. Better safe than sorry
  3. Sick as a dog
  4. Absence makes the heart grow fonder
  5. The calm before the storm
  6. Everything happens for a reason
  7. There is no such thing as a free lunch
  8. Honesty is the best policy
  9. All’s well that ends well
  10. There’s more fish in the sea

Next, Identify Further Questions That You Have That Can Expand The Scene Or Topic You’re Writing About

Every belief or thought is based on assumptions and bias. As you review your drafts, examine the bias and assumptions that you have made – especially those that are not explicitly stated. Take those views and challenge them to see if you are able to identify your assumptions and understand opposing views. Write about the bias you have and examine issues or scenes from other viewpoints.  As you continue to work through this process, you may even duplicate the exercise: after you challenge your initial assumptions, take a step further and examine the new bias you adopted in order to challenge what you wrote previously. Practice the process of examining issues from a variety of views – and allow youself to dig in and build a serious case against your initial assumptions. This doesn’t necessarilly mean that you change your own opinions, but rather that you show you are capable of listening and understanding opposing opinions.

Go Back And Start Writing About A Topic Or Memory That’s Related To What You’ve Been Writing About

Sometimes one of the best ways to refine your essay is to take the mixture of drafts you’ve been working on and allow yourself to write about a topic that you think about – one that’s connected to your idea.  This can often bring in a new perspective or additional details that will add color and texture to your essay.

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