Writing tips

Vary your SENTENCE STRUCTURE

Don't say: "Cinderella saw her fairy godmother appear. She was dressed in blue. She held a wand. The wand had a star on it. She was covered in sparkles. Cinderella was amazed. She asked who the woman was. The woman said, 'I am your fairy godmother.' She said she would get Cinderella a dress and a coach. She said she would help Cinderella go to the ball." Instead say: (there are multiple correct ways to rewrite this, but here's one) "Amazed, Cinderella watched as her fairy godmother appeared. The woman dressed in blue was covered in sparkles and carried a star-shaped wand. Cinderella asked the woman who she was, to which the woman replied, 'I am your fairy godmother." The fairy godmother would get Cinderella a dress and a coach; she would help Cinderella get to the ball."

Mix it up in terms of PUNCTUATION

Here are a few commonly misused punctuation marks that a lot of people aren't sure about: The semi-colon (;) separates two complete sentences that are complementary. Example: "She was always covered in cinders from cleaning the fireplace; they called her Cinderella." The colon (:) is used... a. preceding a list. Example: "Before her stepmother awoke, Cinderella had three chores to complete: feeding the chickens, cooking breakfast, and doing the wash." b. as a sort of "drum roll," preceding some big revelation. Example: "One thing fueled the wicked stepmother's hatred for Cinderella: jealousy." The dash (--) is made by typing two hyphens (-). No spaces go in between the dash and the text. It is used... a. to bracket off some explanatory information. Example: "Even Cinderella's stepsisters-who were not nearly as lovely or virtuous as Cinderella--were allowed to go to the ball." b. in the "drum roll" sense of the colon. Example: "Prince Charming would find this mystery lady--even if he had to put the slipper on every other girl in the kingdom."

Use ACTIVE VOICE

Don't say: "The stepmother's house was cleaned by Cinderella." (Passive.) Say instead: "Cinderella cleaned the stepmother's house." (Active voice.) Passive voice construction ("was cleaned") is reserved for those occasions where the "do-er" of the action is unknown. Example: "Prince Charming saw the glass slipper that was left behind."

College Essay Tips: Key Takeaways for a Great College Essay

To recap, here’s our 13 tips for the best college essay ever: College Essay Planning Tips:

  • Create a plan of attack for all of your essays so you can keep track of everything.
  • Start early—at least two months before the due date, if not more.
  • Choose the right prompt and topic for you.
  • Decide between a narrative or a thematic approach to the topic.
  • Outline before you start writing! College Essay Writing Tips:
  • Use vivid, specific details.
  • Be genuine—get beyond the superficial.
  • Be unique, but not bizarre.
  • Avoid cliches and platitudes; they are boring and unimaginative. College Essay Editing Tips:
  • Get other people to look at your essay.
  • Be prepared to change, cut, and rearrange a lot! Final Tips for College Essays:
  • Make sure your first sentence is stellar.
  • Triple check for typos and grammatical errors! Imagine the essay you could write about the time you painted Mr. Lurker's claws.

Tips for Editing Your College Essay

You may think that once you’ve gotten a draft done that you’re good to go. Not so! Editing is one of the most important parts of writing the best college essay possible, and here are two essential college essay tips for editing.

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