PLUS IMPORTANT AND USEFUL TACTICS – BY: LEANN LEE
Scrape. Metal chairs push and grind against the stone ground. Clink. Through the striped window, I stare, envious, at my peers reveling in their newfound freedom outside. bRrR. My mind wanders as the rough hum of machines and harsh fluorescent lighting blend into the chatter of the background. I’m never going to get out of here, I realize.
After weeks of procrastinating and moping around, one day I decided to chain myself down in a Starbucks and not emerge until I had successfully wrestled the first draft of my essay into submission. Fuelled with motivation (and coffee), I slammed my bag on the desk, swung open my laptop, and felt the energy and inspiration flow into my fingertips.
To be or not to be-” Crap no, that’s a terrible opening sentence. “It was a dark and stormy ni-” What am I thinking, that’s so cliche! “How much wood coul-” What am I even writing about?
Forty minutes and three cups of coffee later, I found myself staring at a blank screen with a blank mind. Staring blithely around the coffee shop, I found myself lamenting. What is there in my life? One time I stapled my finger when I was six, maybe I could say it taught me pain? Y’know that one chick wrote about Costco which got her in, what if I wrote about Walmart?
Emboldened by these new ideas, I once again set about typing furiously sure to create a masterpiece to rival the likes of Shakespeare. I began. Breaking free, I charged. A ferocious two-year old prowling the halls of Wal-mart. Soon enough, however, I found that although I had initially attacked this newfound idea with fervor, as each word appeared over my document, my typing slowly rolled to a halt. I soon found myself staring; dumbfounded by the taunting blinking line which had transformed my screen from the manuscripts of Shakespeare into an ancient indecipherable tablet.
Forty minutes and three cups of frustration later, I slumped back in defeat. The words burned on my screen sounded wooden and foreign. The question, who AM I, burned in the back of my mind and was an itch which couldn’t be scratched no matter how many answers I came up with. I’m not remarkable. I’m not perfect. There are high schoolers who have cured cancer. What makes you think you have anything to write about? I was a prisoner to my insecurity.
With a confused brain and tired eyes, I let my eyes search the sea of people hoping to communicate my worries telepathically. A young girl laughed at her friend’s joke, leaning in closer and gently putting her hand atop his. A fellow prisoner sat at the bar, head in hands as the glaring laptop screen beckoned. An elderly couple sitting by the sofas enjoying each other’s company. Just like I’m sitting here, we’re all experiencing this Starbucks in a different way. I jolted upright at this sudden realization, which shone like a light through the depths of my frustration. It was never about how special I am as a person. It was always about the unique way I’ve lived through this world. Memories flitted through my mind as I ruminated over this newfound perspective.
The puff of my chest from the satisfaction of nailing down a difficult toss. The quiet meditation of band hall chatter after a game. The lump forming in my throat as I scanned the list following an audition.
This was who I am. The unique emotions I feel in reaction to experiences was what made me complete. I might not be special, perfect, or horrible, but I was unique through my lived experiences. Slamming back yet another coffee, I felt the rush of adrenaline and inspiration coursing through my body as I slowly pressed on– one key after another.
“In theory it’s simple.” Perfect.
I might just get out of here after all.
I entitled this A College Essay About a College Essay part 2, based off Annie’s previous essay, for a reason! Besides the message that I want to get across, here are some tactics I employed that can be useful in college essays:
- Writing style makes a world of difference: Annie and I wrote about the exact same topic yet the final product is extremely different. Why is that? We have different writing styles and made sure our voice is heavily present throughout each of our essays, and the lesson we each learned are very different. That’s what will make your essay stand out if you’re writing about a relatively common topic.
- Cyclical narrative: I employ a cyclical narrative structure (set it up as if I’m in a prison, chained down) and use a variety of metaphors and figurative language (words like chained, prisoner) to allude to it throughout the essay, before finally coming full circle and saying I might actually get out of here after all.
- Domino effect: The climax of my story follows a logical progression. I don’t out of the blue realize “oh it’s about the experience” and leave the reader questioning the entire time about how I got to that realization. Instead, I narrate my surroundings to show how I came to that conclusion.
- Unique ways of showing: Don’t limit showing to just idioms, imagery, and metaphors! Play around with sounds like I did in the beginning to set the scene. You can also play around with internal monologues, varying up sentence structure, and many more!