College Essay: Key Writing Techniques

- In Media Res: Starting in the middle of the scene not only justifies vivid, judiciously-chosen details to build the scene outward but draws the reader on to find out what is happening

- Mirroring: Starting and ending with the same event — or a variation off the same event — can make even the most discomforting, unresolved revelations seem to resolve satisfyingly.

- Irony and Exaggeration: Playing off your starry-eyed ideals against mundane reality not only legitimizes feats of colorful prose but showcases your hard-won maturity now that you see things as they are: self-deprecation about your past self only makes your ultimate revelation and transformation seem the more powerful in contrast. Plus humor’s good.

- Imagistic Prose: The key to writing a good college essay. Sensory details of image, sound, gestures serve a number of key college essay goals. They bring the story alive far more meaningfully than any big message. They show off your ability to write vividly. They condense a lengthy story into its most exacting details. They lead the reader to imagine the surrounding scene. That is to say, they conjure an entire world in just a few spare details, a few spare words.