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200 word essays... help!!!

FastoniceFastonice Posts: 45Registered User Junior Member
edited December 2007 in Tufts University
Ok so the let your life speak essay...mine is almost 500 words. Its well written and everything, but I cant get it down. Should I just choose a completely different topic and start over, or submit my 500 word essay, even thought the prompt says 200 words?
Post edited by Fastonice on

Replies to: 200 word essays... help!!!

  • hebrewhammerhebrewhammer Posts: 811Registered User Member
    You should probably try starting fresh, because odds are you won't be able to cut it down satisfactorily, and 500 is way too long.
  • mowgli2008mowgli2008 Posts: 50Registered User Junior Member
    I have the same issue. Mine started at around 450 but I've got it down to about 280.
  • GroovyGeekGroovyGeek Posts: 889Registered User Member
    Succinct writing is something schools do a LOUSY job of teaching. In fact, English teachers tend to emphasize a flowery writing style, at least my D's teachers do. A few suggestions:

    1) Eliminate adjectives - most of them simply enhance the meaning of what you are saying, the majority can be removed with little impact to content
    2) Eliminate most words ending in "ly". No, this is not a joke, try it.
    3) Re-read the essay, skipping one sentence each pass. Does it still make sense, even partially? If yes, consider eliminating the sentence. Be particularly mindful of transition sentences, which are there simply to stitch together paragraphs. There are usually more economical ways to achieve the same effect.
  • jsmalljsmall Posts: 737Registered User Member
    I love that prompt. but I do wish they gave more like 500 words. It would've been easier.
  • DanAdmiss@TuftsDanAdmiss@Tufts Posts: 1,067College Rep Senior Member
    The trick is, as GroovyGeek correctly pointed out, staying succinct and on point. How much time did you spend setting up background info for your point? Is that background info actually necessary or does the essay work without it? What is your point?

    That last one is a biggie. What is the message you are actually trying to communicate? Try to edit your writing with the answer to that question in mind. Also, is your point too broad? Sometimes you have a great idea, but you are trying to say too much; it may be possible to be a little more specific with your message, write less, and still achieve the same impact.

    Final (dangerous) caveat: if you have something REALLY REALLY REALLY important to say, take the extra space. Please use this ability extremely judiciously. Extremely judiciously, I say again. But there are times that family circumstances, for instance, have an impact on everything else, and it isn't possible to explain that piece in 200 words. Understand, however, that a 500 word short answer is only merited in relatively extremely circumstances.
  • CharlotteRHCharlotteRH Posts: 55Registered User Junior Member
    I had the lovely experience of editing an essay down from 1800 to 780 words a few weeks ago. It is possible. So, if you really like what you're saying, I don't think you need to start over. Also, a few encouraging things: 1) often times cutting makes it clearer and better in the end and 2) it's really satisfying because in someways you can only head in the right direction. To me, every word eliminated felt very productive.

    -Get rid of redundant sentences and clauses.
    -When listing things in a sentence (e.g. "I am this, this and this") , make sure each item is actually necessary in and of itself.
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