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Excessive Punctuation Sure: sometimes a colon, semicolon, or other fancy punctuation—dashes, for example—can help you get a point across; it’s elegant and convincing. If your writing feels weighed down by long sentences crammed with lots of punctuation, try taking out some of the extras in favor of sentences that are short and sweet.
In other words, make a list of things you want readers to know about you but that you can’t fit into your personal statement, and ask your recommenders to touch on those points in their letters. Here are my suggestions: Reviewers want to see that you have gone above and beyond to get hands-on experience and that you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves up to help others.
However, they also don’t want to read through someone listing off chronologically their many volunteer experiences.
Sometimes, a short story that’s actually short can pack just as much meaning and experience into the text as a long story that sprawls. When you’ve got your ear to the ground and are listening for a spark of inspiration, consider that how you envision your short stories to begin can impact how they’ll turn out. The moment can be mundane (a man picks up his daughter whom he sees every other weekend) to the exceptional (a woman sits in the waiting room of the ER). A short story doesn’t have to “do” much; it can just “be.” A short story is not necessarily like a novel or a memoir, which often has a particular kind of momentum that builds from one scene to the next. Sometimes it’s possible to find a shorter story within a long one.
In a best-case scenario, your short short story’s life begins before you start writing it. To make the most of a short short story, focus in on a character or a moment very tightly. Sometimes, very small moments can have huge, unthinkably consequential meanings.
Mentoring experience is really important – especially for those of us in the academic realm.
But it’s challenging to speak humbly about your strengths as a mentor without feeling like you are speaking on behalf of your mentees.
After all, there are so many interesting writing styles out there.
Er, that is, emulate interesting writing styles to keep your prose powerful.
QUESTION: What are your tips for shortening a short story?
There are countless ways to write a personal statement, and of course, no one way is the “right” or “best” way, but there are certainly some ways that are better than others.