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The elephant, of course, is Strunk and White’s which I have, sacrilegiously, left out of my recommendations above. Perhaps the best thing about is the fabulous prose with which it is written; like everything else that E. White (who was the primary author) ever wrote, it can inspire and improve any writer, simply through the example it sets. It was brief enough that he could read it, get it, and then utilize it for his essays in short order. All acceptances so far (6 schools with 8 still to go) and multiple merit financial aid awards that I attribute, at least in part, to the strength of the essay he managed to write.
Maybe you don’t want to write “Pooh ate the honey,” because the honey’s absence is all that matters, not that it was Pooh who caused that absence. Only the passive tense allows you to do so. Likewise, a news report that states passively that “helicopters were flown in to fight a fire” makes sense if the firefighting and the helicopters are what matter in the report, rather than which pilots did the flying.
(And, in fact, this probably is most of what matter to the people on the ground.) • Punctuation means more than you think it does. It’s not just about following rules, and it’s not just about punctuating it like you want it to be spoken. • Some of the claims you hear about words being "misused" are valid, and some are just the result of fuddy-duddies complaining about how kids these days are organically changing language (as all generations do).
I was gobsmacked by how many of Pinker’s lessons and observations were fresh to me, and immediately applicable.
It was hard, actually, to limit myself to share with you here: • While every writer knows that choosing the right words matters, have you paid enough attention to finding the right • The passive voice can be your friend.
Is there a step-by-step process for writing the essay? After all, the college process is as much about getting to "know thyself" as it is about getting into and going to college! The step by step approach was instrumental in helping him figure out how to structure his essay and what sorts of topics might lend themselves to an effective essay.
Following the advice in the book will not just produce thoughtful writing, but if done right, will allow the students to really get to know themselves on a deeper level. Mc Meekan"I read about 10 different books on writing essays for college applications to help prepare my son for his senior year. I had my son read it (the only one I had him read) and he grudgingly agreed to work through the process that Ethan lays out in the book.
Maybe you don’t want to write “Pooh ate the honey,” because the honey’s absence is all that matters, not that it was Pooh who caused that absence. Likewise, a news report that states passively that “helicopters were flown in to fight a fire” makes sense if the firefighting and the helicopters are what matter in the report, rather than which pilots did the flying.
(And, in fact, this probably is most of what matter to the people on the ground.) • Punctuation means more than you think it does.
Just take it bird by bird.’” • Make it a practice to write what Lamott calls “sh-tty first drafts” [she doesn't redact the "i" in “sh-tty,” by the way]: Lamott keeps the paralysis of perfectionism at bay by giving herself permission to write terrible first drafts, knowing that if she can get that first draft down on paper, her work from there forward will involve mere editing, which the unconscious has far less fear of than of writing.
(Lamott says that if her early drafts were ever leaked to the public it would be the end of her career; they’re contains a wealth of advice born of his frustration with the incomprehensibility and deadly dullness of much of the academic writing that comes across his desk (not just what’s written by his students, but by his professional colleagues as well).