Your relationship with your reader determines your success
How much should you consider your reader?
Thinking about your reader too much can make you a self-conscious college essay writer.
You can’t write a word without wondering how it’s perceived. Know this feeling?: uh-oh, is there something in my (sentence’s) teeth?
Just in case, you should only talk with your lips pressed against them. It’s awkward but doable. But maybe not your best social strategy. Because in your response to the problem, you act unnaturally. Which itself points back to the problem.
Did you follow that? No? Try this:
Unnatural writing makes your essay cumbersome and– hate to say it– annoying. You need to find and honor the line between self-aware and self-defeating.
On the other hand, not thinking about your reader enough can make your story impossible to follow. And therefore your college essay will fail to move the reader, or inspire that coveted college acceptance.
Where’s that happy middle place?
Because there is so much your reader doesn’t know unless you say it.
What you should do for your reader
Your reader needs your courtesy. Clarify, define or elaborate on your main references. Supply just enough context that your narrative is engaging and not confusing.
Your reader doesn’t need your worry that he or she is an idiot; no idiots are selected for admissions teams. You reader doesn’t need you to be preoccupied with the details of your life. Absolute realism tends to fill 800 page novels. You only have 650 words.
The trick is to tie all of your choices of details back to your main goal and central focus.
For example, your reader doesn’t need to know what T-shirt you had on or where you got it the day you won the spelling bee…unless your essay has something to do with that t-shirt, and how you were teased for it every day, and wore it anyway, and credited it with your Lucky Win.
However, if your essay is about your relationship with your brother, your reader might need to know how old you were when he bashed you over the head with a bottle.
If essay is about your first dog, your reader might need to know that you were allergic to them, and having a pet was a health risk you were willing to take for the bond. Or that you were raised by a sheepdog.
If your essay is about the trials of moving, your reader might ned to know why you moved– for a parent’s job? Because you got priced out of your old apartment? Because your house had mold in it? Or maybe you never knew…
These are the small details that give us a framework to understand. We just need a toe-hold on your life. Then we can stick with you.
How to figure out what your reader needs
It’s so simple. And you’re probably not the best judge. Which is why we have other people.
Ask someone to do a test read of your college essay who doesn’t know you well, and won’t be familiar with your story. If your reader gets confused, listen. Make changes accordingly.
Got it? If your reader is confused, trust your reader.
Relax your lips. Your teeth are great.
Enjoy the pleasure that comes with clarity and connection.
Still need helping figuring out if your essay is reaching your reader, or if you have spinach in your teeth?
Contact us for a swift, clear read of your college essay. We can tell you live or over phone session if there is anything in your teeth– right away. And you can make the necessary changes in time to submit a stellar essay your reader will understand.