Lively Language

by , Dec 27, 2010

Consider the following sentence:

My position as an analyst at Big Firm X offered me the opportunity to handle many demanding situations.

You can't get much blander than that. No metaphors. No references to the senses. Wordy. Snore.

Despite applicants knowing that their essays should be interesting and engaging, often times the essays end up full of gray prose. Here are five tips that will add some pizzazz to your writing.

Use sensory language.

Like metaphors, sensory language concretizes abstractions and brings black-and-white text to life. For example, so far in this article my use of "bland" refers to taste. "Exhortations" conjures up memories of an orator or preacher giving fiery speeches pushing you to try a little harder. They all involve the senses and make writing more vivid.

Incorporate metaphors.

They will make your experiences and writing more vibrant.

Choose active, descriptive verbs.

You can write, "The kite went up." Or you can write, "The kite soared." The latter evokes the image of a kite climbing gracefully high into the sky. The former could refer to anything, well, going up.

Avoid stuffy prose using lots of adverbs and adjectives.

Does food "have a severely elevated temperature," or is it "too hot to handle," "steaming," or "burning my tongue"?

Use specifics and details.

I know that I harp on this a lot, but I can't say it often enough. Going back to my opening example of dull writing:

My position as an analyst at Big Firm X offered me the opportunity to handle many demanding situations.

What was the situation? Why was it demanding? Who was involved? Or was it a technically demanding project? Give me some details.

These five key tips will help you avoid the bland, dull prose that plagues so many essays. Follow them to ensure that your application essays portray your experiences in vivid, life-like color.

A dull essay is certainly something you'll want to avoid when applying to b-school. Download Accepted.com's popular essay course, 5 Fatal Flaws, to discover other elements you'll want to avoid at all costs.