If the first sentence or paragraph of your essay is not funny, shocking, creative, or exceptionally clever, reviewers are not going to read every word of the rest of your essay. The worst part about that? It means that all of the work you put into the second half of your essay is going to be unappreciated or maybe even unread! So, really, writing a creative first sentence is more than just a stylistic strategy, and is basically necessary for making the rest of your essay matter.
Fellowship reviewers are going to have stacks of applications to read, and after a while, they are going to start blurring together.
This is why telling a story is so important — you need to make your application stand out from all the others. Before you start writing, give some serious thought to what you want to say in your application. Make sure that your essay has a beginning, a middle, and an end, as opposed to functionally being a longer version of your resume or a list of your accomplishments.
This is, in my experience, always much easier said than done. Of course, you still need to be professional at every turn, but you also want to find ways to make your reviewers hear you when they are reading your writing. Telling a story Tip 2 helps your reviewers feel invested in who they are reading about, but using your voice makes your reviewers see you as that person! If you like to be funny, try to fit in a joke in your opening paragraph. If you have a hobby that can somehow be relevant to part of your application narrative, maybe find a way to mention it.
These little things, while they may seem silly, can really help your readers start to visualize the person who wrote what they are reading. In other words, read through your essay to check that it makes sense. Read through each paragraph and make headings for each major point, and bullet points for the minor points in each major section. When you read through the outline, are there any gaps? Does it seem to flow, when you only look at the skeleton of your writing?
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Baby Steps: 10 Proven Tips to Write Better Essays in English
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