9 months ago
Admissions Advice

How to show not tell?

I'm really struggling with showing and not telling, so how you anyone suggest incorporating it into my essays? Using imagery is not my strong suit especially since what I write about are overall experiences and topics I'm interested about.


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3 answers

9 months ago

try telling your story backwards or from a different point of view, like talk about all your achievements and then start mentioning how certain situations made you this way or helped to shape you and how it has affected you so for example instead of telling a story like:

"My parents signed me up for many clubs and always pressured me to work hard and get good grades. I never felt independent since they left me no room for growth or trial and error and then they got a divorce and I felt like my life had fallen apart since my parents had no time for me and I didn't know how to be independent so slowly but steadily I started learning and I joined a summer exchange program in another country and went there all alone and it's constantly teaching me new things, not just independence but also about their culture and language. To pay for bills and stay, I got a job and learnt new skills and I made new friends, I became part of the community and through my job not only was I helping myself, but I was also contributing to the society."

You can say:

"The twisting roads, ornate mosaics, and fragrant scent of freshly ground spices had been so foreign at first. Entering my last month at this summer exchange program, I felt the most comfortable and independent I have ever felt in my entire life. As a more independent person, I navigated to a bus stop, paid the fare, and began the trip back to my family’s house. It was hard to believe that only a few years earlier my mom was worried about letting me travel around my home city on my own, let alone a place that I had only lived in for a few weeks. While I had been on a journey towards self-sufficiency and independence for a few years now, it was this country that pushed me to become the confident, self-reflective person that I am today..."

Then talk about childhood and how the past motivated you to be the person you are today.

9 months ago

So generally telling is short factual sentences such as "The cat crossed the road."

But what you want to do is show it as in pain a picture of it occurring and that would be something like "The cat approached the curb and glanced carefully both ways before darting across the paved street."

Of course the above example is a hyperbole but I feel it demonstrates the point of you having a vivid picture with lots of descriptions instead of a concise fact.

Hope this helps and feel free to comment if you'd like additional clarification as Id be more than happy to help.

8 months ago

Instead of straight-up explaining how you feel or what you're thinking, say things like "I took a deep breath" "I sighed" "I looked down" "I blushed." I'm just rattling off examples, but you get the idea :)


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