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Brimhall Essay Judges’ Writing Suggestions

Essay level

1. The essay title should fit the content, tone, and purpose of the essay.
A clever title is fine, but only if it works. Bland is bad. Cutesy is worse.

2. Combine the theme with personal experience.
This is foremost a personal essay—that also blends the theme and founder’s story.

3. Use just enough founder research to make your point, and no more.
Don’t overuse or overquote research on the founder. It makes for tedious reading.

4. Revise, revise, revise.
Winners’ final drafts look little like first drafts. Try to see each draft with new eyes.

5. Clear purpose and theme.
You’ve few words, so be clear. Don’t make readers guess what you’re up to.

6. Be authentic.
Use your own voice and experience. Channeling Shakespeare is irritating.

Paragraph level

1. Each paragraph should have a single main idea.
The paragraphs develop your overall thesis. Each one should have a clear purpose.

2. Connect paragraphs with simple transitions or white space.
Transitions can be at a paragraph’s end, beginning, or be a short standalone.

Sentence level

1. Avoid clichés and generalities.
Be specific. Don’t generalize. Use fresh language and ideas. Remove ALL clichés.

2. Each sentence matters.
If it doesn’t further your purpose, remove it. If it confuses, rewrite it.