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Why does it matter if you write memorable MBA essays? Because the average top tier business school can read up to 40, essays in any given application season. A great MBA application essay is filled with anecdotes that bring your actions and results to life. You are unique. The essays are the only place in your application where you have complete control over what is highlighted and how. The key to any great story starts with anecdotes.
Their real importance is that they help explain the why behind your actions and decisions. Adcoms are extremely interested in the struggles and defining moments that have shaped you and your dreams.
Starting With An Anecdote : Drafting
But they also help break up the monotony that comes with reading thousands of applications. Instead of just stating you want to become a partner at McKinsey down the road, why not share the experiences that made you want to do that? William is a watchman at the Bear Flag Restaurant. An outcast of Cannery Row, he seems to be universally despised. Mack and the boys refuse to talk to him and rebuff his attempts to become closer with them. As his threats to kill himself are met with challenges to do exactly that, his suicide seems inevitable.
This short vignette poignantly reveals how people despised on Cannery Row are treated. William is shunned by Mack and the boys. His attempts to confide in Dora, Eve, and the Greek are met with a cold shoulder or outright disapproval. The violence of his suicide plunging an ice pick into his chest illustrates the underlying current of violence running through the novel.
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Without this underlying current, the story would be a two-dimensional tale of carefree, jobless individuals, not a mature piece. Similarly, the vignette about Mr. Sam Malloy does nothing to directly advance the plot line. Indeed, it is not until the end of the book that Steinbeck describes a single interaction between the Malloys and any main character in the book.
Sometimes it is shocking. Sometimes it is surprising because of who said it. Sometimes it is surprising because it includes profanity.
Why Use Anecdotes?
Professional writers have honed this technique to a fine edge. It is not used as much as the first two patterns, but it is used. Dropping the name of a famous person at the beginning of a paper usually gets the reader's attention. It may be something that person said or something he or she did that can be presented as an interest grabber. You may just mention the famous person's name to get the reader's interest. The famous person may be dead or alive. The famous person may be a good person like the Pope, or he or she may be a bad person like John Wilkes Booth.
Of course, bringing up this person's name must be relevant to the topic. Even though the statement or action may not be readily relevant, a clever writer can convince the reader that it is relevant. In this pattern, the writer simply states straight out what the topic of his paper is going to be about.
It is the technique that most student writers use with only modest success most of the time, but good professional writers use it too.
These patterns can give a "lift" to your writing. Practice them. Try using two or three different patterns for your introductory paragraph and see which introductory paragraph is best; it's often a delicate matter of tone and of knowing who your audience is. Do not forget, though, that your introductory paragraph should also include a thesis statement to let your reader know what your topic is and what you are going to say about that topic.
How to Write a Personal Anecdote
Things NOT to do in an introductory paragraph: Apologize. Never suggest that you don't know what you're talking about or that you're not enough of an expert in this matter that your opinion would matter.
Your reader will quickly turn to something else. Avoid phrases like the following: In my [humble] opinion. I'm not sure about this, but. Announce your intentions. Do not flatly announce what you are about to do in an essay. In this paper I will. The purpose of this essay is to.