Read Jeffrey Tayler's "The Sacred Grove of Oshogbo" (first published in , used with permission) and try to determine exactly at what passage in the text do you become aware of the point of Tayler's essay. Take note of the rich detailing of the forest, the caretaker, and the minister from the city and try to describe how the details lend themselves toward the purpose of the article. Another Atlantic essay, Jeff Biggers' filled with wonderful details of a remote town in Mexico is also available here.
Without question, the most common place for writers to exercise their freedom in personal statements, as well as the most common place where writers feel uncertain about what they’ve done, is in their beginnings. Even personal statements that are scientific in tone and content might have creative beginnings. Although there’s nothing wrong with a straightforward opening simply stating your purpose, especially if you have just one page for your essay, most writers take a bolder tack. Readers of personal statements are used to openings that tell stories or borrow quotations, essays that discuss relevant current events, and even daring writers who risk a bit of well-conceived humor or surprise.
Other essays open with much briefer and less narrative personal stories, sometimes relying on just one line to set the context, with the writer heading to a purpose statement shortly thereafter. Here are some straightforward but artful beginnings to personal statements from Donald Asher’s book :
Like many writers and readers, I’m a sucker for a good meaty quotable quote, which is part of why quotations are used to open each chapter of this handbook. We tape handwritten quotes on our bathroom mirrors, clip them onto the visors in our cars, and paste them into our e-mail signature lines. In a personal essay, not only do quotes set context for the reader, they also allow you to ride on the broad shoulders of another who actually managed to say or write something that was worth quoting. Quotations might be used at the start of the essay, in the closing, or they might appear at a key moment within the body as a way to set context or emphasize a point. In Chapter 5 of this handbook, a quotation is used as an opening to a science-related essay by an applicant for a National Science Foundation Fellowship. In the same chapter, another writer uses a narrative opening in her essay to repeat a favorite quote that her mother used to say: “To find out where you’re going, you need to know where home is.”
The second sentence too has compared the freshness to morning dew, but has used a noun and a verb to do so, and in the process has probably enticed the reader to continue reading, more than the first sentence.
Before you actually begin writing, it is always a good idea to build a word bank of related words and ideas.
Viewed within the framework of present day social constructionist theory or simply post- theory, the current essay Close but not Deep: Literary Ethics and the Descriptive Turn show how both Critical Hermeneutics and Descriptive Sociology disavow Traditional Humanist categories....
In a personal statement, writers typically create topical context by narrating a recent event of some consequence, citing a respected source, or simply establishing an arena for discussion. “Martial arts and medicine,” opens one personal essay from Richard Stelzer’s , using an intentional sentence fragment to grab our attention and to crisply define two intertwined themes in the writer’s life. Other essays—the first from the Asher book and the second from the Stelzer book cited above—lend a sense of importance to their subject matter through topical references:
I’ve read many descriptive sentences from peer grading essays and my trudge through numerous novels and short stories, and rarely do I find that descriptions really put an image into my head....
While both descriptive and narrative essays are similar in many ways, the descriptive essays use of language fully immerses the reader into the story and allows the reader to feel the intended emotion....
Here is a perfect example of a lengthy creative beginning that winds its way into a formal thesis statement, excerpted from a Rhodes Scholarship essay in Chapter 5:
Let nouns and verbs do the work of description for you. With nouns, your readers will see; with verbs, they will feel. In the following paragraph, taken from George Orwell's famous anti-imperialist essay, "Shooting an Elephant," see how the act of shooting the elephant delivers immense emotional impact. What adjectives would you expect to find in a paragraph about an elephant? big? grey? loud? enormous? Do you find them here? Watch the verbs, instead. Notice, too, another truth about description: when time is fleeting, slow down the prose. See how long the few seconds of the shooting can take in this paragraph. You can read the entire text of George Orwell's story by clicking , and you can read additional essays by this famous author of and at
Love asserts at the beginning of her essay, “richness signifies qualities associated with the complexity polyvalence of texts and with the warmth and depth of experience” (371)....
This is what descriptive writing is all about: heightening the sense of perception and alluring your reader to read ahead, because you have so much more to say.
Given below are a couple of good pieces of descriptive writing from authors who know their business.
'But the door slid slowly open before Lupin could reach it.
This is because, while the first sentence merely tells you directly that 'you felt tired at work today', the second one explains the same experience in a much more vivid and relatable manner.
From this you can see that even something as simple as the above sentence can be transformed using literary devices that aid visualization, into something that someone can relate to.