College Application Essay Guidance, Writing

Jenny’s Story, Part 1

I looked across the table at Jenny, a new essay client. She wouldn’t make eye contact; there was no energy in her voice. We were brainstorming for a topic for her common application essay, and we were getting nowhere.

Fortunately, I have a big bag full of tricks, and I pulled one out. “How would your friends describe you in one word?”

She looked up from her lap. “Funny,” she said with no hesitation.

Funny? I haven’t seen funny—anything approaching funny—this afternoon.

“Tell me about funny,” I said.

Jenny looked up from her lap and began to tell me a bunch of stories. She was like a different person—someone with life and energy and who could look me in the eye. And she WAS funny. SNL funny.

Between guffaws, I furiously took notes as Jenny talked.

“You know what your essay’s going to be about, don’t you?” I asked when she finished.

She shook her head.

“It’s going to be about funny. We don’t know yet what specific story you are going to write or what the structure of your essay will be, but funny is your story.”

“I can write about funny?” she asked.


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