Perhaps your goal in describing your experience at the Democratic Convention is to inspire readers to engage in political action, or teach them the shortcomings of the process.Your essay should then move gradually toward that action in such a way that, by the end of the narrative, the readers will be ready to act, or will clearly see the shortcomings of party politics.
This should not necessarily occur because of logical discourse, but because you have painted such a vivid picture of the event and its meaning that emotional appeal is enough to achieve the desired result. This practice is often regarded as unacceptable in essays, but when it comes to describing an event in a narrative essay, it can sometimes be a more effective tool for inviting the reader to participate.
If you are writing the essay for a school assignment, you should check with the teacher or professor to make sure this is acceptable.
At Story2, we call this strategy “Focus Out.” My Princeton history professor called it “Show Don’t Tell.” Whatever the name of this strategy, your main focus when writing a college essay should be to write a story that describes actions that happened in the real world, not events that took place in your head. When you put dialogue in your essay, you are creating a situation in which the reader feels like they are a part of your story.
For example, instead of writing an essay in which you say, “I knew that we had practiced for this moment.” Add a piece of dialogue such as “I turned to my best friend on the team and said, ‘This is why we practiced free throws for 30 minutes after practice each day.’”Students often ask me if it is appropriate to “make up” dialogue.
Again, this can be done very subtly, but that it up to your discretion.
You can be very blunt about telling the readers to take action, or you can simply appeal to their emotions by painting an effective picture.
To add physical description to your story, slow the action down and write about what actions you were taking in that moment.
For example, instead of saying “I was nervous before the big test,” write “As I tried to write my name at the top of the paper, my hand shook and the yellow number-two pencil slipped out of my hands and onto the floor.”As you revise your college essays, look for places where you can add details, dialogue, and description to ensure that your story reveals the unique qualities that you bring to the college that’s lucky enough to be your next home.
My response to this is, “Yes and No.” Yes, it’s appropriate to add dialogue that approximates what was said in that moment.
Memory is inherently subjective and you shouldn’t hold it against yourself if you don’t remember the exact words that you said to your friend.