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Author Topic: Patterns I've seen  (Read 33237 times)

magnumalv

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #80 on: January 09, 2006, 10:53:14 AM »
So many ways to write well... Here's a favorite opening line of mine because you would have thought that someone would have used it before (it's so obvious) and yet no-one had thought to do so before Kate Atkinson: "My mother is a virgin (Trust Me)". Not complicated, but it's quite funny.

The only Kate Atkinson I've read is Emotionally Weird. I wasn't too impressed, but I might check out her other stuff due to that one-liner.

Have you ever read Jonathon Coe? You might like him.

redemption

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #81 on: January 09, 2006, 11:04:07 AM »
Jonathan Coe is hilarious!

Burhop

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #82 on: January 09, 2006, 05:56:02 PM »
I'll toss in a few more names--Bill Bryson always kills me--also:

Amy Fusselman--The Pharmacist's Mate
Lenny Bruce--How to Talk Dirty and Influence People

...I suppose one could read books on 'how to write' as well--couldn't hurt--but my argument is that reading a good memoir might get one in the mood to write about their own lives with flair & joie de vivre. A How-to book can give a skill set, but not a mindframe, I'd say. And it seems like a lot of us need our mindframes rattled a bit to shake out our latent individualism.

~Dani
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gameswizard

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #83 on: January 10, 2006, 01:45:37 AM »
Yes Byson, A short history of nearly everything was amazing, and I usually hate the hard sciences.  I couldn't put it down.  The way he speaks is so above even intellegent people's heads...I love it.

jorge

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #84 on: January 10, 2006, 02:56:29 AM »
3. Finding Jesus. (Figuratively).  Again, did this myself and I figure it's impossible to avoid unless you're brave enough to tackle an issues essay, but everyone writes about the turn on the dime moment that changed them into the morally-upright, driven and intellectually superior candidate they are today.   We're all, on paper, having Peter Gibbons-esque  transformations.  In as many cases as not, this comes across silly or it requires huge leaps of logic ("I was  twisting baloons into little animal shapes during my time with the circus and one burst on me, blinding a small child.  It occured to me then and there that I've always had a passion for intellectual property law.")

Anyway, that's my input.

I did one of these because it really was my experience. Not because I had some great academic conversion, but I did have a singular moment where I decided I wanted to be a lawyer.

Anyway, something I was reminded of while writing this PS is that I am not very sentimental. I remember very many things, but not necessarily how they relate to my identity.

magnumalv

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #85 on: January 10, 2006, 09:28:08 AM »
redacted

SplitFinger

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #86 on: January 10, 2006, 09:38:51 AM »
Cool!  After reading through this thread, I don't think my PS touched on a single one of the standard conventions.  Yay me!

That being said, I don't think my PS was the best thing I've ever written, but it didn't completely suck.  My main goal was to talk about something that made me unusual - so when the adcomms are sitting around the table talking about candidates, and someone says, "okay, what about SplitFinger?" - if someone says, "isn't he the _____ guy?", then it accomplished what I intended.

Of course, it's somewhat academic now, since my apps are all long gone (thank goodness), but if someone really wanted to read it and give me feedback (espeically someone who's read a bunch of 'em), I'm morbidly curious enough to wonder where you think it stands in comparison to others.

And let me second the notion to reading Feynman's book for inspiration.  Totally engaging personal anecdotes, and they give you a real feel for who he was.  I'm kicking myself now for not rereading him myself before writing my own PS.
Emory '09

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pistolpete23

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #87 on: January 10, 2006, 11:15:05 AM »

i think i'm special.

pistol pete

chrisfield

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #88 on: January 10, 2006, 11:42:48 AM »

i think i'm special.

pistol pete

oh you are mr. pete

redemption

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Re: Patterns I've seen
« Reply #89 on: January 10, 2006, 11:50:19 AM »
Did it ever occur to any of you that the reason everyone's PS's sound the same and are so 'mediocre' is because at the end of the day, most people simply do not stand out in many ways?

I started my PS in my childhood, because we had no money and lived in a poor area surrounded by drug addicts.  I now close loans for people in poor areas, surrounded by drug addicts.  My parents worked hard and are no longer poor, in large part by removing themselves from their then-peers (directionless, under/un-employed drug/booze people).  I want to advocate to build better communities now and work on affordable housing issues because I think that's what made the difference in my family -- living in better communities led us to a better life.

This does not make me unique, but it makes me someone who has use for going to law school.  Of course that's what I wrote about.

Most people don't have great stories.  The PS is not about making yourself out to be Indiana Jones -- it's about making sure you are a competent writer (being a lawyer involves copious reading and writing), and making sure you've got some logical reason for wanting to pursue a ~$100k undertaking for the next 3 years.

Distinguishing yourself as something truly great/special is only important when applying to a school your numbers don't line up for.

I somewhat agree with your last sentence - if your numbers are at the high end of the index for a particular school, then the job of your PS is not to screw up: not to write so badly that they are appalled & not to write something so inane/offensive that they just can't bear the idea of inflicting you on their student body.

I disagree, though, and in a way, about the idea that "most people don't have interesting stories". You don't have to have had a life that approximates Indiana Jones' to have a great story, and I can very well imagine Indiana writing a PS that would bore me to tears, and perhaps appall me, too .

From my experience in reading several statements, the problem is not so much that people don't have the raw material, but that they leech what is interesting about themselves, about their lives, and about their perspectives out of the piece. And they do this by using an ingenious array of poor writing techniques. In the end, it is not the story (there are only 7 stories in the world), but how it is told. Who you are comes out not so much in the narrative as in the writing style.

If your numbers are dodgy, the PS could be important and would presumably have to be somewhat above average. Dani says that they've "got to want your ass", and I agree.

Everyone stands out. Not every PS does.