If you look for it, writing help is available everywhere.
Just read sentences. Consume written material, especially material that’s been professionally edited.
(Note: The EssaySnark blahg is not in the category! The writing here is in a colloquial style — that word means “informal or conversational” which is not quite the right tone you want for your MBA essays, though you also don’t want them to be so stiff that they don’t sound like a real person actually wrote them.)
Here’s an opinion piece that was published in the Washington Post recently from someone named Benjamin Dreyer who is the managing editor of Random House (WaPo-Writers be wary of Throat-Clearers and Wan Intensifiers in case that’s paywalled).
It warns against “throat-clearers” in your writing, and also “wan intensifiers.”
EssaySnark is very familiar with “throat-clearers” (discussed here in a Stanford essay review posted on the blahg) but we had no clue what the “wan” thing was (which is evidenced by this sentence — a wan intensifier is lurking in our midst right here!).
A “wan intensifier” according to Mr. Dreyer is an adjective that further modifies and already-intense adjective. An example from the article is “very brilliant.” He makes the legit point that if you’re “brilliant” then the word “very” doesn’t add anything.
He also offers a useful tip of deleting the word “actually” everywhere it’s found, which we would have a hard time doing here on this blahg as it would likely reduce the word count of every single post by at least 10%. However, in an MBA essay, that actually might be good advice (ha!). Something to consider, as you’re looking for places to pare back your word count to get closer to a school’s limit. (Thankfully he didn’t tell us to delete the word “really” or we’d be in extra-deep trouble.)
Another tip we’ll add to Mr. Dreyer’s list for your MBA essays is, don’t use words that nobody else uses.
Who TF says “wan”?? Honestly, we thought it was some Star Wars reference.
Similar to this advice: Do you really use that word?
None of these are rules per se; they are tips for making your writing more polished, and in several cases, they might assist you in carving out those extra words, to meet essay length guidelines, which can be a grueling process at the end of your whole essay-writing journey.
Throat-clearers are when you’re getting warmed up, and you start the essay by talking in looser, more roundabout sentences, that are not actually saying anything. Throat-clearing can happen at the beginning of an essay, at the beginning of a paragraph, at the start of a single sentence. They are often difficult to identify until you’ve got your actual message fully built out. Don’t worry about throat-clearers and these “wan” intensifier thingies until late-stage editing, when you’re in the tighten-and-polish mode.
Taking out throat-clearers does more than just reduce word count: It helps to truly focus your message.
Hopefully these tips are meaningful for when the time is right to be fine-tuning your drafts and getting them ready for the final submit!
Tell us what you think.