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Application Essay

by Em16


I'm applying for an online writing course with the University of Iowa, and I have to write a statement of purpose as part of my application. This is the prompt:

300-500 words describing why you would like to take the course and what you hope to learn. We're seeking students who will be enthusiastic and committed to doing the assignments and participating in the discussion forums.

And this is my essay:

For the better part of 2014, and some of 2015, I spent a large portion of my time reading the Hunger Games. I read other books, like Michael Grant’s Gone, and Ally Condie's Matched, but I always came back to my worn copy of the Hunger Games. I'd read it at lunch, in bed, in the car. I have the plot of the first book practically memorized, from the little goat cheese Prim left out the day of the Reaping to the glass of orange juice Katniss held as the Capitol helicopter lifted her out of the arena. 

It should come as no surprise, then, that my main aspiration in life is to be a prolific author of YA fiction. Someday, I'd like to be able to walk into a Barnes and Nobles and see a bookshelf dedicated solely to my work. I want to be a permanent fixture, like Harry Potter or Twilight, with a movie franchise and a line of merchandise that still makes millions years after I've published my last book. I want to be an author who inspires people, who makes them feel passionately enough to read my work over and over again, to obsess over it, even to write fanction about it.

Of course, being a successful YA author is a difficult task, one that involves quite a bit of hard work and a little bit of luck. That's why I'm applying to be a part of this writing program. I hope to learn how to make characters that delight and inspire, like Katniss Everdeen, and how to build fictional worlds that feel realer than reality, like the wizarding world of Harry Potter. I’d like to learn how to make plot twists that leave readers breathless and wanting more, and weave in themes that leave a permanent imprint.

Most of all, I'd relish the opportunity to communicate with other young writers like myself, and hear their different perspectives. One of the reasons I love YA is so much is because it has space for so many different voices, and encourages readers to interact with the world around them. I'd love to be able to do that with my writing, and form friendships over common struggles with an essay or short story. I'd hate to be a writer who always approaches the craft with the same stilted, trite perspective.

I'm prepared to dive into the course as deeply as I dove into the Hunger Games, and to commit myself as fully as Katniss committed to her role as Mockingjay. I'll take it as seriously as a tribute takes the three day training period before they enter the arena, a time to learn and practice before the final test. Because for me, that final test will be taking all the skills and knowledge I've learned and using them to write a book worthy of the distinction of being a YA novel. 


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Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:40 pm
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AyumiGosu17 wrote a review...



Good afternoon, Em16. I enjoyed reading your application essay. From what I got out of the prompt and your response, your ideas are well developed and you support your argument thoroughly. I like that you pulled in examples of other popular YA franchises. It's even more impressive that your claim/purpose for pursuing a writing degree is to be an inspiration for others in the same way that these books inspired you. I'm not finding any grammar, punctuation, or style issues from a quick read, but I will say this: your essay is impressive. Best of luck to you, and never stop writing!




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Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:18 pm
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Elinor wrote a review...



Hey Em16!

My name is Elinor, and I thought that I would drop by to give your essay a quick review. I hope the rest of your application is going well!

I thought your essay was well written and clear. The thing that it's missing for me right now, is passion. I understand this may not be the most exciting piece to write, but you don't want the people reading your essay to know that.

Right now, you focus most of this essay on seeing how you love The Hunger Games and how influential the story and Katniss Everdeen was and is for you. I can relate because I love The Hunger Games too! The thing I don't get is how and why it's special to you.

Bring us into the first moment you read The Hunger Games. Paint a picture. When was the moment you really latched on that universe? What about that book was special for you? Also, if you are applying to college now, I'm not sure how old you were in 2014, but that might be interesting for the people reading this to know. I would nix the part about Gone and Matched because this is about your love of The Hunger Games.

And as much as you love it, the one thing I want to understand is why you write. You say you want to walk into Barnes and Noble and see your books, but why? Is making money more important to you, or is getting your story out in the world, and maybe affecting someone the way you were affected by The Hunger Games.

Solid work, I just think it needs that extra push! Hope this helps! Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions.

Best,
Elinor




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Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:15 am
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ChrisCalaid wrote a review...



Hola!
Here to conquer your words & polish your thoughts.
I love this essay! I too share the same interest but with a different book. I haven't really read Hunger Games yet but am planning to read it when my reading list gets a bit shorter. Anyway, I will say what I have come to say! :)

Suggestion & Suggestions that are just Suggestions

It should come as no surprise, then, that my main aspiration in life is to be a prolific author of YA fiction. Someday, I'd like to be able to walk into a Barnes and Nobles and see a bookshelf dedicated solely to my work. I want to be a permanent fixture, like Harry Potter or Twilight, with a movie franchise and a line of merchandise that still makes millions years[million years/ millions of year] after I've published my last book. I want to be an author who inspires people, who makes them feel passionately enough to read my work over and over again, to obsess over it, even to write fanction[fanfiction or function] about it.


Let's look at this part. Can you see "millions years"? Well, it's usually written "million years" or "millions of years". Do you think you want to change it so readers don't get confused at this phrase?

By "makes me feel", do you mean "make me feel"? You used passed tenses for a while, and so I am assuming this part is either misspelled or a typo.

By"fanction", do you mean "fanfiction"?

I hope to learn how to make characters that delight and inspire, like Katniss Everdeen, and how to build fictional worlds that feel realer[more real] than reality, like the wizarding world of Harry Potter. I’d like to learn how to make plot twists that leave readers breathless and wanting more, and weave in themes that leave a permanent imprint.


"realer" is spelled this way "more real".

I enjoyed reading this wonderful essay and would love to thank you for sharing this beautiful work.

Happy National Nut Day

Keep it up!
~Chris





Poetry is my cheap means of transportation. By the end of the poem the reader should be in a different place from where he started. I would like him to be slightly disoriented at the end, like I drove him outside of town at night and dropped him off in a cornfield.
— Billy Collins