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Short Story Essay 500 Words

You sit down to write the cover letter for your application: your life story in brief. The blank page stares at you as you try to come up with a catchy opening sentence to your cover letter. "My name is..." just doesn't seem to cut it. "When I was three years old, I ..." also seems lame. If you're like most people, writing about yourself just doesn't come naturally to you and you'd rather write about almost anything else. But you have a deadline, and that letter (or application essay) is going to need to be written. How do you start? And how do you make your application good enough to get you to be picked for the next round?

Relax and take a deep breath. By the time you learn about what psychology can do to make your job easier, you'll be raring to get going on telling your story. When you're done, your personal qualifications will leap off the page.  

Step #1: Don't start at the beginning.  Opening sentences are notoriously difficult to write. So don't write it, just yet. You do need to fill the page with something, and if you don't put added pressure on yourself to come up with the opening your writer's block will quickly and quietly fade. If you have a previous essay or cover letter to start with, by all means, shoot it up there on screen. You may not even use it on this occasion, but at least you're not staring at complete and utter blankness!

Step #2: Read through your resume or CV. Most applications require you to provide a detailed statement of your education, work history, and any special accomplishments. You eventually need to review this to make sure it's up to date and accurate, but for our purposes now, you should read it to help stimulate to tell the story you want to tell about yourself. Given that the people you're applying to work or study with are also looking at this, it's important that what you say in your letter or essay both matches these details and fleshes them out. We know from psychological research that memory is faulty and subject to distortion.  There are probably many worthwhile bragging points about you that have slipped your mind over time, so remind yourself of them now.

Step #3: Tell your story in chronological order.  I do not recommend that the final essay follows a timeline, but I think that working your way through your professional history from start to finish has value. You will at least get some sentences on the page. You will also be prompted to think about your experiences in a way that ultimately may make its way to the final version. Don't worry about typos, spelling or grammar. Those edits will come later. However, make sure that every date or fact about you is correct at this point, because such errors are harder to spot later.

Step #4: Organize the essay by themes. Now that you've got all the facts in order, go back and turn your work into a living, breathing, document. Find the major themes that define who you are. Psychology tells us that our identities are tied in with our life stories. Use psychology to give your life story the unique brand of your own personal identity. For example, look back at what you said about what you were studied or were like in high school or college, and connect that to what you did in your first job. Then show how these connections relate to the job or position for which you are applying. Showing thematic consistency is one of the sure ways to get the reader's attention. Even if you feel that your education and/or career have been somewhat random, it's up to you do connect the dots and make them come together in as coherent a way as possible. This step will probably take you the longest, and it is the most important, so give it some time. 

Step #5: Work on your ending. You've organized your essay by relevant themes that characterize you, your life history, your skills, and your hopes for the future.  Now you have to give it an ending that has some pizzazz. My recommendation is that you do not end by saying "I am honored to be considered for this...," or "I look forward to hearing from you," or anything else that simply ends it to end it. The very last word should be strong and positive. Avoid "hopefully" or "possibly" or "future" anything else that is indefinite or obvious.  I can't give you a magic formula for this last sentence but you'll know it when you've found the one that works for you. You hit it with a good strong tap on the keyboard, punching out that final period with satisfaction and pride.  A good ending will also leave the reader feeling satisfied and excited to meet you.

Step #6: Work on your beginning. You want to tell a complete story in this letter or essay, so your beginning should open the circle that your ending will close. Many people think the opening statement should be an eye-catching phrase, a quote, or some cute play on words. If you feel that way, write your opening statement like that-- and then delete it. Good. You've got that out of your system. Your essay, and your reader, will thank you. Now, getting serious, think about what question you are trying to answer. If it is an essay or short-answer question, and you are asked to describe why you want whatever you're trying to get, then state this clearly and directly. If you're writing a cover letter, you're also responding to a question- perhaps one that is implicit:  "Why should we hire you?" Answer that question, and your reader will want to learn more. Then, when you end the essay, reinforce that initial point by restating it in somewhat different words.  Psychology is very useful in this stage of the game. There's ample research showing that first impressions are essential in framing how other people judge your competence. Your opening sentence is your chance to mold that impression. If you're writing a letter, incidentally, try as much as possible to address it to a particular individual. This will personalize the letter and get the reader involved with you right away.

Step #7: Read an online style manual.

The best writing guide of all time is "Elements of Style (4th Edition)" by Strunk and White.  Author E.B. White, who wrote Charlotte's Web, was responsible for much of the content of this edition of the book. Who better to advise you on your own writing than the man who crafted one of the best-written sentences in the English language? ("Some pig.") The book's philosophy is that simple is best, which is why "Some pig" is such a masterful sentence.  Research on the psychology of language confirms that ambiguities create annoyance in readers who do not like to waste their time reading sentences over and over to decipher their meaning.  

Step #8: Go back and read what you've written. Read what you've written with a critical eye; in fact, you might read it out loud just to give yourself additional cues to how it will sound to others. Use empathy and try to imagine how this is coming across to your reader (another psychological tool). Pull out individual sentences and see if they state facts that are obvious, trite, or banal. My favorite example of this type of sentence, which I have read probably thousands of times in essays and letters, is something as follows: "I struggled during my first year in college, feeling overwhelmed by the many new experiences and people." This is a bad sentence because it states an obvious fact that is true about most people and does not distinguish you as unique. Who didn't struggle in the first year of college? Who didn't feel overwhelmed? Eliminate sentences that you could read back sarcastically in this manner and substitute others that provide unique insights about you. Shorten long sentences (see what I mean?). Modify sentences that were written in the passive voice (like this one).  Work to vary your sentence structure, particularly to avoid starting too many sentences with "I."  It may hurt to change what you've worked so hard to write, but it hurts less now to make those changes than it will if you don't get what you're applying for.

Step #9: Double check for errors.  I wish I could tell you how many essays I've read from job, scholarship, and college applicants in which an important fact is misstated. I don't know if the errors were intentional, but I do know that they were irritating. Depending on how severe the error (such as claiming an overly high grade point average), such mistakes may lead you to be rejected out of hand. No one wants to knowingly hire a liar. You should also make sure that the letter or essay is the right one for this position. If you're applying to multiple places at once, this is an especially important step.

Step #10: Hand the essay over to a colleague or friend for comments. You probably saw this one coming. Everyone can benefit from critical feedback. Assuming that this is not an eleventh-hour enterprise (I hope it isn't) there should be time for you to get help from people who are in a position to evaluate your work and help you fix any problems. Be ready, once you've done this, to accept their feedback (no tears, please), and incorporate their suggestions, as appropriate, to your document.  If you've given yourself a long enough timeline, then you may be able to go through a few rounds. If it was a last minute affair, perhaps due to a suddenly available opportunity, then even one round is better than none.

Following these steps will help you write an essay or cover letter worth your time investment. Here are five final, practical, points:

1.       Keep it professional. If, in telling your story, you wondered whether to share personal details about yourself or your family, think twice. Only rarely should you use this statement as a chance to divulge information about your own or other people's illnesses, relationship problems, or behavior that is less than appropriate.


Clean up your social media image. While going through the application process, double check that your privacy settings are properly set so that you won't be caught in compromising positions of any sort online. Also, if you have an email account that you've been using since high school with a high-school-ish type of name ("Hotangel88," say), don't use it for this application. Also check your voice mail message to be sure it is professional.

3.  Show, don't tell. Be sure that you don't sound overly confident or self-important. Talking about what you've done gets the point across more effectively than saying, in your own words, how capable, hard-working, wondeful, etc. you are.

4.  Give credit where credit is due. If other people have helped you or worked on projects with you in specific ways, you should acknowledge this. People like hiring employees who can serve well on a team.

5. Save your work. Make sure that you keep progressive drafts of your document. If you are completing an online application, cut and paste into it so that you have the actual version in your own files. You never know when you're going to want to use this essay again in future applications.

Knowing a little about the psychology of cover letters and personal statements can go a long way to making yours easier to write, more interesting to read, and more effective in getting you to the next step in the application process. As somone once told me, the essay or letter is your request for an invitation to the "party." You want this piece of writing to lead to the next, logical step, which is usually an interview. 

For more career advice check out these related posts:

Selling it: Making interviews work for you

How to make recommendations work for you

Writing the perfect CV or resume: A 5 step guide

Want to boost your job prospects? Try a beauty makeover

Follow me on Twitter @swhitbo for daily updates on psychology, health, and aging. Feel free to join my Facebook group, "Fulfillment at Any Age," to discuss today's blog, or to ask further questions about this posting. 

Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2011

Writing of short essays is not an easy task. Just think of this – you have got 300-500 words to express your thoughts on a certain issue. No more, no less! What does that mean? It means that there should not be a single extra word in your essay. Don’t even think of writing some introductory statements that cover 2 or 3 A4 pages. You have to be laconic, but yet understood to a reader. As writing of a short essay does not take much time, this is a very popular assignment in high schools, colleges and universities. You have learnt a new topic? Ok, then! Write a short essay on what you think about it. Have you read a new book? Please, describe a key character in 300 words.

Very often students are given carte blanche when choosing topics for short essays. But it also happens that a short e300 word essays
has particular topic which must be developed in 300-500 words. The beauty of a short essay is that professor does not need much time to read the text, but yet he or she can evaluate student’s writing skills and knowledge of the topic.


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Help with Writing 500 Word Essays

A five hundred word essay is also known as a five paragraph essay. In such an essay, the whole idea of the paragraph is divided into five sections. Each section talks about a different idea or theme. This way an essay becomes much more explicable and relevant because the reader doesn’t get confused with the arguments. He gets all the arguments weaved in a set format with clear argumentations.
While writing such essays one needs to be careful of the arguments one is presenting in different paragraphs. Always avoid repetition because it repels the reader and makes the work appear to be confused and unclear. What one can do is to jot down all the necessary points in the form of a rough draft. Preparing a rough draft is always beneficial because it gives you an opportunity to revise your own work before finally submitting it. In that rough draft you can clearly see a loosely structured format of your essay. A five paragraph essay should have a well articulated thesis statement as well. A thesis statement is a simple briefing of your essay that provides a little hint of the content to the reader.

500 Word College Essays

The fact that the essay contains 500 words does not mean that it should have a very simple contents and structure. No way! 500 word college essays are perfect examples of students’ ability to express their thoughts in laconic form. This is a real gift that not all students have. That is why there are so many problems with short essays. College students sometimes submit just 5 paragraphs that are not related to one another. 500 word college essays must comply with all requirements to this form of academic writing. They should have introduction, body and conclusion, although you have just one paragraph to introduce the topic and draw conclusions.

300 Word Essays

300 words essays are very tricky. You have a limited number of words to develop a certain topic. Moreover, you essay still needs introduction and conclusion. If you exceed total word count, it will negatively influence your grade. So, you have to be very precise. Sometimes you have to develop very serious topics and if you waste your words for meaningless sentences you will never succeed. 300 words is all you have, so use every word to support the essay topic or idea.

500 Word Essay Examples

As said above, writing of a short essay can be a daunting task. Thus, you should certainly look for 500 word essay examples that can be found at web sites of essay writing companies, like Professays.com. You can find 500 word essay examples at our web site. These essays have been approved by our customers and highly valued by their professors. So, you can use them as guides to write own essays.

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500 Word Short Stories

Short story writing can be fun in case you know how to express your thoughts. 500 word short stories can tell much about your personality and character. They are usually based on your experience or something interesting happened to you. Often, these are funny stories. It is not easy to write funny stories unless you a funny person yourself. That is why if you feel that you cannot write some funny text, ask professionals to help you. Professays.com has several writers who specialize in funny stories writing. If you tell them about your experience and personality you will get a nicely written funny short story.

500 Word Essay Outline

Indeed, a 500 word essay is rather short, but it still has to meet requirements as to essay outline. Like any other essay types, 500 word essay outline should include introduction, body and conclusion. In fact, these are 5 paragraphs 100 words each. You have to be very precise in introduction and conclusion and you have got only 200 words to introduce your thoughts and make a summary. Use simple language and short sentences to make your 500 word essay readable.

Short Essay

Many students feel happy when they are assigned with a short essay writing task. But as soon as they start working they understand that they cannot cope with the task. 300 or 500 words is not enough to express own thoughts or develop a topic. 500 words is a lot, in case a professional writer gets to work. So, if you need a short essay there is nothing wrong with asking for help. We at ProfEssays.com are always happy to solve our customers’ problems.

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