How to Record Scratch Your College App Essay Stories

If you’ve done your homework on how to write a effective college application essay, you almost certainly know the place to begin has been your real-life stories.

The theory is to find moments, incidents and experiences from your past that illustrate a larger point you want to make about yourself in your essay.

Usually, the best place to talk about an appealing mini-story ( also known as an anecdote) is at the very start of the piece.

The anecdote (mini-story) serves to ‘hook’ or grab your reader’s interest in the start—something you always desire within a standout application essay.

However, as soon as you share that little moment, incident or mini-story (anecdote) which you have plucked out of time with little to no introduction, where would you follow that first section or two?

When working with students on by using this method in private essays, I advise them to make the reader back into the beginning and present some context to the moment they described in the anecdotal introduction.


Recently, a student I happened to be working with aided me discover a brand-new way to describe this ‘backgrounding’ of this anecdote.

Whenever I told him in regards to the process of rewinding that moment to spell it out the broader context of just what it designed, he said, ‘Oh, you mean it really is like within a motion picture after something big takes place, plus they stop the action having a record scratch or freeze the frame, and some body claims, ‘Oh! You are probably wondering how I got here?’

Exactly! I told him.

Watch This Clip to See Record Scratch doing his thing

In flicks from the ’80s and ’90s, and even earlier, a cliche trope was to make use of what exactly is called the ‘Record Scratch’ or ‘Freeze Frame’ after the original exciting moment (often plucked from the middle of this storyline; a computer device described in writing sectors as en media res) to indicate the move back into the beginning of the story’s timeline to spell out exactly how it all started.

I know all this writing lingo and terminology may start to sound confusing. But it’s actually truly quick:

Take up a private, narrative-style essay by retelling a thing that took place to you, within a section or two at the most ( known as an anecdote).

Use fiction-writing practices, such as setting the scene with a few sensory details and including a line of dialogue (some body saying something.) Watch my quick movie on How to Write an Anecdote!thesis statement examples for racism

The minute or incident will simply have lasted over the course of a short while.

There clearly was little to no build-up or explanation; you start as close to the crucial point of action as you can.

Then, in the following section, you shift gears (Could you hear the needle damage a vinyl record the Record Scratch?) and make the reader back to ‘It all started when….’

In this section you explain the context and meaning of that moment or incident you started with as an anecdote.

Obtain it?

Listed here is how it functions within a private essay:

  1. Anecdote that recounts something that happened to you
  2. Record Scratch: Shift BACK IN TIME in order to start in the beginning and describe just what it indicates.

3. Afterward you continue along with your essay to explore, examine, analyze, reflect upon more about that thing that happened and how it reveals something regarding how you’re, your personality and character.

4. a big part of the other countries in the essay is more introspective, for which you dig deeper to give some thought to and share what you discovered yourself in the act of whatever took place.

5. Wrap it up.

I do believe you will fully grasp this process if you read some situations.

Here are the starts of FIVE sample essays from my collection, Heavenly Essays, written mainly by former students who used this process. I identified the ANECDOTE and RECORD SCRATCH/BACKGROUND in red text:

Brock CsiraLaguna Beach, CAUniversity of California, Berkeley, CA

Hang Ups

ANECDOTE: Dangling about 30 legs above the floor, I looked down on the entire neighborhood park using its rolling hills, vibrant green grass, and numerous tall eucalyptus trees. Buckled securely in my unique Diamond Mountain climbing harness, I admired my handiwork.

My old blue-and-black braided climbing rope thrown over a branch held me aloft, while a slipknot I tied while hoisting myself up prevented my descent. After having a short while, I made a decision to go back to the floor, but discovered my knot grew too tight in my situation to untie. I happened to be trapped.


BACKGROUND: Ever since dad taught myself the Bowline in second grade, the intricacy of knots has captivated myself. I spent hours perfecting the craft, reading every knot book and website I could easily get my arms on. All my knots often came in useful. In 8th grade, I won a competition in the Boy Scouts having a square knot, beating the trainer who taught an alternative solution knot that took longer to link. A couple of years later, I rescued my cousin’s pickup out from the mud aided by the unbreakable loop of this Bow Line during one of our off-road adventures. I even returned a stranded rock climber’s lifeline by tying a Sheep’s Bend between a tiny little bit of paracord and his climbing rope. …

Brooks JohnsonLaguna Beach, CALoyola Marymount University, L . A ., CA

Call Me Crazy

ANECDOTE: After two hours of intense race on the open water, we thought our day had been done. Rather, our advisor bought us to race another five miles residence, rowing since tough as once we emerged. Stuck the harbor with seven other teammates in the staff motorboat, there was nowhere to cover.

‘Give me reasons to call 911,’ coach yelled. Drained and exhausted, I really could feel my eyes starting to close. Tunnel eyesight set in. For a few moments, I blacked down.

I experienced been here before. This is the point where I experienced to press my human body to do the opposite of just what my brain wished me to do: Go even harder. I dedicated to the coxswain yelling at myself, and hoped my adrenaline wouldn’t wear off. …



I initially joined the staff as a freshman, I only knew only a little concerning this sport. My older brother warned myself in regards to the ridiculous hours and difficult exercise sessions. The one thing no body told me, though, is to row staff you had to be always a little crazy. It is not the mentally outrageous sort of crazy, nevertheless the type for which you force yourself to disregard all logic and reason and press yourself to keep going.

Duncan LyndLaguna Beach, CACalifornia State University, Longer Beach, CA

A Tiny World

ANECDOTE: While catching lunch between games at a water polo tournament, I noticed one of my brand-new teammates hardly ever looked myself in the eye. Rather than taking the empty seat next in my experience, he opted to sit throughout the table. Even though I tried to start out a conversation with him, he only looked down, and mumbled, ‘Oh, hey,’ and strolled away.


BACKGOUND: This type of cold-shoulder treatment wasn’t a new comer to myself. I’m a big guy. In bare legs, I’m about 6 legs 7 inches tall, and I’m pushing 300 pounds. Yes, it’s rather a pain. I bump my head going through doorways, I don’t fit in most mid-size automobiles, and I can scarcely press into most class room desks. But I am aware that the world is good for average-sized people, and I want to think I’m above average. One thing, however, is tough in my situation to simply take: individuals who do not know myself assume I’m mean. …

Gabrielle Mark BachouaSan Diego, CAUniversity of California, Davis, CA

Leaping Dancer

ANECDOTE: As my mom backs out of our driveway, I go through the back seats to be sure my basketball gear will there be, along with my schoolbooks, phone charger, and beat-up backup of Catch- 22. We slowly wind through my neighborhood and over about a one half dozen speed bumps, then pull onto the highway proceeding south aided by the other Sunday traffic.

I sit back and watch the familiar landmarks—the huge Denny’s sign aided by the missing ‘N,’ the quick stretch of undeveloped land, the Shell billboard that designed we were nearly there—flash past my window.


BACKGROUND: I’ve made this 20-mile travel between my parents’ domiciles going back decade, four times a week, previously since they divorced whenever I had been seven. I need to have taken it more than a thousand times. Often I dreaded stepping into that vehicle, and resented my parents for putting my older sister and I through the circular logic that moving us backwards and forwards could make our lives typical because we see each moms and dad usually, but moving back and forth actually typical, unless they make it typical, which isn’t normal. Now I know it makes sense because typical actually ideal, typical could be the unanticipated in addition to crazy in addition to unforgiving. …

Reece BartonLaguna BeachNew York University, Ny, NY

Rubbish Talk

ANECDOTE: On our way to get fish tacos, about eight blocks from my house, I spotted the sign out from the corner of my eye. ‘Stop the car!’ I shouted. Blake slammed on the brakes and put the vehicle into reverse. My eyes hadn’t deceived myself, the hand- written sign read: ‘Free Trampoline.’


BACKGROUND: previously since I can bear in mind, We have liked turning others’s rubbish into my personal treasures. I cannot go past a garage sale without looking through the neighbor’s junk. Over time, We have even decorated my space with accessories from numerous sales and giveaways. …

Let them have a go!

I am hoping these examples offer you a clearer notion of how to use this process in using your real-life stories to power you private essays for college application essays.

Remember, and even though these are narrative (story-telling) essays, they may not be one long story.

Rather, they use an anecdote (small moments, incidents and experiences) as an example of a larger point the blogger wants to share and explore about himself or herself in the other countries in the essay.

You are able to discover ways to write yours narrative essay and craft appealing anecdotes by reading my preferred writing guide, Escape Essay Hell! I also teach this same step-by-step process in my online writing course.

If you want to read more of the sample essays, they truly are in Heavenly Essays.

You may learn about this process by reading posts about this blog. My advice is to use the Find Helpful Posts INDEX on the right side of my blog, or enter topics you want help with in the SEARCH field (such as: Finding a Topic, How Write an Anecdote, etc.)

For a few students, reflecting on and analyzing their backgrounds can be quite a snap.

They enjoy that form of introspective, heady thinking.

For other individuals, it can feel intimidating and baffling.

No matter how you’re feeling concerning this process, you must know who you are—or at least involve some viewpoints about this—in order to publish a important college application essay about yourself.

Within a private statement essay, the main content is where you showcase your ability to take a close examine yourself.

It is not so much just what you see, as tips on how to demonstrate the capacity to step straight back and size up who you are and just how you emerged to be that way—and why it matters.

The good news is that ‘getting deep’ and self-reflection aren’t that tough.

First, decide it’s time and energy to execute a little soul searching.

Yes, it is possible to discover ways to press your thinking to a ‘deeper’ amount.

This is what college is focused on!

(are you experiencing a Fixed or Growth Mindset? HINT: You would like Growth to excel in college and life!)

So in your personal statement, make sure to show your target colleges which you already can self-reflect, analyze, examine, question and think (especially about yourself)!

Listed below are my most readily useful posts to assist you learnto bring more depth to your college application essays:

Find out just what core characteristics and traits allow you to be you:

Find Your Defining Characteristics

Discover ways to use these in your essays:

Defining Qualities Rock College Application Essays

Find out what values matter the most to you personally:

Get a hold of Your Core Values to Rock Your Essay

More help on finding out everything you care about probably the most:

Just What Would You Believe?

Teach yourself how to move beyond thin, black-and-white thinking:

Most readily useful College Application Essays Possess A Touch of Gray

Find out if life concept you learned relates to everyone in the world:

Do You Have a Universal Truth in Your Essay?

If you take the full time to read these posts and turn the magnifying glass on yourself, I’m confident you’ll discover insights, observations and tips to bring depth and meaning to your college application essays.

Here’s that Fixed vs Growth Mindset Question for your needs. I ENJOY this!