MBA Essay Writing Tip #24: Nailing Story Structure

Like the foundation of a high-rise building, your story’s structure is what keeps all of your content organized and in place, supporting it for maximum impact.

Story Structure

When you’re writing an essay, proper structure is essential. That’s why we’re here with this refresher’s guide to basic story structure.

Great storytelling is the key

Whether you’re retelling a heartbreaking failure, an inspiring story of leadership, or the origins of your long-term goals, the secret to a great essay is storytelling. If you can hook the reader with a good story and back it up with impressive facts, you’ll have knocked the essay portion of your application out of the park. It’s harder than it looks, but with these quick tips, you’ll be well on your way to attention grabbing stories:

1. Hook ‘em from the start

Your first line should be your BEST line – hook the reader with an attention-grabbing introduction and he’s guaranteed to keep reading. Your first line can be funny, surprising, impressive, or all of the above – just don’t make it boring.

2. Introduce the problem

Once you’ve written your first line, it’s time to introduce the topic of your essay proper. The reader should know EXACTLY what your essay is about by your third or fourth sentence. Wait any longer to get your message across and you risk confusing the reader…and totally losing them.

3. Show us your thought process

In addition to describing physical events, describe how those events made you FEEL. Imagine describing a stressful presentation: you not only need to describe the crowd, the room temperature and the bright lights, but also how those things made you FEEL. Writing about how you felt during a situation will allow your readers to relate to the situation, providing them with insight into your thought process.

4. Don’t make it too easy

No one likes Superman because everyone KNOWS that he’s going to win – he’s Superman! So instead of portraying yourself as an academic or corporate badass, show us YOUR STRUGGLES.

A story is far more relatable if we see the protagonist’s efforts to resolve the conflict rather than seeing him solve the problem without breaking a sweat. Imagine James Cameron’s Titanic if the captain just gingerly avoided the iceberg – not much of a movie, is it?

5. Bring it full circle:

Tie your conclusion to your introduction. This will remind the reader of your AWESOME intro AND sum up the points you made throughout your essay.

Here’s a quick recap on nailing story structure in your MBA essay

  • Hook ‘em from the start.
  • Introduce the problem.
  • Show us your thought process.
  • Don’t make it too easy.
  • Bring it full circle.

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