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Common App Essay Prompt 1, Building a Raft

lulwut 5 / 26 1  
Dec 14, 2012   #1
Please read first:
So, I tried writing my common app essay about a raft I built when I was younger, and I got kind of stuck. Here is the roughest of rough drafts. Please tell me any suggestions on things that I should add, what I should change, and anything that you think is missing from the essay. Thanks!

Also, If this thread has any additional drafts, please see those instead of the following draft.

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. (250-500 words)

We had no previous experience with constructing something like this. We had no power tools, little money, and nobody else around to help us. My two friends and I knew that building a raft wouldn't be an easy task, but through our determination and hard work we believed we could do it. It would be just like the raft that Tom Sawyer had used in the novels we read that summer. We had noticed our nearly inexistent resources, and had decided that it would be best to used recycled materials for the raft: a tall stack of old, muddy, planks; a few sheets of partially burnt plywood; and some rusty saws and nails.

We started by building a six foot by eight foot frame to put the plywood on. It seemed a simple enough task. We dragged out all the pieces of wood, laid them down next to each other, argued about the dimensions a bit, and then took turns cutting through the dense wood. While we were still confused about the design, we accidentally cut in half our already perfect planks, thinking that they were scraps, which was a setback to say the least! It was too late to stop, though. We had already caught the disease that is creation. We wanted so badly to see our work finished, to feel the pride of having made something so impressive on our own.

After days of cutting, we nailed all our pieces together, trimmed the burnt sheets of plywood, and attached them as well. It was all coming along nicely, until I had suggested that maybe we wouldn't have enough buoyancy to float. Oops. We hadn't actually considered that the raft was fairly thin, and might be hard to keep above the water with three people on it. But we couldn't stop now! We had gotten so far! There had to be a solution to this problem.

We tossed around ideas for a few days, considering anything from building up on top of what we already had to attaching big outriggers to the bottom. Nothing seemed good until one day we found the answer. My friend had found some 50 gallon drums in his basement and they were the ideal size to secure to the bottom of the raft! It all worked out and we agreed that we could not have made a sturdier, more functional raft.

You wouldn't believe how many times we floated down the river in it! Well, as it turns out, we didn't really have a method of transporting it to the river, so rather than being used, it has been sitting in my back yard for years. Instead of looking back at it regretfully, I see it as a trophy. It signifies the friendship I have with two of my best friends. It exemplifies what dedication and persistence can really do. So this winter, when I go around to the shed in my back yard to grab a snow shovel, I'll see the raft, covered in snow, and I'll smile, remembering what we made.
ammr993 - / 6  
Dec 14, 2012   #2
I think your writing is pretty good, the style sounds natural, fun, and exciting to read.

<insert more writing here> add more details to what happened after the frame. add a little scene of "during the building". You showed what the raft exemplifies and what it means to you, but what is "its impact on you"? How did it affect you, how you think, and your future choices and goals? Did this experience help you later in life which makes it so special. We all have special moments, but you have to make the experience stand out by showing the effects it left that make it appear special to others rather than just yourself.

keep the tone, it sounds honest and doesn't sound like it came out of a textbook :D.

Good luck with your writing, I really believe the final draft is gonna be good.
OP lulwut 5 / 26 1  
Dec 15, 2012   #3
Thanks for the feedback, very constructive. A like to you, my good sir. I'll try to take a look at your essay as soon as I can, but currently I'm swamped with work! >.<
ammr993 - / 6  
Dec 15, 2012   #4
Hmm.. I feel with the second draft you lost the touch I so wanted you to keep. This draft feels like complicated instructions on how to build the raft, you focus more on the material side of the experience rather than the emotional effect the first draft had. The most important thing about essays is to make it easy to visualize so the reader can stay on track with the timeline, with this essay it took me a while to imagine but then I just got lost confused, and a bit bored (it was even harder to finish reading).

In this draft you did give more details about the process of the building, but to much, and that wasn't what I meant earlier "add a little scene of "during the building"", I meant something between you and your friends (something stupid or funny you like to remember) like "argued about the dimensions a bit", or "we accidentally cut in half our already perfect planks, thinking that they were scraps".

I think you should stick to the first draft, it was friendlier, and less essay like (big mac). Fill in the <insert more writing here> but like I said, make it a more personal "during the building" experience. In the last paragraph concentrate on "what is "its impact on you"? How did it affect you, how you think, and your future choices and goals? Did this experience help you later in life? "

Oh and thanks for your feed back on my essay :D
OP lulwut 5 / 26 1  
Dec 15, 2012   #5
Thanks again, I'll work on it some more.

What do you think is unnecessary in the second draft?
NOPE - / 4  
Dec 16, 2012   #6
Use more vocabulary and don't make it so long it will help lots!
OP lulwut 5 / 26 1  
Dec 16, 2012   #7
Only post something helpful and constructive, please.

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