Every Labor Day weekend, my family takes a trip to Chicago, Illinois.
I know that you are a little over on your word count right now. You can tighten things up like this: Every Labor Day weekend, my family travels to Chicago. A savings of three words.
My mother requests a window seat at the Bistro 110 (a quaint French restaurant that my family attends by tradition), for the sole purpose of people-watching.
Mom requests window seating at the Bistro 110, a quaint French restaurant, for our traditional people watching. A savings of ten words. BUT ... I feel like you need more in my construction to describe the restaurant. Is it in downtown, on a busy street, what makes the people watching so good? You don't need to say my
mother; we already know you are traveling with your family. The parenthesis are a little too informal here. You can keep the construction by using commas to offset your aside about the restaurant.
While I can be entertained observing the mannerisms, styles, and the like of oblivious passer-bys* anywhere, my favorite place to do this is in Chicago.
This sentence if a little bit clunky and the passive voice isn't as effective as the active voice would be. Try something like: Observing the mannerisms, styles, and like of oblivious people entertains me; Chicago is my favorite place to people watch. It is a savings of five words. At this rate, you will need to add words.
Each person that passes by is diverse from the next one, whether it is in age, race, style, or perceived attitude.
Diverse is a word that I see as applying to a group, to the plural. Members of a group can be diverse. The leader of the group cannot be diverse. How about: People that pass by are diverse from each other whether in age, race, style, or perceived attitude. Another savings of four words. Look at the kinds of words that I am omitting from your constructions--the auxiliary verbs, passive forms of verbs, and those little filler words (in, that). Consider your sentences and how you could rewrite each one to say the same thing in less words.
The mixture of human culture in a large city is a spectacle that has intrigued me from a very young age.
Again, changing the verbs and other words strengths the sentence. The mixture of human culture in a large city creates a spectacle that has always intrigued me.
I know that I am hammering away at your essay. The savings of words doesn't seem to amount to much, but they do add up. If you can omit two to three words per sentence, think of all the extra space you will have to say what is important. People think that with longer sentences, they are saying more, but in reality, if many of those words are "fluff," they are saying less.
Use the limited word count to get in as much as you can to sell yourself. When you save a word, you are really earning a word that you can use later to your advantage.
I am going to quit here. You are a strong writer and I think that you are capable of working through this.
Here's a post that Sean wrote on verbs:
I think you will find his advice helpful.
Wishing you the best!