Critique My Opening

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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emkay625
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Critique My Opening

Postby emkay625 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:29 pm

Hi TLS-

I just started writing and I wanted feedback on my opening. I will clean up and prettify the rhetoric later, but for now, do you all like the concept or should I scrap it? Thanks in advance.

Any performer will tell you that the most magical moment in theatre happens before the show has even begun. The moment that means the most is the split second of anticipation on opening night that occurs after the house lights have dimmed, the curtain has gone up and the audience waits with baited breath for the actor with the first line to speak. For the actor, this moment is everything. In that second, as a performer, you are filled with a mix of adrenaline, hope and excitement unmatched by any other.

This moment exists inside the four walls of a classroom, too. I learned this the hard way, gulping nervously, last August while standing in front of 37 fifteen-year-olds who were waiting to hear what I, their Algebra I teacher, had to say on the first day of school.
Last edited by emkay625 on Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Green Glass Windows
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby Green Glass Windows » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:37 pm

I love LOVE the imagery of the first paragraph, and I see how it parallels the second paragraph very well but it still seems like kind of an abrupt transition. Are you/ were you a performer yourself? If so, would it be possible to link the two a little more clearly? You could say something like, "when I switched from performing to teaching I was surprised to find that this moment exists inside the classroom as well..." Otherwise it seems like an overly broad intro about something you haven't experienced first-hand.

Mal Reynolds
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby Mal Reynolds » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:38 pm

emkay625 wrote:Hi TLS-

I just started writing and I wanted feedback on my opening. I will clean up and prettify the rhetoric later, but for now, do you all like the concept or should I scrap it? Thanks in advance.

Any performer will tell you that the most magical moment in theatre happens before the show has even begun. The moment that means the most is the split second of anticipation on opening night that occurs after the house lights have dimmed, the curtain has gone up and the audience waits with baited breath for the actor with the first line to speak. For the actor, this moment is everything. In that second, as a performer, you are filled with a mix of adrenaline, hope and excitement unmatched by any other.

This moment exists inside the four walls of a classroom, too. I learned this the hard way, gulping nervously, last August while standing in front of 37 fifteen year olds who were waiting to hear what I, their Algebra I teacher, had to say on the first day of school.


I think the bolded is a little wordy. Good sentiment but I would try make it more concise? I think it's pretty good though, come back and post a few edits and you can make it effective.

Also fifteen-year-olds, don't forget the hyphens.

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emkay625
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby emkay625 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:39 pm

Green Glass Windows wrote:I love LOVE the imagery of the first paragraph, and I see how it parallels the second paragraph very well but it still seems like kind of an abrupt transition. Are you/ were you a performer yourself? If so, would it be possible to link the two a little more clearly? You could say something like, "when I switched from performing to teaching I was surprised to find that this moment exists inside the classroom as well..." Otherwise it seems like an overly broad intro about something you haven't experienced first-hand.


I am! (slash was). Thanks for the advice - you're definitely right, I need to link it somehow.

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emkay625
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby emkay625 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:40 pm

Mal Reynolds wrote:
emkay625 wrote:Hi TLS-

I just started writing and I wanted feedback on my opening. I will clean up and prettify the rhetoric later, but for now, do you all like the concept or should I scrap it? Thanks in advance.

Any performer will tell you that the most magical moment in theatre happens before the show has even begun. The moment that means the most is the split second of anticipation on opening night that occurs after the house lights have dimmed, the curtain has gone up and the audience waits with baited breath for the actor with the first line to speak. For the actor, this moment is everything. In that second, as a performer, you are filled with a mix of adrenaline, hope and excitement unmatched by any other.

This moment exists inside the four walls of a classroom, too. I learned this the hard way, gulping nervously, last August while standing in front of 37 fifteen year olds who were waiting to hear what I, their Algebra I teacher, had to say on the first day of school.


I think the bolded is a little wordy. Good sentiment but I would try make it more concise? I think it's pretty good though, come back and post a few edits and you can make it effective.

Also fifteen-year-olds, don't forget the hyphens.


Thank you!!

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Chambo
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby Chambo » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:42 pm

I think this could work really well. I know the feeling well and I'm actually considering using something similar for my opening. An English teacher once told me that it can be great for an opening to get something of an emotional (or better yet, physiological) reaction in the reader.

I guess it all depends on how you're tying together the acting, teaching and whatever other things you want your PS to say.

Also, wouldn't it be 15-year-olds?

Mal Reynolds
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby Mal Reynolds » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:44 pm

Chambo wrote:I think this could work really well. I know the feeling well and I'm actually considering using something similar for my opening. An English teacher once told me that it can be great for an opening to get something of an emotional (or better yet, physiological) reaction in the reader.

I guess it all depends on how you're tying together the acting, teaching and whatever other things you want your PS to say.

Also, wouldn't it be 15-year-olds?


It works either way. The general rule is you should spell out numbers that are less than ten but I usually do less than twenty just so I don't risk sounding informal.

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Chambo
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby Chambo » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:53 pm

Mal Reynolds wrote:
Chambo wrote:I think this could work really well. I know the feeling well and I'm actually considering using something similar for my opening. An English teacher once told me that it can be great for an opening to get something of an emotional (or better yet, physiological) reaction in the reader.

I guess it all depends on how you're tying together the acting, teaching and whatever other things you want your PS to say.

Also, wouldn't it be 15-year-olds?


It works either way. The general rule is you should spell out numbers that are less than ten but I usually do less than twenty just so I don't risk sounding informal.


That's the way I usually like to do it, too but profs have snagged points from me for it. Maybe just call them ninth-graders to satisfy any would-be APA Nazis?

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emkay625
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby emkay625 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:54 pm

Chambo wrote:
Mal Reynolds wrote:
Chambo wrote:I think this could work really well. I know the feeling well and I'm actually considering using something similar for my opening. An English teacher once told me that it can be great for an opening to get something of an emotional (or better yet, physiological) reaction in the reader.

I guess it all depends on how you're tying together the acting, teaching and whatever other things you want your PS to say.

Also, wouldn't it be 15-year-olds?


It works either way. The general rule is you should spell out numbers that are less than ten but I usually do less than twenty just so I don't risk sounding informal.


That's the way I usually like to do it, too. Maybe just call them ninth-graders to satisfy any would-be APA Nazis?


Ooo good call. This is especially helpful as about 8 of them were ninth-grade repeaters.

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pupshaw
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby pupshaw » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:02 am

The last sentence of the first paragraph contains a faulty parallelism. Should finish with "unmatched by any other feeling" or something similar.

Edit: sorry--you were just looking for feedback on the concept and general tone, I guess, which I think are very good.

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emkay625
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby emkay625 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:27 am

cerealdan wrote:The last sentence of the first paragraph contains a faulty parallelism. Should finish with "unmatched by any other feeling" or something similar.

Edit: sorry--you were just looking for feedback on the concept and general tone, I guess, which I think are very good.


All thoughts are welcome and appreciated! Thank you - will definitely fix it.

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pupshaw
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby pupshaw » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:31 am

Oh also it should be "bated breath," not "baited."


Ok, that's enough grammatical nitpicking.

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briviere
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby briviere » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:53 am

emkay625 wrote:Hi TLS-

I just started writing and I wanted feedback on my opening. I will clean up and prettify the rhetoric later, but for now, do you all like the concept or should I scrap it? Thanks in advance.

Any performer will tell you that the most magical moment in theatre happens before the show has even begun. The moment that means the most is the split second of anticipation on opening night that occurs after the house lights have dimmed, the curtain has gone up and the audience waits with baited breath for the actor with the first line to speak. For the actor, this moment is everything. In that second, as a performer, you are filled with a mix of adrenaline, hope and excitement unmatched by any other.

This moment exists inside the four walls of a classroom, too. I learned this the hard way, gulping nervously, last August while standing in front of 37 fifteen-year-olds who were waiting to hear what I, their Algebra I teacher, had to say on the first day of school.


ohai!

The bolded phrase above is redundant; if removed it will be implied by the first sentence. Also, (this might be simply a personal preference from editing for narration) you have some great images there so why not let their verbs speak for themselves? All in all I do like where you're going with the passage. I want to know what happens next which is great.

--
Any performer will tell you that the most magical moment in theatre happens before the show has even begun. The moment that means the most is The split second of anticipation on opening night that occurs after the house lights have dimmed, the curtain has gone up, and the audience awaits with bated breath for the actor with the first line to speak to deliver the opening line. For the actor, this moment is everything. In that second, as a performer, you are filled with an unmatchable mixture of adrenaline, hope, and excitementunmatched by any other.

--
okbai!

kublaikahn
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby kublaikahn » Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:07 am

This is a great intro. I just wouldn't say I learned that the hard way. And you may follow with a brief explanation of why that moment (not "this' moment, by the way) is so 'magical'. The correlation can come next. Everyone sees the relationship superficially, drive it home with a deeper connection between a theater audience and a classroom of kids, a performer and a teacher, a story and a lesson. Or whatever.

Is it really about the relationship with the audience, getting them to buy into your object, your credibility. The audience has to believe right away that they are in a different place and time, no?

FloridaCoastalorbust
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby FloridaCoastalorbust » Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:11 am

You will obviously produce a final piece of good quality and prose - it sounds like you are asking if the theme you're beginning to establish will make for an interesting topic. Very much so. Keep the body from stagnating, end with a solid conclusion and you will have an excellent PS.

omega918
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby omega918 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 3:30 am

I really like where you are going with this. I think it could be stronger, though, by telling the first paragraph from your own perspective. Rather than "Any performer will tell you..." I want to hear about what you specifically felt in one of these instances. Then, in the next paragraph, you can reconnect with this feeling. Something like, "Who knew, _____ years later, I would experience this same feeling before a class full of ninth graders, as I was about to start my first Algebra 1 lesson" or something along those lines.

I feel like we have very similar experiences (both as performers and teachers). If you're interested in switching, PM me when you're done. I am still fleshing mine out, but should have a rough draft in the next couple of days.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:40 am

It's difficult to assess an opening paragraph without reading the concluding paragraph. Unfortunately, "baited breath" (should be "bated breath") interrupts the flow.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Critique My Opening

Postby blsingindisguise » Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:54 am

The person who changed "waits with bated breath" to "awaits with bated breath" is wrong. The preposition that it links to is "for." You wait for something, you do not await for something.

TBH though I would take that phrase out altogether -- massive cliche.

In fact, sorry to be a dissenting voice but I don't really like using the theater metaphor as an opener unless the essay has something to do with theater. It's like you're using theater to get to teaching and then teaching to get to law school and that seems like too many steps. It would be fine if it were just an essay about teaching.




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