by Kaitlyn Sandvik
Before you begin the spiritual journey of crafting an insightful and masterful piece of literary analysis for your AP English class, it is absolutely essential that you understand the critical nature of displaying your own expertise on the complexities the author raised. If you learn one thing from this ridiculously well-written instructional material, let it be that you know the answers to questions the author asks, and you are a damn expert on it all. You could and should reduce the work of the writer into a neatly packaged and singular meaning based only upon your own life and perspective! For reliabilities sake, you should consult Sparknotes or Cliffnotes...but beware, do not resort to entering any form of dialogue at all with your peers, as that will only narrow your understanding of the novel and leave any questions you might have about a confusing text boiling. It isn't as though you should have been tracking important thoughts or noticing what you were noticing while reading, let's be real here, reading with a purpose is so 2010.
Anyway, once you need to start the essay writing process, you should get a bunch of super short quotes that are literal and do not have many literary devices in them to clutter your essay. A quick side note on quote work, never ever ever use complex sentences or the author's name in your essay. Many novices will make those mistakes-hell, those schmucks even analyze what is within the quote, instead of the highly superior method of looking outside the quote to your own thoughts and interpretations.
A complex sentence surrenders your control, don't forget that. While you're taking notes on that, be sure to also remember your essay can only be in the 5 paragraph form-it is the universal model that works best for every single essay. On to the good stuff, you are a brilliant scholar, you practically have won a Nobel Peace Prize, you have been on trips to save starving children in underdeveloped countries while simultaneously somehow teaching a class in an inner-city school the importance of under-water basket weaving over Skype-so you will slay this essay, you will assert your authority on the complex unanswered questions of life and love and death. At the mere age of 17, you have the wisdom of an old sage atop a mountain in Nepal, so please, feel free to enlighten us with the answers that the author could not find-make resolution, it is what you were born to do.
Next, I will address the beef of this burger...the introduction. You read that right, oh boy, I know...how exciting. The introduction is ideally a long, lingering ramble of abstract ideas you may or may not address in the body paragraphs. Write a thesis, but do not feel compelled to follow that line of inquiry-you don't owe anyone anything. But wait, you may ask, dropping that soggy Chipotle burrito onto your tear-stained copy of Mrs. Dalloway, "How did we already start the essay, I haven't even read the book!" Alas, for those of you rebels without a cause who did not read the book, you can resort to the class group chat, this of course, is the only time you will have discussed the book with peers (despite the forum, attempts to form a study group, restructuring of the entire class layout, etc.). You will seek fellow lonely souls for reassurance and spend your night scrambling together a killer essay (caution: while the essay will rock, you may enter an existential crisis at about 3AM, this will be induced from a conglomerate of the intensity of free indirect style and that burrito mentioned earlier). Now, for the body paragraphs. Basically, you have short quotes without antithesis, juxtaposition, or anything really important, their purpose is really for aesthetic appeal. We are not amateurs here, and for that reason we know that this essay is the last word we will ever have to say everything and anything we can about the book. Cram it all in there. Skim the surface, so long as everything is vaguely touched. You cannot leave anything out.
Hey, kiddos, we made it to the end and it's only 5AM! How exciting! Your conclusion. The longest paragraph in the whole masterpiece. This is where we raise new questions and musings that we have not discussed at all in the rest of the essay. It is here that we can start to explore our own tensions and the ambiguous nature of being a teen. Sure Clarissa and Septimus were dealing with some shit, but man, this essay isn't about them! Feel free to get real abstract in the conclusion, consider the existence of a god-does this god have a gender? What is water, really? Can I trust the NSA? Pretty simple, folks. That's it.
PS. Don't bother with spell check or revisions, best to let that "all-nighter" glow shine!