Short Fiction Essay

Once you have decided on a thesis statement, you have a direction. That doesn’t mean that you are fully prepared to write. You need to map out your route. Many students write like a traveler with a somewhat clear view of where they want to be, one that starts driving in the general direction with no clear idea of the best path to take, ending up down side streets and getting trapped in dead ends. Basically, students who write like this end up taking unnecessary detours that prolong the trip without adding any real progress. In the end, the traveller, like the students, is just glad to arrive and be done with the trip. Believe me when I say that planning your paper can make things much easier and efficient. There are two main ways to do this. First, you can come up with main points, which is fine. This option is like using a map. You plan out each road and highway you plan to take meticulously before the trip. If you can conceive a clear path forward through a series of main points, I definitely suggest that you do so. However, most students have problems with this, which is why they often take the easy though decidedly more messy and inefficient way and just start writing. Most students deal with time constraints as well, which also steers them towards this option. However, there is another way forward. This method takes a little more time than just writing blindly, but it really allows the essay to write itself. The second method is a lot like using a GPS. You punch in the coordinates and then just have to follow the directions given to you with appropriate actions. Punching in coordinates in this case represents choosing your quotes. Most students just pepper in quotes as they push forward blindly through the essay. However, if you take the time to choose the quotes you want to use carefully and then arrange them as best you can in an order that seems appropriate, you can think of that as your way forward. You need two quotes per paragraph, and you need three paragraphs. That means you just have to choose six good quotes from the story that you think are the most important. How do you know which quotes are important? Keep in mind the GPS metaphor. You are essentially putting in coordinates for your destination, so you want to certainly keep your destination in mind as you do so. Think of your narrowed topic. You need to choose quotes that exemplify the element that you chose to focus on for your narrowed topic. For instance, if you are writing about characterization in “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” specifically how it works between the the lawyer and Bartleby, you would choose quotes that relate to how the narrator sees Bartleby, characterizing Bartleby and himself in the process. After that, you just need to finish establishing your coordinates by putting the quotes in a sequence that seems appropriate. The main reason I compare this to using a GPS is because of the next step. In the same way that you sort of allow the GPS to move you forward, you allow the quotes to direct your path. It is an automatic process, something that just happens. You write into and out of each quote, and then the essay is basically written for you. What do I mean by writing into and out of each quote? That’s easy. I swear! You do just like I do in our discussion boards. You introduce the quote for a couple of sentences, which means that you basically explain the moment in the story in which the quote appears very succinctly in your own words, and then, after the quote is provided (don’t forget your in-text citation!) explain how it connects back to your thesis. Do that twice per paragraph and Bam! you are done with your essay. I know it is easier said than done, but practice makes perfect.So, for this assignment, I want you to either provide me with your tentative thesis statement, narrowed topic and controlling idea, and then provide either three main points, each with a narrowed topic and a controlling idea, or six quotes. I suggest you do the quotes. In that way, it will just be an expanding of what you have been doing on the discussion boards. I call it “Leading with your Quotes.” I did it all throughout grad school, and I found it extremely efficient.

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