I've having a hard time getting started with my paper. What's a good brainstorming trick?
Hi! I would say my tried-and-true trick to brainstorming is to find a quiet place (or put on headphones) and either write on a piece of paper or on your computer a few ideas that are interesting to you for around five to ten minutes. I tend to make lists that branch off into a mind map. For example, if I'm writing a paper on The Scarlett Letter, I'll list the characters I'm interested in, how (and/or if) they connect to each other, and what images from the book are commonly around them. Recurring symbols can also then become their own branch, if you're more interested in analyzing those than characters. As your brain begins to buzz it's important not to censor yourself as your write. You want to make sure you're getting everything down; then later you can go back and circle or highlight what you want to delve further into. Brainstorming is supposed to be more open than writing a final draft, so try not to be too hard on yourself if it's not 'perfect' immediately. Drafts can always change, so it helps if you have all of your ideas down in one place.
I'm writing a paper on a poem/book for my English Literature class and I'm having difficulty getting it to 'flow.' How can I integrate my quotes and thoughts more cohesively?
Hello there! First of all, make sure all of your quotations, both direct and paraphrases, make sense with the thesis of your paper. Don't keep any extraneous information; instead, focus on your own 'so what?' response to said quotes. As you draft your paper you may have to let some go or replace them, so it's important to understand how they tie together for the sake of your argument. Second, find a good list of transitional words and phrases. This will be a key resource for all of your writing, especially if you're not used to it. Try a few out and see what works well with your examples and analysis. Read it aloud to yourself, or ask a friend to read it, to double-check that it's not awkward to read and/or say. Because chances are if it's awkward to say, it's awkward for your teacher or professor to read.
My class has started reading a book that's difficult for me and we have to write a paper on it. What should I be doing during this process to prepare for a draft?
Hi! When you're reading something difficult it always helps to ask your professor, or teacher first. They're there to help you grow as a writer and reader. Also, if you have a tutor or a tutoring center you can take your questions to them as well. In terms of pre-drafting whilst reading, I would say a good way to start would be to mark images, phrases, moments, etc... that occur throughout the book and categorize them. For example, if a book has a climatic moment, you can then trace the emotions of the character back to the beginning if you've marked when something has made them feel or do something. It doesn't matter what way you mark them (sometimes I tally in the back page of a book if I'm in a hurry), as long as you have something that grabs your attention when you get ready to write.