So, it is officially the month where loads of students are preparing to go back to class. If you’re anything like me you’re a little excited to be a few steps closer to finishing your degree but a little anxious. The start of the semester means homework, essays, and often reading and analyzing texts for class. Falling behind in reading happens then next thing you know you have an essay due at midnight on a book you haven’t touched. But don’t panic, help is here.
Before I start this post let me make this clear: you should always read the books assigned to you for the course. But, life happens and that’s why I wrote this guide. It’s time to write the paper related to the book and you’re lost because you didn’t finish it or maybe didn’t start it. Don’t panic, this is what you can do:
- Actually read some of the book: You may not be able to read the whole book but, try to read some of it. A good rule is the first chapter, the last chapter and a slither of the middle to at least get a taste for the book and what its about. Use this slither to form a thesis.
- Only use Shmoop, SparkNotes, and whatever for summary only. The analysis parts of both of these sites are extremely basic and do not delve into full detail. Shmoop is written by PhD holders and PhD candidates which is extremely reputable and would be your best resource but, when they write these analyses their degree isn’t on the table they’re writing for students rushing to understand a book they neglected.
- Find scholarly articles as I said above, PhD holders and PhD candidates are your best resource. Thankfully, a lot of dissertations are published each year. Run the title of your book through a scholarly article search engine and this is what will help you analyze the text for your essay. Pull every article with a title that draws your eye.
- If you did the step above and ran the title of the book depending on the book you may have got thousands of results. Especially if it’s a literary classic like Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird or Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Not only will you get a lot of results but most of them will focus on a series of different themes and concepts, try to stick with one that relates to your thesis. Maybe find one that doesn’t agree with your thesis and argue it in a paragraph using quotes and analysis. When you’ve pulled the titles read each thesis statement and see which aligns with what ideas in your head. Then eliminate the sources you do not need. The papers you pick also can be helpful when it comes to analyzing the quote you choose. Pay attention to how the scholars you choose analyze the quotes they select.
- Outlining your essay is more important if you haven’t read the text. The only time I outline my papers is when I have not read the text. Use your outline to show how the sources you chose prove or disprove your thesis then find quotes to further your thesis. Take your time with this, and jot down any new ideas that may pop up, also use this time to practice proper citing of each source, so you already have citation information written down when it is time for your works cited or references page.
- Write the paper, and take your time. Be sure to cite each source you use, and do not plagiarize. The sources are to support your idea not to create them.
- Next time, try to read the text.
Thanks for reading!