November 15, 2020

Ace the AP English Literature Exam: Essay Hooks

hello welcome back to my channel my name is Carly Stevens I’m the author of the young adult fantasy novel Furion Rising and this is English nerd so last year when I posted my AP how to ace the AP exam videos about multiple-choice and the poetry and prose essays and the open question essay you guys asked me a lot of questions about how to write an effective hook and so that’s what this video is all about I wanted to give you five different ways methods to begin your essay effectively these are not the five only ways to begin your essay anything that really gets you started if you’re stuck is good enough but here are five ways that I found to write some sanaa C openings so these are geared toward an open question essay but they can be applied to any of the three types of essays on the AP literature exam so I’ve written everything down in this journal because apparently I’m super old-school and don’t have something electronic in front of me the prompt that I’m going to be working with is this just to kind of Center us on one idea and then create a few prompts from that the prompt is going to be this in some novels and plays certain parallel or recurring events proved to be significant in an essay describe the major similarities and differences in a sequence of parallel or recurring events in a novel or play and discuss the significance of such events do not merely summarize the plot okay so most of these prompts are really vague or really boring I mean this one literally says tell us about the similarities and differences everything in the known universe has similarities and differences it’s your job to make this interesting and specific so tip number one as far as beginning your essay you can begin with the thesis statement so essentially the argument that you’re going to make a lot of people are not able to gather their thoughts fast enough to start off with their first sentence as their thesis statement but if you are one of the lucky few or you have this great brain wave as you’re sitting the AP exam your thesis statement opening might sound something like this I’m going to use Macbeth as an example thunder and lightning uh sure in the witches and Shakespeare’s Macbeth through increasingly sinister scenes the witches guide Macbeth to destruction and the audience to an understanding that every person regardless of environment controls his own choices so that is what I came up with this morning that is a possible thesis statement that outlines your entire argument that you’ll be making through the essay now let’s say that you are not lucky enough to be able to figure out exactly what your thesis statement is right off the bat but instead you kind of have to find it and you’ll put that statement at the end instead what’s another way that you can start off that is really effective tip number two is to use a striking image in this case I’m going to use the Great Gatsby the eyes of dr. TJ eckleburg tower blue and piercing over George Wilson’s repair shop through yellow spectacles the monster size watch the characters from f scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as they fall prey to their sins so you’ll notice in both of these I’ve included not only the author in the work which is something you should do right up front it doesn’t have to be the first sentence but you should do it pretty early on but I’ve also thrown in these details so in the first one I talked about thunder and lightning assuring in the first appearance of the witches that’s literally the first stage direction man in Macbeth that’s something specific I talked about the yellow spectacles on TJ eckleburg it’s just that detail of saying that they’re yellow shows that I have read the book that I know what I’m talking about and that I didn’t just sparknotes something that is known to be a prominent symbol in the story so at anytime you can put in those little adjectives or those little things those little bits that you remember the better just general rule of thumb for all of these so you can do a striking image just paint a picture and then from there you can start developing your idea okay number three is to start off talking about the main message no matter what the prompt is for the APSA even if it’s not overtly stated what the AP graders are looking for is the main message and how different elements of the story or poem contribute to that overall message or meaning of the work so in the case of the prompt that I gave you there was no mention of the overall meaning but it did use words like significance and things like that so just assume that no matter what sort of essay you’re writing the main message is key so a way that you might want to begin with the main message I’m gonna use to kill a mockingbird for this one is this this one’s not my snazziest but forgive me it was sort of early this morning all right tequila Mockingbird by Harper Lee taught me to walk around in someone’s shoes before judging them as Atticus does with Tom Robinson so just not to recap everything I’ve talked about so far but you’ll notice that all of these cut to the chase there is no throat-clearing generality there is just talking about something that is specific and relevant to the book so walking around in somebody’s shoes before judging them that is a paraphrase of a really important quotation from tequila Mockingbird number four number four is kind of fun and you don’t want to get so caught up in this that you spend a lot of time developing this opening but if you just spend a couple of sentences it can be a really effective and fun way to begin your essay and that is the movie trailer turn Ameen I’m gonna use Lord of the Flies as an example for this one every book every good book should have several major turning points and those turning points are going to be important in your open question essay no matter what the prompt is you’ll need to know some of those major shifts in the narratives so in Lord of the Flies of course a couple of those major stuffs probably come to mind the first one that came to my mind as I was thinking about it was the well okay just spoilers you have not read Lord of the Flies please click away because I’m about to spoil something really huge but I assume that a lot of you have read this book because you’re an AP literature and you’ve gone through all of your high school curriculum which very often includes this the turning point that came to my mind was the death of Simon it’s the first murder that the boys commit and it’s really shocking and dreadful so with this idea of a movie trailer turn it’s kind of like that striking image you’re setting the scene of that turning point and elaborating from there using that as your launching off point to talk about whatever the prompt actually is so my opening that I created for that was this death is usually hideous not attended by starlight creatures and transformed into a work of art done then I would go on to talk about Lord of the Flies and the importance of the death of Simon and how it’s the first of several parallel scenes where the boys try to hunt the Beast and it gets increasingly increasingly worse so you can be you can be kind of dramatic what you don’t want to do is say something like since the beginning of time love there’s been a theme that’s boring mine is more specific even though I’m talking about these big ideas the idea of death being portrayed as hideous or as beautiful I mentioned the Starlite creatures transformed into a work of art the description of Simon’s corpse is just that that we have these moon how did that as the photo they put in moonlight bodies of the creatures that come around and as the waves come up and bring the sand over his body it’s described as Simon becoming almost like a marble statue so anyway you can use that movie trailer voice but don’t go so far out in the stratosphere that you are neglecting to say something specific that pertains to book last and not least number five number five is really if you are stuck and you’re not quite sure what to do this is a an almost foolproof way to get somebody’s attention it’s a bit of a cheap trick but it can be really effective if the rest of your essay starts making really great points and that is just choosing one word just starting with a fragment one word normally I’m against fragments but if you do it artistically there can be a place for it so I’m going to use heart of darkness as the book for this example the one word is this broken in Conrad’s heart of darkness everything is broken Marlow needs ribbons for the ships a shed burns cliffs are blasted apart Kurtz’s broken mind is the heart of darkness so we have a lot of drama there but we also start things off with a specific bang a specific hook so hopefully those were helpful for you obviously there are many other ways to begin an essay effectively but since I got so many questions about this before I wanted to create a video just for you guys and if you know of any other tricks to start an AP literature essay effectively put those in the comments below I’m sure that the entire community would benefit from hearing about those if you liked this video like it and make sure to subscribe for more content like this alright I’ll see you on Monday good luck on the AP exam bye

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