Thursday, November 22, 2007

How to Write a Five-Page Essay about Nothing

So here you are in your English class, or whatever class you happen to be in and your teacher gives you the assignment of writing a five-page essay. At first you gasp and groan, but when that doesn’t work you try to plead the case that this is cruel and unusual punishment, which might get you credit in social studies class, but in English? Don’t fret, however, if that doesn’t work. I have the perfect way to write long descriptive essays about absolutely nothing while making it fun and enjoyable.

First, I’d like to pay homage to my dear friend, the run-on sentence. Think about it. Instead of having a period then a new sentence, there’s a comma, three letter, then a new clause. Conjunctions are our friends. All those little things add up. Soon you’ll have taken up a lot of space without having actually written much of anything.

Now that you know your greatest weapon, it’s time to prepare the text. If the teacher doesn’t specify how to write the header, use as many lines as possible to write it. Write your name, the date, the assignment you’re supposed to be doing, the teacher, the period, the name of the book the assignment comes from, the name of the class, the time you started writing, and the school you come from. If you write the time and date you finished, however, the teacher might be suspicious, so don’t do that. Make sure your title is short. That way it can be a bigger font and still take up one line. Next, look at the maximum font size and go one over that. For example: if the maximum font is ten, try making your font eleven. The teacher can tell two or three, but one is too close to be sure. However, you will be able to take up more space with fewer words. Always double space for the same reason as listed earlier. Next, increase your margins. Although with everything else you may not need these, they do help to increase the length of everything. Now that you have done this, you are ready to start an essay.

First off, never begin with a thesis statement. Always start off with your own opinions on the assignment and how some people are naturally better equipped for it than other people and how being a good student doesn’t play into that. In fact, don’t even give a thesis until the second or third paragraph. Your teacher will view this as a very creative way of approaching the subject. She might even use this idea as an example in the future.

The key to writing a long-winded work is to make everything as vague as possible. This starts with the thesis. The more vague the thesis is, the more freedom you have to go off on tangents in your actual essay. Later I will discuss how to use this to your advantage. A good idea for making a thesis is taking the command from the assignment and changing it so that it is an actual sentence. For example: if the assignment is, “Find the similarities and differences between pigs and bats,” your thesis will be, “There are many similarities and differences between pigs and bats.” This will leave you a lot of room to navigate around this “interesting” subject. Afterward you can use an entire paragraph to say that while pigs and bats are very similar in some ways, they are very different in others, or how amazed you were to find so many similarities and differences between pigs and bats. After that you can start writing the body.
Start off by saying how much you hate doing this and then give a thesis statement. Also try to make the title and the header take up as many lines as possible, and remember: you want a short title. Okay, let’s write the body. The body is the longest part of your essay, so you have to make sure it’s as wordy as possible. This isn’t hard if you follow my simple pointers.

Point #1 Repetition is Key

Your teacher by this time should have taught you how to paraphrase. Now you can put that skill to good use. Paraphrase yourself as much as possible. You’d be surprised how many ways you can say the same thing over and over again. Also, two points take up a lot more space if you try to put them in the same space. One point will constantly be falling back on the first. This means that you can keep on switching back and forth between these two points, which brings me back to my previous point. If you learn to paraphrase, you can put fewer ideas into more space, which will make your essay seem longer, and two points which are closely related are a gift from God and should be used simultaneously instead of separately. It’s really that simple. You can make an entire essay out of the same two ideas repeated over and over again. You will find if you can paraphrase you can make an essay seem longer than it is.

Point #2 A Lesson on Quotations

Quotations are the best way to make an essay longer while still keeping its credibility. Try to use as many quotations as you can get without doing any work to try and get them. If you want to quote a passage from the Constitution, quote the entire Constitution on the claim that you want the reader to see the passage in context. Just remember to underline or otherwise mark the phrase you are actually using. When quoting a book, make sure you use as much of the book as you can. If you are writing a book report, just rewrite the book, changing a few words if the book is written in first person. Quotations are a great way to take up space while keeping up the appearance of legitimacy. Remember the words “read in context” and you are on your way to writing a great essay about absolutely nothing.

Point #3 Tangents are Fun

However, the best way to write on and on about nothing is to constantly stray from the subject at hand. Use as many tangents as possible. Try to lose your train of thought so many times that the essay at the end is not about the same subject as the beginning. Question the existence of alien life. The best way to go off on tangents is to mention a movie. This movie can then be connected to another movie, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to another, which can be connected to Alien: Resurrection, which brings me back to my previous point. Every essay can be connected either directly or indirectly to the possible existence of alien life or the advantages and disadvantages of having ESP. The great thing about this is you can use these topics over and over again as long as you don’t use it on the same teacher more than three times over the course of the school year. That means that you can make up a discussion that takes up to three pages and use it as many times as you like. This is the place where you get to have fun with your paper. When was the last time you had fun writing a paper? Isn’t it amazing that I figured out how to do it?

Point #4 Writing Persuasive Papers

Persuasive papers are the worst. It’s not that you can’t use the previous steps to make the paper longer. It’s just that you have to at least pretend to get to a point by the end of the paper. That means you actually have to think about it. Or do you? Here’s how I would go about writing a persuasive paper. First off, I would do everything I did before to get prepared, then I would write my thesis. Next I would make a point. Now this is where it changes. Once you make your point refuse to use proof on the grounds that proof is superficial; then try to prove that proof is superficial. Believe me, this proof will take up so much space, you’ll have five pages before you even know what you’re writing. Usually, you only have to write one persuasive paper per year (or even less) so this technique should work every time you get the assignment.

So you get this far, but you still have a little more space to fill and your teacher wants the essay to be exactly five pages (most teachers are anal). So what do you do? I’ll tell you what. (This is the most fun section.) If you need more space, use the space to question the mental health of your teacher. I promise you; this will provide an interesting and relevant topic for you (or at least to your life). Also, you can make it any length; from the very short, “P. S. You’re crazy” to something as long as 19 or 20 lines. I once knew someone who had a whole page left to fill and he saved his essay using this technique. It works.

Some Helpful Phrases for Your Perusal
1. “Which brings me back to my previous point”
2. “This reminds me of”
3. “So the reader can see in context”
4. “I still don’t know why this is important”
5. “I could just start writing gibberish”
6. “Man this is stupid”
7. “Pigs and bats are different because pigs can’t fly. Just a minute. Scratch that.”
8. “My back hurts from sitting so long”
9. “If I get carpal tunnel syndrom, can I sue you?”
10. The first sentence of any great novel
11. “P. S. You’re crazy”

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