Ah, welcome to the wiki on the wonderful IOP. Note that all of these stem from personal experience and advice. If anybody feels the need to add anything, feel free to do so.
== Things You Should Know ==
The IOP is an excellent, easy way to get a 6 or 7. It also provides you with a gateway to do something creative, and explore interesting aspects of literature. As I found out, it's also a way to start learning how to really analyze literature well and love doing it. As geeky as that may sound!
Of course, you've got to work on it, but it won't be too hard. We're here to help, kid. ;)
Let's begin, shall we?
== Step 1 ==
Decide on your Material
Are you using a poem, a novel, an extract of a novel, two different pieces of literature?
It's best to pick the literature that really sparked your interest, and one that you will like to work on. Don't always go for the easiest choice - because it's not going to get your audience or your teacher involved and that's going to reflect on your grades.
== Step 2 ==
Before you do anything else, you have to analyze your literature first. Why, you ask? Because once you study it well, you'll know the topic you're going to choose and what type of activity will suit it best.
Use other sources when working, try to look at SparkNotes and other websites for information. (It's recommended not to use other sources like SparkNotes until you are done with your own analysis of the text.)
So how do we analyze it?
If you're using a poem, short extract, or short story, follow these steps VERY carefully. Hopefully, if you're covering a novel as a whole, or even two whole novels, you've already covered this step the first time you read it. If not, follow it now!
You should be spending a very long time on this step, perhaps a few days, so you really nail it.
=== A) Understand it ===
Because you're working with a short extract or short poem, read it and read it well. Look for anything interesting that you see, or something that seems to really stand out. Write down anything you notice. If you see a persistent idea, make sure you take a note of that.
The key idea in this step is that you UNDERSTAND exactly what this piece of literature is talking about, what it's saying. Understand the surface, and better yet, see what the words mean - the themes or underlying concepts. This is very important because it's going to help you with the next step.
=== B) Identify Tone, Language, Structure, Literary Features and Themes ===
Tone is the author's opinion and take on the topic. It is different from mood. Tone influences mood. Tone comes from the author, and mood is received by the audience. Tone can be found through the literary features, language, and structure.
Language: is it flowery, detailed, descriptive, simple, vulgar, etc? Does it use lots of imagery? What is the significance of the author's diction (word choice)?
Structure: How is it written? Is it one large sentence with no stops in between? How many stanzas? How many paragraphs?
Literary features: refer to the "How to Write a Poetry Commentary" section of IB English/Commentary. We're talking here about alliteration, imagery, figurative language, paradoxes, etc.
Once you've identified all of this, try to figure why the author has used them, what it MEANS as a collective. WHY has the author used this? What is the significance? Most probably, all these literary features are used to create an effect on the reader, and enforce a certain theme.
=== C) Annotate ===
Annotating is excellent, and those little colored stickies are even better! Write down everything that you noticed about the above: literary features and themes. Trust me, knowing the books that the IB chooses, your literature could be - and should be - FILLED with annotations. You'll get better at this as you practice.
You might be thinking that annotations aren't important. Trust me, they are. After you've identified all those literary features and themes, and then go off to eat dinner and sleep away until the next day, you're going to forget lots of crucial details about The Great Gatsby or Wuthering Heights or Great Expectations. Annotating saves time and also lets you see things visually which helps so much really.