I'm sorry, but I just can't leave this one alone.
Another strategy: you could learn to write well, and forget all of
the dubious advice you've seen above about how to "fake it". Yes, I
am aware that SoberSephiroth is in heavy ironic mode (at least I hope
he is). Just in case anybody missed this, here it is for the record: none
of the above will work if the person grading your paper knows how to
write. If you taking an English course at a decent university, the
odds are that this is the case. At the first sign that the above
techniques are working, you should drop the course as soon as
possible, because (a) your professor is an idiot, or (b) said
professor is too busy with his or her research to be paying attention
to what you're writing, or (worse) is farming out the grading to
harried grad students who have no time and don't care.
My seminal experience in learning to write well was in English 201,
part one of a 2-course requirement for potential English majors. The
professor was a protégé of Paul de Man, and was (as one might expect)
extremely tough on the written word. Papers would come back marked up
everywhere, using most of the available margin real estate, and with
your argument torn to bits in a handwritten page of commentary on the
back. None of this was done in a malicious or holier-than-thou way,
but rather as intense, constructive feedback. On a few papers I think
he wrote more than I did. What he was doing, I realized after the
fact, was trying to teach us to write at an academic level. Trying to
help us eliminate, in other words, any last vestiges of the bullshit
techniques enumerated in the above writeups. Techniques that
irresponsible secondary school teachers would sometimes reinforce and encourage by
rewarding them with A's.
This professor also believed in writing as a process, so students
were encouraged to submit multiple drafts. One day I got a
draft back for a paper on an Andrew Marvell poem where he had
eliminated an entire paragraph (or was it two?). Just crossed them
out. They were valid points, but they weren't germane to the
argument, so they were sent packing. Nobody had ever done that to
something I'd written before. As they say in the Zen parables: at
that moment, I was enlightened.
Another anecdote: as part of the same English program, I took a course
taught by Toni Morrison. At one point she told us a story about the
process of writing Beloved. She sat down and plugged away at the
first chapter, and after a week she has fifteen pages of good
material. Then she worked on it for another week, and the fifteen
pages become ten. Then eight, then five. The more she worked, the
smaller (albeit better) it became. She found this to be a bit
distressing, but a friend consoled her: "look at it this way, in a few
months you'll have the perfect opening sentence."
Good (expository) writing isn't about flowery language, the inflation
of phrases with excess verbiage or the pursuit of banal tropes. It's
about communicating good, complex ideas well using the written word.
For most writers, even internationally-recognized Nobel-Prize-winning
great writers, it is as much about paring, editing, clarifying and
throwing out as it is about thinking and producing. The reason you
avoid the passive voice, for example, is not because English
professors have a strange fetish for the active one; it's because "The
English major composed the writeup" is less cumbersome and easier to
understand than "The writeup was composed by the person whose chosen
major was English".
"Choose a thesis that your professor/teacher cannot disprove"
"Symbolism can never be disproven, either"
You have an idea, and you support that idea with rhetoric and
examples. I can't "prove" to you that Hamlet's inaction is rooted in
his feelings for his mother or that Clarissa Dalloway is lost in a world of
evolving modern social structures or even that Ahab is monomaniacal. I can
only make an argument and then mine the text for bits that support
that argument. If you intentionally choose to argue something that is
"unprovable" because it has no basis in the text then you are most
likely just running around in verbal circles spouting gibberish, and
your grade should reflect that. If it doesn't then you should hurry up and get
another English teacher, because you're not learning a thing.