Reference to The Fountainhead
Touchingly inept definition of a well-known cultural phenomenon: “Rock ‘n’ roll is a type of bouncy music that originated in the 1970’s…”
Misattribution of quotation: “As Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’”
Use of the word “Nowadays…”
The Catcher in the Rye reference, often misremembering the book’s conclusion.
“A ______________ team is like a family” about any team sport.
Use of the phrase, “According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary…”
Scorn heaped upon peers who make a certain mistake, followed by the writer making the same mistake herself: “Unlike my peers, I don’t need to use an acronym every time I want to share my emotional response, LOL.”
Writer takes a grim turn within list of rhetorical questions he poses in essay: “What is the main character’s desire? Do any of us have any desire? Is there anything worth desiring? Why are we here? Why?”
Commas instead of periods.
Broad declaration about the characteristics of all people: “Everyone loves pizza!” “No one likes Minnesota!”
Tautologies, e.g. “As a football player, I learned that the game is the reason we play the game.”
Touching attempt to find a positive despite overwhelming odds: “So in the end, even though we set our house on fire by mistake, and my dog lost that fight with the rattlesnake, and the rest of the town tried to tar and feather us, I learned that people are still really good.”
Semicolons subbed in for any punctuation except their actual use.
“Since the dawn of time, man has….”
Hint of a more interesting story not being told: “The day I got my college acceptance was the same day my English teacher was arrested for soliciting. I’ll never forget opening that letter from Duke…”
Attempt to butter up the teacher/professor: “As I’ve learned in the only helpful English class I’ve taken so far…”
Attempt to subtweet the teacher/professor: “While some would say Joan Didion is a wonderful writer, she isn’t.”
One enormous paragraph.
Assertion that writer was somehow the only member of a rather large demographic in area where he or she grew up: “As a child with glasses, I was the laughingstock of Peoria.”
Closing paragraph clearly exists to fulfill mandatory page count: “In conclusion, it is indeed true that The Scarlet Letter, a book by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a very, very good book that is worth having considered in this essay, as I have done in this essay, here.”