So, if there is a step one, it is this: read and understand the passage given. This understanding of the meaningful, of the So What, is what will allow you to write an insightful essay. When you have something to say, your voice will be heard in your writing and you will have a place to go. When you have something to say, all else falls into line to fit that purpose. When you realize, for example, that the passage from Obasan is about (for one thing) heroism in small acts of kindness, then you can write about the images that helped you see that. When you realize what the author wanted you to know, it suddenly becomes easier to see how she/he crafted the work to reveal the truth to you. You will see, almost as a revelation, that the structure of the passage gives us the universal contrasted with the individual. The hopelessness of the whole is contrasted with the hopefulness of the one. But until you see the human purpose in the writing, you won't have anything to say.
It seems the hardest thing for AP students to do is write literary analysis. Okay, then lets not call it that. Let's just say we're writing our ideas about a particular piece of writing. Why is it that when I supply thought-provoking questions about a novel or other work that the answers (small little essays, really) are often well-developed, thoughtful, empathetic responses that are, essentially, literary analysis, but when I present students with an essay prompt designed to effect the same result, the results are dismal and disappointing, not only for me but also for the writer. I am disappointed because I know what you can do. You are disappointed because you don't understand why you can't write.