At one point or another in your academic life, you’ll be assigned a creative writing essay, literary analysis essay, or another project that in some way has to deal with literature. If you want to impress your instructor with a strong and effective literature paper, you’ll want to take note of some simple tips outlined in today’s article.
#1 Use an analytical thesis
Undoubtedly, you’ve been told many times that any academic paper should revolve around a strong arguable thesis. Still, when it comes to crafting a thesis for a literary essay, most students simply restate the obvious facts about their literary work in their thesis statement. Needless to say, a weak thesis won’t bring you a desired grade, which is the last thing you as a student need. So, to craft an effective thesis, make sure to make it truly arguable and analytical. For instance, saying that in The Crucible, Arthur Miller masterfully shows how every character is concerned with the concept of goodness doesn’t make for a good thesis. Instead, you want to elaborate on your thesis statement and put more analysis into it. Thus, a strong thesis will be:
In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, a warped sense of goodness pushes the characters into committing unseemly deeds and behave hypocritically, which eventually results in their moral downfall in the eyes of the community.
In the latter example, the thesis both thoroughly analyzes the roots of the problem, exposes its consequences, and encourages the readers to follow an author’s argument and relate to them.
#2 Avoid a plot summary
To make your essay look professional and read well, you will want to avoid summarizing a plot of a literary piece under analysis. Of course, it’s acceptable to add a couple of sentences with a plot summary. You can do this to reinforce your argument or back up your position or opinion in the essay. Make sure all plot details are pertinent to your argument.
All in all, you won’t want to rely on a plot summary heavily. Remember that the main purpose of any academic paper is to advance a certain argument. And you should do so in your English paper or literary analysis essay. Just assume that your audience knows the narrative well and you won’t need to summarize much.
#3 Structure your essay based on the structure of your argument
It’s not the chronology of events depicted in the literary piece you’re analyzing that determined the structure of your essay. You can safely deviate it and structure your paper in the manner that allows developing your argument coherently and supporting your stance. This means that you can pick any evidence, as long as it pertains to your argument, from any part of your literary text and smoothly incorporate it into a single paragraph.
Most English papers, literary analysis essays, and close readings have a similar structure. As with any academic paper, you should start by presenting your thesis statement and then thoroughly defend it throughout your writing. Still, you should check your specific guidelines, essay prompt, or consult with your instructor. Occasionally, you might be asked to do a line-by-line or paragraph-by-paragraph reading of an assigned story or poem. So, you’ll want to double-check all requirements to build your argument and structure your paper properly.
#4 Use quotes to shore up your arguments
It’s impossible to craft an effective literary analysis paper without using quotes. Both direct quotes and paraphrasing can serve you well and add weight to your argument. That being said, you should take care to use quotes sparingly and always cite the original source properly.
It is also important that you contextualize the quotation by providing some information about it (mention the speaker, what part of the text it comes from, etc.). Then, let your readers know why you’ve picked exactly this quote and how it aids you in defending your position. Resolve the quotation you’re using into the meaningful parts and analyze them separately. And once again, don’t forget to relate them back to your argument. In other words, don’t use quotations just because your professor told you to do so. No quote that appears in your writing will be able to speak for itself unless you endow it with a voice.
Of course, there is a lot more you can do to make your literary essay shine. But today’s article outlines the very basic steps you’ll want to take to ensure your paper is a success.
Hope, you’ll get an A+!
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