Literary Essay Writing Basics and Guidelines

The main purpose of any literary essay is to carefully evaluateand examine a famous work of literature. As with any otherevaluation or analysis, you need to break the chosen subject downinto component parts. Examining different elements is aneffective process that can help you better understand andappreciate a particular work of literature. For example, a reviewof any poem may deal with different images and relationshipsbetween its content and form. If you need to analyze a play,focus on relationships between its plot and subplot or characterflaws. When analyzing a short story, identify its specific themeand show how the author suggests this theme from a personal pointof view.

What Your Literary Papers Must Cover

Any type of academic writing is your focused and sharpenedexpression of study and thought. As you keep developing youressay writing skills, you also increase critical abilities andimprove personal perceptions. This assignment is all aboutdeveloping a certain idea. When it comes to literary papers, yourmain objective is convincing the audience that you support acentral idea. Unlike classroom discussions and ordinaryconversations, this type of writing should stick with your greatdetermination to a certain point of development, and it alsorequires your strict control and organization. That’s why youressay needs to have its thesis or central idea, a few bodyparagraphs that grow systematically out of it. Everything in itshould be directly linked to the main idea and contribute toreaders’ understanding of it. There are certain things that yourpaper must cover:

  • The topic that you write about;
  • A central idea stated in a thesis that governs its properdevelopment;
  • The right organization to make each part contribute somethingto readers’ understanding of the main idea.

How to Complete This Assignment

To write the best literary essay, you need to focus on the keyelements that can make it stand out. Expand and discuss them allto come up with a lucid and clear paper by taking a few basicsteps.

Developing a Strong Thesis Statement

Formulating your thesis is an important step, and it’s a sentencethat expressed the main idea of your essay while answering majorquestions. To achieve this goal, think about these questions:

  • What do you want to argue?
  • What is your reasoning?
  • How do you need to organize important evidence?

How to construct a great thesis statement? Make sure that it doesthe following:

  • Touching on the organization of a central argument;
  • Allude to a few major points that will be addressed in themain body;
  • Explain the importance of your key argument.

A thesis must be in an introductory paragraph, and it serves asthe introduction of your writing approach to the chose literarywork. In most cases, it’s placed in the end of this essay sectionto let the audience know what to expect from the main body. Yourthesis statement must be refined. If your essay evolves, you needto revamp it to sum up everything accurately.

Supporting the Main Argument in the Essay Introduction

It’s also necessary to write an intriguing and strongintroductory paragraph. This is where your academic paper starts,so its first impression should be quite interesting and assertivewhile encouraging readers to continue. Use the following ideas toget started:

  • Interesting questions and facts;
  • Relevant anecdotes or quotes, including dialogues and linesbased on the text that you analyze in your essay;
  • The acknowledgment of counterarguments;
  • Analogy, paradox, or irony.

Be sure to end the introduction with a thesis that seems to usherin the rest of your literary essay.

Supporting the Main Argument in Body Paragraphs

The next step is writing convincing and logical body paragraphs,and this is where you need to provide the audience with enoughevidence for a central argument. A standard body contains 3paragraphs, through longer papers may require more. Consider theevidence that you have to make an assertion. How is it linked toyour overall theme? Is there anything that you leave out?

It’s advisable to perform your close reading and evaluatedifferent factors in this assignment. You may need to discuss thedevelopment of major characters and focus on their individualchanges. You can focus on their fatal flaws and examine theirmistakes too. Think about the settings and themes of a specificliterary work, and emphasize on effective ways in which theycontribute to its overall quality.

Your literary paper will fail if you ignore the elements thatdon’t fit your thesis statement. Ensure that the main argumentdoesn’t select the parts of the text that are ignored andaddressed. Focus only on one major idea in a separate paragraph,and you don’t need to include all the evidence that you have inone idea.

You also need to consider the context. For example, if authorsuse symbolism and other popular literary devices that obscure thereal intent of their works, research their experiences. Whathappened in their lives? Can your major argument fit thosecircumstances easily? This technique should only advance acertain point of view about the given text. Feel free to arguethat it’s a product of its time period and culture, but don’tforget to give enough details about its historical aspects bothwithin and outside the text. You shouldn’t hesitate to use allmatching secondary sources when possible, including the articlesand books that:

  • Discuss the same text;
  • Focus on any theory related to it;
  • Discuss its social or historical context.

Supporting the Main Argument in the Conclusion

Your literary paper should ends with a strong and logicalconcluding paragraph. This essay section summarizes the overalltext, and it must drive home all the important points made inforegoing elements. It also needs to touch on the implications ofyour central argument while doing the following:

  • Suggesting next steps;
  • Avoiding to reiterate all points repetitively;
  • Drawing connections between the context and the genre.

General Essay Writing Guidelines

First, you need to choose quite a captivating title for yourliterary essay. Many students postpone this step until theirpapers are ready and fully formed or their arguments are clear.You should complete this assignment in the present tense,regardless of the time the chosen literary work was written.Professors also advise students to write this academic paper inthe 3rd person and avoid using the first one. Sometimes, teachersmay let you express a certain level of enjoyment while reading agiven text. It’s also possible to discuss its key qualities andother significant details. Use a variety of literary termsbecause they can make your essay sound more balanced,thought-out, and well-informed. As an example, you can use thefollowing tools:

  • Hyperboles or exaggerated claims and statements that aren’tmeant to be used for an emphasis or effects and be takenliterally;
  • Allusions or brief and indirect references to well-knownevents or characters;
  • Metaphors or some figurative language that you use to make astatement that says that one thing is something else, while it’snot;
  • Irony or references to how specific situations, people,circumstances, and statements aren’t as they actually seem;
  • Similes or comparisons where one thing is connected withanother.

It’s worth using available secondary sources because they canhelp you support the main argument, but ensure that they remainsecondary. You should use other authors’ opinions only as paddingfor your arguments, and you can find them in many possible ways,such as asking your professors or checking a local library.

Common Things to Be Avoided

  1. Avoid simply summarizing the plot because your essay is meantfor analyzing, not summarizing.
  2. Avoid plagiarizing when completing this academic assignmentbecause you’ll end up with an automatic fail;
  3. Avoid confusing the words of characters with a viewpointoffered by authors. They are mutually exclusive things, so ensurethat a central argument addressed only one of them.

Polishing and Editing Your Essay

Check your academic paper for any grammar or spelling mistakes.You can use automatic spell-checks, but they aren’t 100%accurate. Ask other people to review your essay because you maybecome oblivious to obvious flaws or mistakes, so let yourfriends check its clarity, content, and grammar. Make sure thatyou meet the necessary formatting requirements, including pagenumbers, margins, and sources. Review each paragraph of yourpaper to ensure that it’s logical and interesting.

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