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How to Write a Good Literary Analysis Essay: Step by Step

How to Write a Good Literary Analysis Essay: Step by Step

Published by on 2021-04-14 08:46:46

Writing a literary analysis essay is a common academic assignment at numerous colleges. If you are planning to compose this type of paper, it is necessary to understand the core concepts of literary analysis, research deeply, and come up with your own views regarding the plot or the main issue described in your paper. Below you will find a guide to writing the literary analysis essay in the most productive way. Just follow these basic rules to represent the most impressive paper in a class with minimum effort. 

The Literary Analysis Essay Definition and Basic Concepts 

This type of academic assignment is developed to help students learn how to make an effective and advanced argumentative analysis of a particular piece of literature. You are expected to examine it, show off the results of your analysis, and structure your thoughts in a top-notch and concise way. 

Of course, you can find an example of the literary analysis essay online and follow the same structure when writing your own project. However, the basic points and arguments of your essay might significantly vary. The reason is that learners need to analyze different literature pieces (for example, a book, an article, a poem, etc.) The length of your paper might also be different. 

The Purpose of the Essay

Before you move on to the writing part of this assignment, you need to form a clear vision of the task. Hence, you need to understand what this work is, what it should have in it, and why you are doing it in the first place. Thus, before you move on to the analysis outline, you need to understand its purpose. 

Your goal is to explore the text in detail, often in regards to a particular area of the work. It can be the use of language, metaphors, structure, and so on. Your professor can give you the freedom to choose the element for the analysis or assign specific instructions on the matter. It is important to understand the purpose of your writing, as, for instance, a literary analysis research paper outline will be different from a literary analysis essay outline. One will be more formal and based primarily on the research. The other will be more free-spirited, with your opinion at the core of it.

However, before you learn how to write a literary analysis essay outline, you need to learn how to read the text and choose your further focus areas. 

Identifying Key Areas for the Paper

Just reading the text is not enough for a paper like this. You need to understand it. You need to underline areas that are of the most interest to you. These can be the elements that make the text original, different, or so well-written. Overall, there are many standard areas that you can choose before starting your literary analysis paper outline. Here are just a few of them: 

  • narration;
  • voice (first-person or third-person and why);
  • time sequence (chronological, reverse, or else and why);
  • language choices (metaphors, complexities, irony, similes, etc.);
  • character building;
  • structure;
  • settings;
  • genre and tone.

All of these areas have to be considered before you make your final take on the essay. You can go with a few of these elements if they correlate and complement each other. However, try to narrow down your topic.

What Should You Write About in Your Paper? 

Some features and key points should be present in your essay regardless of the literature type you analyze. Here is a list of the basic facts, concepts, and ideas you need to include in your essay:

  • literature genre;
  • advanced description of the protagonists;
  • extended plot analysis;
  • author’s writing style and tone;
  • the topic review.

The Best Way to Write a Literary Analysis Essay 

First of all, it is vital to determine the requirements for your academic assignment. As a rule, your college advisor or high school teacher provides all the necessary info regarding the writing rules. Moreover, you can often find a sample of the literary analysis essay in the guidelines provided by the professor. This should be your starting point for writing an excellent academic paper. It is also important to pay attention to the required volume and formatting style for your assignment. 

Deal With Language Shoices

Before deciding how to write a literary analysis essay, you need to check the author's style and sentence type. Some writers prefer a long and flowery structure. But this is not true for all people. Some authors prefer laconic language, poetic comparisons, and rhyme.

Very often, sentences can contain metaphors, allegories, or references to other works. Fantasy and imagery in the text is a key point that should not be overlooked. The visualization of episodes and plot structures depends on these two elements.

Adhere to Narrative Voice

It is very important to decide who and how tells the story. How to write a literary essay step by step? Read the first few pages. Usually, the narrator is a neutral hero or directly involved in the story. Pay attention to how the information is presented. The narrator may know everything in advance or gradually participate in plot episodes not knowing how the story will end.

Besides, the information you receive may be false or incomplete. This is a common scripting trick for plot twists and unexpected introductions of new scenes or characters. And don't forget to pay attention to your tone of voice. The narrator can share information in a specific genre. It can be a comedy, a tragedy, or a mix of fantastic elements and historical facts.

Start Reading

Read the entire text from beginning to end. You can take important notes during this process. Take short bookmarks so you don't forget about certain literary tricks. Plus, at this stage, you can analyze the author's style. How does he or she reveal characters or convey information to readers? How many short or long word constructs do you see? Are there metaphors, analogies, or references to religion and other authors in the text? These are all important for your paper.

Create a Thesis

Your thesis is like a red thread that runs throughout your paper. This key argument is important to shape all paragraphs into a coherent whole. Plus, you need your thesis to be arguable. Let's say you disagree with the author's position or think that the story arc is devoid of key elements.

Next, you should find evidence of your judgment. Most likely, you will have to look for reliable sources and other reviews and make a list of points to express your point of view. That's how to start a literary analysis paper.

Pay Due Attention to a Title and Introduction

You should spend a lot of time on your title. The point is that you should be laconic and find a kind of "trigger" or "hook" that will help your paper look more interesting. Feel free to use direct quotes or mention the author. Here are some examples:

  1. "The eternal fight against prejudice": The violence of creation in William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."
  2. "Symphony of friendship": Unity of ideas and purpose in Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
  3. "Immortal willpower": The endless pursuit of life in Jack London's "The Sea-Wolf."

You can experiment with your title and finalize it as soon as you have completed all the body paragraphs. Now let's discuss the introduction. Typically, you should add the aspect that your analysis will focus on. Indicate your goals and methods of achieving them.

Remember That Good Body Matters

So it's time for real action. Now you know how to write an introduction to a literary analysis paper. Let's take a look at how you should start your body paragraphs. It's very simple. Typically, you will need to write three paragraphs, each of which will focus on a different aspect. In addition, you need to give reasons for your judgments and give specific examples. It's worth noting that you must find good supporting evidence to be convincing.

Make a Strong Conclusion

The final part of your paper should be simple and concise. You should not add new quotes or arguments. You have already said everything you wanted in the previous paragraphs. Now your task is to summarize all your statements to emphasize the significance of your thoughts. Indicate what conclusions you came to during the analysis of the article, short story, or poem.

Literary Analysis Essay: Structure and Example 

When reading a book you are planning to write about, always make notes to point out the most unique and exclusive writing styles, plot twists, emotions, and other essential features you will describe in your academic project. This prompt might help you create a polished textual analysis essay outline in no time. 

As for the essay structure, here is an example of a top-notch solution that will surely give extra points to the writer:

  • The Introduction:
    • the basic info about the literature piece;
    • a brief and striking thesis statement. 
  • The main part: 
    • the style of writing;
    • main topic and tone of the writer;
    • role of the key figures (main characters);
    • strong and weak points of protagonists;
    • subplot (if any);
    • exclusive storyline elements. 
  • The conclusion:
    • tight connections with the introduction;
    • your own opinions and suggestions.

If you take a look at a sample of the essays, you will definitely notice that most of them have a similar text structure. You can put it into practice, too, in order to achieve the best writing results and get the highest grade for your assignment. 

Useful Tips for Writing a Relevant Literary Analysis Essay

Are you ready to start working on the literary analysis essay? Here are a few important tips that will draw you to the desired results. 

Make Clear Topic Sentences

Since your assignment is related to analysis, then you should clearly state your thoughts. You are probably better off starting with short sentences. This is important for body paragraphs. Thanks to brevity and conciseness, you can compensate for the lack of long logical chains. The most important requirement is meaning. You should clearly state your thoughts in each paragraph.

Pick Good Evidence

If you think that the author is wrong or if you want to emphasize the importance of a statement, then you should think about clear evidence. If you have aces up your sleeve, then your paper will be more convincing. Thanks to this, you can comment on any part of a poem or novel and not be afraid to be unfounded.

Contrasting Opinions Matters

Many students are afraid to use opposing points of view, but this is fundamentally wrong. The point is that you can greatly strengthen your argument by using someone's expert opinion as an example. Alternatively, you can achieve contrast by providing multiple arguments and explaining why the opposite position is wrong.

Do Not Abuse Plot Summaries

Don't forget that your main goal is analysis. You don't need to retell the entire story arc, side events, or other details. Try to explain the key aspects of the book you read briefly. Focus only on those parts of the text that resonate with your assignment. For example, you can check the main character's motivation or the author's attention to detail. This approach will show that you have done a great job and that your analysis is of value.

Avoid Generalizations and Oversimplifications

Many students tend to generalize and simplify. There is nothing wrong with this as long as your actions do not conflict with the goals of your assignment. Try to pay attention to crucial facts and quotes if important to your analysis. Here are a few generalizations that will get you in the way of good grades:

  1. "All men believe that…."
  2. "It's no secret that…."
  3. "Love is the answer to all questions…."

Most Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Literary Analysis Paper

  • failure to meet the basic essay requirements and wrong paper structure;
  • blurred or improper introduction that lacks basic info about the chosen literature piece;
  • weak arguments and examples in the main part of the academic paper;
  • adding new facts, concepts, examples, or ideas in the conclusion;
  • missing analysis but providing only plain descriptions of the story’s plot;
  • no connection between introduction and conclusion;
  • the main idea of the paper is not corresponding to its topic;
  • lack of attention to the main characters;
  • no description of the unique features of a selected literature piece;
  • describing the same fact several times;
  • numerous grammar and spelling mistakes.

Final Words 

Composing a successful literary analysis essay often appears to be too complicated for thousands of learners. There are plenty of reasons why you can’t cope with this type of assignment. Some students have some issues with making a profound analysis, while others lack professional writing skills or don’t like reading. 

The most important thing here is that you don’t need to explain any reasons or have excuses why you need help with completing your assignment. Our experts are ready to assist you on any writing stage, proofread, or write the entire essay for you from scratch. We understand that the writing process is often challenging and can give you a helping hand without any judgment. If you are searching for a reliable and top-quality solution to get your academic assignments done, don’t hesitate to contact us anytime.