A literary essay explains the contextual meaning behind a piece of literature while paying attention to specific details, such as structure and style. This essay form also gives its author a chance to argue complex points in the text by comparing his viewpoint to critical analysis of the piece. The structure of a literary essay is a series of paragraphs stating, building upon, and proving, then reiterating your points in a conclusion.
Organizing a Literary Essay
- Read the piece of literature you will be writing about. Reread any sections that are confusing. Take notes on notecards about major elements of the text, including structure, style, point of view, plot and subplot.
- Read books and articles that discuss various aspects and opinions of the piece of literature you are writing about. Arrange notecards in front of your work area while you study these critical texts. Write down and even highlight any points in the critical texts that you want to incorporate into your essay.
- Arrange notecards in front of your after you are finished reading the text and any critical analysis of the text from other sources. Include the name of the author an title of the text you are citing on your notecards. Choose a point of view that you would like to expand on about the piece of literature.
- Write a topic, or thesis sentence, that makes it clear to your audience the text you are studying and the viewpoint you will be discussing. The scope and argument of your viewpoint, and whether it supports the critical analysis or refutes it, will determine the length and structure of your literary essay. Refer to your notecards about the text and the analysis as you write.
- Arrange your essay in a paragraph structure. Though similar to the more elementary five-paragraph essay form, the literary essay takes longer to explain and develop its point. Write two to three opening paragraphs about your viewpoint and to alert readers on what specific aspects of the text you will discuss in the body of the essay.
- Write multiple paragraphs, depending on the scope of your theme, to argue your viewpoint about the text. Analyze the analysis, deepen the reader’s understanding of the text, highlight specific plot points, argue for or against other analysis.
- Write concluding paragraphs to end the essay, making sure to reiterate your viewpoint and add an additional fact or two about the literary text. Include a works cited page at the back of your essay to list all the source materials researched for your essay.
- name two ways that the writing process for essays and research papers is similar
- Name two ways that the writing process for essays and research papers is similar Be specific
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An essay is a short composition about a particular topic that is usually written from a personal perspective. Many students balk at essay writing; the mere thought of starting the assignment brings stress and anxiety. Students and instructors have identified common pitfalls experienced or encountered in the writing process. A frequently cited difficulty is writer’s block, a generic category which springs from various causes. Other weaknesses involve content, organization and grammar issues.
Treatment of Topic
Students may claim that the assigned topic is boring, vague or tough. The rebuttal is to be resourceful and creative. Look for an interesting angle. Scale the subject down to a manageable chunk or tweak it to a comprehensible level. On the other hand, if they’re given a choice of topic, students may be undecided, or keep changing their minds and take too long to make a final decision. The practical solution is to pick a topic with which they are familiar, or about which they are passionate or curious to learn more.
Planning and Preparation
Another deficiency lies in inadequate time and effort spent in organizing the outline, conducting research and writing the draft. Too often students dash off the writing assignment at the last minute just to meet the submission deadline. Some students go the other extreme by being perfectionists. They get overwhelmed with too much research and information overload, bogged down with unnecessary detail, or stuck with revising their work over and over. With proper guidance and mentoring, students can strike the right balance to devote just enough attention and energy to the essay.
Content and Value
The substance and quality of the essay can suffer for various reasons. For example, an essay in an argumentative genre requires supportive evidence to prove the writer’s point. The lack of authoritative sources, factual data or concrete examples weakens his position. He fails to convince the readers of the truth of his assertion or persuade them to his point of view. Poor choice of words can also affect the overall impression that the written work makes. Bland, safe words such as “nice” or “good” lack the rich nuances of meanings that imaginative rephrasing can improve. Cliches that have outlived their punch rob the essay of originality. The trick is to research and rewrite.
Organization and Structure
In a coherent essay, the central theme is clearly established in the introduction, developed in the body and synthesized in the conclusion. Without a smooth transition and logical progression of thought from one section to the other, the essay becomes a rambling work, lacking clarity of purpose and focus. Another danger is a lame ending that falls short of nailing down the concepts. These concerns can be resolved by reviewing and revising to achieve the essay’s objective and create a strong impact.
Grammar, which encompasses language rules from syntax to spelling, presents a host of problems. Sometimes the fault lies in simple carelessness. Neglecting to proofread or to pay attention to detail deducts points from an otherwise articulate work. The rubrics of subject-verb agreements and spotting dangling modifiers may not be a student’s strong suit, but with patience and practice he can master these intricacies.
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As a student, your teacher may ask you to analyze a narrative. The very words may seem daunting, but rest assured all your teacher is asking you to do is analyze a story. A narrative is a story that may feature several themes, plots and characters. To analyze it, you need to examine the story focusing on a particular literary device or character that you want to discuss. To do this successfully, you need to have read the text and be able to discuss a certain aspect of the text that interested you.
Interact with the text. If you want to analyze a text, you need to have interacted with it. This can mean annotating your reader responses in the margins, asking questions and making statements. All this will help you understand the text more thoroughly and will enable you to do a better job analyzing it. Look at all the information you have written down. Answer some basic questions: What does all this information mean to me? How does this relate to my text? What conclusions can I draw from this?
Examine the text from a specific point of view based on your questions and your responses. Write down some of your ideas. Make a list of three to five ideas/reactions that you feel comfortable discussing. Identify which idea you can best talk about and start developing another list based on that one idea. Now what do you have to say about this narrowed down topic? This process will enable you to identify your topic.
Make connections and draw conclusions. Avoid summarizing the text because that is not analyzing. You need to now respond to the topic you have identified earlier. Write down what you have to say about your subject. Draw conclusions about your text and see if you can make connections to other parts on the text or to other readings, if relevant.
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