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How to Write a Literary Essay

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
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  • name two ways that the writing process for essays and research papers are similar

Writing The Perfect Research Paper

Whether in high school or college, often one is required to develop a research paper for an assignment. Research paper writing has a specific focus and should not be confused with essays or thesis writing.

A research paper is not designed to offer new evidence or report on developing work but as a collation and presentation of existing work. The research is to uncover existing knowledge of a topic and synthesize a focused and coherent report on this subject. A research paper is not intended to prove a hypothetical point but to present an existing fact.

There are three directions you can take in designing your research paper. A simple analytical approach discusses the major points of your subject, evaluates them each in turn and then concludes with an evaluation of the research to the reader. An expository research paper does not so much offer altering viewpoints on your topic as it seeks to inform and explain what the subject matter is.

A much more involved research paper is the argumentative form. In this type of research paper you pick a point of view and present your research findings to prove your opening statements. One thing the person writing the research paper must be mindful of through the entire process is that they stay on focus. If the subsequent research convinces you to modify the original statement of purpose, you will have to revise your opening arguments and any other parts of your paper that this change entails.

Another aspect of research paper writing that is of the utmost importance is in keeping your source information accurate. A research paper is not creative writing and you will need to reference the sources of your facts and credit information used to their originators. There are several style sheets available for the proper footnote marking and systems of regulating the presentation of your source material. This formula is different for various institutions so checking for the authorized style sheet before starting the actual composition is very important. Those who grade the research paper will be especially critical of this area. It is essential you have your facts accurate and provable.

Once you have finished the first draft of your research paper it is a good idea to let it sit for awhile and then come back to reread it in an objective manner. No one is able or expected to be letter-perfect through the first writing. The cooling off period is necessary to take you far enough from the original creation that you can see within a later viewing any areas that need revision to tighten up to presentation of your information. While you can proofread your work to some degree, it is always recommended that you obtain a second person to proof it as well. They may catch grammar or typographical errors that have fallen into a “blind spot” for the original writer.

Critical areas of review at this point are the transition areas between proof points and that you have refined the data to a tight focus. Here you can see if certain patterns of extraneous words have “fluffed” your writing and you can eliminate the unnecessary wording.

The final part of research paper writing is to put your final version on the paper (or the required computer file format) that your specific institution requires. Even the presentation of the physical artifact of your research paper can have some weight on its final acceptance or rejection.

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