1. Analyzing the Text and Developing a Thesis
You will want to read the text at least once and careful notes to prepare for writing
your essay. As you read:
● Think about what most interests you: imagery, characters, plot, pacing, tone, etc.
● Consider the context. Is this text influenced by other texts? Does it use a style or
form popular in a particular era?
● Reflect on what you know about the author.
● Focus on why certain elements are in the story and how they work. (Themes, tone,
● Decide what argument you think the text is making or what theme it is exploring.
2. Choose a Topic
A topic is the subject you will focus on. There are two types of essay, each with
their own type of topic:
1. Expository essays give information to the reader.
a. Your topic may be a single literary element of the work, such as character, plot, structure, theme,
symbols, style, imagery, tone, etc.
c. Draw parallels between the work and real-life subject matter such as historical events or the
The other way is...
2. Argumentative essays take a position on a debatable
topic in order to change the reader's mind.
● Your topic can't be factual.
● And the argument can't be too easy to win
● It needs to be something people might reasonably
3. Focus on your topic
A good topic needs to be narrow enough that you can completely address it within the
page limit. The key is to start broad and then narrow your focus. That argument will be
● Broad topic
● Add words that make it more specific
● Turn it into an even more specific sentence
4. Develop a thesis
The next step is to transform your topic into an argument!
While your thesis will likely be revised as you write, it is still
important to produce a preliminary thesis regarding the text,
what it is trying to achieve, and the techniques the author uses
to do so. A thesis will help you organize your ideas.
A piece of advice
For example: "The technique of allowing the reader the freedom to flesh out
sparsely described images reinforces the theme of freedom versus destiny
explored in the The Night Circus." This works better than something vague like:
"The author uses rich visual imagery to great effect in The Night Circus."
5. Gather more evidence to
support your thesis
● Now that you have chosen a topic and preliminary thesis,
you can focus your research.
● Reread the work or selected sections, looking for quotes that
you can use to develop your argument.
● You will probably want to search for evidence in conjunction
with the next step: outlining your essay.
Part 2: outlining your essay
1. Organize your ideas in an outline.
It is always a good idea to write an outline. At a minimum,
you'll want to include your thesis statement and a description
of what each succeeding paragraph is about.
2. Use your outline to help organize and
guide your research
● If you write an outline early in the research
process, you can use it to help focus on the
specific areas you need to explore in more detail.
● This will save you time, by sparing you research
into areas that won't figure in your paper.
3. Flesh out your outline as
1. An outline can also provide "container" in which to put
2. Once you have an outline, you can start placing evidence and
analysis into it as you come up with them to produce a more
detailed outline that incorporates quotes and evidence for
each paragraph, as in this sample outline.
PART 3- DRAFTING YOUR PAPER
1) Start with an introductory paragraph:
● title and author of the main works you deal with
● define the issues your essay will deal with.
● be specific
2) Summarize the text if necessary:
● give a short summary if you the reader is not familiarized with the text
● there must be more analysis than summary
3) Give an example of the topic you will be analyzing:
● you will want to begin with a representative example of the literary device
you will analyze.
4) Explore and support your thesis in the following paragraphs:
● provide evidence to support the claim as well as analysis of that evidence ( per paragraph)
● include warrant (explanation of how evidence supports thesis)
● backing (Additional reasoning)
● Counterclaims ( arguments that disagree with thesis)
● Rebuttal – Evidence and argumentation put forward by you that negates the counterclaim you
5) Conclude by moving beyond your thesis:
● consider what you want your readers to take away from your paper.
● a good conclusion will go on to discuss why it is important, to speculate on its broader implications
PART 4- MAKING USE OF MULTIPLE DRAFTS
1) Focus on the argument during your first draft
● save time by only focusing on arguments and on marshalling evidence to support that argument.
2) Do a second draft, focusing on the organization of your essay.
● Try using a reverse outline
● focus on smoothing out transitions between paragraphs- The end of one paragraph should logically
lead to the start of the next.
3) Let someone else read your paper:
● They will be able to point out areas that are confusing or statements that are poorly supported.
Use their feedback to write a third draft.
Part 5- editing your paper
● Print your paper so as to have it organized
and be able to edit it from there. Make sure
you read line by line to make sure you don’t
make any grammar or spelling mistakes
and if your prose is concise.
● Eliminate all words that you don't consider
necessary like unnecessary prepositional
phrases, adverbs, etc. Also make sure that
you don't repeat many words and use
● Make sure you don't repeat sentenced and
if they are repeat tried to delete them, tried
to rephrase them so as to not repeat the
● Remove all references to
yourself as it is not reliable how
you came to your conclusion
because your thoughts are
already clear throughout the
● Tried to read your paper out loud
to yourself or to someone to
make sure it doesn't have
excessive use of commas or
grammatical errors and finally
run a spell check
Part 6 - overcoming writer's block
● Take your time to write, no matter if
you write slow or more faster and
make sure to start early and schedule
plenty of time to write so as not to get
nervous if you don't have time
● Don't pay attention to the number of
work and pages. Instead, focus on
putting in time and making a good
● If you are writing in paper and you are
stuck you can change the format and
use a computer so as not to waste
● If you don't know how to start
writing your paper, take your time
and on another documents start
writing your ideas, thoughts, etc.
● Write in a detail outline form, don't
worry about the language at first
and focus more on plugging
evidence and analysing it.
● Finally, you have to take a break
while you write the paper so as not
to get exhausted.
this is a presentation about how to write a literary paper