But until then, here are seven basic steps to writing a well-constructed literary essay: When you’re assigned a literary essay in class, your teacher will often provide you with a list of writing prompts. You’ll have a much better (not to mention easier) time if you start off with something you enjoy thinking about. Take a deep breath and start by asking yourself these questions: What struck you?
If you are asked to come up with a topic by yourself, though, you might start to feel a little panicked. Did a particular image, line, or scene linger in your mind for a long time?
Ask yourself why the author chose to write about that character or scene the way he or she did and you might tap into some important insights about the work as a whole. Is there a phrase that the main character uses constantly or an image that repeats throughout the book?
If you can figure out how that pattern weaves through the work and what the significance of that pattern is, you’ve almost got your entire essay mapped out. Great works of literature are complex; great literary essays recognize and explain those complexities.
A literary essay also isn’t like the kind of book report you wrote when you were younger, where your teacher wanted you to summarize the book’s action.
Literary Analysis Essay Format Admissions Essays
A high school- or college-level literary essay asks, “How does this piece of literature actually work? ” and, “Why might the author have made the choices he or she did?Remember, you’re looking for something you can prove or argue based on evidence you find in the text.Finally, remember to keep the scope of your question in mind: is this a topic you can adequately address within the word or page limit you’ve been given?Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to say yet—right now you’re just collecting ideas and material and letting it all percolate.Keep track of passages, symbols, images, or scenes that deal with your topic.You can help direct your reading and brainstorming by formulating your topic as a question, which you’ll then try to answer in your essay.The best questions invite critical debates and discussions, not just a rehashing of the summary.Maybe you’re looking for inspiration, guidance, or a reflection of your own life.There are as many different, valid ways of reading a book as there are books in the world.If it fascinated you, chances are you can draw on it to write a fascinating essay. Maybe you were surprised to see a character act in a certain way, or maybe you didn’t understand why the book ended the way it did.Confusing moments in a work of literature are like a loose thread in a sweater: if you pull on it, you can unravel the entire thing.