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Writing A Literary Essay: Basic Instructions


In a literary essay you will be making a critical and insightful interpretation of someone’s literary work. It isn’t a summary, but rather your perception or judgment of their work. This type of paper allows you to show your own understanding of what someone else has written.

The basic directions for putting together your paper can be laid out in a step by step plan, as follows:

  1. Write your thesis statement. This is usually one sentence that is an expression of the main idea of your essay. It should be answered by the information you present. To form a solid statement, ask yourself the following questions: what are you arguing? What is your reasoning for doing so? How should the evidence be organized?

  2. You will have three or more main points you will address in the body of your paper. These will all have their own paragraph to explain and support them. The introduction paragraph should allude to these.

  3. Explain the significance of your argument. The thesis statement is located at the end of the first paragraph.

  4. As you do your research, you may need to somewhat refine your thesis statement. Don’t worry, this is natural. It all depends on what you discover in the research. You need enough information and evidence to back up your claim, answer your question or prove your hypothesis.

  5. The introductory paragraph should open with something that captures the reader’s attention, such as a relevant quote, anecdote, question or interesting fact. Make this a strong paragraph.

  6. The body of your paper should be comprised of at least three main topics, each in their own paragraph. Always start with the strongest heading first, the one that lends the most support to your research question.

  7. Make sure you transition between every paragraph so the reader knows where you are taking them. They should be solid and convincing. They are the evidence in support of your thesis.

  8. The conclusion wraps up everything you’ve stated in your paper. It is a summary of the presented evidence. Don’t introduce any new facts or knowledge in the conclusion.

Always take sufficient time to do the proofreading and editing of your essay before you hand it in. this step allows you to make your paper shine and rise above the rest. Clean copy that’s free of errors ranks higher grades.

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