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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

November 19, 2019

High school, college, and university students, obtaining any academic level, are often assigned different writing tasks. And no matter what direction do they study, writing skills are required not only for philologists. One common type of essay is a literary analysis. It is necessary for a more complete assessment of the abilities of students. Tutors get detailed information about your critical reading, how you can analyze literary works, formulate your thoughts, defend arguments. For many students, the process of writing an essay in literary analysis seems like a daunting and time-consuming task. Therefore, we decided to provide you with a detailed plan that will help you cope with this issue easily.

Definition: What Is a Literary Analysis Essay

A literary analysis paper is a kind of essay where you need to provide arguments that relate to your vision of a piece of literature. You need to choose any literary work, analyze the writing style, rhythm, tone, characters, plot, idea, enshrined by the author.

While preparing the paper, you need to ask yourself several questions: “Why did the author write this book or poem?”, “What did he or she want to say with this work?”, “Did he or she manage to convey main ideas?”. You may ask other questions, depending on the requirements of your mentor.

Types of Literary Analysis

Depending on your educational institution and mentor, you will be asked to prepare one of the following types of literary analysis:

  • Close reading
  • Critical essay
  • Comparative essay
  • Historical essay
  • Applied essay

The most challenging task is to write a critical analysis essay that should cover your own opinion based on your knowledge and analytical skill. The criticism can also be divided into several types, such as archetypal, psychoanalytic, cultural, feminist, etc. We will describe a general literary analysis, without bias in any of these areas.

Guidelines for Writing Great Literary Analysis

If you have never tried to write a literary analysis, a lack of experience can make this process chaotic. In this case, you can ask for the professional help of an essay writer, or use our recommendations below.

Focus on the topic

The first thing you need to come up with is a topic. This is the main idea of ​​your paper, on which all content will depend. To write it, read the book, make sure that you completely understand the author, his or her thoughts, mindset, life experience. If necessary, read it again. Perhaps the narrator directly or indirectly expresses several points of view, make sure that you understand all of them. As you read, periodically ask yourself a few questions:

  • Which parts of the book were inspiring? Which not?
  • What literary techniques did the author use? Why? Was their application successful?
  • How do characters evolve? Is this development visible?

To determine the topic, you need to understand the main problem inherent in the work. Push off from it in your essay. Write down several topic sentences and then choose the best one. You can use the brainstorming method for this case. The more ideas you write, the easier it will be to choose one that fits the best. 

Collect evidence

To get your literature review high-quality and informative, you need to prepare a good factual base. Read other studies, collect facts, quotes from people whose opinions deserve attention. To understand the author and motives better, read his or her biography, interviews with, criticism of contemporaries. While reading a book, take notes that you can return to when writing an essay. Your case study will make your essay perfect.

Write an outline

When writing a literary analysis, you can be guided by the same format as when writing a descriptive essay or other types of papers. All of these assignments include an introduction, abstract, content, and conclusion. Therefore, at the very beginning, you need to outline. 

Develop your main thesis statements

Writing a thesis statement causes a lot of difficulties. Fortunately, there are simple writing tips to help you ease this task:

  • Start with a question and make the answer;
  • Fit the statement to the type of your essay;
  • Designate a specific position to make the thesis more powerful;
  • Come up with an original argument that has never been used;
  • Make sure there is evidence for your statement.

There are also certain requirements for the format: the scope of the thesis statement, its location in the text. Study your guide and consult with a mentor to get a good result.

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Writing process and revision

Now you have everything to write a good literary analysis. Make sure that you have prepared some thesis statements. Write an informative paragraph for each of them. You must fully disclose the topic, describe the positive and negative sides of the paper, show the author’s attitude to the book or piece of literature. Express the opinions of other critics and your own. After reading your essay, the criticized book should begin to be perceived differently. You have to offer a fresh vision. For this reason, if you have the right to choose, choose not the most popular work. Otherwise, you just have to repeat after other critics.

When you finish the paper, set it aside and read it again the next day. Offer to read it to friends. Get rid of all errors, logical inaccuracies, unnecessary and non-informative text.

Follow these steps to writing a critical analysis paper:

  1. Choose a book, poem, short story, novel, etc.
  2. Read information about the author, his or her biography, other literary works, and the opinions of critics.
  3. Discuss the book with your friends to gather more points of view.
  4. Decide on a topic for literary analysis.
  5. Outline for your paper.
  6. Think over thesis statements.
  7. Write an introduction.
  8. Prepare the main part, present arguments, and evidence.
  9. Summarize.
  10. Read the essay again, correct the mistakes.
  11. Format the paper to make it perfect.


Typical Structure of Literary Analysis Essay

Essentially, all essays and professional research papers are a bit alike. And all because they are written according to a single template, a clear structure. There are even organizations that put forward standardized requirements. For example, you may be tasked with writing an essay in APA or MLA style.

Here is a standardized structure that will help you make up your overall impression:

  • An introduction is needed to create the context of your paper. Indicate the full name of the author, the name of the book or a short story, any other useful information. Imagine the topic and complete the introduction with the thesis statement. Coming up with it, answer the questions: who? what? why?
  • The main part of literary analysis essays should consist of at least two body paragraphs. The more you write, the better (but don’t overdo it). Each separate paragraph should begin with a brief argument, pursue one point of view, be confirmed by quotations. Do not just describe what kind of literary technique the author used, but provide examples of it in a separate paragraph.
  • In conclusion, you again need to briefly state the thesis, take stock, explain your point of view. Reread the paper several times, and if there is no way to supplement and expand it, open the topic wider in conclusion.

This is a very brief three-point plan. You need to expand each of them, add subparagraphs based on your requirements and the characteristics of a particular paper. Then you can follow a clear essay outline and your thoughts will be presented sequentially.

Get Professional Writing Help!

Even after studying all the recommendations and consulting with a mentor, writing a literary analysis can be difficult. Not all students have good writing skills or can deal specifically with this type of assignment. Also, many students work and do not have enough time to have time to prepare all the training tasks. What action to take in this case? Of course, contact an essay writing service! We work with professional writers who are really in love with writing. They will prepare for you a quick and qualitative analysis on any topic – proposed by you or offered by us. We provide ongoing support, so you can offer your ideas, ask questions, be interested in the writing process. In the end, in a clearly defined time frame, you will receive an essay, designed by all standards, and, if necessary, a PowerPoint presentation.

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