Tips to Writing a Successful Literary Essay Step 1:Prewrite – The form your prewriting takes does not make a difference – let it fit your purpose and style. At least, however, know your choices: webbing, lists, free writing… Also, remember why you prewrite. The two purposes of prewriting are: to brainstorm ideas and to discard those ideas for which you do not have enough support.
Step 2: Write a powerful introduction. Use something to draw the reader in and then use the thesis statement to introduce the paper. Remember to have a formal introduction because you are writing a formal literary paper. Your opening lines should align with the text you are about to write about. This is not a time for questions or anecdotes.
Rules to writing a thesis:
Be positive about what you are writing (typically don’t say what something is not, say what it is)
Step 3: The body of the essay is the “meat” of what you have to say. The body paragraphs are organized through the order of your thesis statement. You should have at least three solid body paragraphs – again, this is determined by your thesis statement. Every body paragraph begins with a topic sentence that outlines what that paragraph will focus on. After the topic sentence comes the direct evidence from the text. Below is how to insert evidence into your paper:
Direct Citation: Taking a phrase, sentence, etc…directly from the text.
EX: “Chillingworth reached down to unbutton Dimmesdale’s vestige” (Hawthorne 222).
EX: Hawthorne writes, “Chillingworth reached down to unbutton Dimmesdale’s vestige” (222).
In the text John Proctor said, “ ‘……………’ ” (Miller 2).
Keep in kind: Only use what you need of the evidence and don’t get too lengthy. Ellipses (…) will help you with this.
Transitions: Transitions should be used throughout your essay. Please see the transitions handout for more information. Transitions provide coherency and clarity for the reader.
Body paragraphs each end with a concluding statement that ties the paragraph back to the original “so what” of the thesis statement.
Step 4: Write a conclusion to the essay. The conclusion should do more than summarize. The conclusion should write a brief summary of the main points, but should mostly focus on the “so what” of the paper. “So what are you actually trying to prove?” In the sophomore year it is: “So what are you trying to prove about American Society?” The conclusion is the last impression you give the grader, therefore, it should be well written and not rushed through.
Step 5: Proofread and Edit the Paper Rules: