Essay Writing Checklist Introduction

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Essay Writing Checklist


  • The first sentence is the hook and is designed to grab the reader’s attention

  • Transition from the hook to the thesis statement

  • Give the full title(s) of the work(s) you are exploring as well as the complete name(s) of the author(s)

  • The thesis statement is the last sentence in the introduction paragraph

  • The thesis statement clearly and directly responds to the writing prompt or assignment (the words in the prompt may be used to formulate the thesis statement)

  • The introduction is at least 4 – 6 sentences

Body Paragraphs

  • The topic sentence is the first sentence of each body paragraph

  • The topic sentences are an extension of the thesis statement—each topic sentence clearly proves and supports the thesis statement and responds to the prompt or writing assignment

  • Topic sentences do not summarize plot or make general comments

  • Body paragraphs are developed with at least two supporting passages/quotes from the literature (For this particular assignment: only one quote per body paragraph)

  • Provide reader with the context for each supporting quote: speaker + occasion

  • Follow each quote with at least two sentences of analysis that explain how the quote supports and proves the topic sentence and therefore the thesis statement

  • The last sentence of each body paragraph is a concluding sentence that summarizes the paragraph and/or transitions to the next paragraph


  • Restates the thesis statement (in a different way)

  • Summarizes the main ideas without being repetitive

  • May possibly revisit the hook or provide an appropriate quotation

  • Expands on the ideas in the essay, leaving the reader thinking and pondering

  • The conclusion is at least 4 – 6 sentences

  • Never write “In conclusion…”

Other Important Aspects

  • Use formal writing style, tone, and language

  • Avoid slang, poor diction, non-specific language, and contractions

  • Avoid addressing the reader and the use of first-person

  • Avoid asking rhetorical questions

  • Be mindful and aware of MLA format in citing your sources in the text

  • Pay attention to spelling, punctuation and grammar

  • Always proofread and self-edit your work

  • Give your essay a creative, thoughtful and interesting title

Take pride in your work and give the essay 100% of your effort!

Topic Sentence Checklist

An effective topic sentence:

  • Proves and supports a thesis statement

  • Tells the reader the focus of the paragraph

  • States a claim, idea, or assertion—the author’s expert opinion about the literature

  • Like the thesis statement, addresses how/why questions

  • Is very clear and very specific

  • Avoids 1st person point of view

  • Avoids plot summary

  • Avoids stating the obvious

  • Avoids passive voice

Using Supporting Details Checklist

Consider the following when using supporting quotes and passages in your writing:

  • Lead into or set up your quote/passage with speaker (character/narrator) and occasion (context, or what’s happening in the plot

  • Follow up a quote with at least two sentences of commentary and analysis before moving on to the next supporting detail

  • Avoid excessive plot summary

  • Be sure the quote is relevant to your topic sentence and thesis—does your quote help prove your point?

  • Avoid letting the quote speak for itself—avoid “dropping” the quote

Active and Academic Verbs to Use in Critical Literary Analysis











Alludes to



















Anatomy of a Paragraph & Paragraph Checklist

Consider the following model of a typical literary analysis paragraph:

Topic Sentence *





Concluding Sentence

Each supporting detail is made up of:
1. Lead-in or set-up: Speaker + Occasion
2. Direct quote or passage
3. At least two sentences of following commentary/analysis
The Concluding Sentence:

Consider the following reminders when composing a literary analysis paragraph:

  • Use the strongest argument, or supporting detail, last

  • Be mindful of spelling, grammar, and punctuation

  • Use present tense verbs when writing literary analysis

  • Be mindful of proper MLA format when citing a source

  • Avoid poor diction and slang

  • Avoid clichés, first-person point of view, and addressing the reader

Thesis Statements: Strategies, Checklist, & Samples

The thesis statement in an essay of literary analysis functions as follows:

  • It narrows your topic to a central idea—all topic sentences and body paragraphs will develop and support this idea

  • It asserts something specific and significant about the topic, conveying your expert opinion

  • It may preview how your ideas will be arranged within your essay

  • It is logical, precise, and reasonable

Here are some strategies for formulating a thesis statement:

I. Decode the writing prompt: Pay close attention to the language of the prompt.

Underline or highlight words that indicate specific areas of focus. Use the language of

the prompt while composing your thesis statement.

* Depending on the prompt or assignment you are given, you may be able to

simply restate the prompt while including your answer to how/why questions.
II. Take Inventory: Determine which supporting details or passages could be used to

prove your thesis.

* Be careful! Avoid arbitrarily selecting quotes. Be certain the supporting details

you choose do, in fact, support the central idea.

III. Identify Relationships, Distinctions, & Categories: Once you have a variety of

supporting details, determine what various aspects of the thesis statement each

detail supports. These distinctions or categories will be used to determine what your

topic sentences and body paragraphs will be made up of.

IV. Revise and Draft Again: Rewrite the thesis as many times as necessary to achieve

satisfaction. Continually refer to the prompt to be sure you are directly and

specifically responding to its requirements. You may find that after you have written

the body paragraphs, your paper has taken a different direction. In that case, you

must revise your thesis statement to suit the rest of the essay.
Consider the following checklist when composing a thesis statement:

Do not use first-person point of view in a thesis statement, unless you are writing a personal

autobiographical essay. Formal literary analysis requires the use of third person point of


 The thesis statement should be limited to one sentence. In rare cases, two sentences may

be necessary.

 Refer to the writing prompt frequently while composing the thesis and be sure your

statement clearly responds to all aspects of the prompt

 The thesis statement is located at the end of the introductory paragraph in a typical

literary analysis essay.

 The thesis is a “roadmap” for the ideas presented in the essay; it informs the reader what

will be analyzed in the essay and in what order.

 The thesis statement presents ideas in logical, clear, and specific language; it avoids vague or

abstract language, poor diction, and slang.

 The thesis statement is analytical, not factual; it conveys the author’s expert opinion, or

assertion and avoids stating the obvious. It answers how and why questions.

 The thesis statement is logical, precise, and reasonable.
The Introduction Paragraph: Strategies & Checklist:
The introduction paragraph in an essay of literary analysis functions as follows:

  • It focuses the reader’s attention on the topic and arouses curiosity about what you have to say

  • It specifies your subject and implies your attitude/tone

  • It provides background necessary to understand the thesis statement

  • It is concise and sincere

  • It comes to a point with the thesis statement

Anatomy of the Introduction:

1st Sentence: Hook or Opening Sentence

  • Engages the reader’s attention

2nd – 3rd Sentence

  • Should mention the author’s complete name

and the complete title of the work being


3rd - 5th Sentences

  • Function to transition ideas from hook to thesis

Thesis Statement

  • Final sentence(s) of the introduction paragraph

Strategies for Composing Hooks or Opening Statements:

  • Use a vivid quotation

  • Create a visual image that represents your subject

  • Create an analogy for your subject

  • Offer a surprising/interesting statistic or other fact

  • State an opinion related to your thesis

  • Ask a question or define a word central to your subject (Note= Use these techniques very sparingly and cautiously, as they may be considered cliché)

Consider the following checklist when writing an introduction paragraph:

    • The opening sentence or hook engages the reader’s attention

    • The introduction avoids 1st person point of view, slang, and poor diction

    • Specific terms or language are clearly defined

    • Necessary background information is provided

    • The paragraph clearly and logically transitions from the hook to the thesis statement

    • The thesis statement appears at the end of the introduction

    • The paragraph is clear, logical, and reasonable

    • Avoid vague/abstract language

    • Avoid an attempt to be cute, funny, or terribly clever

    • The introduction is usually 4 – 6 sentences (longer introductions tend to ramble and detract from the topic)

    • Uses present tense verbs consistently

The Conclusion Paragraph: Strategies, Checklist, & Samples

The conclusion paragraph in a literary analysis essay functions as follows:

  • It finishes off the essay and tells readers where the writer has brought them

  • It restates the thesis and contains echoes of the introduction and body paragraphs without listing the points covered in the essay

  • It creates a broader implication of the ideas discussed and answers the question “So what?”

Anatomy of the conclusion:

  • The conclusion begins with a restatement of the thesis, not

a repetition, and gradually widens toward a final, broad

statement of implication

  • Borrows from the body paragraphs, without being flatly

repetitive or listing points already covered

  • Creates echoes of the introduction and body paragraphs

to reinforce analysis/ideas

thesis to a broader implication so the reader can see it

in a larger perspective

Strategies for Composing Conclusions:

  • Strike a note of hope or despair

  • Give a symbolic or powerful fact/detail

  • Create an analogy that relates your topic to a larger implication

  • Give an especially compelling example

  • Create a powerful visual image that represents your topic

  • Use a meaningful quotation

  • Recommend a course of action

  • Echo the approach/language of the introduction

  • Reference and make meaning of the title of the work you are analyzing

Consider the following checklist when writing a conclusion:

 Avoid first person point of view, abstract/vague language, poor diction, and slang

  • Avoid simply repeating the thesis and/or listing the main points

  • Don’t conclude more than you reasonably can from the evidence you have presented

  • Echo the language/ideas from your introduction and body paragraphs

  • Expand on the implications of your ideas—So what?

  • Avoid any attempts to be funny, cute, or clever

  • The conclusion is usually 4 – 6 sentences

Paper Format and Titles


In MLA format the margins are as follows:

Top: ½ inch

Left: 1 inch

Right: 1 inch

Bottom: 1 inch


All MLA style papers are double spaced throughout.

Heading and Title:

  • An MLA paper does not need a title page (but some teachers require them) .

  • ½” down from the top of each page and in the right hand corner is located the page number followed by the author’s last name and a space

  • 1” down from the top (and one double space down from the page number) in the left hand corner appears the authors name (first and last)

  • One double space below the author’s name is the name of the professor or instructor

  • One double space below the professor’s name is the class title and/or course number

  • One double space below the course information is the date the assignment is due, listed in the following order: date, then month, followed by year (no commas)

  • One double space below the date, centered in the page, is the title of the paper.


  • A title tells the reader how extensive the topic is

  • A title should not restate the assignment or thesis statement

  • The revision stage is a good time to consider a title because attempting to sum up your essay in a phrase can focus your attention on the topic, purpose, and audience

  • A descriptive title is often expected for academic writing—it announces the topic clearly, accurately, and as briefly as possible

  • Avoid trying to be funny, cute, or terribly clever in your title

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