Introductory paragraph

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Literary Essay: A Descriptive Outline


Sentence 1: A general yet interesting statement about the topic of your essay. You could use an allusion, a very short anecdote (story), a surprising statement, a piece of historical information, or an axiom/aphorism.
Sentence 2: More specific information about the text to which you are referring. Provide the text’s title and the author’s full name in relation to the essay’s general topic.
Sentence 3: Write a one sentence thesis statement. A thesis should be specific and arguable: limit it to the one main point that you want to convince your reader of about the text. You may refer generally to the topics you will develop in your body paragraphs in an additional sentence.


Topic Sentence: Write a topic sentence that refers to your essay’s main point (thesis) and how this idea can be seen in the text you are writing about (How does the author make this main point clear?). Each topic sentence should support the claim your thesis makes.
Context Sentence: Write at least one sentence that refers more specifically to the part of the text you are discussing in this paragraph (paraphrase context). Incorporate any definitions for literary terms that might be helpful to understand your analysis.
Textual Evidence: Provide textual evidence from a place in the text your main idea can be seen. Use embedded direct quotations1 (also known as parenthetical citations).
Analysis and Commentary: Analyse the quotation you have provided by referring to the context (part of the text) from which the quote was taken. What should the reader notice specifically about the quote itself that proves what you say in the topic sentence for this paragraph. What is implied by the words the author uses? How does this help the author reinforce the main idea that you see at work in the text?
*Include at least two examples for each paragraph. More analysis is better because it is more convincing. Provide context before and analysis after each piece of evidence. For each example ‘book-end’ textual evidence with supporting and analytical sentences.
Last Sentence of each Body Paragraph: Write a transitional statement that links your paragraph’s topic to the topic of the next paragraph.

Concluding Paragraph

Sentence 1: Restate your thesis statement in a slightly different way.

Sentence 2: Refer generally to the three arguments you have presented in your three body paragraphs.
Sentence 3: Conclude your paragraph by writing one sentence that connects your essay’s topic (introduced in Sentence 1 of your intro.) to the real world of people and society. Leave the reader with a meaningful idea that is related to your essay.
Conventions of the Literary Essay
Give your essay a suitable title that refers to the topic of your essay and the text(s) you are writing about. ‘Literary Essay’ is not a suitable title.
Use a formal writing voice, which means: no contractions, no ‘I’, no ‘etc.’ and no abbreviations. Write using the present tense.
Provide the author’s name in full the first time they are mentioned, then use only their last name throughout the rest of the essay.
Underline or italicise the titles of books, films or collections of texts; place “quotation marks” around the titles of short stories, articles/essays, and poems; indicate page number from which text has been taken in (parentheses) at the end of the sentence in which a quote has been used but before the period of the sentence.
Verbs and Phrases to Use When Analyzing a Text

The description of the setting shows...., The author illustrates this theme through the use of..., The character’s reaction demonstrates.... ,The character’s words imply that...., The author develops this idea by...., The narrator’s description refers to...., The character explains....,
Other possibilities include the following: reveals, describes, depicts, expresses, conveys, establishes, portrays, characterizes, represents, suggests, indicates, signifies, proves, clarifies, exemplifies...

Transitional words and phrases to use within and between paragraphs to connect ideas.... Addition: as well, furthermore, in addition, moreover; Comparison: likewise, similarly; Conclusion: finally, in conclusion, in summary, lastly; Contrast: although, however, in contrast, nevertheless; Effect: as a result, consequently, therefore, thus; Example: For example, for instance, such as; Sequence: after, finally, firstly/secondly/thirdly, next, then; Time: after, before, during, since.

1 An embedded quotation incorporates words and phrases from an outside text into statements made by you, the author of the essay. For example, Nestor insists that Harpalus “wear a small tasteful ring, preferably a signet” and suggests that even a “fake one” will do, communicating that an illusion of wealth is just as good as the real thing (2).

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