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Writing A Literary Essay: Practical Advice For Students

With a literary essay, students are supposed to write about a motif, theme or idea from a book that they read. Often, this book is assigned by the teacher or is covered in class. As the student reads their book, they should highlight common themes or ideas. Later on, the student can go back and see which of these ideas could be enlarged upon in an essay.

Finding Ideas

Initially, students will need to find a book to write about. Classic novels are generally the best option because they are more likely to contain a theme or motif than popular fiction. Students may want to look through the reading list in their class, or they could find topic ideas online. Once the student has found the right book, they are ready to begin writing their literary essay.

Making an Argument

Like any term paper, a literary essay requires students to make an argument. This means that the student must pick a thesis statement that is debatable. The thesis statement is included in the introduction, and it serves as a guide for the remainder of the paper. In addition to making a debatable thesis statement, students will need to build an argument in the remainder of their writing. Each paragraph will contain a topic sentence that further argues and supports the student's main claim.

Read Through Examples

Few people sit down and read literary journals. Due to this, many students are actually unfamiliar with the way that this writing is structured. To get a grasp on this writing style, students should go online or look in the library for examples. With an example, the student can learn how to structure an argument, incorporate evidence and build upon a thesis statement.

Use Evidence

A literary essay is not just the student's opinion; it is the student's opinion that is backed be facts from the text. For the student to receive a top score on this type of writing, they must demonstrate from the text of the book that their argument is correct. Each piece of evidence must be marshaled to show the student's ideas and effectively incorporated into the paper.

Since the student will need to use quotes for their writing, they should invest in a writing manual. At the very least, students should look up how to incorporate citations online. Since there are several different writing styles, students should make sure that they are actually using the correct citation technique. Students should also make sure that they have encapsulated all of their quotes in quotation marks. If the student includes any quote without the quotations, it is technically considered plagiarism.