Sample Tess of the d'Urbervilles Essay. Part 1 of Set aside time to write. You cannot write a quality essay in 10 minutes. It's best to give yourself ample time to write and revise the essay. Try to factor in some time for breaks between drafts as well. If you're approaching a deadline, however, you may need to make the best use of the time you have. Sit down and write. While it's important to prepare to write, when it comes down to it, you just have to start putting content on the page.
Remember that you can always go back and make improvements later, and that revisions are part of the writing process. Draft a tentative thesis. Your thesis is one of the most important elements of your essay. A thesis statement summarizes the main argument or position of your essay in one sentence. It lets readers know what the essay will attempt to show or prove.
Everything in your essay should be connected to your thesis in a straightforward way. Place your thesis at the end of your first paragraph. If you don't understand how to write a thesis, ask your instructor for help. This is an important concept that will keep coming up in courses where you have to write papers.
Develop your introduction. Once you have a compelling thesis statement, craft the rest of your introduction around it. You can also save this step for after you've drafted the body of your essay if you feel intimidated by the introduction. The best introductions "grab" the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading.
Some effective strategies for creating an introduction include:  X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source Telling a personal anecdote Citing a surprising fact or statistic Overturning a common misconception Challenging the reader to examine her own preconceptions.
Jot down an outline for the remainder of your essay. Outlining involves developing a basic structure for your essay, which can help you stay on track while writing drafts. Look over your notes and invention exercises and think about how you can organize this information in an outline. Think about what information should come first, second, third, etc. Just try to get the major ideas on paper. Part 2 of Collect all of your notes and materials.
Before you start to write, gather together all of the notes, books, and other materials that you will need to reference in order to answer the essay prompt effectively. Support is essential for an effective English essay, so do not try to write your essay without these materials. If you have time, read through your notes before you begin.
Make sure that you have your outline handy as well. You can build on your outline by expanding on each of the points in the order that they are listed in. Include topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph. Topic sentences signal to readers what a paragraph will discuss. Start each of your paragraphs with a topic sentence so that your instructor will be able to see that your ideas progress in a clear, direct manner.
Develop your ideas as much as possible. Make sure that you include as many details as possible throughout your essay. Remember that padding filling in with meaningless text or using extra wordy sentences is not an effective strategy for writing essays because instructors can see right through it.
Your instructor has probably read hundreds of student essays over their career, so they'll know when an essay has been padded. Fill your essays with details that make your essay useful and insightful instead. If you get stuck, some good strategies for developing your ideas include: Returning to the invention stage. This includes exercises such as freewriting, listing, or clustering.
You can also revisit your notes and books to see if there's anything you missed or forgot. You can find a writing lab on most college campuses. They are free to students and can help you improve your writing at any stage in the writing process.
Talking to your instructor. Take advantage of your professor's office hours or one-on-one appointments. Meet with them and discuss ways that you can improve your essay before you hand it in. Cite sources using MLA style citations.
If you use any sources at all in your essay, then you will need to cite them using the style that your instructor prefers. MLA style is the most common citation format used in English courses, so you will need to know how to use it. Provide in-text citations as well as a works cited page at the end. An MLA style works cited page starts on a new page at the end of the essay. Provide entries for each of the sources that you used.
These entries should include the information necessary to allow the reader to find the source with ease. It's necessary to include an in-text citation for any information that you quote, summarize, or paraphrase from a source. Work towards a conclusion.
The general structure of an essay usually goes from broad to specific. You could visualize this tendency as an upside-down pyramid or as a funnel. By the time you get to your conclusion, it should feel as though the information in your conclusion is inevitable.
It's essentially a recap of everything you've spent your whole essay trying to prove. You may find that you want to use your conclusion to: Qualify or complicate the information in your essay Suggest a need for further research Speculate on how the future will change the current situation. Part 3 of Give yourself plenty of time. Leaving your essay to the last minute is not a good idea. Try to allow yourself at least a couple of days to revise your work. It is important to take a one to two day break from your essay after you have completed it.
Then you can come back to it and revise with a fresh perspective. Focus on improving the content of your essay first. Some people only focus on the grammar and punctuation when revising an essay, but this is less important than the content of your essay.
Answer the essay question in as much detail as possible. Reread the essay question or assignment guidelines and ask:  X Research source Have I answered the question in a satisfactory way? Do I have a clear thesis? Is my thesis the focus of my essay? Do I include adequate support for my argument? Is there anything else I could add? Is there a logic to my essay? Does one idea follow the next? If not, how might I improve the logic of my essay? Ask a friend to read your essay.
Having a friend or classmate take a look at your work can be helpful as well. Someone else may catch simple errors or notice something else that you missed because you have been looking at the document so much. Make sure that you swap papers at least one day before the paper is due so that you will have time to correct any errors that your friend finds.
Read your essay out loud. Reading your essay aloud can help you to catch simple errors that you might not have noticed otherwise. As you read, correct any errors that you find and make a note of anything that you think could be improved, such as adding more details or clarifying the language.
Part 4 of We might observe that while the Geats feature an image of a boar on their battle helmets thus seemingly identifying with this ferocious animal , there are other moments in the text when the Geats shun vicious monsters when they are reluctant to fight the dragon, for example. Why is this juxtaposition important for the narrative more broadly? What are the consequences of this juxtaposition on plot, theme, or character?
So what? This seems to be a theme in the work. It is important to keep in mind that your thesis statement should argue something with which a reader can disagree. Before a literary scholar can begin writing about a piece of literature, one must engage in the exercise of close reading. The steps listed above are a pre-writing exercise, designed to help you identify a potential thesis.
Once you have formulated a thesis about how to read a larger work, you can use the smaller significant elements as evidence. This evidence will then need to be analyzed in order to support that thesis. Literary criticism is a disciplined attempt to analyze some aspect or aspects of one or more works of art—for our purposes, mostly literary art plays, novels, short stories, essays, poems.
Serious literary critics study their primary materials very closely and repeatedly, examine the contexts in which the works they are studying were produced, and read widely in the work of other literary critics on their subject before producing their own original analysis of a work or works of literature. Generally, literary criticism is published in one of three forms: in a book; in an article published in a professional journal, whether print-based or online; or in an article published in a book as part of a collection.
These formats insure that experts in the appropriate field s have reviewed the literary criticism and judged its accuracy in points of fact, its attention to scholarship in the field, etc. These formats are peer-reviewed sources also known as "refereed sources". Peer-reviewed means that a source has been rigorously scrutinized by other experts before publication. Some websites post serious scholarship, but many are run by fans or students who may or may not know more than you do! Wikipedia, for example, is not a peer-reviewed source; any one can post and update information on this site and, as a result, it is not a reliable resource.
Formal analysis involves a close reading of the literary elements of a text. The goal of a formal analysis is to create meaning by exploring how these elements work together in any given text. You can compare parts of a text or you can analyze how parts of a text relate to the whole text. Follow the MLA style of documentation, which is a parenthetical style.
The "Works Cited" page lists all works you cite in the essay, the "Bibliography" lists all the works you consulted, including all of those cited. You should always note your professor's requirements as to minimum number of sources. You may also consult dianahacker. Every paper must contain an introduction which states the argumentative thesis , subsequent argument paragraphs, and a conclusion. Gardner writes in Writing About Literature, "Essentially, and introduction accomplishes two things.
First, it gives a sense of both your topic and your approach to that topic, which is why it is common to make your thesis statement a part of the introduction. Second, an introduction compels your readers' interest and makes them want to read on and find out what your paper has to say. Some common strategies used in effective introductions are to begin with a probing rhetorical question, a vivid description, or an intriguing quotation.
Weak introductions tend to speak in generalities or in philosophical ideas that are only tangentially related to the real topic of your paper. Don't spin your wheels: get specific and get to the point right away. Your introduction is your opportunity to catch your reader's attention and involve that person in the ideas you put forth in your paper.
Imagine riding in an elevator with someone you'd like to strike up a conversation with about a specific topic. How do you do it? How do you catch that person's attention before the ride is up? You can't just immediately throw your claims and evidence at that person, yet at the same time, he or she is unlikely to be compelled by vague general statements about "the history of time" or where and when a certain person was born.
And you can't stand there all day getting to the point. Instead, you look for compelling point of interest that is both related to where you'd like to go with your discussion, and is of shared interest between you and that person. After raising the topic through this point of common ground, you can then put forth what you will claim about it. The concession acknowledges the perceived opposition perhaps in the form of another critic or the skeptical reader.
And, why, despite this evidence, is your argument still more effective than the concession? The nonclusion is essential—never end a paragraph with a concession; take the concession into account while further proving your argument!
Gardner points out in Writing About Literature, "Your conclusion should give your reader something new to think about, a reason not to just forget your essay. Some writers like to use the conclusion to return to an idea, a quotation, or an image first raised in the introduction, creating a satisfying feeling of completeness and self-containment….
Some writers use the conclusion to show the implications of their claims or the connections between literature and real life. This is your chance to make a good final impression, so don't waste it with a simple summary and restatement. This doesn't mean that your conclusion should not restate your thesis. Your conclusion is the place in which you draw together all the threads of your argument and neatly tie them up.
When Gardner says not to "waste" your conclusion with "simple summary and restatement," she means don't ONLY summarize and restate. Your should absolutely recap your main points, but a good conclusion ALSO does more. Additionally, treading the path between not giving your reader anything new in the conclusion and introducing more unsupported claims can be tricky.
The conclusion is a good place to SUGGEST the further implications of your argument, for life, for literature, for an author's body of work, etc. These implications should follow naturally from the structure of your argument and often are best expressed with less-definitive phrasing i. Just as scientists provide data to support their results, literary critics must use evidence from literature in order to convince their audience that they have a cogent argument.
Evidence must be provided in every body paragraph in order to support your claims. Where will you find evidence? First, you must do a close reading of the text. It is much easier to first analyze and think about how the smaller literary elements work together to create the whole work, rather than randomly thumbing through a work to find support for your thesis.
When you provide evidence, you are providing proof from the text that shows your audience that your thesis is valid. Critics most commonly provide evidence by quoting a line or a passage from a work. When you provide evidence, it is imperative not to take it out of context. For example, if a character is joking with another character that he will kill himself if he fails his chemistry test and there's no other mention of death in the work, it would be unfair to represent this character as suicidal by eliminating the context of him joking.
If you find evidence that counters your thesis, you should still engage with it. Think about what your critics would say and come up with a response to show how that particular piece of evidence might still support your stance. Once you're done gathering evidence, you can move on to the analysis portion in which you explain how the evidence supports your claims. Here are some tips: All professors will want to see a strong argument , cogently advanced and well-supported by evidence from the literature.
Organization counts. Make sure you have a focused, detailed thesis within your introductory paragraph. Succeeding paragraphs should state a topic and supply evidence and argument to support that topic. Don't forget the conclusion. A strong conclusion leaves your reader with a clear sense of your perspective and helps the reader to recall the most important aspects of your argument.
Don't let the critics run away with your paper. Subordinate their views to your own , and make sure that the preponderance of the paper is yours. Never cite a critical view that you do not understand. Remember to revise your work and proof-read carefully.
Some professors care more about one aspect of paper writing than others. Some particularly hate to see documentation errors; for others sloppy writing lots of spelling, punctuation and other mechanical errors spells doom. Always do your best work, and don't assume that you can neglect any aspect of your essay. The English Level Guide at the LND Library website contains links to a variety of research tools, as well as tips on how to locate articles and books.
You may find the MLA Bibliography tutorial particularly useful. The Help guides page at the LND Library website also can help you use the different databases, find articles and books, navigate the library catalog, and cite sources using MLA style. Papers for level credit Length: pages The paper should be a formal analysis of an aspect or aspects of literature read in the course and should utilize at least two critical sources. Papers for level credit Length: pages The paper should be a formal analysis of an aspect or aspects of literature read in the course and should utilize at least four critical sources.
Sources should be carefully documented using the MLA style of documentation. Ordinarily, the paper should treat a major work of literature a long poem, play or novel, as opposed to a sonnet or more than one shorter work to create an argument of some substance. Appropriate General Topics Analysis of theme s A theme is a recurring idea or concept in a text.
Roberts, Writing Themes about Literature In order to create an argument about the function of the setting in a particular work, you need to identify the principal settings and to see how they work. Here are some steps you can take: Read the story and mark references to setting. Start with the place and time of the action and then focus upon recurrent details and objects.
Think about what the story is about. What happens? What is its point? Is it a story about love, jealousy, gain, or loss? What is the main experience here? Look through your setting notes and see if they fall into any pattern. What are the interesting shifts and contrasts? Determine how the setting relates to either the main point of the story step 2 or to some part of it. In other words what does the setting have to do with character or action? What are its effects? Whatever you decide here will be your thesis statement.
Make an outline, indicating what aspects of setting you will discuss and what you intend to say about them. Focus on the four or five key passages in the story that you wish to examine. List them in your outline in the order in which they occur. Analyzing Imagery As distinct from character, theme, and plot, imagery occurs primarily in language, in the metaphors i. In order to create an argument about the significance of an image in a particular work, identify a principal image or image cluster and to see how it works by following these steps: Read the work and mark recurrent images or image clusters.
If you are seeing references to roses, e. Look at notes to the images carefully. Take out your microscope. You can use secondary sources for this assignment as well. Think about what the play is about. Is it a play about love, jealousy, gain, or loss? Look through your images and image clusters and see if they fall into any pattern.
What are the interesting shifts? Do they generally appear in the speeches of certain characters? Do we have a progression or development? Significant contrasts? Determine how the images or image clusters step 3 relate to either the main point of the play step 2 or to some part of it.
In other words what do the images have to do with character or action? What are their effects? Make an outline, indicating what your image pattern is and what you intend to say about it.
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