Literary Analysis Writing Step by Step
Preparing a well-rounded writing work requires your thorough analysis of all relevant literature. By knowing specific approaches and methods, you can do this extremely easily and effectively.
But let’s start from the beginning.
Generally speaking, a literary analysis is a process or practice of a close examination of a literary work. It is focused on the main and supplementary theme, plot, characters, setting, and various devices used to express all these things. This analysis enables to understand how certain approaches help to deliver the author’s messages and intention.
The main goal of any type of this analysis is to explore all symbolism of writing, explain clearly to your future readers a manner in which its characters functioned, what things they did, and why.
In the outcome, such analysis should appear more than a simple summary. It should have a more investigative and descriptive nature.
Benefits of Such Analysis
The literary analysis can help you boost critical thinking and analytical skills. After gaining knowledge on how to do it well, you will also be able to practice more objective and well-rounded writing.
Another valuable thing is your ability to see the main points developed in a certain literary work from the author’s perspective.
Questions you address during your analysis
During your analysis, you should ask the next questions:
- What is the main author’s message he/she wanted to deliver?
Look at this literary work and ask yourself about the main concept underlying it? What message (-s) it author(-s) wanted to communicate through the content of this work?
- How can you describe the characters?
Look thoroughly at the plot, how such characters appear in it, their positive and negative traits, and behavior. Try to evaluate all these things in the context of writing and the outer environment.
- What kind of devices the author used for this literary work?
The author of this literary work definitely used any devices to make the plot twists, describe the main events and features of characters.
What should you do to complete your analysis?
While making this analysis, you should pay attention to the plot twists, positive and negative sides of characters, events, and other remarkable things.
Also, you should come to your conclusion about the main message and meaning of the overall text.
Certain methods you use depend on the type of work you analyze. In most cases, it is better to divide the entire work into separate parts. This way, you can form a better understanding of your work.
If we speak about different types of work, you may focus, for instance:
- for poetry, scrutiny review all used imagery, the correlation between its form and content;
- for a play, identify the main plot and its subplot; if necessary, explore how various traits of characters are shown in various parts of a play, their evolution/degradation, the crucial points of a plot, etc.;
- for a novel/short story, clarify what the main subject, the direction in which the story goes, the main twists, traits of characters, etc. is.
Basically, the main types of literary analysis are:
- Applied analysis is not very formal by nature but still critical. When making it, you should take one piece of writing, explore all important issues and plot twists inside, and interrelate with your relevant experience.
- The contextual analysis focuses mainly on the background of a literary work, historical, and social circumstance that could encourage its author for writing. For this type of analysis, you will definitely need to conduct extra researches. Even if you have a basic understanding of any events, that can be not enough for a broad exploration of your topic. Your goal at this point is to analyze sufficiently all circumstances and formulate your strong thesis statement about such.
- Synergetic analysis requires you to compare two pieces of writing. With the help of this type of analysis, you may explore any similarities between different types of writing prepared by the same author or similar genre texts. Your goal here is to see and describe connections between such pieces of writing and present your findings easily to your readers.
- Theoretical analysis is designated to explore and compare two theories. Precisely, you should study your text using certain theories and make an inherent framework for the author’s arguments. You may also show any relations to practice, if possible.
- Close reading is the most widespread type of analysis that is related to the overall analysis of a piece of reading with a special emphasis on all its peculiarities. Details are important because, with their help, an author can change significantly his/her plot and characters, and create a context for the further development of a story.
Structure of Your Analysis
For your convenience and a better organization, you should make an outline for your future literary analysis. Precisely, it can consist of:
1. Introduction In this part, make the context for your analysis. For this purpose, indicate the next information:
- Indicate the author’s name, the title of a literary work you are going to analyze, and other auxiliary information you think appropriate.
- Afterward, indicate your thematic statement. It should reflect the author’s conception or a principal idea he/she intended to deliver.
- Develop and indicate in this part your thesis statement.
2. Main body
This part should be at least 2 paragraphs. We have the next suggestions for it:
- Indicate at the beginning concisely your argument. Make sure it expands and explains your thesis statement.
- Devote one paragraph to one point of view only.
- You may strengthen your arguments by adding quotes in the form of narrations or dialogs.
- Apart from the simple description of the used techniques, focus mostly on how it is related to the main questions you intend to answer.
- Avoid diverting from answering your questions.
- Place the strong statement at the end of each paragraph as a brief summary of your considerations.
- Make smooth transitions between the paragraphs.
Your conclusion should be focused on the main thesis statement again. Restate it in a manner reaffirming such. You should describe again in the form of a short summary of the main author’s messages and your related analysis about such.
You may use this example or amend it depending on the analyzed work.
Main writing tips
When you start your work on any type of analysis, you should prepare yourself and guide yourself at this point:
- If you have this opportunity, choose only a topic that moves you or at least interests you.
- Grasp and formulate the purpose of your writing.
- Plan your work ahead.
- Read all literary works carefully. Read any piece repeatedly if something is not clear for you from the first time. This is important to make sure you have caught all essence of this work.
- Focus mainly on the primary sources and your own analysis. If your work is too complicated, you may always refer to secondary sources. Still, try to rely on your own considerations mostly.
- Make notes during your reading about the development of a plot, your considerations, and emotions that arise during this reading. Apart from being comprehensive, your literary analysis should also be juicy and personal. That’s why it is important to record all your considerations and feelings when you have just read it.
- Pay special attention to your thesis statement. It should be very concise and informative.
- Write in a plain and logical manner, and mostly from the third-person perspective.
- Prefer using the present tense.
- If you choose literary terms, make sure you pick the right ones and double-check their meaning in relevant dictionaries.
- Avoid using the same terms frequently. Instead, use synonyms to replace the words with the same meaning.
- Make sure you describe different characters or events separately from each other. Your future readers should easily understand the development of such and your related opinions.
- Adhere to the designated type of formatting.
- Avoid any kind of plagiarism.
Stages of writing
It is extremely important to organize your work appropriately. For your convenience, here are the approximate stages of your writing:
- Research and preliminary analysis
When you have your topic related to one or several literary works, search for the primary sources first. They should be closer to the original wording. Afterward, look for various secondary sources to help you during the analysis. A scan is such to identify whether they can be used in the course of your analysis. It is also wise to range according to their relevance.
- Deep analysis
Analyze your target work more precisely. Read it carefully and make notes during your reading. Pay attention to the beginning, the development of a plot by making a scheme on a separate paper, and to the final of a story.
In this course, emphasize all important details and twist the plot has. You should point such and record your considerations about such. Other important issues are the traits of the characters. You should see both the negative and positive sides. Also, think about the reasons why your characters acted in one way or another.
- Outlining your thoughts
After you have completed the overall analysis, list all your impressions and thoughts about the analyzed literary work. Emphasize the most important statements and develop on its basis, your main thesis statement.
List all statements you want to include and range in a logical manner. For instance, you may follow from more general to specific points. Also, make sure you list all points chronologically, as they appear in the analyzed text. When you have developed your plan, look through it again. Check your clarity about its content and all other important points for this literary work.
Write your first draft without paying attention to any requirements you may have. You will be able to correct this draft afterward.
When you have your first draft, condense phrases close to their meaning. Improve the rest of your text by enhancing formulations and excluding excessive statements.
Make sure you have included all the important points from your plan. Your ready text should be clear for understanding.
This part of your work is essential for any kind of analysis. Set aside your ready text at least for a day. You can come back to it with new ideas. If you have time, edit and clarify your analysis a couple of times.
Literary analysis is important for developing your critical thinking skills and analytical mindset. While making it, you can also boost your imagination and ability to form well-rounded conclusions.
Read any given work carefully, emphasize its main ideas, twists of the plot, negative and positive features of characters. Afterward, make your plan of writing, thesis statement, and auxiliary ideas you would like to express there.
Write your first draft and revise it afterward to polish till readiness. Make sure that your work sounds clear to your future readers.
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