How to Write Literature Essays and Term Papers

How to Write Literature Essays and Term Papers

A valuable collection of viewpoints from 10 different authors . . . .

When learning how to write a literary analysis essay, your main objective is not to write a simple book review.  Rather, your goal is to write an article that discusses your interpretation of the literature.  When you write a literary analysis, you will need to keep the format in mind that is provided to you by the person assigning the report to you.  Nonetheless, there are a few general guidelines you should keep in mind when writing a literary analysis article.

One tip you should keep in mind while writing a literary analysis essay is that you should always write in the present tense and never in the past tense.  For example, you might write "In George Orwell's Animal Farm,' the animals take over the farm and develop their own independent society" rather than "In George Orwell's Animal Farm,' the animals took over the farm and developed their own independent society."

You should also avoid putting yourself into the literary analysis.  This means you should write in the third person and never use the words "I" or "you."  There may be exceptions to this rule, however, depending upon your instructor.  In fact, some will request a more informal literary analysis that will include the usage of these words.  When in doubt, however, it is safer to use the third person.

Since literary analysis essays are not meant to simply be a book review or summary of the book, you should not retell the story in your article.  Rather, you need to form a thesis about the piece of literature and then explain and support the thesis that you have developed.

Although you are not summarizing the plot when you write a literary analysis, you will need to pull elements from the plot when writing your literary analysis.  For example, when providing an analysis, you will use information from the piece of literature to help support your position.  For example, if writing a literary analysis of "The Telltale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe, you might make the assertion that the narrator is insane.  You can then use the fact that the narrator said he could hear "all things in the heaven and in the earth" to help support your claim.

Since you are writing a literary analysis, which is a critical look at the piece, you should use as many literary terms as possible.  Some terms that you should try to include and to use when analyzing the piece include:

  • Character
  • Theme
  • Setting
  • Rhyme
  • Point of view
  • Alliteration
  • Symbols
  • Imagery
  • Figurative language
  • Protagonist

By using these terms, you can create a more professional and respectable piece that reflects your understanding of literature.  For example, rather than saying "The story shows that people are like animals by giving the animals human characteristics," you should read, "The piece contains vivid symbols and images to reveal the animalistic nature of humans."  Although both pieces express the same idea, the second sentence reveals a stronger understanding of literature and literary terms.

Viewpoint #2

A literature research paper is a text that uses the ideas and opinions of scholars to support the writer's own literary interpretations and analyses.  In this way, most literature research papers are different from articles that are primarily intended to be overviews of scholarly ideas on a particular topic.  Many academic articles are essentially syntheses of scholarly opinions.  Most literature ressyllibus earch papers will not be this way, unless their objective is to provide an overview of a particular literary movement, style, or period.  Literature articles that are about a particular text should always focus on the writer's own interpretations and analyses, and use research to supplement those ideas.

Because a literature report should be centered in the writer's own analysis, it is best to begin a literature research paper by developing a thesis about the particular text before doing extensive research.  This will help the writer to develop a truly original idea before being influenced by the ideas of others.  Essentially, then, a literature report should begin as a literary analysis.  The writer should perform this analysis and develop his or her thoughts about the text before beginning research.  

The research component of a literature research paper may be extensive; however, it should still be supplementary to the writer's own ideas.  The writer may find scholars who share his or her interpretation; it is possible that the writer may not.  Either way, it is important that whatever ideas are incorporated from other sources are used to support the writer's own ideas, and not included to speak for the writer.  Even if the writer finds a source that shares his or her basic ideas about a text, it is unlikely that the writer and the source have developed the exact same reasons for that interpretation.  This would be a good research point to include in the writer's paper, because it indicates how the same general interpretation can be supported in different ways.  The writer can also use research that advances an interpretation in opposition to the writer's own, and then discuss why the evidence the source writer includes could perhaps be used to support elements of the writer's own interpretation.  The writer should never assume that he or she should only use research texts that are in accord with his or her own ideas, as it is often more fruitful to read and incorporate the ideas of those who think quite differently.  

Within any single paragraph or section of a literature research paper, there should never be more quoted or paraphrased material than there is original text.  In general, a good balance is 1/3 research, 2/3 original material.  This will help to ensure that the article is based in the writer's own ideas and words and not in the ideas and words of other scholars.

Viewpoint #3

A literature paper is a common assignment for many students enrolled in English courses.  However, many learners are unclear about what to include in literature papers, even when they have written many in the past.  The information that should be included in literature papers may vary based on the assignment and course.  However, the basic content should generally follow the same structure, regardless of the type of literature paper that a student needs to write.

In order to understand that types of information need to be included in literature papers, students need to first understand the purpose of a literature paper.  A literature paper is an assignment that helps a learner to analyze the content of a particular literary work and then provide criticism of the content.  

In many cases, a professor will provide the literary document that a student needs to study.  However, there are cases in which a learner will be able to select his or her own literary works to study.  One of the reasons that professors assign students to report on literary works is to assess the accuracy and validity of students' analysis and interpretation of literary sources.  

First, the student should provide an introduction into the literary document that he or she is studying.  This introduction should include background information about the document itself and, in many cases, about the author.  Students should then include a discussion of the effectiveness of certain devices that were used in the literary work(s).  For example, students may want to discuss how the author(s) used strategies to develop characters or themes.  The student should make a list of all topics that he or she wishes to discuss before actually writing the paper in order to ensure that he or she addresses each topic.  

Students should be aware that there are differences between what should be included in literature papers and what should be included in book reports.  Both book reports and literature papers provide feedback on a literary work.  However, a book report is usually a remedial assignment that calls for objective, factual reporting.  Literature papers, on the other hand, are generally advanced projects that call for a student's subjective interpretations and opinions about the given literature.

Viewpoint #4

A literature essay is one that a student needs to write in response to a particular literary work.  There are many different ways to write composition essays and many different reasons why a professor may assign a literature essay as a project.  However, all literature reports should follow a similar format and procedure.

First, when a student receives the assignment to write a literature composition, the student needs to begin by researching the material about which he or she will need to create the document.  In some cases, learners will only need to review one document in order to create a literary assignment.  In other cases, students may need to review multiple documents in order to create the composition assignment.  

Once the student has reviewed the documents that he or she needs to in order to write the assignment, the student needs to make sure that he or she understands the documents.  In some cases, the learner will need to perform additional research in order to understand the documents.  For example, if the student needs to write a composition essay on influences in Shakespeare's work from his personal life, then the student may want to refer to several different pieces of Shakespearean prose to get a more complete summary of his works.  

Students should begin writing their literature essays once they have performed enough research to feel comfortable with the writing.  Before writing the assignments, students need to create composition project outlines.  These outlines will provide the direction for the document and can help to ensure that an assignment follows the right format and includes the right amount of content.  

After a student creates a composition project outline, the pupil can create the first draft of the composition assignment.  The first draft of literature essays is never the last draft, so students need to be sure that they set aside enough time to create multiple drafts if they wish to create literature articles that will receive high grades.  

It is important to note that while students may have to create many different types of projects in their careers, the process to write a composition essay may be very unique.  For example, when students create a biology project, they may need to perform an experiment in order to create the document.  When students have to write a personal thesis, they will have to explore an experience that they had.  

However, when students need to write a literature composition, they need to read a literary document in order to create the material.  Therefore, literature essays require learners to have access to literary documents and they require that students analyze and understand the documents in order to create effective and comprehensive projects.

Viewpoint #5

Many students, especially those studying English, will be required to write composition papers as part of their normal academic requirements.  Literature papers not only ensure that students read and understand a literary work, but they also require learners to actually think about the literary work.  Therefore, literature papers are very popular writing assignments for students in English courses at all grade levels.

Whenever a student is studying English, one of the most important things that a student must do is understand what tools and elements a professional writer uses in order to write effectively and persuasively.  Especially in fictional work, writers will use tools such as themes, character development, setting, and plot to make a fictional story come to life.  Students need to understand these elements if they are going to truly understand literature.  

One of the best ways to students to understand these writing elements and tools is to analyze them when they are used effectively and ineffectively in other works.  Therefore, many professors will require learners to analyze common tools and their usage in literary works.  Students will then need to think about the effectiveness of tools and other devices and review them in a literary report.  

In order for students to write effective and thoughtful literature papers, they need to begin by being sure that they understand literature paper requirements.  If they have never written a literary report, learners should ask professors for further clarification on the assignment requirements.  

Students then need to read the literary work that they have been assigned.  They should think about important themes, ideas, and devices used in the literary work and develop and outline for the literature paper document that incorporates a discussion of each of those themes.  A literature paper is one of the few academic writing assignments in which a student is required to be subjective and to write based on his or her own opinion of the literary work.  

Viewpoint #6

A literary essay is a written assignment that requires students to explore a book, play, or other written work in depth.  Unlike book reports, literary essays require far more than a simple rehashing of the events of the story and basic recounting of the setting, characters, and other data.  A literary essay asks that students read a written work with far more than mere enjoyment in mind.

A literary essay is not a brief narration of the written work.  In literary essays, students are required to examine the literature and write about such concepts as structure and theme.  A literary essay requires students to delve into the literary work even deeper than if they were writing a literary review.

A literary report should contain an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.  The introduction should introduce the topic and contain a well-written thesis statement.  A thesis statement is what prepares the reader for what he or she will encounter in the rest.

The body of the literary report should discuss the written work.  Often, the course instructor will tell students exactly what to discuss in the body.  Things that are often discussed are such factors as how the author of the written work conveys the message of the writing.  The instructor wants to know if the story wanders and the message gets lost in the wanderings, if the wanderings are pertinent to the story, if the story is direct, or any other feature of the message that the student feels is worth mentioning.

The writing style of the author is also worth addressing in a literary essay.  Some writing styles are obviously easier to read than others.  This bears mentioning.  Some writing styles are immediately engrossing.  This bears mentioning also.  Students should analyze the writing style of the author from angles such as readability, complexity, and ability to convey the message of the written work.

A discussion of the author's writing style might also include mention of the author's use of similes and metaphors.  Many renowned authors make such complex use of metaphors that students often miss such associations until the instructor points them out.  Instructors like to use literary essay assignments to test a student's ability to uncover the true meaning behind metaphor use.  Some students, and instructors as well, find that even some of the best authors overuse similes.  It is important that students mention in their literary essays when they feel an author has become trite with his or her use of such associations.

Viewpoint #7

A literature term paper is one that a pupil writes on a particular literary work or topic.  Literature term papers may be assigned for high school, undergraduate, and graduate school programs and are most common in English classes.

In order to write an effective and convincing literature term paper, students need to first understand the subject matter about which they are going to write the document.  In order to understand the subject in the right light, the student should review the assignment for the literature report.  For example, a professor might require learners to compare two literary works for the literature report.  In order to do so effectively, it may be best if students read the literary works with the idea that they need to compare the works in mind.  

Once the student has reviewed the literary work or works about which he or she plans to write the literature term paper, the pupil can begin with the report outline.  The outline will provide the flow and structure for the document.  Many students create several literature term paper outline drafts before they write the report in order to be sure that they have the right flow and content.  

The first section of literature reports should contain background information about the literary work or works as well as information about what topics the learner will discuss.  Literature terms papers may cover a variety of topics.  Therefore, students need to be certain that the topic that they are covering matches the assigned topic or assignment.  

The second part of a literature term paper will describe the themes and ideas of the literary work.  The body of the literature report should support an argument, which is a one-sentence statement about something that the learner will prove to be true in the literature report.  Each body paragraph should present new information or ideas to support the thesis.  

Finally, the conclusion of the literature report should pull together all of the body paragraphs in order to show why that information supports the thesis.  The conclusion of a literature term paper presents an idea or conclusion that the student has arrived at through careful study and analysis of the literature work or works.

A literature term paper is different from a book report, which is a lesser academic work that a student might be required to write several times over the course of a semester.  A book report provides basic information about a book's themes or ideas.  However, when students are required to write composition term papers, professors are usually asking students to not only provide information about a literary work, but also to compare and analyze the book's ideas, context, themes, symbolism, setting, plot, related literary works, etc.  Therefore, literature term papers require more critical thinking skills than book reports.

Viewpoint #8

It is very common for students to have to write composition reports, especially students enrolled in English courses.  In general, literature reports are very specific types of academic writing that can be difficult for many learners to master.  Therefore, students should learn as much as they can about how to write an effective literature report if such assignments are required in their courses.

One of the reasons that literature reports can be so difficult for many learners is because literature reports require that students provide their own input on a literary work.  Many students do not feel confident enough to write an effective literature report if they do not feel that they have a mastery of the English language.  Therefore, it is important for students to develop their confidence before writing the document.  

Students may be able to develop their confidence by studying different literary techniques and terms.  For example, if students understand how to use setting to influence a story, then they may have an easier time reviewing a work in which setting plays a key role.  

Once student understand more about how to use literary devices, they should apply their understandings of these devices to the literary work on which they need to write a report.  Many students are assigned a particular literary work.  However, some students may be able to select their own literary work.  

Students also need to make sure that they understand the literature and its context before they begin the writing process in depth.  In order to get a better understanding of a work, many students will learn more about the author and the time period in which the work was written.  Some students will include this research in their literature reports.  

It is important for students to keep in mind that while they may have to write many different types of scholarly documents during their academic careers, literature reports are very specific and unique.  A literature report is not the same thing as an article, though both documents do require that student provide a point-of-view about a particular subject.  

Also, a literary report is often confused with a novel report.  Both types of assignments require learners to read a document and then provide feedback on the document.  However, a book report is always objective and a basic summary of a book or elements of a book.  A literature report provides the student's opinion and reaction to the work.

Viewpoint #9

When a student is required to create an essay on the literature that he or she has studied in class, the student needs to understand what a literary essay is and how it should be written.  Many students are required to write essays on the books that they read in class and many of these documents are available online so that other students can benefit from previous work.  Therefore, if students are struggling to understand how they need to create an essay on the literature that they read, they should search for literature essays online to get a better idea of the style and type of content to include.

An essay on the literature that a student has read in class can be a difficult writing assignment for many pupils.  After all, students not only need to first read the assigned literature, but they also need to understand it in order to write an effective and convincing essay.  Students, therefore, often benefit by reading related literature essays and criticisms of literary works in order to create their own essays.  

One of the most effective ways that students can write essays on the literature they have read is to compare multiple literary works by the same author or by contemporaries.  Students can compare character development, themes, ideas, and more in order to create an essay that is not only thorough, but also purposeful.  

Many students also write essays on the literature in the context of the given time period.  For example, students may compare cultural and societal influences that may have impacted the way Richard Wright wrote about racism and perseverance in Native Son.  By comparing the literary work to the environment in which it was written, students may have an easier time developing the flow and purpose of the literature essay.  

Literature essays are not book reports.  When a student is required to write an essay on the literature that he or she studied throughout a semester, the student should not merely write a book report about the literature.  He or she must read the literature critically, analyze important elements, and compare the literature to other works (in many cases).

Viewpoint #10

A literary criticism research paper is a common assignment for students enrolled in an English class.  Whether a student is an English major in college, studying English in a Masters program, or taking a required high school English class, the learner will be required to write literary research papers at some point during his or her career.

There are many different ways to write a literary reference project.  Different literary research topics require different methods of data collection.  Therefore, before students begin their literary research papers, they need to first make sure that they understand the specific assignment from the professor or teacher.  

Some professors may require learners to write literary research papers about multiple works from the same author.  Other assignments might require learners to write literary research papers about environmental influences on an author.  Some professors may require learners to compare similar literary works by similar authors and discuss the differences.  Therefore, because there are so many variations in types of literary research papers, students need to be sure to understand the project requirements before they begin.  

Next, after a student is sure that he or she understands the project requirements, the student needs to begin researching the literature.  Students may need to simply read the peice of literature in question.  Other times, learners will need to read historical documents in order to understand the life and culture of the author.  

Many students benefit by reading literary articles that other students have written on the same topic.  If possible, learners can read previous works that other students have created in order to get ideas, direction, and research for their own literary research papers.  However, learners should always double check their resources to make sure that the information in the example papers is accurate.  

When a student has to write a literary research paper, the student needs to remember that a literary research paper is not a literature review.  A literature review provides a point-of-view from the student and is usually quite subjective.  However, a literary research paper is based on fact and is usually objective.

Also, many literary research papers require learners to read multiple literary works and to learn about a variety of different literary topics and influences.  However, a literary report can often be written after a student has read only one body of work.  Students do not always need to read supporting material or historical documents in order to understand how to write their literary reviews.

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