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Writing a Literary Essay: Basic Hints for College Students

When you are a college student, you will definitely need to write quite a few literary essays. Therefore, it’s best to do some research from the very beginning of your college career and learn how to write these papers. Here are a few simple hints that should help you create a strong literary essay:

  • Find the right topic.
  • In many cases you will be provided with a list of prompts, so you’ll be able to choose one of them. Pick something you like as it will be much easier to motivate yourself to work when you write about something you are personally interested in. If you need to choose the topic yourself, think about the story carefully. What struck you the most? What is the main question you would like to ask the author? Find answers to those questions and you will have a topic for an extraordinary paper.

  • Develop a thesis.
  • Articulate your main idea in the form of a thesis statement you will need to present at the beginning of your essay. This sentence will guide you during the writing process. Reread it as often as necessary to make sure the focus of your paper doesn’t shift.

  • Write an outline.
  • Consider the thesis and write a list of arguments that would help you support it. Then, organize them in a logical order, starting with the strongest one. Now you have an outline for your paper that you should use during your research in order not to waste any time.

  • Collect the necessary data.
  • You will need to rely mostly on textual evidence when you write a literary essay. However, sometimes you might need to introduce other sources. Try to minimize the number of quotes and references from other books.

  • Develop your arguments.
  • When you write an academic essay of any kind, you need to use only one argument per paragraph. Each paragraph also must have its own well-defined structure with a topic sentence in the beginning and some solid evidence to support it. Use your notes to develop your arguments and choose the most persuasive evidence.

  • Write the first draft.
  • Now you need to actually write the essay. Follow your outline, but stay open to any new ideas that are sure to pop up in your mind while you work.

  • Revise and edit.
  • The first draft is bound to be disorganized and full of mistakes. If you want to get a good grade, you will need to polish it to perfection. Start by revising the content and paragraph order and then move on to eliminating any grammar, spelling, and formatting mistakes.

 

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