How to Write a Literary Analysis: a Complete Guide

HomeBlog
How to Write a Literary Analysis: a Complete Guide
Jennifer Lockman

So, the professor asked you to write a literary analysis essay due tomorrow, and you hear this name for the first time? Not a problem! This EssayService guide will help you handle this task. Let's dive in!

What Is Literary Analysis?

If STEM students must become masters of Lab reports, philology and linguistics students should nail literary analysis essays! But, comparing to lab reports, this task is less complicated and more engaging. Why? Literary essay writing develops a skill that you will utilize not only during college studies but also in real life. The aim of literary analysis is clear and simple: to teach students to analyze literature pieces. It will help you find a true sense in your favorite stories, books, songs, and movies. 

What's the meaning of the story? What's the point of the book? What is the author's message to the reader? Literary analysis is a tool that will make all of these questions clear. You may ask: why do we need literary essays if we've already written a book review? Well, a book review is an entry step to the analysis of a literary piece. To make a successful literary analysis, you should analyze the text's language, perspective, structure, and explain for what purpose does the author use certain stylistic devices.

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

As this task's main point is to conduct a meaningful analysis of a text, your first step is to read the text carefully. Your work under literary analysis will be easier if you highlight major points and literary devices during reading. While you read, think of a possible thesis statement for your essay. Thoughtful reading will inspire you to come up with a strong thesis statement.

Another problem that you'll probably face during writing is that you may be assigned too many literary essays in one week. It is definitely impossible to read all the books to complete the assignment successfully. So, what should a student do in this situation?

You can use book reviews from Goodreads to get acquainted with the text. It may give you the whole picture of the plot, but it still won't be enough ground to write a strong thesis. Also, some of your groupmates may have already read the source material. Try asking them to retell the text; it will help you get the main points of it.

The main point of a literary analysis is to show that you see the connection between the ideas, plot, and know the role of stylistic devices used in the book. It is also important to trace the development of the main characters and determine what events forced them to perform certain actions. So, your job is to thoroughly read the text, paying attention to both the causes and consequences of events in the plot and imagery used to convey the author's message to the reader.

To make the most of your reading process, try following this checklist. It will help you make a successful analysis of your literary piece: 

  • What is the subject of a story?
  • What structure has the text?
  • In what style is the story written?
  • What's the main idea of the story?
  • How form and content are connected?
  • What's the relationship between the main plot and the subplot?
  • What are the characters' strengths and flaws?
  • What are storyline strengths and flaws?
character analysis checklist for literary analysis essay

Once you're done with the reading part, it's time to proceed to your essay writing.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

It would be perfect if writing down your impression of a book was enough to fulfill the task. But life is not that easy, so freewriting is not an option for college assignments. Your paper must be organized, and it needs to have specific paragraphs that will turn freewriting into an actual literary analysis:

  • An introduction. The main point of this part is to hook the reader's attention. The introduction should contain a thesis statement, the main message of your essay expressed in 1-2 sentences. It should reflect a topic of your paper and state your position on the issue. 
  • Main Body. The main body should have three paragraphs. You have to state points to prove your thesis statement. To make your arguments strong, show citations from the book that confirm your statements. If you come up with good evidence to support your ideas, you can be sure that your literary analysis will score a good mark.
  • Conclusion. In this paragraph, your goal is to repeat a thesis statement, but in the broader form. To reach this goal, you need to go back to the main body's statements and sum up how they developed the topic of your essay. 

So, in the literary analysis outline, it is important to build a frame of your essay with its essential elements (paragraphs). You can also brainstorm your ideas into the draft version of your essay, but knowing how to plan your paper correctly is beneficial. A plan helps you to lead your thoughts in the right direction. 

Now, let's focus on all literary essay elements step-by-step.

Step 1. Thesis Statement

The most important part of the literary analysis introduction is a thesis statement that provides the subject and overall idea of your essay. It is important to pick a topic that will resonate with the reader. Also, writing will be more pleasant for you if the subject of the essay resonates with your own views. 

How to come up with a strong thesis statement? All books from your course program have been examined for hundreds and even thousands of times. So, if it's hard for you to decode the main point of the novel, you can read reviews and find out this information. For example, one of the main themes of Great Gatsby is a deconstruction of the American Dream. So, in your thesis statement, you can mention this topic and say that the author, F. Fitzgerald showed how fatal the pursuing the American Dream could be, as the main character put all his efforts to become rich and attract the woman of his dreams, but in the end, he was left alone dying.

Then in the body, you will need to show the evidence that supports your thesis statement. If your thesis statement is strong and clear, it won't be a problem for you to come up with ideas for the main body. The introduction gives a tune for the whole paper, so just go with the flow. By the way, no matter what type of essay you're writing, whether it is a literary analysis or a process analysis essay, creating a strong thesis statement and attention-grabbing introduction is essential.

Step 2. Main Body

If you have a point, you must prove it! And a statement without evidence won't work. Strong arguments are crucial to the success of your paper. So, how to write an argument in a literary analysis essay? All your claims should refer to a thesis statement. The best way to ease your work on a paper is to highlight relevant quotes in the text during reading. While writing your essay, it is important to provide enough evidence to make your arguments as convincing as possible.

A literary analysis essay structure doesn't differ from other high school essays, so your paper's body should contain three paragraphs. You can extend your essay even to more paragraphs if your professor approves it. In the ideal case, your paragraphs should be concise and clearly state the point that will prove your thesis statement and lead you to the most convincing conclusions. If you put a lot of text in the main body, but it's not coherent, doesn't contain evidence with a strong argument, it won't make your professor satisfied. So you need to do your best to avoid fluff and filler.

Sometimes it's hard to define which parts of the text can work as a definite proof of your points. So, don't forget to pay attention to the literary devices used in the book. If the author created a metaphor, then it has a purpose and a deeper meaning, and it can lead you to the main idea of the book. You can take into account not only metaphors in your literary analysis but other devices too, as the list of figures of speech is very long! Start from the simplest ones - allusions, alliterations, hyperboles, and antithesis. If you pay attention and mark stylistic devices while reading a piece you need to analyze, each literary analysis assignment you get will become a piece of cake.

Paying attention to references is another excellent way to get evidence for the body of the paper. Modern authors are fans of writers of the past centuries, especially from ancient times. Their characters may be built based on popular archetypes. If you find allusions to other famous works, things, or events in your literary essay, you can be sure your essay will score a higher mark.

Need a Literary Analysis Essay?

Trust real pros to write your essay. Hire an expert to deal with your paper and chill out.

Get Expert Help

Step 3. How to End a Literary Analysis Essay 

So, you've already written an introduction, three paragraphs of the body, and now you need to come up with a meaningful and logical conclusion. You may find it challenging, but actually, it's not, as the conclusion doesn't have to contain any new information! Your job here is to summarize your key arguments and show the connection between them and your thesis statement. The thing is that you don't have to make any new conclusions, as you already made them in the main body. 

How to know that you've written a satisfactory conclusion? The formula is simple: your reader shouldn't be able to ask, "so what" after finishing reading your essay. If that's true, it means your conclusion is clear enough, your arguments are convincing enough, and there are no questions left.

Step-by-step Guidelines for Literary Analysis Essay Writing

Many professors fail to give proper guidance to their students. They give you a writing task without a comprehensive explanation of how to do it. Students often don't know where to find the sources of information to use in the paper, how to format an essay correctly, and what a perfect literary analysis should look like. The only way to successfully complete the task in such a situation is to find step-by-step instructions online. Using essay writing services that will assist you in finishing your paper is a common practice. It's an excellent opportunity for students to consult experienced writers on how to write a literary essay step by step or any other type of academic assignment, like a rhetorical analysis, expository essay, cause and effect essay, research paper, and so on. 

Before you start working on your paper, check out these tips. If you follow them, there is no doubt that your paper will stand out:

  • Read the source material (book, article, etc.) carefully;
  • Follow the provided instructions;
  • Format your essay accordingly (MLA, APA, Harvard, Chicago);
  • Think of a strong thesis statement;
  • Make a literary analysis essay outline;
  • Write your paper according to your plan;
  • Once you're finished with the writing, thoroughly proofread your text;
  • Give your essay to a parent, friend, or classmate for an additional review;
  • Submit your essay before the due date;

Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? It's not a big deal to make a flawless paper if you have proper guidelines for it. If you followed all of the steps stated above, your chances to submit an A+ paper are very high!

Academic Style of Literary Analysis Essay

Essay writing would be a way more manageable if you shouldn't always follow strict writing style requirements. Like any other college assignment, a literary essay should be written in an academic style. If you don't create your paper in a specific format, you will get an unsatisfying mark no matter how great you wrote your literary analysis. The thing is that your professor may be positively impressed with your paper, but if you didn't adhere to formatting rules, you can't count on a higher mark than C. 

High scores demand the precise following of all the requirements. Proper formatting, correct citations, and reference page is a must. Your institution can request writing in different style formats: Chicago, MLA, APA, Harvard. Don't worry if these strict rules confuse you. There are helpful apps and websites that will save you from the troubles of academic paper citations. 

The Bottom Line

Writing a literary analysis is a skill that you should master if you're a philology or linguistics student. And this skill will help you not only in high school or college but in daily life as well. We all are surrounded by literary works, from books to tv shows. If you know how to write a literary analysis essay, you can analyze a piece of creative work and prove your conclusions with strong arguments. You will be able to see hidden meanings and references that the author utilized in the book. Also, you will see how stylistic devices convey more profound meanings of the text. 

If you follow our essay writing tips, the work on your paper won't be that challenging. But the first time is always the hardest, so don't be shy to request help! Professional academic writers from our essay writing service will show you how to create a literary analysis outline, strong arguments for the body, and how to format your paper according to stated academic style, and any other essay-related task. Also, use our economics essay writing service if you need any help with economics assignments.

Get My Paper Done
Back to blog

New Posts to Your Inbox!

Stay in touch