How to write a literary analysis

So, you need to know how to write a literary analysis. Don’t worry because we’ve got you covered. A literary analysis involves analyzing the different parts of a piece of literature in order to understand what the author is trying to convey, and then convincing your reader of this interpretation. So, a literary analysis is very similar to an argumentative essay, except that you will be arguing about a piece of literature. As with writing an argumentative essay, there are steps on how to write a literary analysis, too.

Preparation

  1. As you read the piece of literature you are going to write about, take note of any details that have significance. These are elements that you can focus on in your analysis and use as evidence to support your argument later on. You may need to read the text multiple times, so make sure to start early.
  2. After reading the text, do some preliminary research. Focus on critics’ interpretations or opinions of the text as these will enrich and support your argument.
  3. Familiarize yourself with literary terms and literary devices. These are the elements that make up a story, and will therefore help you in interpreting the text and in crafting your literary analysis.
  4. Plan your essay. Pick what element of the story you want to write about and what you want to say about it (just make sure that you can provide textual evidence!), then start crafting your thesis statement.

literary elements

Writing part

  1. Keep your paper organized and focused. Follow the introduction-body-conclusion structure and always keep the thesis statement in mind as you write so that you don’t stray from your topic.
  2. In the Introduction, provide the details of the text, such as the author’s name, the genre, and the year of publication. Then, give a brief summary of the story, as well as what the essay hopes to accomplish. Finally, state your thesis statement.
  3. The bodyis where you explain and justify your analysis.
    • For each point or argument in your thesis statement, allot a paragraph or two.
    • Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence. This is the first sentence of your paragraph that introduces which part of the thesis this paragraph will tackle.
    • After presenting your argument, provide textual evidence. Textual evidence may be a scene that you recount, a small detail or object, or a quote (this should be cited).
    • Most importantly, explain how the textual evidence supports the topic sentence or the thesis statement. The commentary is your interpretation, analysis, or insight to the text.
    • Your commentary may also be based on or supported by a critic’s opinion or interpretation. Citing a critic could help make your argument more credible.
    • Keep your essay coherent by using transition devices. These phrases connect your ideas so that your reader can understand them easily.
    • The concluding sentence is what ties up your entire paragraph to the thesis statement.
  4. The conclusion is the last paragraph of your literary analysis. This is where you restate the thesis statement and all the arguments you presented. You may also include additional insights or opinions.
  5. Finally, don’t forget to cite your sources.


Now that you know the steps on how to write a literary analysis, it should be easy to write one. If you find yourself stumped, don’t hesitate to ask for help.