How to Write a Literary Analysis Paper

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Writing a literary analysis paper involves finding a topic that is personally interesting, finding primary sources of other analysts and coming to a compelling conclusion. Write a literary analysis paper with tips from a produced playwright in this free video on writing.

Part of the Video Series: Academic Writing Tips
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Video Transcript

Hi, this is Laura Turner and today I'm going to talk to you about how to write a literary analysis paper. I have written lots and lots of these papers in my life and I feel as though I can tell you many, many good things about it. So listen carefully. There are several ways to go about doing this. But you always want to start first with choosing a topic that actually interests you. Something in the novel or the story that you find to be strange, that you find to be romantic, that you find to sort of touch you in some way. Otherwise, you're going to write a paper that is pretty bland and boring. So start off with a topic that interests you and then start to write down all of your questions about this topic. Why it interests you, what you want to get out of reading about other works that talk about this topic. And then what I would do is actually take the book and go through; this is The Sound and The Fury. For example, if I wanted to write a paper on why does Faulkner use so many ways different ways of narrating this novel. That's a really broad topic. I probably want to pair it down to, why does Faulkner use italicized passages in this novel? That's something a little more specific. So not only choose something that interests you but also some that is very specific. Something you can narrow down and latch on to. And so then go through the novel or the poem and actually write down or type down all the passages that you're going to need to construct your literary analysis paper. Number two, go to the library or go on line and find works by other people who've written about similar subjects as the one that you're writing about. And take down good examples from their writings and use them in your own because it never hurts to figure out what other people think as well to help you. Also legitimize your opinion and to back it up and to contrast it so to have a more varied paper then just your ideas, you'll have other peoples ideas as well. Please do not summarized and explain your position in each paragraph. Take your opportunity at the beginning to write out your argument and then give your explanations, your examples, in your body of your paragraphs. But don't sort of reiterate or summarize either the plot of the story or your argument in each paragraph. Okay? That will just seem like filler. And then finally, try to come to a compelling conclusion. You're not the only one that's written about this piece of work, you're not the last person who's going to write about it, so leave the reader with the idea that you know that there is more to come to be written about the literary work that you were analyzing.


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