Writing about Literature
Writing about literature involves analyzing, evaluating, and
Avoid common pitfalls:
Pitfall #1: I like it./ I don't like it.
Pitfall #2: The author's purpose was . . .
Pitfall #3: It can mean anything.
Pitfall #4: Teacher knows best.
Pitfall #5: The summary trap
There are five basic approaches to writing about literature:
1. Summary (recounting the main points)
2. Explication (conducting a line-by-line investigation)
3. Analysis (separating the work into parts)
4. Evaluation (making a judgment)
5. Creative response (writing your own poem, story, etc.)
Literary works can be evaluated by concentrating on intrinsic or extrinsic factors.
Intrinsic factors (elements found within a literary work)
character, plot, theme, symbolism, etc.
Extrinsic factors (elements outside a literary work
history, psychology, sociology, author's experience, etc.
Some tips on writing about literature:
Choose a significant and limited subject.
State a well-defined, supportable thesis.
Support your thesis with evidence from the work itself.
Writing about fiction (a novel, a novella, or a short story) generally will concern character, plot, point of view, setting, theme, or imagery.