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Writing About Literature

Module W

Writing about Literature

Hint Sheet

Writing about literature involves analyzing, evaluating, and

interpreting.

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.