How to write a literaryanalysis essay: Easy explanation of a complex essay type

Knowing how to write a literary analysis essay is a useful skill for undergraduate and graduate students because this is probably one of the most frequently assigned essay types and if you are already familiar with this assignment, you can save a lot of time.

Besides, if you know how to write a powerful literary analysis essay, you can convey your thoughts with ease because good writing skills transform into better communication and analytical thinking skills. However, if you are not into writing, do not get upset because we are about to share some good literary analysis essay prompts and tips that will help you upgrade your skills.

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Literary analysis essay definition

A literary analysis essay is an essay in which a writer analyzes a piece of literature, such as a book, play, article, etc. In particular, a writer focuses on such aspects as plot, characters, tone, the author’s style and techniques he/she utilizes to narrate the story. When writing such essays, students learn to read literature more attentively and ask themselves the following questions: how exactly was this book written? Which tools did the author use and why? How could this book be written more effectively? In other words, this essay type enables students to become not only better writers but also better readers.


Once you understand the purpose of the assignment, you should also learn what to write in a literary analysis essay. There is no universal outline and list of paragraphs that must be included. The content depends on the type of readings that is being analyzed, its genre, length, and so on. For example, when analyzing prose, you will probably focus on the plot but in poetry analysis, formal elements will be more important. However, you will have to carefully read the professor’s guidelines and take them into consideration.

Typical elements that constitute a literary analysis essay are

Some papers will also include a detailed analysis of imagery, for example, when it is crucial to understanding of the author’s intended message.

How to write a literary analysis essay step by step

Similar to other writing assignments, literary analysis essay requires careful preparation and meticulous pre-writing work. Yet, a suitable plan is necessary for easier and painless experience. In fact, with careful preparation, the writing process will be fun. Check out the steps professional writers follow when working on literary analysis essays and who knows, maybe this essay type will become your favorite.

  1. Stay focused on the topic

One of the most common mistakes students make as they write literary analysis essay is deviating from the topic and filling their papers with tangential information. To avoid this, study the prompt meticulously and make sure you understand it well. Then, keep the prompt in front of your eyes as you read the assigned text. In addition, occasionally ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which passages in the text were the most remarkable?
  • Which literary devices were the most successful and what the author was hoping to achieve with them?
  • How do characters develop?
  1. Collect evidence as you read

You were asked to read the prompt before reading the text because this will help you keep track of evidence that will help you answer the prompt better. Highlight interesting facts, dialogues, and other material that will help you establish credibility as you analyze the readings. Another advice is to read about the author prior to starting reading his/her work. This way, you will be in a better position to understand his/her intentions and thoughts.

  1. Create an outline

The writing process will be much easier if you follow a previously created outline. Many students tend to ignore this stage but having a detailed outline helps you stay focused and have a better understanding of where you are heading and what you will say in your last paragraph. And if you have an outline, you will not forget to include some important ideas.

  1. Develop a strong thesis statement

Creating an outline and writing a thesis statement are connected steps because without them, a writer will not be able to clearly formulate their arguments and explain their significance. In your thesis statement, clearly express your main idea about the reading in relation to the essay prompt and list arguments that you will be explaining to support that idea.

  1. Write, revise, and proofread

Having completed the steps above you are now ready to get to the actual writing. Once your literary analysis is ready, to not rush into submitting it. Take a short break and then proofread the essay and make the necessary correction. Submit your paper only after it has been polished.

The basic components of a literary analysis essay

When students do not have a clear answer to the question, “What is literary analysis essay?” they are prone to make one mistake – free writing. Yet, this type of essay does not tolerate inclusion of random thoughts because every sentence must support your thesis statement and contribute to the overarching purpose of writing. How to write a literary analysis essay that will get a high grade?

Stick to the topic that you have formulated in accordance with the essay prompt.Create a clear and succinct thesis statement. This sentence, too, has to have a direct connection to your topic and the prompt you received from your professor. Divide your essay into basic structural elements – introduction, body, and conclusion – and include your ideas into corresponding paragraphs. A typical five-paragraph essay structure will do but if you think more paragraphs are necessary, write more.

See also: "Thesis Chapters Writing Guide"

The structure of a literary analysis essay

Typically, a literary analysis essay includes:

  1. An introduction, in which the writer expresses the purpose of writing and overviews the discussion that follows. Usually, the last sentence of the introduction is thesis statement but sometimes it may appear in the middle or at the beginning of the paragraph.
  2. Body paragraphs. Move on to the discussion of your thesis statement. Body paragraph should explain your thesis statement in detail and provide ample evidence to justify your point of view.
  3. Conclusion. This is the last part of the essay, in which you show how all the above mentioned elements are connected and how they contribute to your thesis statement. Do not include new information in this paragraph.

Congratulations! You now know how to write a literary analysis essay. However, you probably realize that this essay type is not the easiest one. Of course, college students are not expected to become professional literary critics at once but you should try to do the best you can.

If you are still not confident about your ability to cope with this task by the deadline, ask professional writer for help. Experienced writers will quickly provide you with a high-quality literary analysis on any topic.

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