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The Essentials of Writing a Literary Essay A 12-Step Process.

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Presentation on theme: "The Essentials of Writing a Literary Essay A 12-Step Process."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Essentials of Writing a Literary Essay A 12-Step Process

2 Step 1 - Anticipate Anticipate universal topics. – Analyze the front cover of the text. – Read a synopsis (on back, online). – Research the author and novel. – Read a review of the text.

3 Step 2 – Tracking…Everything Read the text (novel, play, poem), and take notes on several universal topics. Use Post-It notes, if they work for you. – Notes must include textual proofs, page numbers, and point-form explanations for proof choices. You’re tracking evidence of the author using the 5 main literary elements to discuss topics. The 5 elements: – Characters – Setting – Symbols – Mood – Plot

4 Step 2 – Tracking…Everything (continued) – Notes can also include questions reactions text to self/text/world connections emoticons highlighted, underlined passages (if using your own copy)

5 Step 3 – Topics Become Themes After reading and taking topic notes on several chapters, develop universal topics into universal themes. This involves serious brain power. Get input from friends who’ve read the same text; you can learn from each other’s varied perspectives. See note on MyClass for the questions you worked through to develop our themes list for The Kite Runner.

6 Step 4 – Tracking Themes Take notes that support several universal themes. You will eventually select one (for your thesis), but, at this point, you want to give yourself adequate choice. – As always, notes must include textual proofs, page numbers, and explanations/analyses of proofs.

7 Step 5 – Top Choice Themes Only Narrow your focus by selecting only one or two universal themes to track. – Consider choosing themes that you can relate to, that you’re passionate about, and that can be supported with proofs throughout the text (unless your focus is very precise, or you’re doing a close reading – an analysis of a very brief section of a larger text).

8 Step 6 – Do I Have a Thesis? Select one theme (hypothesis). Ask yourself, “Am I confident with the amount of proof I have? The quality of proofs?” Most importantly, are you confident in your ability to explain how the proofs support your theme? If you can answer “Yes” to these questions, you now have a working thesis.

9 Step 6 (continued) – Do I Have a Thesis AND Supporting Arguments? Cluster the proofs for your thesis, according to various commonalities (ex. according to character or relationship, according to type, according to time period, according to location). Use a legend to make it easier to see the groupings. Using the clusters, establish supporting arguments for your thesis. Aim for 3 supporting arguments.

10 Step 7 – Pause and Type Give your brain a break and switch to something relatively mindless: typing. Type up all your proofs, page numbers, and explanations for your thesis. This will make the next few steps considerably easier (as you will have the option to cut and paste ideas while deciding on the organization of your essay).

11 Step 8 – Get Organized, Get Focused Plan the organization of your essay. How will you order your supporting arguments? – In chronological order? – Medium strength argument/not-as-strong as medium argument/strongest argument? – In order of importance?

12 Step 8 - Get Organized, Get Focused (continued) How will you order your points within each supporting argument? How many points do you want to include? Remember to have at least 3 points per supporting argument. – You may use as many proofs as necessary to support each point.

13 Step 9 – Outline Time Create an outline: a skeleton for your essay that includes an introduction and conclusion. Use mostly point-form notes. If you’re anxious about writing, consider recording yourself simply talking about each argument. Take point-form notes based on your rants. Use this step as yet another opportunity to answer these questions: – “Do my arguments clearly relate to my thesis?” – “Have I chosen the best proofs to support my arguments?” – “Does the order of my arguments and points help make my thesis more convincing?”

14 Step 10 – Roughing It (Take 1, 2, 3…) Using your outline as your guide, write or type your first draft of your essay. Give yourself permission to really “rough it”. – The goal is to just get down your ideas using sentences and paragraphs. – Don’t obsess about grammar, punctuation, spelling, and diction. You’ll have time to refine in later steps. – If you freeze up, go back to sharing your ideas aloud (with a friend or alone), record yourself, and type whatever comes up. You can use the outline as your speaking/discussion notes.

15 Step 11 – Revise and Edit Print off your first draft. Use an easy-to-read, large enough font and remember to double space. These little things can help reduce frustration while revising and editing. Revise and edit your draft, using the editing checklist provided by your teacher. After you’ve done your best, on your own, create a second draft. Hand your second draft to a friend, family member, tutor for another round of editing.

16 Step 12 – The Home Stretch Repeat Step 11 as many times as you need. Consider using scrap paper for printing, if you’re running off many drafts. After you’ve produced your best draft, refer to the General Editing section of the editing checklist. Check that you’ve met each expectation. NOW, hit print, round up all evidence of your process work, and hand it all in. CONGRATULATIONS ON A JOB WELL DONE!

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