Fifteen Tips for Writing Essays about
1. Take a confident, authoritative stance when you interpret a work.
2. Analyze; do not summarize. Use enough information from the work to
support your assertions, but do not retell the story.
3. Answer the question. Do not reconfigure the topic to fit your
desires. Address the question straightforwardly. Persuade your reader
to see your point of view.
4. Essays about literature are usually considered to be formal, so make
sure your tone and usage are appropriate. Assume that your audience is
5. Remember that all good essays need an introduction and a conclusion.
6. Handle quotations correctly. Introduce them, quote them accurately,
punctuate them correctly, and cite their sources.
7. Use correct grammar. Be especially wary of fragments, comma splices,
run-ons, and agreement errors.
8. Use present tense verbs when writing about literature unless logic
9. Do not assume that the narrator or voice of the work represents the
10. When referring to an author by name, use either his/her full name
or only the last name, but never refer to an author by his/her first
11. Do not include biographical information about an author unless it
has a direct bearing on your
12. Identify the work you are analyzing early on in your essay.
13. Capitalize the first letter of all words in a title except
conjunctions, prepositions, and articles unless those entities
constitute the first word of a title or the first word after a colon.
14. Underline or italicize the titles of works published independently.
Put titles of shorter works in quotation marks.
15. Never, never, never plagiarize!