(for an Analytical Essay about Literature)
Information you need to include (you decide the best order)
1. title (underline book titles and full plays; use “quotation marks” for shorter works, poems,
3. genre, if it is not widely known or obvious (poem, novel, play, vignette, short story, etc.)
4. summary of text (keep it short and focus on the parts your reader should know before
reading your essay)
5. thesis (usually one sentence; it is your argument or interpretation of the text; this is what
your essay is going to prove)
Ways to begin your introductory paragraph
1. Start with an idea – The horror of the Holocaust must be remembered if we are to
ensure that history does not repeat itself. Elie Wiesel’s Night compels the reader to
remember through the telling of a young boy’s own story of survival and loss.
2. Start with a quote – “Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has
turned my life into one long night” (32), Elie Wiesel states in his memoir Night.
3. Start with a character – Elie Wiesel goes through a significant change during the course
of the memoir Night.
4. Start with the author – Elie Wiesel tells his story of human struggle and survival in the
face of extreme oppression in his memoir about life during the Holocaust.
5. Start with the title – Night, by Elie Wiesel shows how a person’s life can change
Pitfalls: Practices you should avoid
1. Avoid telling the reader what you are going to do next. Just do it.
Don’t say: “In this essay, I am going to prove that Esperanza is naive.”
Do say: “Esperanza is naive.
2. Avoid forced “hooks” that aren’t clearly related to the text or your interpretation.
Don’t say: “Have you ever been on a river adventure? Huck Finn has.”
Do say: “Huck Finn’s journey down the Mississippi River is more than a thrilling
adventure; it is a metaphor for his odyssey through life.”
Write in present tense.
Do not use I or you.
Do not use contractions or slang in formal writing.