Tips for literary analysis essay composition

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The following article is brought to you by the editors at We offer essay editing services as well as expert thesis and dissertation editing services for masters and PhD students. All our services include style guide formatting (APA/MLA/HARVARD/AMA/etc.), and we have editors who work in UK, US, Canadian, and Australian English.

The following is a summary of tips suggested by our arts/humanities essay editors:

  1. Start with a topic that interests you. Although this is not necessarily essential, it is important if you wish to enjoy writing the piece (as much as is possible) and hope to make insightful comments on your chosen topic. Choose something that sparks your imagination.
  2. Write down all your questions about this topic and how this topic has been or could be examined. A broad overview of your topic and its context is a very effective element of a literary analysis essay. However, it must be followed by Step 3:
  3. Focus your topic. If you keep it too broad, you will probably get mired down in a complexity of relations (or resort to oversimplifying). For example, if I’m discussing the use of imagery in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I might focus on the use of imagery for the purposes of characterization. Alternatively, I could write a more focused, meaningful paper if I did it on the use of imagery in the second act of the play. The point is it is hard to have an impact on a broad topic.
  4. Go through the target work, highlighting passages you will need in your paper. This is a great way of avoiding constant leafing through the work as you write, and it will also help structure (or even reveal) the development of your main body.
  5. Go to the library or online to find works on a similar (or the same) subject, and explain their ideas and compare/contrast them with your own. For a good grade, it is essential that you show that you have engaged with published works related to your topic. A paper that is unknowingly trumped by existing work is pretty worthless in the grand scheme of things, so be sure to discuss (rather than simply present) what you find in the related literature.
  6. Don’t summarize your argument in each paragraph. This is just padding. Guide the reader through your discussion one step at a time. Keep the summarizing for the summary!
  7. Try to build a compelling, meaningful conclusion and indicate other related topics worthy of consideration.

We hope you have found these guidelines helpful. Good luck!

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