Our Top 10 Tips for Writing a High School English Essay
When you read a work of literature in an English class, you’re being asked not just to read but to perform literary analysis. This means thinking critically, examining and evaluating different parts of the text including – but not limited to – character traits, plot, and use of literary devices to gain a better insight into the key themes and message the author intended to deliver. Or what we, the readers, think the author intended to deliver, anyway.
In an English essay, it is important that you form your own opinion rather than simply repeating what the scholars have said. Research, however, is a great way to get some ideas and get started on your own interpretation. The library offers a number of databases that you can use to gather background information on literary works. Literary Sources Online is a great database with research materials on various literary topics, authors, and their writing. If you are being asked to analyze a Shakespearean play, we also offer the Shakespeare Collection for full text criticisms and scholarly articles.
Here are some basic tips for writing an English essay:
- Make sure that your topic is not too narrow or too broad for the length of the essay and there's enough evidence in the text for what you want to write about.
- Consider your audience. Your teacher is already familiar with the assigned work. Avoid summarizing the plot in your essay and stick to analysis.
- Include a clear thesis statement and full reference to the literary work and author you are writing about in the introductory paragraph.
- Start each paragraph with a topic sentence.
- Write in the present tense when you are describing events.
- Keep yourself out of the analysis and use the third person.
- Include relevant quotations and provide detailed examples from the work to support your argument.
- Tie together your arguments and ideas in the conclusion paragraph. Do not introduce any new topic or idea in the conclusion that was not addressed in the body of your essay.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread. Take a break from looking at your work for a while, then do a proofread again. If you can, ask someone else to do a proofread for you.
- Check the citation format you need to use and make sure that all in-text citations have a corresponding entry in your Works Cited page.
Good luck! And remember to take advantage of the free online writing support through Brainfuse, accessible through the library website! Get live help from tutors daily from 2-11 pm.