The purpose of literary analysis is to respond to and examine ideas within a text or a variety of texts. To analyze means to break down the text into parts for greater examination. Analysis moves beyond summary, description, or narration.
Tips and Tricks for Literary Analysis:
Ø Remember: You are not writing a summary or simply describing the plot.
Ø Ask questions that will make your reader reflect upon certain portions of the text.
Ø Identify, develop, and organize the argument and the reasoning behind the argument.
Ø Prove that what you have said is true.
Ø Collect textual evidence and record the page number.
Leads/Intros/Hooks/Grabbers A lead/intro/hook/or grabber is the first few lines or paragraph of your writing. It should get the reader’s attention focused, clue them in to what you will be writing about, be unique and interesting, and make them want to read more.
The Top 10:
1. Dialogue: Quotes from the characters in the story put the reader immediately into the action.
Example: “What if I’m not the hero? What if I’m the bad guy?” (Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight. Little Brown Publishers, 2005.)
2. Thought-provoking Question: Asking a question to get the reader’s attention focused on a
topic. DO NOT use the “Have you ever… well I have…” lead.
Example: Do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth? (Avi. Nothing But The Truth. Avon, 1991.)
3. Assertion: Explain how you feel about the issue you are going to discuss in your story.
Example: Mountain biking is more enjoyable than going to the mall or playing video games.
4. Shocking Statement: Something that catches the reader off-guard.
Example: Spiderman is going to be our substitute teacher tomorrow!
5. Sensory Details: Use the five senses to make the reader feel like they’re inside the story.
Example: As I stumbled into the kitchen, the smell of home-made cookies made my mouth water and I thought, “Mmm…my favorite.”
6. Parallelism: Three parallel groups of words, usually separated by commas, that create a poetic rhythm or add support to a point, especially when the three word groups have their own modifiers or details.
Example: In those woods, I would spend hours listening to the wind rustle the leaves, climbing trees and spying on nesting birds, and giving the occasional wild growl to scare away any pink-flowered girls who might be riding their bikes too close to my secret entrance.
7. Specific Details for Effect: Show don’t tell
Example: As I stepped out onto the stage, my heart was beating a thousand miles a minute, my palms were sweaty, my pulse was racing, and my hands trembled.
8. Humorous Statement: A clever comment
Example: Normally when Andy Pearce plays the drums, it sounds like a traffic accident between several large vehicles travelling at high speeds in opposite directions. (Klass, David. You Don’t Know Me: A Novel. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001.
9. Mystery Statement: A statement that arouses curiosity
Example: Five minutes before she died, Grace Cahill changed her will. (Riordan, Rick. The Maze of Bones. Scholastic, 2008.)
10. Philosophical Statement: An insightful comment
Example: Sometimes in life you find that even adults make mistakes.
Example: Plop! Jeremy dropped his pet frog into the pool, and all the girls screamed in unison!
12. Middle of Action:
Example: The spaghetti bowl crashed to the ground in a million pieces, and my family sat silently looking at it… then they turned to me…
Example: “The opposite of love is not hate but indifference.” (Elie Wiesel) I realized the truth of this quote when…
Example: “You’re barking up the wrong tree,” my grandma insisted, as I begged her for a fourth helping of her delicious apple pie.
15. The past in the present:
Example: It’s April 10th, 1912 and the Titanic is about to set sail from England to America on its maiden voyage.
16. Full circle beginning to conclusion:
Me, having a bad day? What makes you think I’m having a bad day? Why does everyone assume I’m having a bad day when I just want to be left alone? I woke up late and missed the math quiz so now I have to stay after school. Jen, for some reason, is not talking to me, and, when I got home, I found out I have to baby-sit on Friday night instead of going to the movies.
It only got worse. At dinner my little sister spilled her Kool-Aid all over my favorite pair of pants, and, even though it wasn’t my turn, I got stuck with the dishes. After that I sat down to do my homework and realized I left it at school. Could it get any worse? When mom came in to chat, I nearly bit her head off when she asked if I was having a bad day. “Me, having a bad day? You think? Gee, Mom, in case you haven’t noticed, I am having a bad day; a really bad day!”
17. Figurative Language: Non-literal comparisons such as similes, metaphors, and personification add “spice” to writing and can help paint a more vivid picture for the reader.
It was a hot July morning, and the last few days of freedom before school were slipping by faster than a speeding bullet. In other words, I only had a week and a half to play my brains out, both inside and outside; a week and a half before the evil schoolwork monsters took over my time, and a week and a half before my whirlwind life as I had known it these past two months was over.
18. Repetition Devices:
Example: Soap, Soap, Soap, Don’t forget the soap!
Example: “Are you alright, Mr. Frank?” (Goodrich, Frances. The Diary of Anne Frank. Dramatist Play Service, Inc., 1986.)
Do NOT use these leads:
Ø Have you ever… well I have…
Ø One day…
Ø Once upon a time…
Ø Hello, my name is…
Ø My story is about…
Ø I am going to tell you about…
The last paragraph of your writing is your final chance to make a good impression. The conclusion can make or break your writing. The paper should “feel” complete and leave the reader satisfied.
The Top Ten:
1. Full Circle Conclusion: Echoing a word, phrase, quote, etc. from the introduction in the
conclusion paragraph. This allows the writing to be cohesive and makes the paper feel finished.
2. Surprise or Unique Twist:
Example: And it turned out the tortoise and the hare became best friends.
3. Philosophical Statement: Show your reader how your story connects to life in general.
Example: Sometimes in life, it’s not how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up.
4. What you’ve learned: Show the reader the lesson that you learned from the experiences in your story.
Example: Thus, I learned that it’s not a good idea to stuff 30 marbles in your mouth.
Example: “That’s right,” the doctor remarked, “marbles are not good for your health.”
Example: After the battle, the Orks never returned to middle earth. Or did they?
7.Parallelism: A series of three related ideas
Example: As we drove home from our trip, I put on my headphones, pushed back my car’s seat, and closed my eyes for a mental slide show of all the memories I would treasure for the rest of my life.
8. Famous Quote: Use someone else’s words to enhance your writing.
Example: After everything I had seen, I finally realized the powerful truth in what Doctor Martin Luther King meant when he proclaimed, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Example: With all my hard work, I had accomplished something amazing. I won the state competition for band. However, that left me wondering, “Would I have the determination to do it all again next year?”
10. Imperative Statement:
Example: Make a commitment to getting in shape. Turn off the television, put down whatever you’re reading, and start living a more healthy life today. You’ll be glad you did!
Example: I was so surprised that his feelings had been hurt. In the future, I will try to be more sensitive and think about what to say and how it might make others feel.
12 Reflective Evaluation:
Example: All in all, the marble-eating incident was a helpful learning experience. I will definitely never try that again!
Example: As the moving van pulled away, I realized that Tom was the best friend a boy could ever have. He was there when I needed him and knew when I needed to be alone. I’ll never forget him.
14. How Life Would Be Different: Show how the events in your story changed your life.
Example: If I had been stubborn and refused to go to the special summer program, I would never have learned about astronomy, never have met my new best friend, Joe, and never have left the house all summer! Thanks, Mom!
Example: After all the wonderful memories and things I learned, I definitely recommend that you join the National Junior Honor Society. You never know when the leadership skills will come in handy!
Do Not Use These Conclusions:
1. Well, that's all I have to say. I hope you liked my story.
2. In this paper, I have just told you...
3. It was only a dream...
4. I hope you have enjoyed...
5. You have just learned...