Center for Writers - Resources

CHECKLIST FOR WRITING ABOUT LITERATURE


1.        Use quotations freely: the evidence used to support the thesis in a theme dealing with
            literature should primarily relate to the text of the literary selection.

2.         Stick to one type of paper when writing about literature.

            A.     Explication: Places emphasis upon the language of the text and upon possible
                            alternate interpretations of word meanings and the meaning of character
                            actions.

            B.    Character: Focus is upon the richness of personality as revealed through (1)
                             dialogue; 2) what others say about the character; (3) what the character
                            thinks; (4) what the character does.
 
            C.    Symbol: All possible implications of something in a narrative which stands for
                            something else.

            D.    Theme: Deals with the "message" (central) of the work, and how all the parts of
                            the literary selection are related to it.

            E.    Critical term: This type of paper would discuss a selection by weighing the term
                            against the selection: typical literary terms are farce, comedy, theater of the
                            absurd, catharsis.

3.        Avoid plot synopsis; relate only that part of a full narrative plot which is related to the
            paragraph topic which has already been narrowed.