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Literary Essay

Updated: Apr 21, 2016
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Literary Essay


Like most academic essay assignments, Literary Essays are meant to inform the reader – quite often delivering some kind of message; however, Literary Essays – unlike, say an argumentative essay – are not designed to persuade, though changing the reader’s perspective on a specific issue or topic may be a by-product.


Topics vary for a Literary Essay. Its subject could be specific like an era in American history, or more ambiguous like the skyline of a city. Quite often a student writing a Literary Essay may write about a personal experience, with personal reflections included.


The Literary Essay assignment will most likely be given in a low-level English course at the undergraduate level in college. The writing assignment, like most writing assignments in college, are designed to develop – and test – the student-writer’s writing, critical-thinking and reading-comprehension skills.


Steps to Writing a Literary Essay

1. Pick an Interesting Topic. Picking what the essay will be about is half the battle. But this takes just a little bit of work. Because they can write on just about anything at all, given it’s appropriate to the course in which the assignment has been given, the student-writer benefits when they write about a topic that is interesting to them. That way, it is less tedious and they are more engaged in the writing process, from start to finish. Best bet is for the student-writer to choose a topic they find captivating.

2. Put in the Research. Once a topic is chosen, the student-writer should conduct ample research so they are quite informed about the topic they’re writing about. Surfing the Internet, perusing the shelves of a library or bookstore, reading articles in magazines and newspapers, are great places to start. Also, when writing the essay, including sources can only help the student-writer’s Thesis, their essay’s main focus, read more legitimately.

3. Create an Outline. Rather than writing off the cuff and struggling along the way, it’s best the student-writer creates an outline, which serves as a sort of guide for the writing of their Literary Essay. The outline surely helps them map out their essay, literally outlining the points of thought they are to make in their Literary Essay, so that it saves time and avoids frustration in the long run. An outline is a must for every academic essay, regardless of how simple the assignment seems. The outline should also include transitions, as well as sources and how these sources are incorporated and expounded on in certain paragraphs, even specific sentences, of the essay.

4. Write the First Draft. Following their outline, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, thought by thought, the student-writer should do what they are supposed to do: write. Regardless of their topic, the subject they are writing about, the student-writer should write a minimum-five-paragraph essay that focuses on their decided topic. Each paragraph should, in essence and theory, pertain to the Thesis, their essay’s purpose or the argument, which is generally stated in the introductory paragraph.

5. Edit, Make Corrections, and Submit to One’s Professor. Read the completed first draft several times to make sure it is free of grammatical and spelling errors; it should also have a logical flow any reader could follow and comprehend. Once errors are corrected, the student-writer should reread their essay several times before turning it in for a graded evaluation.


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