The Ultimate Guide in Writing Essay Papers in LiteratureMarch 08, 2019

Why do Australian bush ballads keep on galloping? The answer to the question is supposed to be a premise of your essay paper, a great one you're hoping for. There's nothing wrong in reaching for the stars, which have dawned on you after staring at a starlit sky during a short holiday in the Outback not long ago. It might be vague, even if you're certain that you won't have a problem in exceeding the required word count. There must be another way of doing it.

Writing your essay paper requires planning and careful thought, as literary criticism is serious business. You happen to be interested in American literature, and you want to channel your inner (Jack) Kerouac; you're not thinking of your own spin on "On the Road", but rather research on the Australian hobo. You may not need ten minutes of Internet research, as you realise that backpackers, who are short of funds while on an extended vacation, may qualify as one. Then again, you may be surprised about Kerouac, who was afflicted with wanderlust. He might have liked these people, reminding him of the old, ragged hobos chased away by policemen. An intriguing thought, but you're thinking of another interesting topic. There might be a sea-dragon in the depths of the Pacific, not far from the Great Barrier Reef. It's the most fearsome creature, who is in deep, cold sleep for many centuries. Cressida Cowell is your favourite author, and "How to Train Your Dragon" is a great addition to English literature. You need a guide before you want to write about it, though.

Your plan does have a structure, which can take lots of your time. An initial discomfort, which is expected. Practice makes it easy, though.

What Kind of Topics are Good Ones?

How to discuss a literary character? You might cite Muriel Heslop, which isn't surprising at all. This (female) character may be a familiar face from your younger years, someone who might not expect you to change at all. You're not focused on the question, though. Miss Heslop may be real to you, but your professors are thinking of fictional characters. It will be better to pass the bush ballads, as you narrow down your choices on the classics. You don't envision a Miss Havisham in Bondi, not even Matilda Wormwood in your neighbourhood. You're about to consider symbolic characters, but it may not yield anything. How about historically-based characters? A visit to the park would be a waste of time. (Anzac Day is out of the question.) It would be better to think of a character that you can relate to. This should make your homework easier.

How to compare/contrast different authors/characters? Answering this question might be the most challenging part of your assignment. This is what your professor is expecting from you, as literary criticism is simply an exercise on deducing from information that you gather from hours of reading and researching. It's not a Herculean task IF you know your argument. There's a danger of veering away from it, which is due to your attempt to impress your professor on your literary prowess. Stick to one or two arguments.

How do you interpret a written text? The answer to the question may delight you, as it requires your imagination. You're thinking of a Freudian treatment on a Shakespeare character until it dawn on you that there are other students who are thinking of the same thing. If you're studying American literature, then you might want to discuss about the spontaneous prose that defines Jack Kerouac's works. As a matter of fact, you want to dispute it after you read an intriguing article on Kerouac's ex-girlfriend. (She released a memoir not long ago.) If you're keen on home authors, then don't play it safe. (Avoid bush ballads.) Your professor would like you to tackle an author from contemporary fiction.

How to read from a political/social perspective? You have read "A Map of Days" a number of times, as you vividly remember Devil's Acre. If you're studying Modern literature, then you have a gold mine in front of you. Charles Dickens was a social reformer of sort, spending lots of time in Devil's Acre. You may not have set foot in London, but your Mum once lived there. And she could imagine the shadow of Westminster Abbey over the shanties that were romanticised in Dickens's classics. You haven't answered the question, though.

How does a specific image mean to you? You’re a huge fan of “How to Train Your Dragon” series, so it didn’t take you a second to analyse the dragon. Cowell described the descent of the dragons to the bottom of the sea, ending the myth surrounding the Vikings. Your coursemate would mention the Inheritance Cycle, but you have seen the big-screen version of “Inheritance” (on streaming). And you don’t like it at all. Beowulf is a perfect subject, but you must remember one thing. There’s nothing wrong about being snobbish on your (literary) choices, but make sure that you know your subject too well.

How Do I Use the Information I Find?

It’s your thought that counts, so there’s no right (or wrong) in paper writing. If you’re uncertain about it, then write it in question form. You’ll be good at this one after doing it for some time. It should help you with your thesis writing.

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