It can sometimes be challenging when producing a quality English literature essay. Often times students struggle to find a starting point and write cohesively. Here are some top tips on how to successfully write an essay for your English Literature exam:
1. Make your research personal, creative and imaginative
Whatever your subject, whatever your task at hand, you can make research an exciting and fruitful part of your project. We all work harder and more successfully when we are actively interested in our work. It’s possible to find themes and histories in every academic piece of work that can align with your interests somehow.
Not only will this make drafting out your essay, dissertation or exam preparation enjoyable, but also finding imaginative ways to discuss the subject at hand ensures you write from a unique point of view, which will make your writing stand out. Are you interested in History? Politics? Gender? The fantastical? The Gothic? The Romantic? Scrutinize the text you are studying and identify themes that intrigue you and consider their effect on the narrative.
Analysing Lord of the Flies and interested in femininity? Explore the spectrum of masculinity in the characters or the effect the absence of females has on the narrative. Be experimental, creative and adventurous when researching your text and you’ll be amazed at how far it will take your essay.
2. Widen your vocabulary
Regular use of a Thesaurus can make your writing more colourful, expressive and effective. Of course using too many long and impressive sounding words may lead you to sound like you’ve swallowed the Thesaurus, but carefully considered eloquence can take your essay up to the next grade. Markers seek a fluid and sophisticated command of language, so be adventurous and challenge yourself with your choice of words. The best way to do this is to write out your first draft and just focus on getting your points across. Once you have done this you can begin to thoughtfully refine and embellish your language. Find words that you have used multiple times, e.g. strong, and think about how you could change the word to something more specific and expressive. Instead of strong, could you say: unyielding, valiant, militant or unadulterated?
3. Structure cohesively
Think about your essay like a bountiful ten-course meal, with each paragraph of your argument being a separate dish. In the right order, each dish compliments the last and leads the way for the next. Your essay works in the same way; if you end each paragraph by concisely wrapping up the point you are making, you ensure the reader starts the next point with a clear palate. You can weave ideas from previous paragraphs into the next, but only those that are relevant and constructive – no mixing the gravy and trifle! Plan a rough structure outlining the basis of each point you will explore before you start writing in depth.
A strong skeleton for each paragraph is first to establish your point, then to back up this idea with evidence, then to analyse the effect of this finding. Rope in as many friends and family as you can to read your essay, even if in parts, as there will always be sentences that make complete sense to you but are baffling to others.
4. Understand the importance of your own ideas
The most interesting part of studying literature is your own perception and ideas about the text. Don’t be afraid to disagree with mainstream readings of texts, or put out an unusual and imaginative interpretation of a character or scene. This shows that you have not only understood a piece of literature but are capable of demonstrating independence of thought. Throw yourself into your reading, research and writing without abandon!
By Pippa P, Private tutor in Art, English Language, English Literature, Law. Interested in arranging private home or online tuition on a 1 to 1 basis? Contact Us today to discuss how we can help.