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Guidelines for Writing

Guidelines for Writing Assignments

Your writing assignments require that you develop your own thesis and support your claims via close readings of quotations from the text you have chosen.  Your 5-7 page essay should focus on only one text.   Do not use outside sources or refer to anything beyond what you can prove from evidence in the novel.  You paper must have a title and page numbers.

Here’s some advice:

1. Organize your topic, argument and evidence before you begin writing. The discipline advance planning provides the best conditions to become a better writer.

2.  Your argument, or thesis, should have more than one claim that you will have to prove with evidence, or quotes, from the novel.  Remember to quote only what you will specifically discuss and analyze.  Also, a thesis is more complex than a topic; in order to generate your own thesis, ask questions of the novel and answer them.  Ask more questions. Using the answers to your questions, you can design your own thesis statement that is based on the specifics of the novel.  Be sure to consider the implications of your analysis and how those implications might nuance your reading of the novel.

3.  Once you’ve organized your topic, argument and evidence, start writing your introductory paragraph(s).  Include a quote from the novel, analyze it in a way that calls attention to your topic and that delineates the terms of your argument.  Use your analysis of the quote to help explain the logic of your argument as well as the historical questions it raises.  (This is an exercise in close reading and analytical clarity).

4.  As your paper progresses, anchor each of your claims with details from the novel.  your archival material with your reading of the novel; include evidence (i.e., quotes)  from the novel in each paragraph; make sure each paragraph supports one of the claims you make in your introduction.

5.  In terms of style, remember to always use the present tense when writing about literature.  Remember the power of strong verbs and precise nouns, rely on them rather than on adjectives and adverbs.

Some additional resources:

Jane E. Aaron and Janice Okoomian, The Little, Brown Handbook

William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style

Ann Raimes, Keys for Writers

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