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Checklist for Writing a Literature Critique After completing each step, check it off. Don’t go to the next step until you have checked them all off.

1.

Begin by reviewing your notes and the work of literature. Select or choose a topic. ____

2. Read about the work of literature. Use the databases on the college library homepage. ____ a. Tip about databases: Academic Search Elite (EBSCO) is a particularly large database, so you may find more results on niche topics on this database. The databases that deal specifically with literature may be listed under “Search by Subject.” Remember, it may serve you well to begin your research with specific key search terms and then gradually use broader terms. You are not as likely to find results with the specific key search terms, but the results that you will find will be the most useful to you.

3. Begin brainstorming for the main point you will make about the work of literature. Remember, anything you do to think is part of the process. If you need to take a walk to clear your mind, then do it. If you need to begin by talking to someone that is fine. After your walk or conversation, you may then want to do another type of pre-writing that will help you organize your thoughts, such as webbing, listing, or free writing. Check after completing two methods. ____

You may: a. Free write b. Loop–-write for three minutes. Then read what you wrote until one sentence jumps out at you. Then, write for another three minutes using that sentence as a prompt. Repeat as necessary. c. Cluster/Web d. Talk e. List


f.

Sketch

g. Use a combination

4. Draft your thesis statement. Check the following to ensure you haven’t committed a nono. ____

Avoid the following pitfalls: a. Does your thesis state the obvious? It shouldn’t. i. Ex: States the Obvious: Hamlet is a play about a young man with a dilemma. ii. Ex: States a fact: The Kite Runner is primarily about fathers and sons, as well as brothers.

b. Is your thesis specific enough? It should be. Avoid vague statements or generalizations. i. Ex: Of Mice and Men should be appreciated as a classic. The above thesis is too vague. Why should it be considered a classic? Ex: Oedipus proves that you can’t escape your destiny. How will you ever prove this in the body of your essay? You have taken the focus off the work of literature to make a generalization about destiny. c. Is your thesis too specific? It shouldn’t be. Your thesis needs to be just specific enough to prove in the body of the essay without going over your page limit; however, if it is too specific, there will be no way for you to prove it in the body because you will be able to prove it in a paragraph or less. i. Ex: In Hamlet, the main characters die after selfishly pursuing their obsessions – Hamlet wants revenge, even at his mother’s expense; his mother wants passionate love, even at her son’s expense; Claudius wants power, even at his brother’s expense.


What else is there to explore here? You will not be able to write a long paper with a thesis this specific. d. Is there a grammatical or mechanical error in your thesis? Is the syntax awkward? It shouldn’t be! This is pretty much like having something in your teeth on a first date. The introduction is the first thing your reader will see, and the thesis statement drives the whole essay.

Although they all long for love, Hamlet is about characters who sabotage their love lives for revenge and power. (misplaced modifier) *Remember, most writers go through many drafts of their thesis. It can be frustrating, but there is a payoff for the hard work. If your thesis is weak, the entire essay will be weak; after all, the thesis motivates the entire essay. 5. Outline Body Paragraphs ____ Write or type your thesis at the top of the page and then draft an outline for the body that supports that thesis. Each paragraph should have a point/idea, evidence, and a transition (PEET). Fill in your outline to at least include the point/idea and the evidence. It is fine you do not word it perfectly. You will think about the language when you draft and revise. 1.

Body paragraph a. Point/Idea i. Evidence (direct quote, summary, paraphrase) b. Explanation/Analysis c. Transition (don’t worry about this for the outline)

6.

Draft your body. ____

7. After you have drafted the body, then draft your introduction and conclusion. These are easier to write after you have written the body, for you know your purpose in the essay after writing the body. You should know the purpose of the essay before trying to hook readers into reading it and introducing the main concepts in the introduction, or before trying to give the essay significance in the conclusion. ____


8.

Does the essay open with a captivating hook? ____ You may hook a reader by: 1) Opening with an especially powerful quote from the text you are analyzing 2) Beginning with a startling fact about a current issue or event that ties into the text you are analyzing 3) Providing the context for the paper by explaining how the topic relates to the way most people think about the world 4) Posing a question that you will answer in the essay 5) Opening with a startling fact about the author or text. These are just a few ideas for hooking the audience.

9. Does the essay close with a reference to the hook or a compelling idea? ____ The conclusion may begin with an overview of the main points, followed by a tie in to the device you used to hook the reader at the beginning of the paper. For example, you could continue the quote with which you opened the essay in the conclusion. Or, you may provide an update or development into the current issue or event you brought up. If you cannot tie-in the hook, then close with a statement that explains the significance of your topic.

10. Revise (see revision lessons) ____ a. Make sure you first revise to ensure that the thesis is strong. b. Then, check the paragraph order to ensure it is logical. c. Then, re-organize the sentences in each paragraph. d. Make sure each paragraph has PEET (a point/idea, explanation, evidence, and a transition – in any order). e. Eliminate unnecessary sentences and add information, when necessary. f.

When you analyze for sentence clarity and grammar, read the last sentence of the essay first, then the sentence before, and so on and so forth. When you read from the beginning to the end, it is easy to read for context and not notice grammatical and clarity mistakes.


11. Peer Edit ____ a. Ask a peer to read the essay, and then write out your thesis in his or her own words without looking at your essay. This step will tell you if the thesis is conveyed clearly. b. Ask your peer to write a “P” next to the main point or idea in each paragraph. Ask him or her to underline explanation and write “Ex” above it. Ask that he or she do the same for evidence, but to write “EV” above it. This should tell you whether or not you are missing anything. c. Ask your peer if the paper flows. If it jumps around, then consider reorganizing the sentences or paragraphs, then adding transitional phrases where necessary.

12. Revise and Repeat until you are content with your work.

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