Dr. William Major
English 111

Checklist for Writing Papers About Literature

I. Title:

a. Title should reflect your thesis; it is not merely the title of the story or poem. It gives the reader a clue about what to expect in the essay.

II. Introductions:
 
a. Must have a thesis: main idea of your paper.
 b. Must engage your reader’s attention by developing the main idea.
 c. Must have the author and title of the work that you are discussing.
 d. Probably gives a short overview of the text.
 e. Might include a quotation or a rhetorical question.
 f. Should be no less than five sentences.

III. Body:

 a. Each paragraph makes one specific point and this point is developed with evidence—usually a brief quotation from the text.
 b. Each sentence in the paragraph is coherent: One sentence follows the next logically and relates to the preceding sentence.
 c. Connections between paragraphs should be clear: Use transitional words or statements, such as “furthermore,” “moreover,” “in addition.”
 d. Must have a clear reason for the order of your paragraphs. For instance, ask yourself what order makes the most sense. Are you building to a climax? Are you starting with the main point and moving to lesser points?

IV. Conclusion:

 a. Perhaps restate your main point, but do it in a different way.
 b. Perhaps offer an evaluation of your topic.
 c. Perhaps end with rhetorical questions.
 d. Perhaps employ a brief but significant quotation from your text.
 e. Always leave your reader with something to think about.

V. Other Points:

 a. Avoid, at all costs, excessive summary. Summary of the text will come through your analysis of the text. You will provide your reader with helpful details without retelling the entire story.
 b. Always write in the present tense: “Calixta sleeps with Alcee”; “Norma Jean is learning to cook”
 c. Integrate quotations into the text with proper grammar and punctuation. Always use quotation marks for quotations.
 d. Check your textbook for any questions. Use the index in the back.
 e. Read the checklists in your textbook carefully (e.g., p. 97, p. 102).
 f. Errors of spelling, grammar, and mechanics will be penalized.