English 152 Literature Writing Guidelines

These guidelines for writing papers about literature are organized into four sections: general guidelines, fiction guidelines, poetry guidelines, and drama guidelines. To view each section, click on the links at the left of your screen. You may also click on the links to read the primary sources (the literature featured in the examples.)

Writing a Literary Essay

A literary essay is an essay in which you will interpret and analyze a literary text: a fictional work, such as a short story or novel; a poem; or a dramatic work, informally called a play. To write a competent literary essay, you will need to read and study the literary work (known as a primary text) carefully. Then, considering your class assignment carefully, you should choose a topic and focus for your essay. An early step in drafting your essay will be to create a suitable thesis statement.


This guide is an adaptation of the original, written by Professor Judy Angona and Professor Louise Silverman of the OCC English Department.