Tips on Writing a Literary Essay Outline

Literature is an important part of culture that brings enjoyment. However, in the context of academic studies, a piece of literature becomes an element of education that requires a student to analyze a text and make objective conclusions. Such tasks are known as a literary analysis and focus on discussing particular segments of a story, namely, characters, tone, structure, language, historic accuracy, and how, for examples, these and other creative elements contribute to the plot. Notably, this type of an assignment should not be confused with a book report or a review.

A literary essay requires a student to use analytical and verbal skills. To complete a task successfully, it is important to follow a method that helps to produce a creative and comprehensive paper. The information below stresses the need to prepare a proper literary essay outline that would serve as a backbone of the work.

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Outline

  • Step One. Questions.

As a rule, students are provided with a list of prompts that can be used as a basis for a literary essay outline. A student should select a topic of interest to make a process of writing more enjoyable.
However, in cases where one should create a topic, several questions may be considered to understand a subject. For instance, think about the elements that an author uses to make characters appealing or how the choice of words and figures creates the pleasant ambience. For instance, one can write how a book Hunger Games unitizes antiutopian ideas and their role in the modern culture.

  • Step Two. Evidence.

When the central question is formed, a student should gather examples from a book to support possible answers. It may be recommended to pay attention to specific symbols and images that an author uses in addition to passages that help to understand the question. Evidence is crucial for writing a literary analysis essay outline. Thus, you should know a story well,. If you find some parts to be confusing, it is better to reread them and establish connections between the author’s thoughts.

  • Step Three. Thesis.

Questions and examples help to develop a strong thesis statement that is a basis of a literary analysis paper outline. Devote some time to think about a thesis. Be ready to edit it in the process of writing a paper, if necessary.

A good thesis statement should include:

Examples from the text.

A strong thesis should incorporate evidence from the story to provide a statement that is not obvious to readers. It should also be arguable. Moreover, a thesis is not an opinion about a story.


There is no general method of argumentation that can be applied to all literary analysis. Argumentation varies greatly and depends on a story and a chosen angle. In some cases, a student may need to contrast and compare characters or ideas while in other occurrences, it may be required to describe a certain image and its significance for a given piece of literature. Thus, arguments should be compatible with a thesis and organized appropriately.

Elements of a Literary Analysis Paper Outline

A good outline should have a structure that allows organizing ideas and writing a logical paper. The main elements of an outline should include:

1. Introduction.

This part of a literary analysis presents a topic, a thesis, and questions that are addressed in an essay. It may also include important issues related to a topic. The length of an introduction depends on the overall length of the paper. Usually, one passage is suffice.
A good introduction should identify a story, its author, explain why a topic is important, and have a hook. Moreover, it should present an arguable thesis in the end.
It is better to avoid off-topic sentences, vagueness, and flamboyant assertions.

2. Body.

The middle segment of a paper is devoted to developing arguments and should have a few passages that start with a topic sentence and have a concluding idea that sums up an argument. A classical analysis paper is usually written in five passages. Thus, three of them are body paragraphs that should present three different points and develop a thesis. Importantly, a body paragraph should not describe too much material and ignore transitions.

3. Conclusion.

The concluding part of a literature analysis should summarize all the points and explain their meaning. It should also mirror the information given in an introductory paragraph and restate a thesis. Moreover, a conclusion should help to emphasize the importance of a topic and support it with arguments from the bogy paragraphs. A conclusion should also help readers understand how the analysis relates to a chosen work.
It may be advised writing a conclusion that starts with specific details and ends with general information that provides broader implications for the paper. For example, if a student analyzes the character of Juliet from Romeo and Juliet, the overall message of the story in terms of the influence of family and social environment should be given. The conclusion should not include many details but summarize the main ideas. Additionally, it should not confuse readers with redundant closing remarks. Furthermore, no new thoughts should be given.

Thus, an outline helps to complete a literary analysis and structure all the arguments.
When a student does not know where to find ideas, outline examples may serve as excellent help. Search online for already written papers to see how a work should be done but do not copy the available material. You need to come up with original ideas and be able to support them with evidence. Take your time!

More Tips

  • A literature analysis should have a suitable title that introduces a topic. Therefore, it should not be general and such titles as, for instance, “Literary Essay” are inappropriate. Moreover, the title of a paper should not repeat a title of book.
  • A paper should all use a formal language and avoid contractions, or a personal pronoun “I.”
    An analysis should be written in the present tense.
  • Do not forget to clearly indicate the author’s full name in the beginning. The last name should be used throughout the rest of the paper.
  • A title of the book should be underlined or given in italics depending on a formatting style. Pay attention to formatting!
  • A thesis should be one sentence. Sometimes, a complicated thesis may be written in two sentences. Make sure that a statement is clear and arguable.
  • A body of a literature analysis should have topic sentences and include one of the main points to support the thesis. Remember to concentrate on the thesis.

Have fun!