Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Art of Evaluating an Art: Writing Literary Essay


Literature is tagged as creative writing of well recognized artistic value. The art of crafting literary pieces is quite complex and doing a critique on such well-esteemed academic discipline is equally intricate as well - as creating literary essay.


Discussing a work of art like literary works entail giving due credit. Assessment of artworks in creative writing only calls for an equivalent hard-earned status. Therefore, here are the vital elements on accomplishing a quality literary essay – the art of evaluating a work of art.


· The meaning and construction of a piece of literature is explored in a literary essay. This task is quite more complicated than mere reviewing, though the two are similarly evaluative. In a review the overall effect and the validity of a written work is discussed, while a literary essay pays more attention to specifics. It focuses on elements such as structure, character, theme, style, tone, and subtext.


· A literary essay is a personal interpretation, based only on reading the piece. It can also be a mixture of your opinions and references of other criticisms.

· The essay must have an interesting title that has something to do with the writer’s position.


· The language in writing literary essays must be rich. There must be no slang and contractions. Show vocabulary variety and make the literary essay interesting to read.


· Keep the tone straightforward and the explanations concise. Write directly and clearly, but "simple" does not mean "simplistic."


· Use academic formal language. Slang is unacceptable: 'kind of', 'gonna', 'cool', and the likes. Do not use contractions: I'd, I'll, etc. They are acceptable in an oral presentation, but not in formal writings.


· Don't retell the story. Plot is of limited value in crafting a literary essay. Instead, express an opinion. Don't be afraid to take the risk of having a personal interpretation. There's never one correct view - in literary study there is certainly none.


· Do not quote too much. Quote appropriately. The idea is to demonstrate that the argument has substance to quote used.


· In presenting personal views, always try to anticipate objections. One of the best ways to argue a position is to present the opposing argument’s weak logic.


· Organize paragraphs according to the development of the argument, not according to the chronological order of the literary piece. Use transitions to show how logically connected each argument is to one another.


· Use present tense. It shows that the literary work and the issues it raises are still alive. The passive voice is used in essays dealing with scientific discipline such as history, sociology, and political science, but not in a literary essay.

  • Literary essay is not meant as a venue for preaching your personal views. Do not ever try to convert the readers. Avoid clich├ęs and sentimentality.

· Avoid empty statements that really explain nothing. Do not begin the essay with lines like, "William Shakespeare was born in the 16th century". This is common knowledge and is not worth saying.


· Avoid phony statements like, "I absolutely adore Shakespeare". It serves the essay with nothing.


  • Be wary of plagiarism. Any artwork is considered as a unique intellectual property of its creator, therefore, the art of evaluating an art also calls for uniqueness and originality.

Creating a work of art like a literary piece certainly requires sophisticated skills, passion and tons of hard work. Thus, by principle, it is just proper for its critique like literary essay, to undergo the same process, investing equal amount of skills and effort - an art for an art.