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Writing a Fiction Analysis Essay

1 Choose a story and topic. What story stands out to you the most? What aspect of the story do you mind meaningful? Stories that stir your emotions are good – but try to avoid focusing on things like what you would have done in the same situation, or why you like or dislike a character.

2. Develop a draft thesis. Make a strong claim that is arguable (not a fact), supportable (not overly opinionated), and significant. Consider what question you’ll answer while you write your essay. Some thesis statements are statements of theme (The story illustrates that point…) and others focus on the use of literary devices (This story employs symbolism and imagery to create…).

3. Create a plan for your paragraphs. Avoid summary – always. Decide what purpose each paragraph will have: will it focus on a literary device? A character? Even an informal outline can help you organize your ideas and keep your essay structured.

4. Write a draft. Don’t summarize. Think about your thesis and what point you are working to support. Remember each paragraphs’ purpose, and don’t worry about details and small mistakes. Give yourself time to edit and revise later, and spend the drafting process getting your ideas out, finding and incorporating quotes and summary, and taking notes for citations.

5. Revise your essay. Test your thesis – did you stay dedicated to it throughout? Examine your paragraphs – does each have a clear focus and does each relate to your thesis? Are your quotes and summaries incorporated into your essay? Do you cite everything you used from the story or another source?

6. Edit your sentences. If you aren’t sure about punctuation or word use, check or ask for help. This is the time to think about the small things, and to make sure your writing is clear, sentence by sentence.

7. Proofread and format. Read it over once again, and think about having someone else look at it, too. Make sure your paper is in MLA format – check your heading, your citations, your margins, your font. Make sure there aren’t extra spaces between paragraphs. Ensure that your paper is the correct file type.

Respond to one of the following prompts in a 3-5 page fiction response essay. Your essay should be in MLA format, make use of support from the story or stories chosen (using quotation, summary and/or paraphrase) and should include citations in-text and on a Works Cited page.

Remember to avoid summarizing a story – instead, focus on answering the question(s) and explaining why the quotes and passages you’ve chosen are significant. You do not need to consult research or outside sources for this paper.

1. Consider the stories we have read that feature young narrators or protagonists. Compare how two young adults respond to the challenges and opportunities presented to them in the story. In what ways are their lessons intended for the audience as well?

2. Choose a story with a first person narrator. How does the narrator’s bias, personality, and reliability affect the story? Are readers given false or biased impressions of other characters? How does this impact the meaning of the overall story?

3. Compare two stories that focus on the same idea or central topic. How do they use literary devices to create their themes? In what ways do they differ significantly? How do they each arrive at the same point in the end?

4. Write an essay examining the variances between two authors who have distinctly different styles (for instance, Faulkner and Hemingway). How do each use literary devices? To what effect? How do each craft a clear narrative in such different ways? What are the primary stylistic differences? How do those differences impact the tone and theme?

5. Write an essay examining how a story of your choosing makes a statement about a social issue (class, race, gender, ageism, cultural identity). What claim does the story seem to be making? How does it use literary devices to illustrate its point? What characters seem to be speaking on behalf of the theme?

6. Select two stories and show how, although their plots differ, they explore a similar theme. How do they arrive at the same point? How do they employ literary devices? Use specific lines and passages from both stories to support your claims.

7. Compare and contrast the themes regarding familial relationships in two stories. What statement does each story make about family bonds? How does each story use literary devices to illustrate its theme?

8. Choose a story that makes use of significant symbolism. How do symbols support and establish the theme in the story? What symbols are significant and how does each create or reinforce the story’s central theme?

9. Explore the relationships between setting and symbol in a story of your choosing. How does the author establish a sense of place and why is this setting significant? Use examples and explain how symbols enhance the setting and relate to the theme.

Fiction Essay Rubric


· Arguable

· Supportable

· In introduction

· To go beyond an average score, your thesis should also raise interesting questions or make especially original or insightful points.


· Essay is organized around arguments

· Paragraph each have a clear purpose

· Evidence (quotes and summary) is sorted and placed appropriately

· To go beyond an average score, your essay would also include smooth and professional transitions.

Arguments (Also called Topic Sentences or Claims)

· Each topic sentence supports thesis statement

· Topic sentences are clear and stated (one per body paragraph)

· Topic sentences directly align with thesis (they match the thesis)

· Claims are relevant, meaningful

· To go beyond an average score, your arguments should be insightful and powerfully worded.


· Sufficient (Enough to prove a point)

· Appropriate (Directly relates to the argument)

· Clear (Put into context and explained)

· Integrated (Put into your own sentences smoothly)

· To go beyond an average score, your use of evidence should be clear, direct, and especially effective.

Analysis / Commentary / Explanation

· In each paragraph, you connect evidence to claims

· In each paragraph, you make clear connections to thesis

· Essay seems cohesive (is not repetitive or list-like)

· To go beyond an average score, your analysis would develop a writerly voice.


· Essay is obviously proofread

· Clear sentence structure

· Few spelling or wording errors

· Clear meaning throughout

· To go beyond an average score, your essay would be written with few to no errors.

Notes: Plagiarism results in zero. No outside sources should be consulted or cited. Students who over-rely on summary will not achieve a passing score.

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