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How To Write A Level English Literature Essays

Firstly and ideally, some time should go into researching and choosing critical and textual material to use in your essay. 

Next: choose your arguements. Some people prefer to write the body of an essay first, then write their introductions and conclusion. It's completely up to you! (Sometimes it's easier to write the body of the essay then intro/conc. so you know you haven't wandered from what you've said you're going to write about)

Structure: (body of the essay) The structure of an essay should be simple, this is so an examiner/marker can follow your arguement easily. Start by making an overarching point, explaining how this point supports your answer to the question and then prove this with quotations and an explanation of the language/technical devices and critical support. By the end of each paragraph, you should link back to the question, in order to maintain a concise and clear arguement. 

PEQE (Point, Example/Quote, Explanation) is always a good code to go by. When quoting, remember to use textual and critical quotations. Then make it revelvant to the overarching point, as well as referencing the critical evidence that supports you! 

Introductions/Conclusions: These are the paragraphs that the examiner/marker reads first and last-so make them clear and concise. This gives a sense of confidence that is what the examiner/marker is looking for! It's always helpful to define what you mean, it could be defining your interpretation of the question and/or defining elements of your text that are important (date written, style, influences on the writer) Lastly, both of these paragraphs should support what you've written in the essay and reiterate why you've said what you've said. 

It's easier than you think! (Plus an excuse to use coloured pens, if you're into that sort of thing) 

The Introduction:

The introduction is not the section of the essay in which you merely introduce the topic, it also presents a fantastic opportunity to get the reader hooked on your take on the title! There is no formula for a successful essay, and the best ones will always be in your style, with your flair and your own excitement - however I'd like to share some tips from my experience on how to make the essay fun and powerful to read and to write.

  • Try to avoid writing "In this essay I will...". Where it might seem like an easy tool to say what you need to say in the introduction, even something simple like "After exploring X, I will then consider its impacts on Y" makes the paragraph run smoother.

  • Make the first line exciting and slightly controversial. The first line is your chance to grab the reader and take them with you. Often some of the best essays have controversial first lines, forcing the reader to think 'how can they possible say this!?', and then proceed to prove that very first line. Lines like "Weimar Classicism should not have even existed", "Atonement shows the flaws of the imagination rather than celebrating it", or even something a bit milder like "The Great Gatsby is not a book about characters, but tracks a descent into a chaotic void" will have the reader at least a bit further towards the edge of their seat.

  • Don't spoil the ending. The conclusion and the introduction are very different and serve very different purposes. Where you'll want to leave your most interesting point for the conclusion, the introduction makes sure the reader reads every word of what you're about to write and maps out the rough direction of your essay. Everything except your final hurrah in your conclusion (see 'How to write a powerful conclusion')

Finally, as I said at the beginnning, these are just my tips for essay writing, and in opposition to grammar it is very much better if you tackle them with your own set of ideas. However, if you are finding yourself bored while essay writing my final tip is to make it exciting - how you do that is up to you but your teacher will thank you, your grades will thankyou, and you'll be doing yourself a favour too!

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