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ENGL-312TH Thinking with Shakespeare

How to write about literature

Writing an English paper can be a challenge if you've never written about literature before or have never done so at the college level. Here are some sources that can help you make the adjustment.

Writing about literature

  • Literature Describes steps for planning and writing a paper about fiction.
  • Drama Tips and strategies for writing about drama.
  • Poetry Tips for writing poetry explications.

Writing an abstract

  • Quick Tip: Abstracts from Booth, Wayne C., et al. The Craft of Research, University of Chicago Press, 2016.
  • To quickly view examples of abstracts in scholarly papers about literature, search the MLA International Bibliography as follows:
    • Use the "Select a Field" menu next to the top search box to select "AB Abstract"
    • Enter the name of the work of literature you're studying in the search box (for example, "Twelfth Night") then click on the Search button
    • When the results appear, select the Refine Results options to Limit To Full Text, Exclude Dissertations, and Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals

College level writing tips in general

  • College Writing Explains "how and why to move beyond the five-paragraph essays you learned to write in high school and start writing essays that are more analytical and more flexible."
  • Thesis Statements Describes what a thesis statement is, how it works in your writing, and how to craft or refine one.
  • Evidence How to gather evidence and use it in your writing to support your argument/thesis.

What about other disciplines?

Many of the above online handouts are from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Writing Center. If you're interested in viewing their tips for writing in other disciplines (Anthropology, History, Psychology, Sciences, etc.), visit their Tips & Tools web page and check out the list of handouts under the Writing for Specific Fields section. Every discipline does things a bit differently!

Writing reference works



Grammar and style

Formatting your paper in MLA Style

Modern Language Association (MLA) Style guidelines are most frequently used for formatting literature papers. Some resources for making sure that you've formatted your paper correctly:

For more information and tips about citing and setting up your paper's works cited list, see the Citing page of this guide.

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