How To Start An Essay About A Book

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Writing an essay about a book or a literary essay is something that might not immediately sink in with some of us. But don’t let the name of the assignment scare you! With enough practice and knowledge of the fundamental concepts of writing an essay about a book, you will easily finish your essay. It all takes time! At a higher level, writing an essay about a book becomes a very common type of homework for students. But we understand that not everyone has some experience or exposure to literary essays.

When your teacher gives you a literary essay as an assignment, you are more likely expected to perform tasks such as analyzing the book's central theme — identifying and discussing the bigger picture and ideas from the book — and explaining the specific writing techniques used by the author to achieve the desired goals.

How To Start An Essay About A Book

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For you to fully understand the best practices involved when writing an essay about a book, knowing the core elements of a literary essay is crucial. In most cases, elements such as a thesis and universal statement are important in a literary essay's introductory paragraph since they serve to capture the reader’s attention and set the stage for the rest of your essay. Having both of them is meant to make sure your introduction is memorable.

Now, having understood what we are expected to deliver with our essays, we can move on to the next major thing — let’s take a look at the 7-step process on how to start an essay about a book without wasting more time

Step 1: Read Through The Text/Source And Identify Literary Techniques

The first step should be quite obvious. Start by carefully reading the entire book you are expected to write an essay on and take notes on plot points, major themes, literary devices, and anything that jumps out at you. The best approach to go through the book efficiently is to ensure you pay extra attention to parts of the book that you find meaningful, confusing, or intriguing. Usually, these areas yield the richest material for you to analyze.

The more advanced academic papers are, the more work is needed to complete them. Of course, every essay you get as homework is different, and it's important to be mindful of that. To identify the literary techniques, we advise you to keep a digital document or notebook handy to jot down important details as you dive into the reading. For a more efficient analysis of the material, make a habit of writing down the corresponding page numbers of the areas that stand out to you as significant.

Also, to maximize your ability to comprehend the information from the book, read actively, not passively. Confused by this? Let’s put it in simpler terms. This means you should stay engaged with the book's narrative, asking questions as you read, making predictions, and connecting emerging patterns you may find. Consider the ideas the author presents in the book and attempt to take note of how the small details reveal deeper messages. Reading closely and taking thorough notes lays the foundation of how to start an essay about a book.

Step 2: Craft An Engaging Thesis Statement

Your thesis lays the foundation for your essay's main claim or interpretation of the book you’re analyzing. To craft an engaging thesis statement, you should make a debatable and specific point of view or stand regarding the core message being discussed in the literary work. The thesis statement should serve as your compass guiding analysis through the essay. When writing your thesis statement, think about what your argument will be based on, find good examples from the text to support your statement, and enhance your position by using memorable direct quotes as evidence.

What Is A Thesis Statement In An Essay?

If you happen to be new to essay writing, you can simply understand a thesis statement in an essay as an argument or claim that sets up the main position or idea of your essay. Usually, the thesis statement is a single sentence that illustrates to the reader the claim you intend to make about your literary essay. To have a strong thesis statement, you need to make sure it is debatable, informed, and supported by evidence throughout the body of the essay.

When creating your thesis statement, think of it like this — it is a roadmap showing the direction your essay is heading, serving as a compass for your teacher or reader to follow. Your thesis should be structured to revolve around your key argument or point of view. Therefore, having a thesis statement derailed in several directions throughout your work reduces the quality of your literary essay. If you’re a non-native English speaker, worry not! It's possible to get top-notch English Homework Help nowadays.

Step 3: Craft A Universal Statement (Optional)

While not always essential, you are allowed to add a universal statement to your essay by making a broad observation about the book. For someone who has been through the same, we understand that sometimes writing an essay about a book can be super boring and tiresome. That’s why incorporating a universal statement in your introduction section is a good approach to making your literary essay feel way more real.

What Is A Universal Statement In An Essay?

When writing a literary essay, a universal statement can be identified as a statement that makes an overarching and broad claim about some larger truth that is related to the book's central theme or argument. Universal statements act as an entry point for the readers to transition to your thesis statement or the particular book you are dealing with. They are used in various types of assignments, including essays and discussion posts.

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Step 4: Organize Your Thoughts With An Outline

Organizing your thoughts means brainstorming your ideas and planning how to go about your essay on a book. In this phase, place careful consideration on the structure of your essay by creating a practical outline to follow. Structure your thoughts using an outline whereby the introduction paragraph or section presents your universal statement if used, and thesis statement. This will serve as a foundation upon which you will continue to write and update your work.

Typically, the structure should ensure to have 3 key components:

  • An introduction
  • Main body
  • Conclusion

Jolting down your thoughts in an organized outline for your essay goes a long way in providing you with a clear and elaborate roadmap to follow when writing the essay. It is common for students to immediately jump and attempt to finish their essays shortly after finishing reading the literary work. Some typical excuses students make include — I want to finish writing my essay while the information I have is still fresh: if I take too long I might begin to forget.

However, let me tell you this, having an outline is key to making sure your writing stays clearly structured and centered around supporting your main argument.

Step 5: Write An Introduction

In essay writing, the introductory paragraph is like the doorway to your thoughts. The same goes for a literary essay. Apart from having an engaging thesis statement, a hook or universal statement might be necessary in the introduction section depending on the quality and length of your essay.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the core elements of a literary essay that will make your essay's introduction section stand out. Some of the most common questions that arise when writing the introduction section include:

How Long Should An Intro Be?

Typically, there are no strict restrictions on how long your introduction or opening paragraph should be. Professional essay writers often determine the size of their work in their minds. For instance, if you expect the introduction section of your essay to be five paragraphs, then you should keep it as brief and informative as possible, enough to fit a single section. The first 2-3 sentences should be the hook, followed by a universal statement, and lastly thesis statement. The thesis should try to make an analysis or interpretation of the book.

Should I Include A General Or Universal Statement In The Introduction?

First, what is a universal statement in an essay? While a thesis statement is meant to guide the entirety of your essay, a universal statement sets the tone for your essay by describing a widely accepted truth. For instance, saying water boils at 100 degrees Celsius is a fact, thus a universal statement.

Second, what is a general statement in an essay? General statements provide readers broader context about the book without making an argument or including your thesis. They are mostly meant to give a high-level background of your work by describing the book's topic, author, time, or setting.

Differentiating a universal and general statement, and figuring out where each is used is the biggest challenge. So, should you use a universal or general statement in your introduction? Well, the short answer is, that using one of these types of statements to open your literary essay will lead to an upgraded analysis. Both have their pros and cons but lead to improved essay quality. So seriously, do yourself a solid and experiment with one or both of these attention-grabbing statements to give your thesis and introduction a wider significance.

Step 6: Write Body Paragraphs Of The Essay

The body paragraphs of your literary essay should be explicitly structured to present to the reader your close textual analysis of the material, explanations, arguments, and plot analysis. It is usually at this phase that most students lose their way. Depending on the expected word count for the essay, if it is high, you are more likely to feel pressured to fill your body paragraphs with relevant but rather useless information — just so you can meet the word count. Please Don’t!

This is a very bad habit among students especially when they start panicking that the deadline for their assignment is quickly approaching. Your body paragraphs should include citations and references to third-party sources. All of these attributes represent the structural elements of your essay that play a huge role in building a strong conclusion that supports the essay's central argument.

All your arguments, ideas, and perspectives should be presented in the body paragraphs. Though each paragraph should present to readers a specific point or argument, all of them should be designed to support your thesis statement. Explain every point you present to make it more specific and justify your arguments using several pieces of evidence.

Step 7: Wrap Up With A Strong And Effective Conclusion

To craft an effective and strong conclusion, you need to reflect on your understanding of the main argument in the reading: what literary elements or themes have been used, what realization about life, the workplace, or human nature does the book convey? Summarize the deeper moral lesson or central theme you believe the author expects the reader to take away. However, the conclusion of your essay about a book shouldn’t in any way introduce new arguments or quotations. The conclusion section is primarily about wrapping up the essay.

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The idea of writing an essay may not be new to many students, but most fail to understand that there are different types of essays. This blog post is dedicated to providing you with additional information on how to start an essay about a book.

A more complex term for this is literary essays. We understand that a literary analysis might not be an easy essay for most students to write. But with enough knowledge and practice, I believe you can hack the matrix. But for this, let's look at the fundamentals of a literary essay. At the bare minimum, you can equate essay writing about a book to a modern-day book report. The main difference between the two is in terms of structure, tone, language, and professionalism.

Writing a literary essay is mostly meant to encourage or influence you to accept or debate a particular point of view or to act in a certain way. Teachers expect students to show some level of professionalism when submitting a literary essay compared to a book report. Therefore, to produce quality and top-notch literary essays, take advantage of the above information.

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