Analysing and organising a work of fiction – tips for essay writing

Analysis Paper:

  • After you have figured out what traits you are going to use as your focus, or limiting ideas, it is time to write the paper.

Step 1: write your thesis.

Step 2: write your topic sentences.

Step 3: Write your body paragraphs using TIQA

Step 4: Write introduction.

Step 5: Write conclusion.


Your thesis should consist of a topic and limiting ideas.  It should never be a question.  The thesis is answer to a question that seems important to you.

For example, what characteristic traits make it possible for Montresor to be successful with his revenge?

Thesis — Montresor is successful in getting his revenge because of his vengeful nature, his ability to use reverse psychology and manipulation to get people to do what he wants, and his intelligent choices.

The thesis is a road map for your readers to follow your argument.  It should do the organizing for you.

Topic Sentence:

Since a paragraph is a group of sentences that share a single idea, the topic sentence must have two parts:




1.  Fortunato is easily duped into his own murder because of a blinding sense of pride.

Topic = Fortunato           Limiting Idea = blind sense of pride (and how this makes him vulnerable).

2.  Because Madame Louisel is superficial, she misses the deeper appreciation of most things in her life.

Topic = Madame Louisel           Limiting Idea = superficiality


Your body paragraphs should provide a topic sentence.  The rest of the paragraph should provide context for a quote or a paraphrase example.  Then you should provide that example.  After you provide that example, you should explain how it supports your thesis statement.  DO NOT merely tell your reader what the quote means; this can lead to summary.  You need to analyze.

Follow TIQA:

Topic sentence
Introduce quote: put the quote into context.
Quote: provide your quote
Analyze: explain to the reader the importance of the quote and how it supports your topic sentence.
Transition sentence: transition from the first example to your second example.
Introduce quote: introduce your second piece of evidence.
Quote: provide your second quote.
Analyze: analyze your second quotes, and if possible, tie the two pieces of evidence together to make a
larger argument.


Topic Sentence:  In her school without walls, Miss Moore provides a hands-on
education that forces the students to discover new knowledge.
Introduce Quote: After sitting around for a while in the impoverished neighborhood, Miss
Moore tells her students to get into a cab, which delivers them to the
classroom for the day: FAO Schwarz.  While in the cab, Miss Moore
Quote:                   “hands [Sylvia] a five dollar bill and tells [her] to calculate 10 percent tip
for the driver” (2).
Analysis:              Miss Moore uses the cab ride as a teachable moment.  This is a sign of a
great teacher.  Miss Moore does more for Sylvia in those few moments
than probably most of Sylvia’s math teachers at school.  Typically American
education assumes that knowledge can be jammed into a student’s mind.
Miss Moore provides a practical basis for the knowledge and allows the
student to come to it on her own.

Transition:            Using teachable moments and hands-on education works for Miss Moore more
effectively when she applies these teaching strategies to greater life lessons, such
as the lesson on dispelling the American dream.


Your introduction paragraph is the first paragraph for your essay.  It is best to start with something general.  You want to grab your reader’s attention.  Then you want to inform your reader about what you writing.  You want to finish the introduction paragraph with the argument for the paper–the thesis.

Follow ANT:

Attention-GetterFirst sentence or two should be an attention-getter.  There are multiple ways to have make up an attention-getter.

Necessary information: Necessary information includes:

  1. Author’s full name
  2. Title of the story
  3. Brief plot summary

Thesis: The last sentence of your introduction should be your thesis.


Attention-getter: different ways to write an attention-getter:

  1. rhetorical question (students often misuse this)
  2. relevant quote from an outside source
  3. relevant quote from the story
  4. fact or statistic
  5. description of initial response to the work
  6. shocking or amusing generalization.

**Example from a student’s paper on “The Cask of Amontillado.”

Murder!  Is this a right way to get back at someone?  Montresor believes it is in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.”  In the story, Montresor tells the reader that he was insulted by Fortunato.  It is because of this insult that Montresor has vowed revenge.  He finds Fortunato on the streets during carnival and lures him into his family’s catacombs under the pretense of having Fortunato test wine.  Once they are in the catacombs, Montresor chains Fortunato to a wall of granite and buries him alive.  He was able to achieve this murder because of his ability to manipulate and his intelligence.

Necessary Info (author’s full name, title of work, and brief plot summary)


Your conclusion should not merely be a summary.  Rather, it should restate and reemphasize your thesis.  It should show the importance of the analysis that you have been making in the paper.  You should also try to provide a clincher, which might come back to your attention-getter.


*The idea of TIQA and the outline of introduction paragraphs are borrowed from chapter 2 of Pat McKeague’s Writing about Literature: Step by Step



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ACAG English

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle

L'enfant Térrible

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle


We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle


We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle

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