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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay | A Step-by-Step Guide

Published on January 30, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on September 2, 2022.

Literary analysis means closely studying a text, interpreting its meanings, and exploring why the author made certain choices. It can be applied to novels, short stories, plays, poems, or any other form of literary writing.

A literary analysis essay is not a rhetorical analysis , nor is it just a summary of the plot or a book review. Instead, it is a type of argumentative essay where you need to analyze elements such as the language, perspective, and structure of the text, and explain how the author uses literary devices to create effects and convey ideas.

Before beginning a literary analysis essay, it’s essential to carefully read the text and c ome up with a thesis statement to keep your essay focused. As you write, follow the standard structure of an academic essay :

Table of contents

Step 1: reading the text and identifying literary devices, step 2: coming up with a thesis, step 3: writing a title and introduction, step 4: writing the body of the essay, step 5: writing a conclusion.

The first step is to carefully read the text(s) and take initial notes. As you read, pay attention to the things that are most intriguing, surprising, or even confusing in the writing—these are things you can dig into in your analysis.

Your goal in literary analysis is not simply to explain the events described in the text, but to analyze the writing itself and discuss how the text works on a deeper level. Primarily, you’re looking out for literary devices —textual elements that writers use to convey meaning and create effects. If you’re comparing and contrasting multiple texts, you can also look for connections between different texts.

To get started with your analysis, there are several key areas that you can focus on. As you analyze each aspect of the text, try to think about how they all relate to each other. You can use highlights or notes to keep track of important passages and quotes.

Language choices

Consider what style of language the author uses. Are the sentences short and simple or more complex and poetic?

What word choices stand out as interesting or unusual? Are words used figuratively to mean something other than their literal definition? Figurative language includes things like metaphor (e.g. “her eyes were oceans”) and simile (e.g. “her eyes were like oceans”).

Also keep an eye out for imagery in the text—recurring images that create a certain atmosphere or symbolize something important. Remember that language is used in literary texts to say more than it means on the surface.

Narrative voice

Ask yourself:

Is it a first-person narrator (“I”) who is personally involved in the story, or a third-person narrator who tells us about the characters from a distance?

Consider the narrator’s perspective . Is the narrator omniscient (where they know everything about all the characters and events), or do they only have partial knowledge? Are they an unreliable narrator who we are not supposed to take at face value? Authors often hint that their narrator might be giving us a distorted or dishonest version of events.

The tone of the text is also worth considering. Is the story intended to be comic, tragic, or something else? Are usually serious topics treated as funny, or vice versa ? Is the story realistic or fantastical (or somewhere in between)?

Consider how the text is structured, and how the structure relates to the story being told.

Think about why the author chose to divide the different parts of the text in the way they did.

There are also less formal structural elements to take into account. Does the story unfold in chronological order, or does it jump back and forth in time? Does it begin in medias res —in the middle of the action? Does the plot advance towards a clearly defined climax?

With poetry, consider how the rhyme and meter shape your understanding of the text and your impression of the tone. Try reading the poem aloud to get a sense of this.

In a play, you might consider how relationships between characters are built up through different scenes, and how the setting relates to the action. Watch out for  dramatic irony , where the audience knows some detail that the characters don’t, creating a double meaning in their words, thoughts, or actions.

Your thesis in a literary analysis essay is the point you want to make about the text. It’s the core argument that gives your essay direction and prevents it from just being a collection of random observations about a text.

If you’re given a prompt for your essay, your thesis must answer or relate to the prompt. For example:

Essay question example

Is Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” a religious parable?

Your thesis statement should be an answer to this question—not a simple yes or no, but a statement of why this is or isn’t the case:

Thesis statement example

Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” is not a religious parable, but a story about bureaucratic alienation.

Sometimes you’ll be given freedom to choose your own topic; in this case, you’ll have to come up with an original thesis. Consider what stood out to you in the text; ask yourself questions about the elements that interested you, and consider how you might answer them.

Your thesis should be something arguable—that is, something that you think is true about the text, but which is not a simple matter of fact. It must be complex enough to develop through evidence and arguments across the course of your essay.

Say you’re analyzing the novel Frankenstein . You could start by asking yourself:

Your initial answer might be a surface-level description:

The character Frankenstein is portrayed negatively in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .

However, this statement is too simple to be an interesting thesis. After reading the text and analyzing its narrative voice and structure, you can develop the answer into a more nuanced and arguable thesis statement:

Mary Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.

Remember that you can revise your thesis statement throughout the writing process , so it doesn’t need to be perfectly formulated at this stage. The aim is to keep you focused as you analyze the text.

Finding textual evidence

To support your thesis statement, your essay will build an argument using textual evidence —specific parts of the text that demonstrate your point. This evidence is quoted and analyzed throughout your essay to explain your argument to the reader.

It can be useful to comb through the text in search of relevant quotations before you start writing. You might not end up using everything you find, and you may have to return to the text for more evidence as you write, but collecting textual evidence from the beginning will help you to structure your arguments and assess whether they’re convincing.

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To start your literary analysis paper, you’ll need two things: a good title, and an introduction.

Your title should clearly indicate what your analysis will focus on. It usually contains the name of the author and text(s) you’re analyzing. Keep it as concise and engaging as possible.

A common approach to the title is to use a relevant quote from the text, followed by a colon and then the rest of your title.

If you struggle to come up with a good title at first, don’t worry—this will be easier once you’ve begun writing the essay and have a better sense of your arguments.

“Fearful symmetry” : The violence of creation in William Blake’s “The Tyger”

The introduction

The essay introduction provides a quick overview of where your argument is going. It should include your thesis statement and a summary of the essay’s structure.

A typical structure for an introduction is to begin with a general statement about the text and author, using this to lead into your thesis statement. You might refer to a commonly held idea about the text and show how your thesis will contradict it, or zoom in on a particular device you intend to focus on.

Then you can end with a brief indication of what’s coming up in the main body of the essay. This is called signposting. It will be more elaborate in longer essays, but in a short five-paragraph essay structure, it shouldn’t be more than one sentence.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.

Some students prefer to write the introduction later in the process, and it’s not a bad idea. After all, you’ll have a clearer idea of the overall shape of your arguments once you’ve begun writing them!

If you do write the introduction first, you should still return to it later to make sure it lines up with what you ended up writing, and edit as necessary.

The body of your essay is everything between the introduction and conclusion. It contains your arguments and the textual evidence that supports them.

Paragraph structure

A typical structure for a high school literary analysis essay consists of five paragraphs : the three paragraphs of the body, plus the introduction and conclusion.

Each paragraph in the main body should focus on one topic. In the five-paragraph model, try to divide your argument into three main areas of analysis, all linked to your thesis. Don’t try to include everything you can think of to say about the text—only analysis that drives your argument.

In longer essays, the same principle applies on a broader scale. For example, you might have two or three sections in your main body, each with multiple paragraphs. Within these sections, you still want to begin new paragraphs at logical moments—a turn in the argument or the introduction of a new idea.

Robert’s first encounter with Gil-Martin suggests something of his sinister power. Robert feels “a sort of invisible power that drew me towards him.” He identifies the moment of their meeting as “the beginning of a series of adventures which has puzzled myself, and will puzzle the world when I am no more in it” (p. 89). Gil-Martin’s “invisible power” seems to be at work even at this distance from the moment described; before continuing the story, Robert feels compelled to anticipate at length what readers will make of his narrative after his approaching death. With this interjection, Hogg emphasizes the fatal influence Gil-Martin exercises from his first appearance.

Topic sentences

To keep your points focused, it’s important to use a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph.

A good topic sentence allows a reader to see at a glance what the paragraph is about. It can introduce a new line of argument and connect or contrast it with the previous paragraph. Transition words like “however” or “moreover” are useful for creating smooth transitions:

… The story’s focus, therefore, is not upon the divine revelation that may be waiting beyond the door, but upon the mundane process of aging undergone by the man as he waits.

Nevertheless, the “radiance” that appears to stream from the door is typically treated as religious symbolism.

This topic sentence signals that the paragraph will address the question of religious symbolism, while the linking word “nevertheless” points out a contrast with the previous paragraph’s conclusion.

Using textual evidence

A key part of literary analysis is backing up your arguments with relevant evidence from the text. This involves introducing quotes from the text and explaining their significance to your point.

It’s important to contextualize quotes and explain why you’re using them; they should be properly introduced and analyzed, not treated as self-explanatory:

It isn’t always necessary to use a quote. Quoting is useful when you’re discussing the author’s language, but sometimes you’ll have to refer to plot points or structural elements that can’t be captured in a short quote.

In these cases, it’s more appropriate to paraphrase or summarize parts of the text—that is, to describe the relevant part in your own words:

The conclusion of your analysis shouldn’t introduce any new quotations or arguments. Instead, it’s about wrapping up the essay. Here, you summarize your key points and try to emphasize their significance to the reader.

A good way to approach this is to briefly summarize your key arguments, and then stress the conclusion they’ve led you to, highlighting the new perspective your thesis provides on the text as a whole:

By tracing the depiction of Frankenstein through the novel’s three volumes, I have demonstrated how the narrative structure shifts our perception of the character. While the Frankenstein of the first volume is depicted as having innocent intentions, the second and third volumes—first in the creature’s accusatory voice, and then in his own voice—increasingly undermine him, causing him to appear alternately ridiculous and vindictive. Far from the one-dimensional villain he is often taken to be, the character of Frankenstein is compelling because of the dynamic narrative frame in which he is placed. In this frame, Frankenstein’s narrative self-presentation responds to the images of him we see from others’ perspectives. This conclusion sheds new light on the novel, foregrounding Shelley’s unique layering of narrative perspectives and its importance for the depiction of character.

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How to Write Literary Analysis


When you read for pleasure, your only goal is enjoyment. You might find yourself reading to get caught up in an exciting story, to learn about an interesting time or place, or just to pass time. Maybe you’re looking for inspiration, guidance, or a reflection of your own life. There are as many different, valid ways of reading a book as there are books in the world.

When you read a work of literature in an English class, however, you’re being asked to read in a special way: you’re being asked to perform literary analysis. To analyze something means to break it down into smaller parts and then examine how those parts work, both individually and together. Literary analysis involves examining all the parts of a novel, play, short story, or poem—elements such as character, setting, tone, and imagery—and thinking about how the author uses those elements to create certain effects.

A literary essay isn’t a book review: you’re not being asked whether or not you liked a book or whether you’d recommend it to another reader. A literary essay also isn’t like the kind of book report you wrote when you were younger, where your teacher wanted you to summarize the book’s action. A high school- or college-level literary essay asks, “How does this piece of literature actually work?” “How does it do what it does?” and, “Why might the author have made the choices he or she did?”

The Seven Steps

No one is born knowing how to analyze literature; it’s a skill you learn and a process you can master. As you gain more practice with this kind of thinking and writing, you’ll be able to craft a method that works best for you. But until then, here are seven basic steps to writing a well-constructed literary essay.

1 Ask Questions

When you’re assigned a literary essay in class, your teacher will often provide you with a list of writing prompts. Lucky you! Now all you have to do is choose one. Do yourself a favor and pick a topic that interests you. You’ll have a much better (not to mention easier) time if you start off with something you enjoy thinking about. If you are asked to come up with a topic by yourself, though, you might start to feel a little panicked. Maybe you have too many ideas—or none at all. Don’t worry. Take a deep breath and start by asking yourself these questions:

What struck you?

Did a particular image, line, or scene linger in your mind for a long time? If it fascinated you, chances are you can draw on it to write a fascinating essay.

What confused you?

Maybe you were surprised to see a character act in a certain way, or maybe you didn’t understand why the book ended the way it did. Confusing moments in a work of literature are like a loose thread in a sweater: if you pull on it, you can unravel the entire thing. Ask yourself why the author chose to write about that character or scene the way he or she did and you might tap into some important insights about the work as a whole.

Did you notice any patterns?

Is there a phrase that the main character uses constantly or an image that repeats throughout the book? If you can figure out how that pattern weaves through the work and what the significance of that pattern is, you’ve almost got your entire essay mapped out.

Did you notice any contradictions or ironies?

Great works of literature are complex; great literary essays recognize and explain those complexities. Maybe the title Happy Days totally disagrees with the book’s subject matter (hungry orphans dying in the woods). Maybe the main character acts one way around his family and a completely different way around his friends and associates. If you can find a way to explain a work’s contradictory elements, you’ve got the seeds of a great essay.

At this point, you don’t need to know exactly what you’re going to say about your topic; you just need a place to begin your exploration. You can help direct your reading and brainstorming by formulating your topic as a question, which you’ll then try to answer in your essay. The best questions invite critical debates and discussions, not just a rehashing of the summary. Remember, you’re looking for something you can prove or argue based on evidence you find in the text. Finally, remember to keep the scope of your question in mind: is this a topic you can adequately address within the word or page limit you’ve been given? Conversely, is this a topic big enough to fill the required length?

Good questions

“Are Romeo and Juliet’s parents responsible for the deaths of their children?”

“Why do pigs keep showing up in Lord of the Flies ?”

“Are Dr. Frankenstein and his monster alike? How?”

Bad questions

“What happens to Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird ?”

“What do the other characters in Julius Caesar think about Caesar?”

“How does Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter remind me of my sister?”

2 Collect Evidence

Once you know what question you want to answer, it’s time to scour the book for things that will help you answer the question. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to say yet—right now you’re just collecting ideas and material and letting it all percolate. Keep track of passages, symbols, images, or scenes that deal with your topic. Eventually, you’ll start making connections between these examples and your thesis will emerge.

Here’s a brief summary of the various parts that compose each and every work of literature. These are the elements that you will analyze in your essay, and which you will offer as evidence to support your arguments. For more on the parts of literary works, see the Glossary of Literary Terms at the end of this section.

Elements of Story

These are the whats of the work—what happens, where it happens, and to whom it happens.

Elements of Style

These are the hows —how the characters speak, how the story is constructed, and how language is used throughout the work.

Structure and organization

Point of view, figurative language, 3 construct a thesis.

When you’ve examined all the evidence you’ve collected and know how you want to answer the question, it’s time to write your thesis statement. A thesis is a claim about a work of literature that needs to be supported by evidence and arguments. The thesis statement is the heart of the literary essay, and the bulk of your paper will be spent trying to prove this claim. A good thesis will be:

“ The Great Gatsby describes New York society in the 1920s” isn’t a thesis—it’s a fact.

Provable through textual evidence.

“ Hamlet is a confusing but ultimately very well-written play” is a weak thesis because it offers the writer’s personal opinion about the book. Yes, it’s arguable, but it’s not a claim that can be proved or supported with examples taken from the play itself.


“Both George and Lenny change a great deal in Of Mice and Men ” is a weak thesis because it’s obvious. A really strong thesis will argue for a reading of the text that is not immediately apparent.

“Dr. Frankenstein’s monster tells us a lot about the human condition” is almost a really great thesis statement, but it’s still too vague. What does the writer mean by “a lot”? How does the monster tell us so much about the human condition?

Good Thesis Statements

Question: In Romeo and Juliet , which is more powerful in shaping the lovers’ story: fate or foolishness?

Thesis: “Though Shakespeare defines Romeo and Juliet as ‘star- crossed lovers’ and images of stars and planets appear throughout the play, a closer examination of that celestial imagery reveals that the stars are merely witnesses to the characters’ foolish activities and not the causes themselves.”

Question: How does the bell jar function as a symbol in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar ?

Thesis: “A bell jar is a bell-shaped glass that has three basic uses: to hold a specimen for observation, to contain gases, and to maintain a vacuum. The bell jar appears in each of these capacities in The Bell Jar , Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel, and each appearance marks a different stage in Esther’s mental breakdown.”

Question: Would Piggy in The Lord of the Flies make a good island leader if he were given the chance?

Thesis: “Though the intelligent, rational, and innovative Piggy has the mental characteristics of a good leader, he ultimately lacks the social skills necessary to be an effective one. Golding emphasizes this point by giving Piggy a foil in the charismatic Jack, whose magnetic personality allows him to capture and wield power effectively, if not always wisely.”

4 Develop and Organize Arguments

The reasons and examples that support your thesis will form the middle paragraphs of your essay. Since you can’t really write your thesis statement until you know how you’ll structure your argument, you’ll probably end up working on steps 3 and 4 at the same time.

There’s no single method of argumentation that will work in every context. One essay prompt might ask you to compare and contrast two characters, while another asks you to trace an image through a given work of literature. These questions require different kinds of answers and therefore different kinds of arguments. Below, we’ll discuss three common kinds of essay prompts and some strategies for constructing a solid, well-argued case.

Types of Literary Essays

Compare and contrast.

Compare and contrast the characters of Huck and Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn .

Chances are you’ve written this kind of essay before. In an academic literary context, you’ll organize your arguments the same way you would in any other class. You can either go subject by subject or point by point . In the former, you’ll discuss one character first and then the second. In the latter, you’ll choose several traits (attitude toward life, social status, images and metaphors associated with the character) and devote a paragraph to each. You may want to use a mix of these two approaches—for example, you may want to spend a paragraph apiece broadly sketching Huck’s and Jim’s personalities before transitioning into a paragraph or two that describes a few key points of comparison. This can be a highly effective strategy if you want to make a counterintuitive argument—that, despite seeming to be totally different, the two objects being compared are actually similar in a very important way (or vice versa). Remember that your essay should reveal something fresh or unexpected about the text, so think beyond the obvious parallels and differences.

Choose an image—for example, birds, knives, or eyes—and trace that image throughout Macbeth .

Sounds pretty easy, right? All you need to do is read the play, underline every appearance of a knife in Macbeth , and then list them in your essay in the order they appear, right? Well, not exactly. Your teacher doesn’t want a simple catalog of examples. He or she wants to see you make connections between those examples—that’s the difference between summarizing and analyzing. In the Macbeth example above, think about the different contexts in which knives appear in the play and to what effect. In Macbeth , there are real knives and imagined knives; knives that kill and knives that simply threaten. Categorize and classify your examples to give them some order. Finally, always keep the overall effect in mind. After you choose and analyze your examples, you should come to some greater understanding about the work, as well as your chosen image, symbol, or phrase’s role in developing the major themes and stylistic strategies of that work.

Is the society depicted in 1984 good for its citizens?

In this kind of essay, you’re being asked to debate a moral, ethical, or aesthetic issue regarding the work. You might be asked to judge a character or group of characters ( Is Caesar responsible for his own demise ?) or the work itself ( Is Jane Eyre a feminist novel ?). For this kind of essay, there are two important points to keep in mind. First, don’t simply base your arguments on your personal feelings and reactions. Every literary essay expects you to read and analyze the work, so search for evidence in the text. What do characters in 1984 have to say about the government of Oceania? What images does Orwell use that might give you a hint about his attitude toward the government? As in any debate, you also need to make sure that you define all the necessary terms before you begin to argue your case. What does it mean to be a “good” society? What makes a novel “feminist”? You should define your terms right up front, in the first paragraph after your introduction.

Second, remember that strong literary essays make contrary and surprising arguments. Try to think outside the box. In the 1984 example above, it seems like the obvious answer would be no, the totalitarian society depicted in Orwell’s novel is not good for its citizens. But can you think of any arguments for the opposite side? Even if your final assertion is that the novel depicts a cruel, repressive, and therefore harmful society, acknowledging and responding to the counterargument will strengthen your overall case.

5 Write the Introduction

Your introduction sets up the entire essay. It’s where you present your topic and articulate the particular issues and questions you’ll be addressing. It’s also where you, as the writer, introduce yourself to your readers. A persuasive literary essay immediately establishes its writer as a knowledgeable, authoritative figure.

An introduction can vary in length depending on the overall length of the essay, but in a traditional five-paragraph essay it should be no longer than one paragraph. However long it is, your introduction needs to:

Provide any necessary context.

Your introduction should situate the reader and let him or her know what to expect. What book are you discussing? Which characters? What topic will you be addressing?

Answer the “So what?” question.

Why is this topic important, and why is your particular position on the topic noteworthy? Ideally, your introduction should pique the reader’s interest by suggesting how your argument is surprising or otherwise counterintuitive. Literary essays make unexpected connections and reveal less-than-obvious truths.

Present your thesis.

This usually happens at or very near the end of your introduction.

Indicate the shape of the essay to come.

Your reader should finish reading your introduction with a good sense of the scope of your essay as well as the path you’ll take toward proving your thesis. You don’t need to spell out every step, but you do need to suggest the organizational pattern you’ll be using.

Your introduction should not:

Beware of the two killer words in literary analysis: interesting and important. Of course the work, question, or example is interesting and important—that’s why you’re writing about it!

Open with any grandiose assertions.

Many student readers think that beginning their essays with a flamboyant statement such as, “Since the dawn of time, writers have been fascinated with the topic of free will,” makes them sound important and commanding. You know what? It actually sounds pretty amateurish.

Wildly praise the work.

Another typical mistake student writers make is extolling the work or author. Your teacher doesn’t need to be told that “Shakespeare is perhaps the greatest writer in the English language.” You can mention a work’s reputation in passing—by referring to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as “Mark Twain’s enduring classic,” for example—but don’t make a point of bringing it up unless that reputation is key to your argument.

Go off-topic.

Keep your introduction streamlined and to the point. Don’t feel the need to throw in all kinds of bells and whistles in order to impress your reader—just get to the point as quickly as you can, without skimping on any of the required steps.

6 Write the Body Paragraphs

Once you’ve written your introduction, you’ll take the arguments you developed in step 4 and turn them into your body paragraphs. The organization of this middle section of your essay will largely be determined by the argumentative strategy you use, but no matter how you arrange your thoughts, your body paragraphs need to do the following:

Begin with a strong topic sentence.

Topic sentences are like signs on a highway: they tell the reader where they are and where they’re going. A good topic sentence not only alerts readers to what issue will be discussed in the following paragraph but also gives them a sense of what argument will be made about that issue. “Rumor and gossip play an important role in The Crucible ” isn’t a strong topic sentence because it doesn’t tell us very much. “The community’s constant gossiping creates an environment that allows false accusations to flourish” is a much stronger topic sentence— it not only tells us what the paragraph will discuss (gossip) but how the paragraph will discuss the topic (by showing how gossip creates a set of conditions that leads to the play’s climactic action).

Fully and completely develop a single thought.

Don’t skip around in your paragraph or try to stuff in too much material. Body paragraphs are like bricks: each individual one needs to be strong and sturdy or the entire structure will collapse. Make sure you have really proven your point before moving on to the next one.

Use transitions effectively.

Good literary essay writers know that each paragraph must be clearly and strongly linked to the material around it. Think of each paragraph as a response to the one that precedes it. Use transition words and phrases such as however, similarly, on the contrary, therefore, and furthermore to indicate what kind of response you’re making.

7 Write the Conclusion

Just as you used the introduction to ground your readers in the topic before providing your thesis, you’ll use the conclusion to quickly summarize the specifics learned thus far and then hint at the broader implications of your topic. A good conclusion will:

Do more than simply restate the thesis.

If your thesis argued that The Catcher in the Rye can be read as a Christian allegory, don’t simply end your essay by saying, “And that is why The Catcher in the Rye can be read as a Christian allegory.” If you’ve constructed your arguments well, this kind of statement will just be redundant.

Synthesize the arguments, not summarize them.

Similarly, don’t repeat the details of your body paragraphs in your conclusion. The reader has already read your essay, and chances are it’s not so long that they’ve forgotten all your points by now.

Revisit the “So what?” question.

In your introduction, you made a case for why your topic and position are important. You should close your essay with the same sort of gesture. What do your readers know now that they didn’t know before? How will that knowledge help them better appreciate or understand the work overall?

Move from the specific to the general.

Your essay has most likely treated a very specific element of the work—a single character, a small set of images, or a particular passage. In your conclusion, try to show how this narrow discussion has wider implications for the work overall. If your essay on To Kill a Mockingbird focused on the character of Boo Radley, for example, you might want to include a bit in your conclusion about how he fits into the novel’s larger message about childhood, innocence, or family life.

Stay relevant.

Your conclusion should suggest new directions of thought, but it shouldn’t be treated as an opportunity to pad your essay with all the extra, interesting ideas you came up with during your brainstorming sessions but couldn’t fit into the essay proper. Don’t attempt to stuff in unrelated queries or too many abstract thoughts.

Avoid making overblown closing statements.

A conclusion should open up your highly specific, focused discussion, but it should do so without drawing a sweeping lesson about life or human nature. Making such observations may be part of the point of reading, but it’s almost always a mistake in essays, where these observations tend to sound overly dramatic or simply silly.

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3670+ Creative Nonfiction Short Stories to read

Submitted by writers on Reedsy Prompts to our weekly writing contest . The creative nonfiction stories on this page deliver exactly what it says on the tin: true stories told in weird and wonderful ways.

🏆 Winning stories

“ careful—you’ll slip, fall, and die on those slippery slopes ” by liv chocolate.

cw: references to sexual assault, kidnapping, and murderThe first time I crossed a street by myself—as in, without one or both of my parents present—I was seventeen. My parents warned me that the outside world was dangerous, and that, if something were to happen to me, I wouldn't know what to do. According to my parents, kidnappers, murderers, and kidnapper-murderers lurked on every corner of our small, suburban town where, statistically, my chances of becoming the victim of a violent crim...

“ Letting go ” by Rebecca Miles

I dedicate this story to my partner and to everyone who has carried or is carrying the burden of grief.Sitting by the bed, holding my hand, you think my mind is fighting against the decision of my body to quit life’s game. My eyes are closed, but I sense your will through the fingers laced tightly around my own. Tenderness is a force and you stake my claim to life through the insistent pressure of your hand. How it has grown over these long years from its immaculate small perfection to this manifestati...

“ How to Win a Game of Chess Without Really Trying ” by Katy Borobia

Disclaimer: There is no easy way to win a game of chess. But that’s only if by “winning” you mean hunting down your opponent’s king until he is gasping for air in a solitary corner, his vision fading into the black and white static of the board as your opponent (John, Meera, or Jeremy) commits seppuku by resignation. Only gradually will you return to the hard seats and smudged tabletops of your school’s B-grade lunch counter. You'll blink in a daze at the face of your opponent who, you must remember, is your friend in real life.<...

⭐️ Recommended stories

“ read that back ” by susan catucci.

Mary had some Mary Janes with creases white as snowand everywhere that Mary spent,her credit cards would . . .Show and tell, then everyone will . . .No, I won’t and you can’t make . . .Me and you and a dog named . . .Boo! Trick or . . .Treat me like that again and I’ll knock you . . .Down the drain, that’s where the money went, and where I wantedto . . .Go to school and earn a ...

“ Every Conversation We Had, at the End. ” by Jacky Burke

Where are we, Jack?  In my house. I bought it last year. What do you mean your house?  Yeah! I bought a house last year. But, you’re still in college, Jack. Aren’t you? I went to college, but I got out a few years ago. I’ve been working up north, and living in apartments up there for a few years. But I thought I’d buy a house down here now.  Oh. It’s cute, right? Little, a...

“ Saint Anthony Frankenstein ” by Henri Porritt

3:00 am, three sharp bursts of noise break into the thick comfort of sleep. They tell me you’re gone.She disappeared.It’s a tragedy. Nothing to be done. I sit, body numb, as the echoes of some old wives tale about the ‘witching hour’ rattle in the quiet fear of my skull. Painful anticipation and shock crawling up my spine. In some sick spite - I wonder whether to pray, the sour taste of initial grief coating my tongue and twisting my mouth i...

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🏆 Featuring 12 prize-winning stories from our community. Download it now for FREE .

✍️ All stories

“ unconventional female 101 ” by kathleen hair.

I usually don’t share in this way. It isn’t a lack of desire which stops me, it is the potential for another’s misunderstanding. When sharing wisdom and experience is my primary aim, many who harbor suspicions assume the worst at every turn. I imagine this is on account of the probability of what they fear or suspect happening, being something within their own capability of doing.My delivery needs some polishing, I know… but I prefer to speak from the heart and shoot from the hip. I’m direct, unfiltered and I’m told it g...

“ Crazy, Hurt & True ” by Rissa Bee

            Fifteen. Awkward. Acne scars, baby fat, and growing boobs. Socially inept, desperate for a chosen family of friends with the same insecurities and bad taste in music. Not extroverted enough for the popular crowd, not brazen enough for the bad kids. Just introverted and new enough to slip through cracks and be invisible. I found my group of misfits. Outcast. Weirdos and dorks. Druggies. Cutters. Cigarette...

“ Rendezvous ” by Mishkat Ul Huda

‘But, what matters, matters. Right?’ ‘Well, not really.’ ‘You mean, it does.’ ‘I have said otherwise.’ ‘Exactly. You too are like others around the town who say one thing but mean the other. By the way, you don’t really have to worry about it. It’s an ephemeral niche these days, one that many pine for.’ ‘ Aha. To say it blue but to mean otherwise?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Well, that’s qu...

“ She's Coming Home ” by T.R. Brown

I stare into my cubby, kids jostling and laughing behind me, and tell myself she’s coming home. Gather my backpack and violin, lunchbox, and coat. Head down to the playground. Hopscotch, marbles, tag, you’re it. Jump rope with Holly as the other 4th graders slip away. I sit on the bottom stair that leads to the big double doors. Run my hands over the smooth cement. Watch moms wave to their kids from the cars, playground dwindle to empty…she’s coming home. I walk four blocks down 28th street, past Hamburger Cor...

“ LOVE MATTERS ” by Julia Corliss

I have kept journals for over fifty years. In these journals I have returned again and again to thinking and writing about love because what matters to me in life is love in all its many manifestations. I read through my journals seeking to find writings that illustrate why love matters to me as part of the never-ending story of life on Earth. I begin here with my understanding of what it means to live life as a human b...

“ 10 a.m. ” by Lindsey B

We lie awake in bed and stare at the light the curtains let through.We lie awake in bed and listen to the distant groaning of approaching snowplows, and let the knowledge sink in that life is continuing for others out there.We lie awake in bed and try to ignore the sting of shame in our chests, and the familiar voices echoing that we're lazy and that we're going to lose our jobs.We lie awake in bed and check our work emails on our phones, to make us feel like we're working.We lie awake in bed and wonder. We lie...

“ Pythagorean Love ” by Adam Young

a2 + b2 = c2  The unbroken connection between two lives that intersect, despite the fact that their ways of being human flow at opposing right angles to one another, is love.  I could not be more different from her. Sure, we have a lot in common when you consider our Oklahoma upbringing, the churches we attended, the families we came from, the mid-western college where we were both educate...

“ 6 days 5 hours 46 mins 14 secs ” by Enn Simeon

PART 1“I’m thinking of getting a new pot for you. I think your roots are getting too crowded in there.”“That would be nice. How would you get the pot here?”“I could order it and have it delivered. I’ll ask them to leave it outside my door. Or maybe I’ll ask my mom.”“That would be nice.”“Yeah. Okay. I’ll do that— for you too, Shiva.”“Thank you, dear.”“Shiva, you have enough water?”“…”“…Shiva?”“Oh yes, I have enough water. Maybe even too much.”“Too muc...

“ Sleep, Supernova ” by Henri Porritt

Content Warning: sexual assault and violence implied. Soft light creeps in through the narrow slits of the softly waving blinds, dancing off the fresh, cream walls and baptising the youthfully familial scene in warmth, a love tinted lens. A new mother, hands still shaky, eyes still flighty, gently pushes and pulls the wooden crib that rocks her infant daughter. She finds herself subconsciously whisper...

“ Slop for Fodder ” by Éan Bird

On a Friday in March, my life detonated. To be honest, I still can't figure out what the hell happened. Yet, here, I'm being tasked to compose in relational snippets when nothing left exists from the whole. It's bullshit; I'm a science teacher, not a damn author of divisions. But someone once told me dates can carry symbolic weight, so I'll contest and deliver a chronology of the excrement. Served in verfabula fragments, as requested.April 19th, 2020:Most matter, upon ballistic impact, will...

“ A Dream Inside A Dream ” by Amy Metheny

What happened? Why does it look like downtown Indianapolis has been abandoned for decades? There isn’t a life form to be found, no birds, no sound of a coming train. Nothing but dead silence. All the buildings and skyscrapers are in some level of decay. Spoilage and deterioration have found their home in places I once ventured through. Here I stand looking out over the horizon. If depression had a color, that ...

“ Prayer Talk With God ” by Elle Jaye

“Our Father who is in heaven, holy is your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today our sufficient food, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” “……” “Hi, it’s me. I was reading that if you’re learning to pray, that I could start with the Lord’s Prayer. You might have noticed that I changed some of the wor...

“ The Proverbial It ” by Sara Schuch

Only dialogue  “You don’t get it.” “Get what?” “Just the mere fact that you have to ask is proof that you don’t get it.”  “Well if you tell me what it is that I need to air quote get, then I can try to understand it. I’m a pretty smart person. I get lots of things.” “This isn’t something you can understand just by reading abo...

“ Hoping for the Sun to Shine ” by J D

Spring brings new beginnings. The girl, music in her heart, joy, pure and unbridled. Laughter and adventure. Discovery and growth. Days filled with sunshine and rain, with games and stories, with hugs and kisses. Nights, soft and warm, with lullabies and goodnight stories, with dreams and hope. Parents, amazing and wonderful, their love and guidance, their support and sacrifice, shaping her into th...

“ Trigger Warning ” by Tessa Takzikab

Trigger Warning- Mental Health, Suicide/Self harm You’re the only one I can trust. I don’t know why I can trust you. You must have some sort of magic. Please don’t tell what happened- Please don’t tell what I did. If they trust me I have to be there I can’t let them suffer alone. I’m strong. I’m supposedly an adult. I can handle it.

The Best Creative Nonficiton Short Stories

Made for those bookworms who love the compelling freedom of fiction but are looking for a little bit of the real world in their reading, creative nonfiction is the radiant lovechild of elegant poetry and rigorous reportage. Writers of this genre aim to present the truth — factually accurate prose about real life and real people — in a brilliant and creative way. Its faithful readers find themselves as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy.

As a literary form, this genre can be a little hard to pin down. At its crux, creative nonfiction applies literary techniques drawn from poetry and fiction to content that would be at home in a textbook — making for an entertaining read that you might just learn something from! Among creative nonfiction short stories, you could find an insightful memoir, a dramatic monologue, hot, witty journalism, or a tight, personal essay.

Looking for new creative nonfiction stories? 

Look no further! Every week, hundreds of writers submit stories to Reedsy’s short story contest. On this page, you’ll find all of those that are categorized as creative nonfiction stories. This means that the featured writers were triggered by one of our prompts to look to their own experiences and reveal a true-life story — but, crucially, they decided to tell it in a brilliant and creative way. 

If you want to find the cream of the crop — perhaps the next Joan Didion or Jia Tolentino — then look to the top of the page: that’s where we’ve gathered all the winning and shortlisted entries. And don’t forget, if you’ve got a story to tell (fact or fiction), you too can enter our weekly contest and be in with a chance of nabbing the $250 prize plus a shot at publication in Prompted , our new literary magazine . Now wouldn’t that be a story?

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The Art of Storytelling

with Gloria Kempton

March 1st, 2023

It’s an age-old art form—storytelling—and you can learn the craft.

literary essay short stories

Discover Your Writing Niche

March 15th, 2023

Fiction or nonfiction? Article, short story, or how-to book? Do you want to write for children, teens, adults? There is a type of writing that is best suited for you, and the discovery process can be an adventure.

literary essay short stories

Let It Rip: The Art of Writing Fiery Prose

with Giulietta Nardone

March 22nd, 2023

You'll write prose that gets folks so hot and bothered they won't be able to put it down, even if it isn't about sex.

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Flash Fiction: Writing the Short-Short Story

with Barbara Henning

Write 1–3-page flash fiction in this online course with Barbara Henning, drawing on classic, poetic & experimental elements. Read the form’s masters.

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Write Your Picture Book!

with Kelly Bingham

Picture books have changed greatly over the last few decades, and the market is wide open for fresh ideas. Join us in this six-week intensive where we’ll take that idea of yours and turn it into a manuscript!

6. Dark Magazine

Dark Magazine pays 6¢ a word for horror and dark fantasy fiction. This journal much prefers stories that deviate from an expected ending and play with new styles and ideas. This is a great place for horror short story submissions!

7. Typishly

Typishly accepts short fiction and tries to publish both new and emerging voices. Best of all, they aim to respond to all submitted works in under 24 hours! This is a great journal for both expanding your readership and trying your look at a fast-paced publication.

8. SAND Journal

SAND Journal publishes eclectic and subversive fiction. They love stories that refuse to be predictable and stories that inspire change. Short story submissions are open until September 1st.

Where to Publish Short Stories: Reputable Journals

Want to know where to submit short stories for money? Many of the following journals pay for work from previously published writers. A publication in any of these online fiction journals could catapult your writing toward a larger, more reputable audience!

A publication in any of these online fiction journals could catapult your writing toward a larger, more reputable audience.

9. Virginia Quarterly

Virginia Quarterly Review , commonly stylized as VQR, publishes fiction and nonfiction from a diverse array of authors. VQR seeks highly literary works, and if you’re lucky, they pay at least $1,000 for accepted fiction! Just know that their submissions window is relatively small; for the Summer, submissions ran 7/1–7/31.

10. The Threepenny Review

The Threepenny Review publishes literary and inventive works of fiction. They are open for submissions from January through June, and they pay $400 per accepted story. Among the best journals for short story submissions, Threepenny Review is reliably expedient.

11. Strange Horizons

Strange Horizons is a pioneer in speculative fiction and sci-fi. They are open for submissions on Mondays and Tuesday of each week (except in December), and they pay at a rate of 10¢ per accepted word. For many sci-fi writers, publication in Strange Horizons is a laudable achievement!

12. The Sun Magazine

The Sun Magazine loves fiction that is literary, unflinching, thoughtful, and darkly funny. This competitive journal pays anywhere from $300 to $2,000 for their stories, and a publication in The Sun will be sent out to over 70,000 readers of the journal!

13. Raleigh Review

The Raleigh Review is a literary and visual arts journal with several annual contents. Their Flash Fiction Contest runs through October 31st, and the winner will be awarded $300. Among flash fiction journals that pay, the Raleigh Review stands out for its exciting contests.

14. Fantasy & Science Fiction

Fantasy & Science Fiction , commonly referred to as F&SF, is one of the oldest science fiction print journals in the world. This publication has a large archive of famous genre writers, including Stephen King and Walter Miller. F&SF pays 8-12¢ per word and has a large monthly circulation.

15. Longleaf Review

Longleaf Review publishes quarterly themed journals of prose and poetry. The theme for their Fall 2020 publication is “harvest,” and all accepted works will receive $20. Longleaf review loves fiction that is weird and surprising, yet still literary and honest.

16. Beloit Fiction Journal

Produced out of Beloit College, the Beloit Fiction Journal publishes contemporary short fiction. Short story submissions open between August 1st to November 16th, and submissions are free if you send your submission by mail.

Where to Publish Short Stories: The Summit of Fiction

The following 8 journals are notoriously difficult to publish in, but with a few publication credits under your belt and a well-polished work of fiction, you might find some luck with these literary fiction journals.

With a few publication credits under your belt and a well-polished work of fiction, you might find some luck with these literary fiction journals.

17. Ploughshares

Run out of Emerson College, Ploughshares is a highly literary publication which seeks innovative fiction. All published stories receive $45 per page, with a minimum guarantee of $90.

18. The New Yorker

Who hasn’t heard of The New Yorker? This journal often spearheads the literary conversation, publishing bold, daring, and eccentric works of fiction. This journal is extremely difficult to get published in, but a publication here will transform your literary career.

19. The Atlantic

Though The Atlantic is primarily known for its journalism and reviews on pop culture, it also boasts a reputable fiction section. To improve your chances of publication, familiarize yourself with past works put out by the Atlantic, as the journal often sponsors a provocative, daring style of fiction.

20. Granta Magazine

Granta Magazine is one of the oldest longstanding literary journals. Their reading period opens twice a year, and the journal accepts evocative and translucent prose from new and exciting voices.

21. American Short Fiction

It’s all in the name for American Short Fiction ! This competitive journal seeks short fiction from the finest voices in contemporary literature, and it often features the works of rising stars in the fiction world. Unsolicited submissions are open from August through December.

22. Fireside Magazine

Short story submissions to Fireside Magazine open once a week each quarter. The journal, also known as Fireside Quarterly, seeks highly creative fiction from diverse voices. Payments range for fiction submissions, though the journal prefers fiction that doesn’t surpass 3,000 words.

23. Guernica

Named after a famous Picasso painting, Guernica features writing, artwork, literary criticism, and essays in all genres. This diverse and comprehensive publication prefers fiction that fits into the journal’s overall focus on global art and politics.

24. Antioch Review

The Antioch Review is a competitive publication out of Antioch College in Ohio. This journal has high literary standards and expects highly polished, ready-for-print works. Each publication of the journal only includes 3 short stories, and all submissions must be sent via mail.

Tips for Navigating the World of Short Story Submissions

With thousands of fiction journals to choose from—each with their own submissions guidelines and preferences—finding the right journal can take ages.

What’s more, many fiction journals don’t allow simultaneous submissions or take months to review your short story submissions.

It’s important to understand a few things about fiction submissions before you send your stories out for publication. For starters, no story is guaranteed publication. Fiction reviewers look over hundreds of submissions for each publication, including reviewers at flash fiction journals. These editors often make tough decisions about great stories, and great fiction pieces are rejected all the time because of the finite amount of space in each publication.

Great fiction pieces are rejected all the time because of the finite amount of space in each publication.

Also, while we think these 24 fiction journals are the best on the net, there are thousands more. You can find a full directory of fiction journals at the literary magazines page on Poets & Writers !

Despite the competitive nature of online fiction journals, you can improve the chances of publishing your short story submissions. Make sure you note the following guidelines!

Review the Journal’s Past Publications

It’s good practice to read what the journal has published in the past. Though many short story publishers accept a wide range of styles and forms, fiction editors still have preferences for what stories they like to read and publish. Examine the journal’s past publications with a critical eye, and consider whether or not your story fits among the journal’s archives.

Follow Formatting Guidelines

Fiction journals usually open for submissions with a set of formatting guidelines. It’s best to follow these guidelines and general MLA formatting rules. Use 1-inch margins and a 12-point serif font. Taking the time to properly format demonstrates a seriousness about your fiction, whereas unformatted short stories may not receive proper attention.

Perfect the Title of Your Short Story

The journal’s reader is looking for something that grabs their attention right away. A well-titled story will be far more eye-catching than a generically titled story with a slow start. Remember, the reader goes through hundreds of submissions every month, so your short story submissions should stand out from the beginning!

Shoot for the Moon, Not the Stars

Lastly, it’s important to note that not all fiction journals are made equal. The world of literary publications is competitive, and writers must often secure publications from lesser-known journals before they attempt publication through reputable short story magazines.

Where to Submit Short Stories: Closing Thoughts

The publishing world is tough, fast, and competitive. With so many voices and publications in the literary world, writers have a tough time finding the right journal. You may encounter one rejection, five rejections, or fifty rejections before you find a home for your short story or flash fiction.

Don’t let this deter you. A rejection can simply mean your fiction didn’t work for that month’s issue, for reasons completely out of your control.

Whatever your level of experience and goals for your short stories, the instructors at can help you perfect your fiction and find new homes for them. Take a look at our upcoming online fiction writing courses and one-to-one coaching options, and take the next step in your fiction writing journey.

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Sean Glatch


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As a past fiction and novel student of, I still follow you by email, and I have a suggestion regarding literary journals. The Delmarva Review would be a good literary magazine for a student’s very best work. I am the editor of the Review, now in its 13th year of publication. We welcome submissions worldwide (in English) from new and established writers. The review is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a purpose to encourage writers to go the extra mile to write new literary prose and poetry. We receive 4,000 to 6,000 submissions of poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction for an annual edition. At least two experienced editors read every submission. There are no reading fees. We do not pay for pieces. We are competitive and now publish 45 to 60 authors per issue. The review is for sale at Amazon and most major online booksellers worldwide in both print and electronic editions. Given my past experience in workshops, I thought the Delmarva Review might be of interest to your most serious writers, either teachers or students. The website is: . We’re also active on Facebook. Thank you, Wilson Wyatt

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I was honored to obtain a call from a friend when he uncovered the important points shared on the site. Going through your blog publication is a real brilliant experience. Many thanks for thinking about readers just like me, and I wish you the best of success for a professional in this field.

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Thank you for writing! A joy and an honor to read–we’re happy to help you on your writing journey. Best of luck!

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What does “face-paced” mean in the description above of number 7 “Typishly”? I cannot tell from the context.

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Whoops, typo for “fast-paced,” thanks for alerting us! Hopefully none of these journals are face-paced, which is almost certainly too slow or too fast.

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Do you love writing? Do you like challenges? Are you into letter writing?

If you answered yes to the questions above, then you should consider submitting your work to The Letters Page. The Letters Page is an online literary journal published by the University of Nottingham’s School of English. Its editor, the published author and professor Jon McGregor, selects, edits, publishes and promotes the best pieces of creative writing with the assistance of English students, like myself.

We publish essays, stories, poetry, memoir, travelogue, criticism, and any hybrid forms; but all in the form of letters. We accept submissions on a rolling basis. We are looking for writers of all nationalities and ages, both established and emerging.

If your letter is selected, we will publish it to our monthly newsletter, and you will receive a gift subscription to one of our favourite small presses or literary journals.

For more details, visit our website,

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Hey there! We’re Lint Magazine and we currently have a call for artists open. Lint Magazine is an assemblage of visual and written work and this edition is on the topic of Transit. Sound like something for you? Submit your work at [email protected]

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Same here…

I am working on a short story titled Children of the mother pot, half of which I have published on wattpad and hope to start sending it out.

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Existing for over 2 years and born in Solitaire, Quarantine of 2020, The Quiet Reader just came out with its 6th edition of great new short story literature. Submissions are open for the next edition!

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We would like to be included in this list.

We are starting to compile entries for our October Issue. We’d like to see short stories, essays, poems and illustrations.

send entries to [email protected]

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I am from South Africa and are always looking for magazines that accept international submissions regarding short stories. Are now looking where I can submit my 2000 word angel-encountering story, based on true events.

This page gives me hope. Ninety percent of the time I write in Afrikaans, my first language. But with this story I have decided to put my feet in the water by trying to write in English.

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Hi Karin, Try Guidepost’s “Angel’s On Earth”. It is always looking for submissions on all things to do with angels.

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Example Of Essay On Short Stories

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Evil , The Scarlet Letter , Mark Twain , Nathaniel Hawthorne , Susan Minot , Necklace , Pattern , Gas

Words: 2750

Published: 03/09/2020


Nowadays, people tend to care too much what other people may think about them, sometimes making sacrifices beyond their possibilities, for the sake of appearances. The story “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant teaches us a very good life lesson regarding this issue and in another order of ideas, we can call it the deceptiveness of appearances. The main character of the story, Mathilde, never felt that the normal life she had fits her, and she always dreamed on being wealthy and making part of the social class. She had her change to bright for a couple of hours at a social ball, where her dream came true. She was the most beautiful and charming woman from the party, being help by his husband with a new expensive dress and by her friend who borrowed a diamond necklace. However, Mathilde paid a very big price for that. At the end of the story, we found out that the necklace that Mathilde borrowed from her friend Madame Forestier, and lost it, was fake. She sacrificed ten years of her life for paying the necklace that she thought was real. "Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! "(Maupassant, The Necklace). The necklace from Madame Forestier gave Mathilde the illusion of richness and value because Madame Forestier was her rich friend, a person she admired and who wanted be like her, being unthinkable that such a respectable lady could had a fake necklace in her jewelry collection. The fact that the necklace change from a cheap one to an expensive one and the lady didn’t notice suggest us that the appearance could be easily deceived, and the true value are influenced by our perception. The story “Love in L.A.” by Dagoberto Gilb is treated in a realistic measure. All the traditional love story follow a clear pattern, as two strangers meeting and falling in love one for each other and day living happily after but “Love in L.A” doesn’t follow this pattern. It is a unique story love story with a twist in the end, but even it isn’t a traditional love story, it doesn’t disqualify on being a love story. The realism of the story is shaped by the personality of the two main characters, Jack and Marina. Jack is far from being the well-mannered man on a white horse, representing the opposite, being dishonest and self-absorbed. The second love theme in the story is the love that Jack has it from itself and his car and could me more important than the other. The writer of “Love in L.A.” leaves us the impression that the story is a desire for love at the most shallow and self-serving level. This story is similar with “Ind AFF” by Franklin Birkinshaw and presents us the love story between an unmarried graduate student and his married history professor, which is also her thesis adviser, who are in vacation, in Yugoslavia. This trip was made for the professor to decide whether to leave his wife for his lover. Like the other story, this one was also an unexpected twist. The young woman, tired of the grumpiness, irritable, boring attitude that professor Peter has, and comes to her senses and escape from a bad and depressing situation. Comparative to the first story, here we also have the first contrasting, regarding the power of the women and the fact that she could go further without regrets. The second contrast that appears comparing this both story was a length to the period when love story was presented. The first story tells us about a shy and uncertain beginning of a love story, but the second story finds the protagonist at the end of a love story. Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and a short-story writer who lived in the nineteenth century. His fictional works were considered part of the Dark romanticism, his themes approached things like the sin of humanity and inherent evil; his stories often had moral messages and deep psychological complexity. “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne was a famous story that has in foreground, Aylmer, a late 18-century scientist who was totally dedicated into his work and who had recently married a beautiful woman named, Georgiana. The perfection of the woman was shadowed by a birthmark in a form of a hand that Georgiana had on her cheek. “The crimson hand expressed the ineludible gripe in which mortality clutches the highest and purest of earthly mould, degrading them into kindred with the lowest, and even with the very brutes, like whom their visible frames return to dust. In this manner, selecting it as the symbol of his wife's liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death, Aylmer's sombre imagination was not long in rendering the birthmark a frightful object.” (Hawthorne, The Birthmark) This quote revealed Aylmer’s thought. He wanted her woman to be perfect in both ways, body and soul, and perhaps the birthmark itself wasn’t the problem, but rather the fact the she was an imperfect human being with same vices as someone else. The message from this story is that nobody is perfect, and we should learn to accept people that we love with their imperfections because human being are necessarily imperfect and we shouldn’t throw away a good thing if isn’t exactly as what we wanted to be. Sometimes the little imperfection things build perfect relationships. The plot of the story “Lust” by Susan Minot followed the conventional methods. The characters were well defined in the exposition and the central conflict regarded the main character that used her body to gain intimacy, the psychological consequences becoming the important point on this narration. In the end, she realized that she had paid a prize too big for hers sexual escapades. We found out from the narrator how tired, used and lonely this teenager was feeling after doing this supposed sexual freedom; in fact was trying to hide under this behavior her needed for love, affection and understanding from another human being. The story ends uncertain, leaving the reader wondering if she had learned something for his self-destructive actions and she will embrace the change that she needed in her life. The most interesting thing that I found in this story is how Susan Minot treats the subject of a young girl vulnerability regarding theirs engaging on premarital sexual relationship. The book is a warning for the female readers who have sexual relationships with different partners and don’t have any emotional involvement is an issue that leads to damaging emotional consequences. A good example from the book regards the feelings of the main character that described the consequences as “an overwhelming sadness, an elusive gaping worry.” (Minot, Lust) Minot was aware of the message that she wanted to transmit to the readers and made a good and careful articulated prose in order to express ideas and beliefs regarding this subject. The book was a wonderful life lesson for younger teenage girl; that had low self-esteem and they, usually, found them self in the situation on doing everything they could for a small act of kindness from a man. The story “Girl” by Jamaica Kinkaid is it about the life lesson that a mother gave to her youngest daughter. Of course, this was just a guess because we didn’t find those things written in the monologue. We could assume, however that the central voice in the unnamed mother and by the way she was speaking makes us think it could have been her daughter. The voice interrupted her mother twice to protest her innocence, but her mother continued her directions. Kinkaid used here semicolons to separate the words of wisdom to the admonishment, and had repeated sentences to strengthen the idea. The woman was telling her daughter a lot of useful advice, regarding how to manage things on life, and how to grow and transform to a beautiful and intelligent woman. Most of those were practical advices of how to wash the color clothes, how to cook a good meal, how to set a table, how to iron or how to behave in society, not to sing any Antiguan folk song on the Sunday school, not to squat while playing marble and the most important thing, to always walk and talk like a lady. She also taught her how a romantic relationship works and that one day she will find a man, warning her that sometimes a woman and men “bully” each other. She told to the girl how to smile at the persons the she didn’t like and how to smile at the person that she likes a lot and also how to avoid evil spirits. I have been in a similar situation, my mother always told me what to do. Over time, it proved to be very useful even if when I was a child, I didn’t was on the same opinion. I founded her annoying and nagging but after I grew up, when I had a problem I remember all the advices that she gave me, it was all in my head I could hear her voice directing me on making the best choice. “Popular Mechanics” by Raymond Carver was the story of a couple with big issues, who were described in the middle of their last fight. The message that Carver was trying to transmit is that people don’t have healthy communication anymore with each other, and they don’t know how to express their feeling in order to be understood by their life partner. They get angry very quickly, and they don’t have the necessary patient to deal with the real problems, so they are satisfied with a simple solution on argue and eventually leave. This is a real issue nowadays because married couples are more likely to break up than to sit and solve with more communication, and to understand each other's needs and desire. This story sends a warning in hopes that couples will try to change this attitude especially when a child appears in the middle. Another important point that Carver is trying to highlight in this story is that when a couple has issues of communication, the baby is always in the middle and is the one who suffer most. In the book, we have very clear example of this because the baby appears in the middle of his parent’s physical fight. The both parents were controlling one of the baby’s arms by pulling it and in the same time, arguing who should have the baby. The baby started to cry because it was in pain, and the parents hurt him in the pulling and grasping game of power. In the end, the story leaves as with an understatement on the final sentence “He felt the baby slipping out of his hands and he pulled back very hard. In this manner, the issue was decided.” (Carver, Popular Mechanics). We don’t know for sure what happened in the end; the author leaves it to us to interpret the ending. The worst macabre scenario could be the breaking of the baby in two, but this hypothesis could be treated only on a metaphorical level. The irony of this story is also linked to the final quotation above and is about the irony of the situation in which parents where and ambiguous manner in which the story ends bringing out the irony within the verbal communication which runs between the two partners. The use of style, tone and irony gives the story a tangled reading but also clearly convincing. “The Story of the Good Little Boy” by Mark Twain is a short story that was published in 1875 and was the mirror of the story “The Story of the Bad Little Boy.” The first story puts us in front a young boy named Jacob Blivens who did everything right and desired nothing more than to be good. He never lied, never stolen, never cheated but bad things still happens to him. The book was a Mark Twain’s observation on literature written by poor authors, poorly written fiction, whose in the author’s opinion was clearly connected to the Sunday school books. The boy wanted to be the best he can be, just as good as the characters in the story that he read. He remarked on the reading that people who did good things were always rewarded with good things, and this was also his wish. In the end, the story had a twist, and the good boy had a tragic and catastrophic end. He was always nice with the bad kids but one day, when he was walking along the factory, he saw some children picking up on some dogs, he tried to make the right thing but the blame fell on him. After that, the factory exploded scattering on the air pieces of the dog and the boy. Good things happened always to people that did good things and bad things happened always to people that did bad things is the lesson that we learn on Sunday’s school books but this story doesn’t follow this pattern. The reason was simple; this wasn’t the way of the world worked. Often people who did bad things succeed because they did those things, and people who did good things can often be far worse. You must give people a more powerful reason for being good, more the de fear of doing the right things if not, bad people can happen to them because bad things inevitably happen. “55 Miles to the Gas Pump” by Annie Proulx is a macabre, gory and revolting story that talks about a married couple who lived 12 years together without noticing that they lived separately life and the story mocks the lack of normality and decency. Also could by a story that made fun of the uncivilized country life that those people were leaving along, far away from any community of human beings. This is one of the reasons for their strange, creepy and abnormal behavior in lack of civilization and human contact and the issues that this absence can do to unstable, lonely minds. The story is short, I think this is the shortest story I’ve ever read. It has 226 words divided into two slim paragraphs and a separate final sentence. This form of story provides a necessary counterbalance to the main subject. The first paragraph describes the physical appearance of Rancher Croom, how he makes his beer and in the end how he takes his life, throwing him away from the canon cliffs at one night of drinking. The second paragraph presents us his wife, Mrs. Croom, who discovered the dead body for the former lovers that his husband had in the past, hidden in the attic. The body were“covered with tarry handprints, the marks of boot heels, some bright blue with the remnants of paint used on the shutters years ago, one wrapped in newspaper nipple to knee.” (Proulx, 55 Miles to the Gas Pump) The last sentence “When you live a long way out you make your own fun.” (Proulx, 55 Miles to the Gas Pump) can be an excuse for their unusual behavior but is a shocking, ridiculous and amusing, and also could be the moral of this dark, black humorous story.

Works cited

De Maupassant, Guy. The Necklace. Short Stories.Web. 11 october 2014. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Birthmark. The Literature Network. Web. 11 october 2014. Minot, Susan. Lust and other stories. Vintage, 2000. Print Carver, Raymond. Popular Mechanics. Web. 11 october 2014 Proulx, Annie. 55 Miles to the Gas Pump. Biblioklept. 11 october 2014.

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Essay on 'The Sniper’: Short Story Analysis

The leader of a powerful country is known to many as a very peaceful person when dealing with foreign disputes. Suddenly, an enemy nation strikes out of nowhere and destroys one of the biggest urban cities in the country. Plans of war come to mind. Conflicts like these happen all the time around the world, ranging from what food a family is having for dinner to massive global wars. They can stem from misunderstandings, frustration, and much more. According to the Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi, “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind,” showing that violence is not always the best solution to our greatest problems. This disagreement between humans is not only displayed in real life but in stories as well. The prevalent man vs. man conflicts in the selections ‘The Rules of the Game”, ‘The Sniper’, and ‘The Most Dangerous Game’ both drive the plot forward and enhance the story in detail.

literary essay short stories

In “The Rules of the Game” by Amy Tan, the man vs. man conflict depicted in the selection is the main character Waverly Jong, versus her mother. The first time Waverly’s annoyance at her mother is apparent is when even after winning multiple chess tournaments, her mom is never proud of her. Tan gives an example of this when she states, “As she wiped each piece (of the chess set) with a soft cloth, she said, ‘Next time win more, lose less.’ ‘Ma, it’s not how many pieces you lose,’ I said. ‘Sometimes you need to lose pieces to get ahead.’ ‘Better to lose less, see if you really need’” (4). Tan describes how the mother never recognizes the achievements her daughter has made and instead always sees what she can improve on. She is negatively affected by her mom’s remarks but continues to persevere. The treatment Waverly receives from her mother is harsh, but it gets worse as the story draws to a close. After winning many chess tournaments, her mother starts introducing Waverly to everyone on the street, and she is embarrassed by her mom’s actions. Tan shows Waverly trying to express her feelings to her mom when she writes, “I knew it was a mistake to say anything more, but I heard a voice speaking, ‘Why do you have to use me to show off? If you want to show off, then why don’t you learn how to play chess?’ My mother’s eyes turned into dangerous black slits. She had no words for me, just sharp silence” (5). Tan is illustrating the fact that when Waverly opens up to her mother, all she is met with is extreme disregard and anger. The points are made of the differing opinions between Wavery Jong and her mother throughout the story. Although a man vs. man conflict is expressed in “The Rules of the Game”, similar events also occur in “The Sniper”, by Liam O’Flaherty. The conflict represented in this selection is between the Freestaters and Republicans in a civil war in Dublin, Ireland. The narrative focuses on one soldier and his battle with another sniper. O’Flaherty describes the end result of this conflict when he says, “Then when the smoke cleared, he peered across and uttered a cry of joy. His enemy had been hit. He was reeling over the parapet in his death agony. He struggled to keep his feet, but he was slowly falling forward as if in a dream.” (2). O’Flaherty gives us a brief glimpse of the triumph the sniper gets once he knocks down his enemy. This quote shows how much the war and his desire to kill the enemy have affected his mentality and sanity. The sniper was supposed to be rejoicing with his victory, but when he sees who he killed, the story takes a major turn. Once the sniper killed his foe, he got curious about who he shot down, maybe having the chance of finding someone he knew from earlier years. From the sniper’s perspective, “He threw himself face downward beside the corpse. The machine gun stopped. Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother’s face” (O’Flaherty 2). O’Flaherty reaffirms the horrors of war through this quote, showing the destruction it caused. Also, he uses the last sentences of the text to emphasize the conflict between the two sides in the war and how it has led the sniper to kill his own brother.

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Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” is a masterpiece of Gothic literature, examining the fine line between life and death as a result of fear. Poe’s, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” possesses the conventional characteristics of Gothic literature and romanticism through the elements of loneliness, madness, and horror. Through Poe’s vivid personification, the physical state of the house reflects the mental condition of the Usher household, providing the reader with an insight...

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3+ Short Story Analysis Essay Examples in PDF

Short story analysis essay, 3+ short story analysis essay examples, 1. short story analysis essay template, 2. sample short story analysis essay, 3. short story analysis essay example, 4. printable short story analysis essay, what is a short story analysis essay, how to compose a critical short story analysis essay, how to run an in-depth analysis of a short story, why is it necessary to compose analysis essays, what is critical writing.

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1. Take Down Notes

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