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Teacher Tips and Answers

Revising Literary Analyses

After you have completed a first draft of your analysis, set it aside awhile. Once you get some distance from it, you can more objectively make improvements. Start by focusing on the large-scale issues: the ideas, organization, and voice in your writing. The following activities will help you.

Revising to Use Literary Present Tense

Sometimes you might struggle with the tense of verbs in a literary analysis. Do you say, "Richard Adams lived in Whitchurch, England" or "Richard Adams lives in Whitchurch, England," (when he is deceased)? Do you say "Richard Adams combined anthropomorphic fiction with naturalism" or "Richard Adams combines anthropomorphic fiction with naturalism"? And if you are in present tense for your main text, how do you handle quotations in past tense?

When you write a literature review, you should use literary present tense. This style of writing treats the piece of literature as something new and fresh whenever it is read rather than being something stuck in the past. Follow these rules to write effectively in the literary present tense:

When speaking about the work and the events in it, use the present tense.

Adams creates a world that is both naturalistic and mythic, that feels simultaneously like science and faith.

When referring to historical events in the author's life or in the world at the time, use the past tense.

Richard Adams served in the Airborne Company of the British Army during World War II.

Keep the tense of quotations even if they do not match the surrounding text.

Despite the setback, Hazel trusts his brother and makes a fateful decision: " 'Fiver and I will be leaving the warren tonight,' he said deliberately. 'I don't know exactly where we shall go, but we'll take anyone who's ready to come with us' " (23). Hazel's pronouncement immediately convinces Bigwig.

This lesson is a part of the Writing Literary Analyses unit.

Click the title to view more information about this unit and a full list of lessons that are included.

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