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.
When referring to historical events in the author's life or in the world at the time, use the past tense.
Keep the tense of quotations even if they do not match the surrounding text.