How can I improve my writing skills while writing an essay-type question in English literature from exam point of view?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Since exams in English literature classes are usually essay questions, you will want to hone your skills at writing paragraph and essays, first of all.  When you are given an essay question on a literary work, for instance, the most important thing is to really answer the question and not...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Since exams in English literature classes are usually essay questions, you will want to hone your skills at writing paragraph and essays, first of all.  When you are given an essay question on a literary work, for instance, the most important thing is to really answer the question and not write about extraneous matters.  This answer is what constitutes the thesis of the essay or topic sentence of the paragraph that is the response.

Using the paragraph essay [like a mini-essay] as presented in The Practical Writer as the format for your response is a good way to organize.  For instance, if you are asked to discuss the ways color imagery in The Great Gatsby adds meaning, you will make a general statement about this imagery in your topic sentence, then you will support this statement in the body of the paragraph essay.  Here is an example:

In Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, color imagery works to develop characterization and to create mood. [Usually a paragraph essay has two parts to its topic sentence.] For instance, in the development of the character Daisy, the two colors of white and gold are employed.  Clothed in white, Daisy seems innocent and almost pure, but it is the delusion of Gatsby that she is perceived in this way.  For Gatsby, the pursuit of Daisy is equated with the search for a holy grail, pure and worthy.  However, the color of gold is also used with Daisy, whose voice "sounds like money."  Thus, her innocence is tarnished by money and materialism.  In Chapter --, for example, Daisy demonstrates her materialsm, rather than any inclination towards purity......In addition to the development of character, color imagery is used to create mood.  In Chapter Two, for instance, the grey-white Valley of Ashes characterizes Mr. Wilson who is himself covered with the ashes of dead people. In another example of color imagery which connotes mood, ........[give supporting details] Then, summarize your work with a restatement of your topic sentence.

See the links below for additional form and methods. The how to write an in-class essay should especially prepare you.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team