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Writing about Literature
See if you can get 10 out of 10 in this quiz.

Writing about Literature

When writing about literature, there are certain conventions to follow, such as the use of formal language and the correct way to incorporate quotations from a text. Learning to write about literature is a key skill you will have developed during your GCSE studies. Other skills involve the analysis of a work of literature or the best way to share your analysis in your writing.

This quiz tests your knowledge of the skills required for this form of writing.

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Which of the following sentences is a good example of how to write about literature?
Scout recognises the men and says, 'Hey, Mr. Cunningham'
Scout's innocent recognition of the men gathered around the jail awakens their sense of humanity
Scout's just a little girl and keeps talking to the men because she doesn't know any better
Scout says, 'Hey, Mr. Cunningham,' and then feels hurt because he doesn't answer
Remember to keep your tone formal and to avoid merely retelling the story
What does 'interpretation' mean?
The only correct meaning of a text; the meaning explained by the teacher
The only correct meaning of a text; the meaning given by the author's friends
A translation of a text into another language
A personal understanding of a text, which may differ from other people's understanding
Every text has multiple possible interpretations. The important thing is for you to support your view with evidence and to convince your reader that your interpretation is valid
When writing an essay about literature, you should...
list each literary technique which the author has used in the text
only name a literary device used if you can show how the writer used it and what effect it has
list all of the similes in one paragraph, all of the metaphors in another, etc.
name every literary device you find so that you can show off what you know
It is pointless to say something like, 'The author uses alliteration in the third line,' if you can't give a reason why the author made that choice, or explain what effect the alliteration has
Which of the following should you analyse when writing about literature?
A text's language
A text's meaning
A text's structure
Any of the above
Usually you will want to write about all of these; sometimes an essay question will ask you to focus on two (i.e. language and meaning)
Which tool does an author use in order to accomplish his or her purpose in writing?
A highly-effective marketing plan
A long, explanatory section which follows the story
A commentary running alongside the text to explain the purpose of each section
Writers only have words at their command, which is why it always pays to closely examine the text. Every word has been chosen for a reason. Plot, character, theme, mood - all of these are built from words alone. Carefully analyse the language used in the text and incorporate your insights into your essay writing
What is the term for the political, cultural, social, or economic environment in which a piece of literature is written?
Because many literary works challenge the prevailing ideas of their time and place, context becomes an excellent tool to aid your analysis
Which of the following is a good example of how to use a quotation when writing an essay about literature?
'Sullen-looking, sleepy-eyed men who seemed unused to late hours'
Scout says, 'sullen-looking, sleepy-eyed men who seemed unused to late hours'
To Scout, the lynch mob appears as 'sullen-looking, sleepy-eyed men who seemed unused to late hours'
'Sullen-looking, sleepy-eyed men who seemed unused to late hours' seemed to be a lynch mob
For more practice on using quotations in your writing, try our Using Evidence From the Text quiz
Which of the following is true?
The author's meaning is always clear and obvious
It is impossible to understand the meaning of any text
A text may have many meanings, including hidden or subtextual meanings
A text can only have one meaning
The more closely you examine a piece of literature, the more meanings you are likely to find
How should you NOT treat the plot?
Discuss the plot structure where it provides support or evidence for a point you've made
Mention any significant moment in the plot, such as a turning point, when it supports your argument
Summarise the entire plot so that the reader knows what the story is about
Mention a specific event in the story where it is necessary in introducing a quotation
What should accompany a quotation from the text?
An explanation of how the quotation supports the point which you have made
A similar quotation from another text by the same author
A contrasting quotation from another text by a different author
A quotation can stand on its own and does not require any further detail
Use quotations sparingly to back up your argument. Always choose the best quotation which helps to make your point and then explain how it supports your point
Author:  Sheri Smith

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