Fiction Analysis Essay
What is fiction analysis?
Probably you jitter when you hear the word “analysis”. Don’t be afraid. The word is common among the college students especially when learning fiction or literature in general. Just stay focused, I’m here to guide you on how to go about fiction analysis. However, before delving into fiction analysis, it is better to understand the word “fiction”. Fiction is a form of literature that put together the different imaginary events that are not factual. Such work can be a book, play or a film. Therefore, fiction analysis is a process of identifying concepts within the fiction item and break down their meanings in a subjective way for easier interpretation. Besides, fiction analysis entails appreciation of the type of literature and the literary techniques within the work. Thus, fiction analysis focuses on such fiction elements as theme, metaphor, similes, imagery, settings, plot, conflict, and characters among others.
What to consider before writing a fiction analysis
Before analyzing a fiction, ensure that you understand the following aspects;
Life after the Fiction Reports: Students should note that fiction analysis is not about the summary. Probably you are good at providing brief information about fiction or a book. However, in fiction analysis, it is required that you make a particular claim and thesis about the fiction and take time providing evidence supporting the central idea.
Gather information: Students should choose the relevant fiction that they need to analyze. Furthermore, students should have their initial idea and the information they have to say concerning the fiction as well as the ways they plan to support their position regarding the fiction. Besides, take notes by reviewing the content of the fiction, thoughts as well as answering series of questions about the topic.
Consider the plot of the fiction: identify the main event in the fiction whether they are episodic, polyphonic.
Consider the setting: ensure that you state when the fiction happens and the effects of setting to the characters.
Identify the point of view of the narrator: specify whether it is subjective or objective, whether the narrator uses first-person narration or an observer.
Note the characters in the fiction: write a list of the characters especially the protagonist and antagonist. Besides, identify their interests and beliefs.
Establish the theme in the fiction: ensure that you mention the main idea concerning human experience, the world, and human values. Besides mention the idea that the author tries to put across.
Delve into the major words: identify the imagery in such words and mention areas where the author evokes senses, taste, smell, hearing, touch, and sight among others.
Note symbolism in the fiction: identify the symbolism in the fiction and note the subjective concepts such as wisdom, greed or motherhood.
Identify the tone and style: mention whether the style is formal or informal as well as the tone that the narrator uses.
Note the figurative language: identify all the personification aspects, similes, imageries and metaphors within the fiction.
How to start a fiction analysis
Tips on how to start
Construct a momentum: ensure that your fiction analysis has a distinctive voice or a point of view and a brief plot regarding the fiction.
Use a hook: As a writer, who engages in fiction analysis, use the smallest hook to engage the reader. However, do not use a too long hook that disappoints the reader for a start.
Do not start ahead of the reader: ensure that you don’t confuse the reader. Instead, make a good sense immediately the reader subjectively gets a new idea for the reader to reward your analysis from the beginning.
Give personal reaction from the beginning: ensure that you accurately identify ideas and elements that the author uses in your reaction.
Use a simple and short thesis: the thesis statement should give more information on the main idea basically on the outcome or the overall idea that the author conveyed in the complete fiction.
How to write an outline
The outline of a fiction analysis should have the following structure.
Introduction: give a brief personal reaction, a hook, author, title, main character, summary, and thesis. Besides, inform the reader of your intention for fiction analysis.
Thesis Statement: it should be one sentence that gives a summary of the particular interpretation of the fiction. For example, Desiree’s Baby by Kate Chopin shows that good relationship requires moderate dependence that causes no harm.
Topic Sentence: provides a summary of the main idea regarding the fiction to support the interpretation. For example, even though Desiree’s dependence helps her form a healthy relationship with the Valmondes who is her adopted family, she becomes vulnerable to evils such as mistreatment and rejections.
- Provide evidence from the fiction that is relevant
- Explain proof about the topic sentence
- Give evidence from the fiction
- Explain proof about the topic sentence
- Give evidence from the fiction that is relevant
- Explain the evidence about the topic sentence
Topic Sentence: Give a summary of the main point regarding the fiction that supports your interpretation.
- Provide evidence from the fiction
- Explain the evidence about the topic sentence
- Give evidence from the fiction
- Explain the evidence about the topic sentence
- Provide detailed evidence from the fiction
- Explain your evidence about the topic sentence
How to write a thesis
The Thesis Statement of a literary analysis essay – tells your reader what to expect. The statement should be restricted, a precisely worded declarative sentence that states the purpose of your essay. When given the assignment to analyze a work of fiction, poetry, or drama, you must first determine the requirements of the assignment. A good thesis is specific, limited in scope and offers a perspective or interpretation on a subject.
How to write introduction
The introduction appears at the beginning of the fiction analysis. In a fiction analysis, the introduction should be one paragraph with a thesis statement at the end or after the hook. Therefore, ensure that you include about at least five important sentences with meaning and a summary of the fiction. Lastly, ensure that the introduction has a signpost for the rest of the analysis.
How to write body paragraphs
Setting: ensure that you indicate the time, place, history and social context of the fiction.
Plot: ensure that you elaborate on the main event in the fiction besides providing analysis on the flashbacks, conflict and the turning point of the fiction.
Characters: provide clarity on the protagonist, villain, and other characters. Mention the characters’ beliefs, motives, interests and values and the conflict they experience.
Point of view: give clarity from the narrator such as the first-person perspective or as an observer. Besides, mention the impacts of the point of view to the fiction and whether it is used to conceal or reveal information.
Imagery: mention the type of imagery in the fiction and how they make the fiction believable. Also, mention some of the areas where there are imageries and the reason. Lastly, note their effects on the mood.
Symbolism: mention the symbols in the fiction and whether the characters act as symbols. Also, give the reason for the use of such symbols and the way they change the fiction.
Style and tone: mention the choice of language and the type of sentences in the fiction. Besides, elaborate on the attitude of the writer to the readers and the subject. Give more information on diction and the impact of tone on the fiction.
Figurative language: mention metaphors, similes, and personification in the fiction and the reason for their usage.
Tips on body writing
- Identify each literary element in the fiction
- Provide evidence from the fiction regarding the literary elements
- Explain the various reasons for using such literary elements either personal or writer’s point of view.
- Elaborate the impacts of such literary elements in the fiction and their benefits on enriching the fiction.
- Use sentence starters or transitions when elaborating the reasons in the analysis. For example; this is evidenced by…, the author uses the element to illustrate, and we identify the element in paragraphs (2, 3 and 5) where the narrator.
How to finish a fiction analysis essay
- Give a summary of the fiction analysis
- Rephrase the thesis statement
- Give the importance of the analysis
- Use a strong statement when concluding.
Tips on revision
When revising fiction analysis essay, ensure that:
- You use the correct spell-check, space check and grammar check for the first draft.
- Keep a simple format and follow the instructions of the tutor.
- Read the draft aloud twice and identify areas where mistakes exist.
- Give the essay to a friend or family member to read it and correct simple mistakes.
- Ensure that you use the correct punctuation before turning in the work.
Fiction Analysis of The Centaur by John Updike
The Centaur by John Updike is a fiction novel regarding a protagonist; George Caldwell who faces different problems about his wealth and health. He is short in the leg with an arrow. He then proceeds to Hummel’s garage for assistance due to the prolonged pain as they struggle to pull the arrow out. The author through the struggles that George undergoes reveals the steadfast faith and hope in life when a person faces problems. George gives up his dream of becoming a professional footballer and struggles through social issues coupled with depression and suicidal thoughts with his son Peter who helps him.
Setting and point of view
The drama takes place in Olinger and Anton in Pennsylvania immediately after the World War II. The author centers on George who is a teacher with depression and thoughts of committing suicide. The fiction entails a social drama within a family overwhelmed with both personal and social issues with a mythological context that reveals the intentions of each character.
The narrator is omniscient with a third person voice perspective in most cases. However, there are some episodes especially in different chapters where the first-person point of view features primarily from the second character who is Peter. We tend to realize that the protagonist is easy and has no confidence with a depressive tone amidst troubling mood Zimmerman who is the villain. However, the major conflict arises within George Caldwell who gives up and finds difficulty in living a normal life.
Imagery and Symbolism
Updike uses imagery to show the characters and their behaviors especially George Caldwell who gets public humiliation and excitement of students as well as Zimmerman besides revealing a feeling of pity in George Caldwell. For example, George Caldwell has pain physically as well as emotionally and sees it as a living being. Such pain depicts physical suffering which is enhanced by the humiliation of the children.
Secondly, Zimmerman has a lustful behavior that is represented through his arousal. He is more interested in female students, unlike George who spends time in teaching. Zeus loves the smutty faces of the students. However, such behavior reveals the uneasiness in George Caldwell whenever he is in school. On a separate note, George becomes a laughing stock when he does not care about his health and welfare. Peter is dismayed by his behavior especially his attires. For example, the narrator can describe his coat that is tattered, castoff with buttons that are mismatching. Such imagery makes the reader feel pity towards George.
Separately, the author uses Olympus as an allegory in the fiction. The introduction of Olinger high school is an allegory to Olympus Mountain which is a home to the Greek gods. Besides, there is an abyss which is a symbol of despair in George that reaches its peak and them he masters the courage to walk when he did not expect. For he says, that is it a significant step for the entire walk in life he was not prepared to do.
In conclusion, Updike uses the literary elements in the fiction novel to illustrate the extent of poor life and humiliation that George Caldwell passes. The author can evoke readers to empathize with the protagonist through his life as he struggles to make both ends meet.
The sentence you are currently reading has the potential to brand itself indelibly upon our cultural consciousness and to alter the course of Western Civilization. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But what author doesn’t dream of crafting an opening line that will achieve the iconic recognition of “Call me Ishmael,” or the staying power of “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth …”? In writing, as in dating and business, initial reactions matter. You don’t get a second chance, as mouthwash commercials often remind us, to make a first impression.
This post is by Jacob M. Appel. Appel is a physician, attorney and bioethicist based in New York City. He is the author of more than two hundred published short stories and is a past winner of the Boston Review Short Fiction Competition, the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award for the Short Story, the Dana Award, the Arts & Letters Prize for Fiction, the North American Review’s Kurt Vonnegut Prize, and more. Visit him at jacobmappel.com.
So it’s unfortunate that opening sentences frequently receive short shrift in writing workshops. While drilling aspiring literati on the subtleties of characterization and plot, few, if any, writing instructors offer lessons on crafting a first line, or even an introductory paragraph—though many agents and editors, if not impressed after a sentence or two, will read no further. I started devoting an entire session of my writing class to opening lines when I realized that the last formal instruction I’d had on the subject was the grade school admonition that stories should begin with “a hook.” In the years since, I’ve come to believe that the fate of most literary endeavors is sealed within the initial paragraph—and that the seeds of that triumph or defeat are usually sown by the end of the very first sentence.
Think of every opening line you write as a pebble tossed down a mountainside: The stone may jolt back and forth within a limited path, building up force, but the trajectory of its initial release largely determines its subsequent route. Never forget that the entire course of a story or novel, like an avalanche, is largely defined within its first seconds. To craft a compelling story, you must first launch it in the right direction.
Here are 10 ways to do it.
1. Build momentum.
The first cardinal rule of opening lines is that they should possess most of the individual craft elements that make up the story as a whole. An opening line should have a distinctive voice, a point of view, a rudimentary plot and some hint of characterization. By the end of the first paragraph, we should also know the setting and conflict, unless there is a particular reason to withhold this information.
This need not lead to elaborate or complex openings. Simplicity will suffice. For example, the opening sentence of Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” tells the reader: “The grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida.” Already, we have a distinctive voice—somewhat distant, possibly ironic—referring to the grandmother with a definite article. We have a basic plot: conflict over a journey. And we have a sense of characterization: a stubborn or determined elderly woman. Although we do not know the precise setting, we can rule out Plato’s Athens, Italy under the Borgias and countless others. All of that in eight words. Yet what matters most is that we have direction—that O’Connor’s opening is not static.
Immediately, we face a series of potential questions: Why didn’t the grandmother want to go to Florida? Where else, if anywhere, did she wish to go? Who did want to go to Florida? A successful opening line raises multiple questions, but not an infinite number. In other words, it carries momentum.
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2. Resist the urge to start too early.
You might be tempted to begin your narrative before the action actually starts, such as when a character wakes up to what will eventually be a challenging or dramatic day. But unless you’re rewriting Sleeping Beauty, waking up is rarely challenging or dramatic. Often, when we start this way, it’s because we’re struggling to write our way into the narrative, rather than letting the story develop momentum of its own. Far better to begin at the first moment of large-scale conflict. If the protagonist’s early-morning rituals are essential to the story line, or merely entertaining, they can always be included in backstory or flashbacks—or later, when he wakes up for a second time.
3. Remember that small hooks catch more fish than big ones.
Many writers are taught that the more unusual or extreme their opening line, the more likely they are to “hook” the reader. But what we’re not taught is that such large hooks also have the power to easily disappoint readers if the subsequent narrative doesn’t measure up. If you begin writing at the most dramatic or tense moment in your story, you have nowhere to go but downhill. Similarly, if your hook is extremely strange or misleading, you might have trouble living up to its odd expectations. As a fishing buddy of mine explains, the trick is to use the smallest hook possible to make a catch—and then to pull like crazy in the opposite direction.
4. Open at a distance and close in.
In modern cinema, films commonly begin with the camera focused close up on an object and then draw back panoramically, often to revelatory effect, such as when what appears to be a nude form is actually revealed to be a piece of fruit. This technique rarely works in prose. Most readers prefer to be “grounded” in context and then to focus in. Open your story accordingly.
5. Avoid getting ahead of your reader.
One of the easiest pitfalls in starting a story is to begin with an opening line that is confusing upon first reading, but that makes perfect sense once the reader learns additional information later in the story. The problem is that few readers, if confused, will ever make it that far. This is not to say that you can’t include information in your opening that acquires additional meaning once the reader learns more. That technique is often a highly rewarding tool. But the opening should make sense on both levels—with and without knowledge the reader will acquire later.
6. Start with a minor mystery.
While you don’t want to confuse your readers, presenting them with a puzzle can be highly effective—particularly if the narrator is also puzzled. This has the instant effect of making the reader and narrator partners in crime. An unanswered question can even encompass an entire novel, as when David Copperfield asks, “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”
7. Keep talk to a minimum.
If you feel compelled to begin a story with dialogue, keep in mind that you’re thrusting your readers directly into a maelstrom in which it’s easy to lose them. One possible way around this is to begin with a single line of dialogue and then to draw back and to offer additional context before proceeding with the rest of the conversation—a rare instance in which starting close up and then providing a panorama sometimes works. But long sequences of dialogue at the outset of a story usually prove difficult to follow.
8. Be mindful of what works.
Once you’ve given some concentrated thought to your own opening line, obtain copies of anthologies like The Best American Short Stories and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories and read only the first sentence of each story. As with any other aspect of writing, openings are their own distinct art form—and exposure to the masterwork of others is one of the best ways to learn. (Of course, the challenge of this exercise is to avoid being lured into a story with such a compelling opening that you aren’t able to put it down!)
9. When in doubt, test several options.
Writers are often advised to make a short list of titles and try them out on friends and family. Try doing the same with opening sentences. An opening line, like a title, sometimes seems truly perfect—until you come up with several even better choices.
10. Revisit the beginning once you reach the end.
Sometimes a story evolves so significantly during the writing process that an opening line, no matter how brilliant, no longer applies to the story that follows. The only way to know this is to reconsider the opening sentence, like the title, once the final draft of the story is complete. Often a new opening is called for. That doesn’t mean your first opening needs to be scrapped entirely; instead, file it away for use in a future project.
Needless to say, a brilliant opening line cannot salvage a story that lacks other merits, nor will your story be accepted for publication based on the opening alone. But in a literary environment where journals and publishing houses receive large quantities of submissions, a distinctive opening line can help define a piece. A riveting opening can even serve as shorthand for an entire story, so that harried editors, sitting around a table as they evaluate the crème de la slush pile, may refer to your piece not by its title, but as “the one that begins with the clocks striking 13” (as does George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four). Even after the rest of the story has evaporated from conscious memory, the opening may stick with editors, an iron peg upon which to hang their hats—and, with any luck, it will have that effect on readers, too.
My own personal favorite opening is the first line of Elizabeth Graver’s story “The Body Shop,” which appears in The Best American Short Stories 1991. It begins: “My mother had me sort the eyes.” I dare you not to go out and read what comes next.
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