high school literature essay contest

high school literature essay contest

Strategies for Winning High School Literature Essay Contests

1. Introduction to High School Literature Essay Contests

Opportunities for pursuing original student literary research improve when young adults share their original work with their peers and their teachers. Hence, besides offering new and updated information about what is available and suitable for study, this essay attempts to suggest some useful strategies for students that may lead to winning high school literary criticism contests. Some of the thoughts assembled are potentially abstract and vague, and they are so because various contests have little in common and grant students complete freedom to choose their essays. The advice offered should be viewed as guidelines and not prescriptions. However, it should be particularly stressed that all contest organizers expect student essays to demonstrate knowledge of the formal principles of literary analysis in the context of sound pedagogical practices.

When writing an essay, students often have to focus on those aspects of literature that deal with ideas about the human society and experience. Now students who are particularly skilled in the analysis of these issues have an opportunity to compete in discussing them from a literary perspective. Every spring, a number of high schools and universities ask students to discuss ideas they have adopted from challenging novels, short stories, plays, essays, and poems on the assumption that encouragement of student research in literature ultimately improves the quality of education for all students.

2. Crafting a Compelling Thesis Statement

While literature is anything that is printed, when it is being used in a more narrow sense a thesis statement refers to those works that are valued for their formal properties. How does one know whether the work in question is a serious one or not? A very broad question that enables little direction for making definite, positive decisions should be avoided. It is not very difficult to make important generalizations, but these are often uninteresting. Making a series of generalizations and substantiating but a couple of them is a common failing of literature essays. Furthermore, the thesis question should be close to the work at hand and not a universal generalization. One of the hallmarks of good literature is that it is very specific or focused.

The thesis statement is the foundation of a serious and difficult academic process. By writing a strong and convincing sentence of only one or two lines, several thousand words of logical and reasonable discourse can be based. Therefore, to be sure, you must start at the beginning and specifically formulate the precise question or issue with which one is to deal before beginning to write a literary essay. It is due to writers starting out with fuzzy or ambiguous notions that they often find themselves off the track and, unavoidably, delivering non-literary essays.

3. Analyzing Literary Texts with Depth and Precision

The objective of much interpretation is to discover the intentions of the author. Often these are open to interpretation and/or discovered through the interpretation of subtle hints. Our primary tool for understanding is the writing itself. Specifically, interpretation is the art of finding, assessing, and explaining the nuances, implications, and deeper meanings of what authors have written. The best term for the entire range of activities is usually called “analysis.” Analysis, like interpretation, begins with reading. But it goes on to refer not just to the cleverness of the writer with language, but also to the things that the author has to say. In writing a literature essay, one engages in the process of literary analysis or appreciating the aesthetic qualities of literature in order to facilitate interpretation while helping others interpret it.

Literary analysis is primarily concerned with creating meaning from complex pieces of language and other symbols. The first step in the process of literary analysis is reading and trying to understand what the author is saying. For most essays, students are required to read selections or entire texts and then interpret the meaning of the entire work, passages, or a work’s themes, characters, language, and imagery. The essays may take any number of forms, some examples of which are interpretation, evaluation, proposals for exploring the work more thoroughly, and persuasive arguments.

4. Structuring Your Essay for Clarity and Coherence

Analyses of the coherence of structure reveal that professional writers, such as staff members at the New York Times, do not necessarily follow the style guides, as “much rhetoric about coherently structured writing” might lead one to believe, according to Ferrara. For instance, staff writers might not focus on a “clear topic sentence” near the beginning of the text or write largely in the hedge-long style. Instead, the experienced professionals build coherence through less visible techniques, such as repetitive reference, transitional sentences, and structure of information. Generally, compound parts should not be at the end of the section, and subordinate clauses should not dangle without their parent clauses. Furthermore, coherence develops through an interesting, varied style.

Which is most effective, a series of random dots or a straight line? Obviously, a string of random dots will not convey a clear or coherent message, at least without a legend or key; for simplicity, let me consider an organized pattern of random dots. An optimal understanding of the pattern implies a recognition of the similarities, differences, and relationships between various dots. Indeed, a complex pattern with jumbled random features obscures the ability to convey a focused, coherent message. In essays, as well as with nearly all communication forms, developing a focused, think message requires attention to organization and coherence.

5. Polishing Your Essay: Editing and Proofreading Techniques

Whether or not students improve in their writing depends on the sentence fluency, word choice, and voice tone of the paper. Working with these three essay papers increases the desire for self-improvement. A more scholarly approach to personal essays is intricately connected to the concept of voice. Since individual readers hearing a real voice may be touched, moved, or inspired, a personal essay cannot be successful without combining the uniqueness of the personal with the writer’s voice. Even with the danger of self-deprecation, an essay with voice showing unabashed passion may appeal to the reader. Writers who are eager, willing, and deeply ponder passion bring readers into the points of discussion. So which essay can win contests? The event can be awarded to any piece that incorporates details. Unlike traditional essays, the contest winner is an essay that talks to the reader about an event and is authentic in the presentation.

Acclaims and reception from readers can be gained through effective writing techniques. The four steps in polishing the winning essay include using good grammar and punctuation, using the right voice, personalizing your essay with detailed writing, and using your special writing skills. In reality, when students are asked to become more personal in their writing, it is much harder for them to become creatively involved. However, personal written interaction can make the reader care whether the printed outcome is convincing. For example, specifics show that the writer is capable of detailed thinking. Sometimes it is helpful to pretend you are sitting in front of your reader in order to generate fresh, detailed writing.

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