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Interpretive Writing


For example, In his novel, A Separate Peace, John Knowles examines life at an all-boy boarding school. (1-2 sentences) Next, ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Interpretive Writing

Interpretive Writing
  • Our initial reactions to a new text of any kind
    are often a jumble of impressionistic thoughts,
    feelings, and memoriesseldom are they fully
    realized interpretations.
  • To write an interpretive essay, you must take the
    time to analyze this jumble and develop a
    reasonable, systematic understanding of what the
    text means and why, which is what we do in class
  • Since all texts are open to more than one
    interpretation, an interpretive essay argues that
    one specific meaning and one particular
    interpretation is especially good and worthy of

Writing Interpretive Essays
  • A fully developed interpretation explains what
    the text says as reasonably as possible. It also
    argues for a particular interpretation of the
    texts meaningwhat the text implies or suggests
    about something beyond itself.
  • Like any argument, an interpretive essay should
    be as persuasive as possible, though it can never
    be an absolute proof. You will analyze passages
    and explain how they function in the text.
  • You will argue for one meaning by stating a
    thesis and defending it with sound reasoning and
    convincing evidence.

Choosing a perspective
  • You will interpret a text objectively. Focus on
    the object (text) under study instead of the
    subject (yourself) doing the study, i.e., never
    use the first person I think that.
  • When adopting an objective stance, write from the
    third person point of view. When you are
    discussing the text, write in the present tense.
  • Keep references to yourself out of your writing,
    and use language that is neutral and unbiased.
    An example to avoid The author brilliantly
    writes an emotionally provocative piece that will
    wet the driest eye.

State your thesis
  • To write an interpretation from any point of
    view, you need to locate, identify, and
    understand what you consider to be the texts
    central meaning, which we will determine in class
  • It is customary to respond to a prompt, and make
    sure you are answering the prompts question or
    satisfying every aspect of the prompt in your
  • Your thesis is a clear, concise statement of your
    interpretation, explaining to your readers your
    argument for what the text means. Your argument
    should be specific and supportable!

Provide support
  • An interpretive thesis should be focused tightly
    enough so that you can support your argument with
    evidence from the text itself.
  • When you draw on the text itself or bring in
    additional sources to support your view, you will
    have to provide context and quote directly from
    the text.
  • Your explanation of the quotes significance
    should dominate the body paragraph, as it is what
    will largely support your argument.

(No Transcript)
What belongs in an essay?
INTRODUCTION Now, I would like to introduce the
content of my essay Heeeeres my
  • You will begin your introduction with a
    functional sentence including the title of the
    piece youre writing about and its author. For
    example, In his novel, A Separate Peace, John
    Knowles examines life at an all-boy boarding
    school. (1-2 sentences)
  • Next, you must provide your reader with relevant
    background to the text a basic summary. (3-4
  • Your topic sentences should be briefly listed or
    mentioned before your thesis. (1-3 sentences)
  • Your thesis should appear last (1 sentence).
  • Any generalities and summary will be at the
    beginning of your intro. Once you reach the end
    of this paragraph, you will be well into the land
    of the specific.
  • Consider your introduction a road map, guiding
    your reader on a journey. Your thesis is the
    compass- dont lose your reader!

Your Introduction will start out broad and end up
THESIS Just what are you trying to prove?
  • Your thesis statement is the backbone of your
    essay. (1 sentence)
  • It is the argument/main point you will be
    proving/supporting throughout your entire essay.
  • It should be clear, concise, and direct.
  • Thesis statements should specifically respond to
    the prompt and be and supportable.
  • A thesis statement should not be summary ask
    yourself whether or not your thesis is debatable.
    For example, Gene knocked Finny out of the
    tree vs. Genes blind impulse caused him to
    knock Finny out of the tree.

TOPIC SENTENCES And your point is?
  • Each body paragraph will have a topic sentence
    that will present the paragraphs main point and
    direction. This will be your readers signpost.
    (1 sentence)
  • Your topic sentence should be a sub-point to your
    thesis these terms will be used interchangeably.
  • Make a bold assertion that directly relates back
    to your thesis.
  • Never quote in the topic sentence because
    evidence doesnt belong in the sub-points to your
  • It should also avoid summary.

BODY Who doesnt want the perfect body?
  • Your body paragraphs should be dominated by the
    explanation of your quotes significance
  • You cant present a piece of evidence without an
    ample analysis, which will help to prove/support
    your argument.
  • You will begin with your topic sentence, provide
    context to your quote (lead-in), quote
    (evidence), then support (analysis/discussion/expl

CONCLUSION I must bid thee farewell
  • Your conclusion is your readers last impression
    of your essay.
  • You must restate your thesis in the beginning of
    the paragraph, summarize what you have gone over
    in your paper, and finish off with a general, yet
    meaningful ending that conveys your essays
  • Viola!

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  • Entire paper double spaced (including the
    heading), with one-inch margins
  • Heading four lines consisting of your name, your
    teachers name, the class, and the due date.
  • Font twelve point, Times New Roman
  • Titles Center your original title right above
    your introduction paragraph.
  • Italicize titles of plays, novels, movies, and
    publications. Put titles of short stories,
    articles, songs, and poems in quotation marks. 

Developing your STYLE
Be Yourself! Use words and images that are
natural to you.
  • When you write about literature, you may find it
    appropriate to use a slightly more formal style.
  • Nevertheless, your purpose is to share ideas, not
    to prostrate your reader by the capaciousness of
    your verbal arsenal nor by the baroque
    felicities, or, as it were, the architectural
    symmetries of your sentential configurations.
  • Fancy or elevated language that distracts the
    reader from meaning is poor style. Just be

Be Honest Write what you believe.
  • You cannot concentrate on developing your style
    if you are preoccupied with trying to guess what
    your reader wants.
  • You wont always have your choice of topics, nor
    will every assignment ignite your interest and
  • Figure out your genuine perspective on the
    topic, and take it from there.

Be Direct Get straight to the point!
  • Say what you mean clearly and in the fewest
    possible words

Review for Style Whenever you review and
evaluate a draft of your work, keep matters of
style in mind.
  • The following questions may help you 
  • Ø      Do the sentences and paragraphs express
    your own voice?
  • Ø      Do the opinions expressed in the paper
    represent your true convictions?
  • Ø      Is your language strong, direct, and

The Journey!!
Tips on how to be concise
Avoid Fillers
  • Wordy He said that there is a storm approaching.
  • Concise He said that a storm is approaching.

Eliminate Unnecessary Phrases
  • Wordy I am going to discuss artificial
    intelligence, which is an exciting new field of
  • Concise Artificial intelligence is an
    exciting new field of research.

Eliminate Words That Will Not Improve Clarity
  • Wordy The book that was lying on the piano
    belongs to her.
  • Concise The book lying on the piano belongs
    to her.

Use Active Rather Than Passive Voice
  • Wordy An account was opened by Mrs. McDonald.
  • Concise Mrs. McDonald opened an account.

Avoid Pretentious Language
  • Wordy Concise
  • Incarcerated felons Prisoners
  • Client populations Customers
  • Voiced concern that Said, worried
  • Range of selections Choice
  • Minimizes expenditures Saves money

  • More Style Tips

Avoid Plot Summary
  • In an English paper, you can generally assume
    that your readers are familiar with the work you
    are discussing.
  • If you find yourself writing, first this happens,
    and then that happens, youre summarizing the
    plot, not analyzing.

  • You should of course refer in detail to
    particular passages, quotes, and episodes that
    have a direct bearing on your thesis, but you
    dont need to tell the reader what happened to
    Abigail Williams at each stage of her life.

A Paper Without Quotations
  • is a scary thing. Not to mention, incomplete.
  • No matter how brilliant your analysis, it is
    insufficient without quotes.
  • They serve as evidence to support the claim
    youre making and as illustrations of your main

  • Quality quotes will lead to quality analysis, so
    be thoughtful when you are selecting your
  • Quality analysis is the result of taking time
    with your quotes and explaining them in detail.
  • That does not mean paraphrasing the quote or
    summarizing the plot or using part of the quote
    to analyze the quote.

  • It is crucial that you pay full attention to each
    quote you provide before you jump into another.
  • You neednt write, This quote is
    saying/showing/etc., as quotes are inanimate.
  • You also neednt write, This quote means that,
    as this is a given.
  • Get directly to your analysis after your quote.

Avoid Looking Careless
  • Consistently misspelling an authors name, a
    title, or a major characters name is going to
    prove to me that youre not taking time with your
  • Making serious errors in describing a scene in a
    novel or part of a poem or mistaking one
    character for another doesnt bode well for your
  • When in doubt, look it up!