How to Write a Classic English Literature Term Paper with Ease

Writing guide
Posted on January 9, 2019

A term paper in the sphere of literature is usually written to present a certain view or interpretation. But that’s not the only goal. While creating a literary research, you also need to convince the readers that your theory is not a puff, but a valuable speculation that can contribute to a particular subject matter.

But we doubt that you think about all these goals when you receive a task to produce a classic English literature term paper. The amount of text you need to generate as well as the near deadline fill up your mind and distract you from taking into account the details which can cost you a good mark. And you don’t want to do a considerable chunk of work and, then, because of the wrong format or weak arguments get downgraded, do you?

But we are here to prevent such a case scenario – we have built up an exhaustive guide on classic English literature term paper writing in order for you to have all the important information in one place. Just skim our article and see it for yourself – we’ve included tips on data search, topic selection, structuring, outlining and style hints. These are the most significant subjects you need to look into before starting a term paper, so use our guide to do just that, and we’ll do our best to provide you with plain and precise information.

The Art of Choosing a Perfect Topic for a Literature Term Paper

Well, this is surely one of the hardest parts of writing any academic paper. However, selecting a topic for a literature term piece can be simplified a bit by the fact that almost everybody has a favorite author or book. It means that you already have a starting point which saves a great deal of time. So, you can take a fiction or nonfiction story that you have already read and know well, and make up your mind regarding the aspect you want to research. And while deciding on that one, we advise you to ask yourself these questions whenever you have a topic in mind:

  1. Do I actually like the topic? It is essential to select the subject that is interesting to you. Why? Because it will influence your enthusiasm and thoroughness – the more curious and challenged you will feel about getting to the bottom, the more profound your research will be.
  2. Is it original? You might want to choose a subject that nobody or at least not a lot of scholars have explored to have enough room for manoeuvre. Moreover, your professor would better read and consider something new which will add up to the positive impression.
  3. Is there enough material to research it? This questions may contradict our first point a bit, but if you end up with a completely new topic and there is no information that may help you, the term paper quest may be above your bend or take too much time. So, consider your priorities and don’t overestimate your abilities.
  4. Can I contribute to my field of studies? Determine whether your topic bears any value to the research of the literary work you focus on. It is very important because you need to be able to explain the significance of your term paper.
  5. Does it appeal to the audience? As your first concern should be the level of your interest in the topic, it is also important to consider whether it is readable and “entertaining” for the audience. Your supervisor is a simple human being with the same habits, reflections and emotions. So, if he/she gets engaged while reading your term paper, it will 100% positively impact your grade.

These questions will assist you not only in topic selection, but also in polishing the final variant of the subject you want to examine. Treat this procedure critically and dig at every controversial or vague answer because if you don’t do it at this stage, it will backfire during actual writing. So, respond to the questions wisely.

Primary and Secondary Sources: Search and Preparation Basics

example fo sources

In an English literature term paper you are going to analyze some kind of text (e.g. novel, short story, article, biography, etc.) which is considered a primary source. Hence, all the other references that you will make in your writing will address secondary sources because they will contain secondhand information about your main topic. However, you may explore other concepts related to the literature work in focus, and, of course, there also may be primary sources. Whether there is or there is no need to separate your works cited list into 2 different parts, clear it out with your professor. In the meanwhile, we’ll tell you how to find the top information for a literature term paper:

  • Literature handbooks: these are specialized guides that will provide you with field-related data (e.g. The Oxford Companion to English Literature, The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English, etc.);
  • University library: there you will be able to find papers written by the professors of your department, and if you use their research findings in your term paper, it will be a great plus to the overall image of your work;
  • Bibliographies: when you choose the topic and approve it with your supervisor, ask for the most important works in the selected subject matter – then, use the recommended sources, i.e. their bibliographies, to find relevant authors/articles;
  • Online scientific search engines: it’s inappropriate to take unknown articles created by anonymous writers from the Internet, but it’s acceptable enough to find sources in search engines designed for academic purposes (e.g. Google Scholar, JSTOR, EBSCO, etc.)

After you find enough information for your term paper, it is necessary to process all the sources to gain maximum value from them. In order to do that in the best way possible, you may:

  • Sort everything out according to the aspect they are related to;
  • Read carefully through the important sources and skim less significant ones to save time;
  • Compare all the writers’ statements with your own assumptions and make conclusions;
  • Form new judgments after processing all the data and analyze how they have changed from your initial opinions.

These steps will help you to review all the materials closely and not to lose any important details. So, use our instructions to handle the sources.

How to Arrange the Structure of a Classic English Literature Term Paper

After choosing the topic and working through the sources that you have, you need to think about planning your actual writing, and outlining is the best way to do it most effectively. But before we proceed to different drafting techniques, you need to know the typical structure of a literary term paper. We will stop on each part separately to cover all the details and give you as much significant information as possible.

Title Page

The first page of you writing work should be formatted according to the citation style you need to follow, and must contain your university name, department, class types, supervisor/professor, your name, paper title, submission date and winter/summer term.

Table of Contents

This part has to show the reader the internal structure of the paper – chapters, subchapters together with the relevant page numbers. Works cited and introduction should also be included while the title pager and table of contents are not enumerated.


While in the essay you need to produce an introduction the size of a paragraph, in the term paper the introduction should be almost the size of an essay. There are many important elements that it should consist of:

  • Topic explanation and problems it raises;
  • The limits of your research (define the scope of your exploration);
  • The value of the questions you will answer in your work;
  • Methods used to analyze the information;
  • Your strategy applied to respond to the questions;
  • Planned targets;
  • Etc.

In short, you need to present a brief overview of everything you will write about in the term paper. The task is not easy, but pretty much doable if you dedicate enough time to its completion.

Main Body

This is exactly the place to include all your chapters and subchapters. Each of them will consist of a small introduction, main text and specific conclusion. But the main things to remember while dealing with the biggest part of your literature term paper are that you must answer all the questions that you posed in the intro, and prove your thesis statement.


Provide your readers with a concise summary of information that has come out of your answers and research. Don’t forget to discuss different applications of the results of your research (how your findings are useful for the field of study) as well as mention other perspectives for the further exploration.

As for the works cited, make sure that you’ve taken into account all the formatting details while organizing the referencing list.

3 Best Outlining Techniques to Go for When You Need to Plan Your Writing

outline benefits

Outlining is a draft of your future table of contents, and it is crucial for a quicker creation of your term paper. Without a step-by-step plan you will get distracted from the process because you will simply need to invent ideas for writing. But with an outline of any sort you will have a clear direction with hints that will assist you in dealing with topics that must be covered.

So, there are 3 best outlining types that are most suitable for literature term papers, and they are:

  1. Temporal – you take notes about the beginning (introduction, first chapters, etc.), climax (the most significant part where you lay all the cards on the table) and end (finishing chapters and conclusion).
  2. Logical – take all the facts that you discovered during your research, analyze their causes and aftermaths.
  3. Rhetorical – you build a kind of mind map where your starting point is your topic (general subject). You divide it into smaller parts and draw connections between them, or do it vice versa.

No matter which technique you will choose, make sure that you make notes as detailed as possible so that you won’t need to return to the sources just to understand what you’ve written.

Additional Stylistic Tips to Polish a Term Paper in Literature

When you have done all the preparations, there are no more excuses to postpone the writing process. Further on, the success of you writing assignment depends purely on you, and we have done everything possible to show you the right way and tune you in the proper mood. In the end, we would like to give you the stylistic tips that will be really helpful in refining your term paper. Here you go!

  • Avoid being sarcastic or ironic because besides the fact that it can be inappropriate, it will add no value to your research.
  • Make sure your sentences are of proper length – this one is quite hard to determine, but the main criteria are that the sentences must be not too long and not too short. Read them out loud and if you lose the thread of sense while reading them, divide the long sentences/constructions.
  • Create one paragraph for one thought – don’t try to discuss many statements in one piece because it will be hard to perceive.
  • Don’t stuff your writing with specialized terms or foreign lexemes just to look smarter; firstly, you can use them in the wrong sense, secondly, your aim is to lay out the material in an understandable manner, and those terms will not serve you well in this.
  • Stay away from the informal language, colloquial phrases or contractions – this is an academic style, so don’t forget about it.
  • Use present tense to express your thoughts, talk about the research and state of affairs; minimize the past tense in your writing.
  • Don’t leave the titles of next chapters at the bottom of the previous pages – write them on new pages.

We hope that our pieces of advice, hints and suggestions will help you score the grade that you hope for. We wish you luck and patience to dedicate enough hours for this writing assignment. Take care!

Classic English Literature Term Paper Writing Tips from Our Service: Key Directions on How to Choose a Topic

  • Tip #1. Many historical and literary works include allusions. These often make a great thesis. Use them.
  • Tip #2. An author is always behind every text you read. Study how the author and his works evolved and matured over time.
  • Tip #3. Compare 2 characters in different novels by the same writer. It will be extremely interesting to spot the similarities which often happen to be numerous.
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