Writing about a prose passage

1. Write a short opener making clear in a general way your understanding of the
2. Remember the “attitude, effect, tone” principle. Always use an adjective before
one of these nouns.
3. Bring specific words and phrases into the discussion. Stay with them. Show why
you brought them into the discussion. Don’t just list words without commentary.
4. Look at language elements: connotative words, images, metaphors, details. Refer
to them and use words like “connotation,” “image,” “metaphor,” “language,” and
“diction” in your discussion.
5. When discussion connotation, say “…is associated with,” “…gives an impression
of,” and “…connotes.”
6. When discussing imagery, say “This image shows,” “…gives,” and “…is
appropriate to the feeling of.” Say “visual image,” “sound image,” etc.
7. When discussing metaphor and simile, don’t merely tell what is being compared
to what. Take some pains to show what the object being compared has in common
with the subject it is being compared to (“The sinking ship metaphor calls
attention to the great size and tremendous power of the defeated boxer,” “The
snake metaphor brings with it the impression of evil”).
8. At the end, say something like “These combined literary devices give this passage
a beautiful yet bleak effect.”