Writing a style analysis essay may seem like a daunting task, but, by understanding the basic components of style analysis, it doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. Analyzing is an ability that will help you in other aspects of life, too, like work and school. With practice and a discerning eye, you will be able to skillfully master the style analysis essay.
Understand the components of style before you begin an analysis of the work. The style of a literary work is the way in which it is written and how it communicates the author's meaning. Many components come together to form a work’s style, from the diction to the point of view. It’s important to familiarize yourself with these components so that you may better understand how they contribute to the ideas expressed in literature. (See the Resources for a glossary of literary terms.)
Read the work critically. Performing a style analysis requires a discerning reader. You won’t be reading the work as a general audience, but as an analyst. Look at it carefully, noting what the author writes, how it contributes to the work and what effect the style has on the reader. Bookmark examples of consistent style choices in the text, like how a character thinks or talks, and make notes that you may refer back to when writing your essay.
Accumulate sources for your essay. If your style analysis essay asks that you use only the text as a source, you don’t need to collect other written opinions, but many papers will require that you have a secondary reference. The best information will come from articles and critiques that explore the elements of style in the work. Check your library’s literary criticism section for book analysis to reinforce your paper.
Gather your ideas together so that you will have the general direction of the paper clear in your head before you write your essay. You don’t have to conform to a structured outline, but it’s important to know what you will say and how you want to say it. Start with the big picture. What effect does the general style of the work you’re analyzing have on it as a whole and on you as a reader? Outline examples that further your argument about the style of the piece.
Write your essay, examining how the components that you identified contribute to the overall effect of the text on the reader. Use examples that you noted in your reading to reinforce your argument. You don’t have to cite every type, but use specific examples that best showcase your argument. Remember that a style analysis is not a book report–you don’t want to summarize the work, but to analyze it instead. Use literary terms and make sure that your writing and source documentation conforms to MLA standards, unless otherwise instructed.
Rewrite the essay. Your final draft is just as important as the initial one. Look for basic errors. Ensure that the essay flows, is clear and concise, and presents arguments coherently. It's a good idea to have someone else look it over to point out mistakes that you may have missed.