quiltlef.gif (8176 bytes) VCCS Litonline Introduction to Literature
English 112 (English Composition II)

Reading and Writing Suggestions

Colored Wavy Line

Your textbook for has valuable information on reading and writing about imaginative literature. Your professor has given you some additional suggestions. This Web page offers supplementary advice.

Reading for a class is different from reading for pleasure. Your friends don't test you on a novel you have read when you recommend the book to them. Your dentist does not require you to write a paper about a story you read in a magazine while waiting to have a cavity filled. A quiz on the rhyme scheme does not usually follow your reading a poem outside of class.

Of course your professor hopes you will enjoy reading the assigned works for your class, but your readings have been selected primarily to instruct you in some of the conventions of the literary art and to encourage an appreciation of literature. See also the Genres of Imaginative Literature.


Colored Wavy Line


  1. Allow yourself time to read short works more than once--a quick first reading followed by a slower, more careful rereading at which you take notes. For longer works, read in sections, for example, read the acts of a play or chapters of a novel or sections of a long story one at a time quickly, taking notes with each. Then read the whole again.

  2. Use a college dictionary to look up words you are not familiar with or familiar words used in unfamiliar ways. Write the words and meanings in the margins or in a reading journal.

  3. Always write while you read or immediately after. Jot down impressions, either in the margins of the book or on paper or index cards. If using paper or cards, also include page numbers for reference.

    • Outline what you have read.

    • Summarize or paraphrase the work: put it into your own words, including the situation, people, and outcome without your opinions.

    • Write your opinion of the people, events, language, and ideas.

    • Write any questions that you have as you read or reflect on what you have read.


    A double-entry journal is an especially effective way to engage with a literary text.

  4. Apply any literary terms you have learned. For example, when you have learned about narrative point of view, always identify the narrative point of view of any story you read. After you have learned about metaphors, identify them in the poems you read and reflect on what they contribute to your understanding.

  5. For specific suggestions about fiction, poetry, and drama, see Genres of Imaginative Literature.


Colored Wavy Line


Writing about Literature, some good general advice from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab -


Logic in Argumentative Writing from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab - http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/general/gl_argpers.html

Writing with Computers from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab - http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/general/gl_computer.html

World-Wide Web Resources for Rhetoric and Composition from Capital Community College's Guide to Grammar and Writing and the Purdue University Online Writing Lab -



Writing.com is a place to submit your own creative writing, get feedback on it, and give feedback to others. Some privileges require a small subscription fee - http://www.writing.com

Freelance Writing: The Ultimate Freelance Writing Career Guide contains several links for professional writers for networking, writing tips, research tips and assists, editing tools, and job listings.  (Thanks to Gail Mandeville for pointing out this site.)

Colored Wavy Line

Top | VCCS Litonline Reading and Writing Suggestions http://vccslitonline.cc.va.us/readwrit.htm | developed by D. Reiss and C. Simpson | Updated 2/7/2016 by Eric Hibbison.

Click the purple quilt piece on
each root page to go to the Litonline sitemap.