How to Write an Interpretive Essay

Have you ever been in a situation where you have to explain someone’s actions or words to people? If that’s you, then you will have less struggle writing an interpretive essay in college.  Lecturers love to give this type of assignment, especially to literature students. Read on to learn how to write an interpretive essay.

What is an interpretive essay?

If you know what an interpretation is, then you have the whole definition.  A standard interpretive essay definition is an essay describing a subject using a set of guidelines in your own words. It can be an art, a literature material, or a movie.  The primary purpose of an interpretive argument is to apply some tools or guidelines you have learned in class.

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An interpretive claim is about using your intellect to look at literature material.  The good thing about interpretation essays is that there is no wrong answer.  Whatever you write is correct as long as you defend it. For instance, you may be asked to give major themes in a story.  Your response may not be the same as your lecturer’s, but it’s valid because you have justified it.

Interpretive essays are mainly for students studying literature, arts, or anthropology. Their course is about giving meaning to arts or crafts on areas that seems unimportant to a regular reader.  They go deeper than what you can see to notice minute details that add value to an object. Let’s look at how to write an interpretive essay

Have an excellent knowledge of the material to be interpreted

The challenging thing about interpretive analysis is that there is no guesswork. You either know what you are looking for, or you don’t.  The first thing in writing an interpretive paper is to study the material that needs interpretation.

The knowledge will make it easier to do an analysis. For instance, if you are told to analyze a novel, you must first read and understand its content. It makes it easy to see significant themes, metaphors, similes, and foreshadowing in your story.  It’s a challenge to see some of these points with your “naked” eyes.

The best way to understand a story or art is to look at it with an open mind. Read through as you try to put yourself in the authors’ shoes. What was their intention? What is the context of the artifact?  Having such questions as you read will help you get answers.

Have questions in mind if you have not read the novel before

Maybe it is your first time to see such an artifact or literature material in your assignment. Perhaps you missed a lecture on that topic, or your lecturer wants to challenge you with a new novel.   Your approach to writing an interpretive essay will be different if you had seen the material before.

Read the questions first, then look at the art or picture.  This method helps form an idea of what to look for as you study. It helps when dealing with a voluminous material.  Instead of reading the whole book, you can skim the material as answer questions. For instance you will read as you search for a keyword already ingrained in your mind.

Study other authors interpretive analysis on the same work

Unless it’s a new subject, you are not the first to analyze that novel or picture. Other people have written and published their opinions on interpretive research paper assignments.  Reading these materials make your work easier. You will learn which areas have been analyzed, what other scholars have commented on an art or a recommended scope of study.  It will also help you to use a particular approach which has been tested.

Choose your area of analysis

You can interpret many things in one paragraph.  For instance, you can interpret each component of a character, a theme, a simile, or a metaphor.  If it’s an artifact, you can explore the color used, style,   shadings, or patterns. It’s up to you to decide what to study. Lecturers do not specify what to cover in many cases.

The size of your interpretive essay may determine your area of analysis. If your lecturer wants you to write a five hundred words interpretive essay analysis example, it is safe to choose a small part of the work you want to interpret.  When writing a voluminous essay, you need a large area to get content for your paper.

Use jargons in your interpretive essay

The easiest way for an audience to know an expert in any study area is by using jargon. These are unique words that are only used in a particular discipline.  For instance, literature uses phrases such as character, setting, cast, context, and themes.

Jargons spice your interpretive analysis essay. It makes your assignment interesting to read because your audience can identify the words used. Terminologies are essential, especially when dealing with a knowledgeable audience. They expect high-quality content with proper use of words and phrases. For instance, you can say stanzas instead of paragraphs when dealing with interpreting poems.

Write a summary of the work first

Before interpreting your work, it’s essential to first introduce it. Some of your audiences are new to the book or art you want to analyze. Giving them a brief history of your assignment may help. For instance, you can mention the author’s name, biography, year, and other work.  A summary of what to expect in your essay will also work.

A summary is part of your interpretive essay outline and helps your reader understand the relevance of your work.  The reader will be inclined to read your essay if they realize the connection between your work and the author. For instance, an art about human rights written during the slave trade by an African may get your audience’s attention.

Write an interesting introduction

interpretive essay

Introduction determines whether your reader will continue reading your essay. It’s important to consider how you introduce your work. This paragraph determines your assignment’s quality.  Ensure you put effort to writing catchy paragraphs. Here are some tips for writing an excellent introduction.

Check your grammar

Avoid errors in your introduction. It is the first thing your reader will see.  Obvious mistakes such as spelling, sentence structure, and tense may turn your reader away.  They will assume that the rest of your essay is not different. If you did not edit this section, how do you convince your reader that you have edited the rest of your assignment?

Hook your reader all the way

Mention some interesting facts about your work of analysis in your introduction. The purpose of this section is to make a reader get to the conclusion. Keeping them hooked is essential, and the best way to do this is by raising an interpretive argument.

You can tell them about an achievement or an award that your novel has won. For instance, you can say it was the bestselling book of the year or the author has written other copies.   Such information will attract your audience, especially professionals and experts.

Write a thesis statement

Write an outstanding interpretive thesis in your introduction. A thesis statement is the last sentence of your first paragraph that gives a summary of your work.  It gives your reader an overview of the whole essay.

The best way to write a good thesis statement is by understanding your topic.  You can only write a thesis statement if you know what to include in your essay.

Brief your audience

Give background information of your essay in the introduction. Since you want your reader to follow your paper to the end, it’s essential to tell them where you are coming from and where you are heading.  Tell them why you choose your interpretive literature and why it is crucial to study.

Remove barriers

Define some vocabulary in your introduction. Do not assume that your audience is familiar with the terms you will use.  You can define an interpretive claim or any other term that may discourage your reader from reading.

Use simple language in your introduction. Do not be overly excited about using jargon.  Ensure you use a language that everyone can understand.  You may scare your reader by using many vocabularies in your introduction. This applies to the rest of your essay.

 Write your introduction last

Writing your introduction after you have finished your essay will make your work easier. An introduction is the most challenging part to write because it forms the foundation of your interpretive paper.  It limits you on what you can or cannot write.

Use your thoughts to write your essay and then form an opinion of how the introduction should look. It’s easy to write when you don’t have anything restricting your thinking.

Writing your introduction last saves you from false starts. Many, including experts, have admitted how they had to restate their introduction several times. Information overload, where you have so much to write about, leads to false starts.  You keep on trying several topics you can write until you end up writing nothing.

Write compelling content in your essay

After a juicy introduction, your next step is to continue impressing your audience to the end.  Your content determines whether your reader will continue past an introduction.  Use the same effort you used in the first paragraph to write the second, the third, and the fourth.

Write short paragraphs with a maximum of five sentences.  These are enough to explain your point in each section. Long paragraphs burden your audience in this age where people are used to reading shortened words on social media. It’s better to have several short paragraphs than a long one.

Each paragraph should explain one idea. One way to lose your audience is to jump from one point to another.  It shows your unpreparedness in writing your interpretive essay.  Write content that flows, where your reader can connect one sentence with the other.

Have a topic sentence in your paragraphs. It’s the sentence that summarizes the whole section. A topic sentence prevents you from bringing in other ideas in a paragraph.  Use three to four sentences to support your first sentence.

Write short sentences in each paragraph. They help you to remain focused and avoid fluff in your content. The problem with long sentences is giving room for unnecessary content. You find yourself having wordy sentences or a lot of grammar errors.

Include in-text citation in your essay

In-text citation is  among the essential elements of an excellent interpretive essay format.  Many students ignore this unless the lecturer has included it in the instructions, which should not be the case. An in-text citation is part of your essay and should always be placed where necessary.  The only exception is when writing a reflection paper.

An in-text citation shows that you have researched your work.  It is unethical for college students to write unverified information. Anything you write in your essay should be backed up by research.  Lecturers look at how much you have cited your work to decide whether you did research or not.

In-text citations add value to your assignment. There is a difference between someone who writes a plain text and one who includes academic language. People will regard your interpretive essay with much seriousness if they see a few quotes in it.

Use two to three citations per paragraph. Your assignment should be balanced. You don’t want to starve your paper with quotes.  Having fewer references in your sections will not give your interpretive analysis a command to convince your reader of what you have written. Besides, it will look like you just placed them for the sake of doing it.

Many in-text citations in one paragraph will create fluff in your assignment. It will turn your paper from an interpretive essay into a bibliography.  You only need a few sources to show that you consulted educational materials in your paper.

Your in-text citations should occur naturally in your paragraphs.  Another mistake that students make is placing sources anywhere in the section. Sometimes you read their essay, but you can’t see the connection with the reference. Ensure you have included your sources after a direct quotation or a paraphrased sentence.

Follow guidelines for the recommended referencing style.  Each method has its way of writing references. Failure to follow these instructions may lead to low poor performance. For instance, use the author-date style when writing in APA format.

Write a captivating conclusion

The last section of your interpretive essay is a conclusion. It gives a summary of what you have discussed in your paper.  The best way to write it is to rephrase topic sentences and briefly explain them.

Avoid introducing new concepts in your conclusion. This section is meant to give your reader an overview of your essay. Including other information not mentioned in your body paragraph will bring confusion.

Do not include citations in your interpretive argument conclusion.  Tell your reader what you found from other scholars instead of referring them to go and read. Maximize this section to connect with your reader by letting them feel they did not waste their time reading your essay.

Craft an exciting conclusion. Students think that in the last section, there is no need to give much attention. They conclude their essay for the sake of doing it. A conclusion is the most read part of your essay.

Sometimes your lecturer does not have time to read the whole paper. They depend on the last section to know what you wrote in the body.  A lazily written conclusion sends the signal that there is nothing that was done in previous areas.  It will be sad to score low grades in your essay because you never gave your conclusion the needed attention.

Format your essay

It is essential to have an interpretive essay format. Your audience deserves a smooth transition from one section to another.  Sadly, only a few students take some time to format their essays. They assume that it’s enough to have the content.

Your format creates an impression about your essay content.  Formatting is like display, branding, and packaging that attract clients to your shop. For instance, you can’t bring in buyers when you have packed your items in wrinkled and faded containers. People will not buy from your shop if you have displayed dusty items on your shelf.

Your formatting style depends on referencing method recommended by your tutor. Read instructions to determine the method to use in your interpretive essay. Colleges have dozens of referencing methods which depend on your course.  For instance, social sciences use APA, while languages use MLA.  We will use APA style in this paper.

Format your title page. The first section in APA referencing method contains your personal details that link you to your course.  It has your name, your school, course, date, and your instructor.

Format the rest of your interpretive paper.  APA has a few guidelines on how you organize your paper. For instance, it requires you to write in Times New Romans, font size twelve, double spaced, and one point five margins.

Create a reference list

After citing your work, create a list that gives your reader more information about your citations. A reference list explains the citations you have used in your interpretive essay. It tells your audience more about where they can get the citations you have used.  Its main purpose is to allow your reader to read further.

References check whether you have used a correct article in your essay. Some students collect unrelated references to their assignments from the internet and use them in their essays. Lecturers look at your reference list to ensure that you have used the right materials.

Follow the required guidelines when writing your interpretive argument.  Each referencing style has its instructions. Ensure you have read and understood them.  Some lecturers will not take it lightly for wrongly writing your references.

There are some general rules of referencing regardless of the referencing method used.  First, include all references on a new page. Second, your references should be written chronologically. Your page should have a title (references) written on top of your page, written at the center.

Write original essay

Plagiarism is among the most severe crimes in colleges. Many students have lost their scholarships for copy-pasting content from the internet or friends.  Ensure your essay is original and up to  standard.

Paraphrase your content from the internet. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to read the content you want and understand it.  Use your own words to write what you have understood. It helps you minimize similarities between your paper and the internet source.

Read widely to get enough content.  Plagiarism occurs when you have used few books in your interpretive paper. You end up borrowing too much from one article. Reading many journals enables you to mix words from various sources to construct a sentence. Such wording cannot lead to plagiarism.

Write a draft copy

It is important to create a copy where you put all your ideas together. A draft copy contains the content you will use in an interpretive essay.  For instance, you may include references and quotes.

Your draft copy should be edited and read for presentation. Students assume that they do not need to put effort in writing their draft copy.  You may be caught up in activities that will prevent you from writing another copy.  Your draft copy can save you from the risk of turning in your work late.

 What next?

The article has discussed steps into writing an interpretive essay.  It’s important to introduce your work, be original, read widely and acknowledge your sources. Use these tips in your assignment and you will be glad you visited our website.

Contact us to help you write your assignment when you have trouble writing it. We understand your busy life. That’s why we offer quality services and affordable prices.

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